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A magazine's quality doesn't guarantee success, says research

Even high-quality magazines face a significant risk of failing in the first five years of launch.

The new research was conducted by Steve Black, a librarian at The College of Saint Rose, New York, and the author of the 2007 and 2008 "Best New Magazines of the Year" column of trade publication Library Journal.

Black's study covered 224 publications from 1986 to 2006 that the Library Journal honoured as the "Best New Magazines of the Year". It found that 34 per cent of these newly launched "best" magazines failed within the first five years, while 13 failed in the first year alone.

Black's research found no link between the price of a magazine and its life span, but discovered a weak link between the life span and the frequency of publication. Magazines that published fewer issues per year survived slightly longer.

Since 1986, the failure rate for even the "best" magazines has increased, partly due to overall diminishing returns in the industry. Between 1986 and 1994, about 34 per cent of magazines failed within five years, and 54 per cent between 1994 and 2003.