Archive for June, 2007


There is no time left to talk about the need to change and 13 other things I’ve learned from the PBAA’s 21st Convention…

June 30, 2007

Just came back from the very successful Periodical and Book Association of America 21st Annual Convention in Philadelphia. It is amazing to see the efforts this one organization puts into bringing magazine publishers and distributors together to discuss the issues that matter to our industry. Most of the discussions took place on one to one round tables thus providing real answers to real issues. Some of the highlights of this year’s convention that I have observed:
1. There is no time left to discuss the need to change. Even if we start today we are already late.
2. The industry must work as a whole to promote magazines to the retailers. Magazine companies must look beyond their individual titles and try to unite to promote the industry. As many in the audience told me, PBAA is the only organization that really can tackle those issues. The other leading magazine organizations do not care that much about newsstand distribution or promoting the magazine to the industry.
3. Unless a major shift take place and the industry as a whole change from an advertising driven model to a circulation driven model, attention to the newsstands from the major players will continue to be minimal.
4. There is a consensus that we cannot continue to do the same thing over and again and expect different results every time. That is how the Chinese define insanity.
5. Some wholesalers are moving, rather fast, into the direction of a fee-based distribution system rather than the traditional consignment system for new titles. There is serious debate whether that will hinder or help the magazine industry considering that almost half of the big sellers on the newsstands are less than 20 years old.
6. Reducing the number of copies placed on the newsstands by one wholesaler have not effected the total number of copies sold… however there is a major debate whether it is too soon to judge this “draw reduction program.”
7. As a result of the above one wholesaler will reduce the amount of magazine units on the newsstands this year by 130 to 140 million units than last year. Yes you read that right, there will be 130 to 140 million copies of magazines less in 2007 from 2006 on the nation’s newsstands. That is the action of one wholesaler only.
8. There is a need to make the magazine category as whole more profitable, more efficient and more attractive to the retailers.
9. New magazine publishers have to factor into their business plans distribution cost. These costs have never been a factor in the calculations of any business plan for a new magazine. The game has changed.
10. The big debate at what price can a distributor make money was challenged by a lot of the attendees who counter pointed that if a candy bar manufacture can make money on a 30 cents candy bar why can’t a magazine distributor make money on a $1.99 cover price.
11. Our problem is not in our medium; it is in the content that it carries. We need to be relevant to our audience and give the audience the relevant content via the relevant medium.
12. Digital editions of magazines are good and dandy, but they are more like a television channel than a magazine. The good ones are not competition to print; they just are a different medium.
13. The biggest absent from this convention was any representation, on the panels or in any of the discussions, from the biggest magazine industry organization (you know who), but to say I am surprised will be a big lie. If they are not willing to take a hard look at the real pulse of this industry, circulation and mainly single copy sales (think postal rate increases among many other factors hurting subscriptions) and do something real about it (not another wasted ad campaign) their presence and need to the majority of the magazines in this country will continue to be marginalized. (Point of clarification: none of the PBAA directors or officers critiqued or mentioned any other organization. I am talking about attendees representing magazine companies, distributors, wholesalers and retailers).
14. On a personal note, Bob Sacks and I survived our boxing match, and print is still alive, kicking and well.
For more info about the PBAA click here. Next year’s convention is going to be in Baltimore. If you care about newsstands and single copy sales plan on being there. I promise you it is worth every penny you will spend. A great return on the investment. Thank you Lisa and José for a great convention.


A week of specials (Hot and New this week… take 12)

June 28, 2007

Once a week, I highlight three new magazines on my web site Mr.Magazine™. This week the three new magazines are U.S. News and World Report: Secret Societies, Taste of Home: Kid-Friendly Cooking & Crafts and Trail Rider Trail-Breed Guide. Read here about these new launches. To be considered for review on my web site, please send a copy of your first issue to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Department of Journalism, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677.


Good News: There are more magazines than we think!

June 27, 2007

There are more magazines than you think was the headline on the e-mail from William C. Lamparter, president of the Print Com consulting group that conducted a study on the future of magazines for PRIMIR, the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization. Mr. Lamparter reminded me and everyone who cares to listen to reality that both my numbers and those of the Magazine Publishers of America are both incomplete. Welcomed news indeed. I am happy to reprint the entire e-mail in the space that follows. There is a wealth of information in this e-mail and there is a lot of comfort that the magazine industry is well, alive and kicking. Enjoy.

