Book-a-Zines: Saving Print or Adding to the Problem… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

September 4, 2014

ROBIN1-2ROBIN2-3ROBIN3-4 There is no question that niche publishing is one answer to the print world’s prayers. From magazines that delve into goat farming to ones that highlight the advantages of an eco-friendly lifestyle, targeting the audience and its interests is paramount in today’s digital times for ink on paper. Audience first was, is and always will be the main secret ingredient of the magazine publishing’s recipe for success.

But is the magazine media industry going too far with the prices and repetitiveness of special issues and book-a-zines, which often come from the same publisher?

For example, the tragic death of Robin Williams initiated not one niche title about the comedic genius, but three from the leader in the market of book-a-zines Time Home Entertainment.

• LIFE – Remembering Robin Williams – $13.99
• People Tribute Commemorative Edition – $14.99
• TIME – Robin Williams 1951-2014 – $14.99

As you can see, each one of the magazines is extremely similar in both price and title, but what about the content?

The TIME issue is of course, the newsier one with stories about his depression and extraordinary life.

The People Tribute shows his Hollywood side, offering content about his roles and the many co-stars and actors he influenced or knew.

The LIFE remembrance is, as it should be, filled with fantastic photographs and wonderfully informative tidbits and captions that frame the pictures quite well.

The quality here is not the issue, nor is the ingenuity of the publisher, using three different platform titles to showcase the actor’s life and death.

The question that remains is whether the magazine industry is flooding the newsstands with titles that not only confuse their audience by being very similar, but also delves too deeply into their pocketbooks to pay for them?

TV Guide - the beatlesTV Guide - ElvisNeil Young-8 This month saw other tribute titles such as:

Rolling Stone’s Special Neil Young Edition – $12.99
TV Guide’s Remembering Elvis – $9.99
TV Guide’s The Beatles Special Edition – $9.99
People – Happy Birthday, Prince George – $12.99

The two TV Guide specials are both from Topix Media Lab, The Neil Young from Rolling Stone’s series of special collector’s editions, and of course, Happy Birthday to the little Prince is from Time Home Entertainment.

Prince George-5 Each month we welcome these new and informative specials and book-a-zines and as consumers, we have now come to expect them. In fact more than two thirds of all new titles arriving at the nation’s stands are book-a-zines.

But as publishers continue to raise the prices of these niche products and duplicate them across platforms, what may be at stake here is the customer’s loyalty and admiration for the product and the publisher. Resources for the audience are not boundless, no matter the success of these targeted titles and never underestimate the intelligence or savvy when it comes to the buying public.

Something to think about…


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