They Are Both Incomplete
There Are More Magazines Than You Think
There are more magazines and more new titles appearing each year than most reports indicate, including those emanating from the Magazine Publishers of America and Samir Husni, Mr. Magazine, according to the results of a recently completed study of “Magazine Printing & Publishing in North America” by PRIMIR, the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization.MPA focuses only on the “big dogs” and Mr. Magazine does not delve into the business-to-business, custom and educational titles, says William C. Lamparter, President of the PrintCom consulting Group that conducted the study for PRIMIR.
The study identified a total of 26,140 titles of all types and frequencies published in North America during 2006. Of this total 16,050 were U.S. consumer magazines and 7,270 were classified as U.S. business magazines. All of these titles were published on a regular frequency for at least a year or in the case of annuals, had published their second edition.
This is the largest and most inclusive number of titles ever specifically identified and demonstrates the breadth, depth, and health of the magazine industry, Lamparter said.During 2006, 1,200 new consumer titles were born in the U.S. including 900 consumer titles identified by Dr. Husni, who was a member of the PRIMIR/PrintCom magazine research study team, as well as 300 titles in the consumer educational, affinity and custom publishing segments. Of the new consumer titles, almost two-thirds are annuals including annual specials, while almost a third are issued four or more times a year. Fifty-five new business magazine titles were added in the U.S. to bring the 2006 U.S. new title count to 1,255, according to the PRIMIR study. One hundred and ten new consumer titles and five business titles were added in Canada during 2006. These all inclusive new title counts point a more accurate picture of the health of the magazine business than the more limited view of consumer only, opined Lamparter.
By 2011, the study forecasts that the number of titles of all types will continue to grow to over 25,000 in the U.S. and 3,000 in Canada for a total number of North American titles of over 28,000. However, the study forecasts a 10% decline in total pages included in all North American magazines by 2011. The forecast is for titles up — page count down.
For information about the study, contact:
Jackie Bland, Managing Director
1899 Preston White Drive
Reston, VA 20191
Phone: 703-264-7200


Media Prostitution and other words of wisdom from Atoosa Rubenstein

June 26, 2007

Honesty hurts. Double standards hurt too. Lung cancer and heart disease are the two leading killers of women, yet you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of articles on the subject in women’s magazines. Breast cancer, on the other hand, is covered almost weekly and monthly in the same magazines. Double standards reason: there is no cash cow behind breast cancer and heart disease. The other one has big tobacco advertising behind it. And you would to convince me that there is a separation between church and state? Well, the reason for this introduction is the great commentary that my friend and former editor-in-chief of both Cosmo Girl and Seventeen Atoosa Rubenstein wrote this week on “Prostitution Is Legal,” is the title of the piece that Ms. Rubenstein wrote. It is a great insider’s view of the reality of what goes on in the media world on a daily basis. Hypocrisy is king and queen. Thank you Atoosa for sharing your views. Read the entire “Prostitution Is Legal” here.


Not all newspapers are born equal… Shift the focus to content, otherwise there will be no future to worry about

June 25, 2007

I just returned from an excellent three-day Mississippi Press Association‘s Annual Convention and was encouraged more than ever about the future of the printed newspaper. Some of the high-powered speakers talked about the on-line newspapers and the transition from the traditional media to the new media. What surprised me, and a lot of the attendees, is that more than 80% of what was said applied to less than 20% of the newspapers in attendance. I was always taught that that formula should be just in reverse of what took place. In Mississippi there are 124 newspapers, 100 of them are non-dailies and 24 are dailies. The majority are community newspapers serving the needs and wants of their local community, and serving them well. What they are looking for is more help in expanding that help to the whole community. As one publisher puts it, “Our paper is the only paper that cares about our community.” And “care” in the community newspapers is completely different than the “care” in the national and regional newspapers. I came back more encouraged, and more challenged, from this convention that as a professor of journalism a teacher of future journalist, and a consultant I must devote even more time in addressing the “care” of the majority of newspapers in our state and the country. Mississippi newspapers are not any different than the rest of the country. The majority of newspapers in this country are local and community papers. We owe it to them to start focusing on their future. I reckon that if you add the revenues from all the local and community newspapers you will not be talking about small change. It is the future of the newspapers… the future as in ink on paper. Will “Billy” Morris III, Chairman and CEO of Morris Communications, said it best when he visited Ole Miss and spoke to my students. He reminded the students that the future of journalism is in “the necessity of journalism.” Journalism is needed, and is needed now on the local and community level more than ever. We owe it to our future journalist to prepare them to serve the needs of their communities and local communities in general. Yes, the world is flat, but we live in a completely “isolated connectivity” world. We feel connected, yet we are more isolated than ever. Our communities are in die-hard need of being really connected. The “necessity of journalism” plays a big role in that connectivity. Newspaper publishers and editors must shift the focus of their discussions to the “necessity of journalism” in their communities. That should be priority number one. Shift the focus to content; otherwise you will not have a future to worry about.


Remedy for the cold (at least Down Under)

June 21, 2007

My friend Ravi Pathare (Mag Man) from the Mag Nation in Auckland, New Zealand is celebrating the beginning of winter (lucky them for now) with the following advice to his clients and customers:

The cold weather has finally arrived, and what better way to while away winter than to read lots of magazines.
Cuddling up by the fire place – you need a mag
After a long day of skiing – you need a mag
Stuck in bed with a terrible cold – you need a mag
Looking for that recipe for chicken soup – you need a mag
About to go skinny dipping in Kaikoura Bay – you need a mag
About to celebrate your friend’s birthday – you need a mag (or at least one of our gift vouchers)
So cold that you haven’t been outside or seen anyone for 16 days – you need a new life, but in the meanwhile, a mag wouldn’t go astray
and oh what mags we have for you…

Great advice. Thanks Ravi and if you want to take a virtual tour of Ravi’s Mag Nation stores click here.


Redbook joins the redesigned women’s magazines crowd…but will it help?

June 21, 2007

The last magazine from the field of the traditional women’s service magazines (used to be referred to as the Seven Sisters: Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and the departed McCall’s) just released its “new editorial platform.” Redbook sports a new tagline (love your life), a bigger physical size, and a new design. The re-launch issue comes with two newsstand covers and one subscription cover. All editions have their own flip cover of either Tim or Faith. The famous love/sex exchange is absent from this revamped look. Will all these revamps help the traditional women’s magazines regain some of their newsstand’s momentum? Not really, says a friend who is a magazine publisher of a non-traditional women’s service magazine. She told me in an e-mail responding to my blog about Woman’s Day’s redesign,

“I have to say…much of what was identified in your article about Woman’s Day, is not at all in keeping with what we heard directly from the readers. In my personal opinion, the great failing of magazines is that they don’t listen to the reader, and instead follow the lead of the advertising community that pays the bills!!”

I could not have said it any better…listen to the reader. Thank you.


Magazines and Music: They both start with M, but that’s where the similarities end

June 20, 2007

My friend Bob Sacks wrote an article entitled “Printed Magazines Will Follow the Path of the Plastic Record,” which you can read here. Well, needless to say I do not agree with Bob on this issue. Here is my take on music records and magazines.
Unlike music CDs, mp3s, vinyl, or tapes magazines are disposable items. Magazines are not meant to be kept, collected or read and reread over and over the same way you listen to a song or enjoy an album.
(Well, ok I know I am an exception to the rule. I keep every magazine and my collection is now up to almost 23,000 first editions. I also know that some of those magazines will have a big monetary value, but that is not the reason they were published. Hugh Hefner never put in his business plan that the first issue of Playboy will sell for thousands of dollars in the future).
The beauty of magazines is that you read them, you toss them, you recycle them, you share them and a new one will appear on the stands or in your mailbox the next day, week, month, quarter, etc…magazines are not meant to be collected, they are meant to be used and abused. Every issue is different yet the same. You see Cosmo this month you know it is Cosmo…music albums, even those of the same band, do not carry the same design, the same feel or even the same look. Once an album is born fans listen to it, keep it, download it, re-listen to it, etc., you get my drift…no relationship to the next one. You do not listen to an album in a sequence and you do not dispose of it when it is over. It has a repeat value, a very high repeat value that is exactly the opposite of magazines. The only repeat value magazines have is in their changing content. Music does not have a concept that needs to be implemented and repeated one album after the other…magazines do.
Music is universal. You do not translate the Beatles music to your own language. In Lebanon as in the UK and the USA you listen to the same music. You do not translate…music can show that the world is flat, that is not something new (I grew up in Lebanon in the 60s listening to the same music teens were listening to in the UK and the USA). Magazines are just the opposite…In Finland the magazines mainly are in Finish, in Lebanon in Arabic, in the States in English…and guess what? Each has its own personality and its own reflection of the society that surrounds it. So fear not, the future of magazines is not going to be for the few collectable copies like vinyl…that is not the reason people buy magazines for…People will continue to look for a warehouse of information in which once they consume the goods in it, they look for more goods. Magazines are like a box of chocolate, once you consume the chocolate you do not refill the box, you buy another one. So the next time someone tells you the future of magazines are like the future of vinyl, just tell them how many people they know read the same magazine over and over the same way they listen to their music


In Touch’s Scandinavian Expansion…

June 20, 2007

The success of Bauer’s In Touch Weekly is continuing to spread overseas. After launching in Mexico and Germany, the magazine today launches its first Swedish edition through its licensee the Swedish’s First Publishing Company. My friends at the media blog Vassa Eggen inform me that First Publishing has a “portfolio of eight magazines: originally a tech mag publisher but now publish magazines about poker and horse riding…The first issue of the Swedish In Touch has no Swedish content, only US material. It’s distributed by the largest Swedish distributor Tidsam.” It comes as no surprise to me that a magazine like In Touch weekly, which I have selected as the launch of the year back in 2002, continues to grow and spread worldwide. The Bauer formula in the United States has been a very very successful one: Focus on the reader, focus on the newsstand, charge the right price for the magazine, and all will follow… it is amazing why the rest of us in this business cannot learn from their formula.


Download this…21,000 words novella

June 19, 2007

For those of you who continue to doubt the power of the printed word (read this again P R I N T E D, as in ink on paper) try to read Stephen King’s “The Gingerbread Girl” in its entire twenty-one thousand words on any screen but that of the crystal clear July’s Esquire screen of ink on paper. A historic milestone for Esquire since this novella represents the longest piece of fiction ever published in Esquire. And if the novella is not worth your $3.99 cover price, take a look at the exclusive pictures of Angelina Jolie in the same issue. To put it in Esquire’s own cover words, “Some Angie, A Little King… What Else Does A Man Need For Summer?” Esquire has “come a long way baby” since David Granger took the helm as editor-in-chief ten years ago.

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