27 December 2007


In his Advertising Age article (“Trends to Watch in 2008”), Bob Liodice, president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), follows up on Steve Ballmer’s claim that all media is going digital. He notes the richness of digital features —including the portability and wonders if marketers are skilled enough to take advantage of this rapidly changing landscape?” We might ask the same question of the folks who make the media — you know, like magazine publishers?

24 December 2007

Paradigm Gained

Happy Holiday!
Digital music downloads march on as this Independent article attests.

19 December 2007

Australian Bookseller offers Dutch ebook Reader

The Australia’s Herald Sun reports that bookseller Dymocks is selling ebook reader the iLiad. The device which uses the mobibook format also accommodates a variety of formats including html and pdf. A nice twist to the iLiad is that the screen is touch-sensitive and — with a supplied stylus — you can do such things as Suduko and crossword puzzles, make notations or sketch. It’s a pricey $899 Australian (or $750 US). The iLiad comes from iRex, a Royal Philips spinoff. Hmm. Wasn’t Philips the co-creator of the audio CD-ROM, the LP buster?


06 December 2007

It's Eisie's Birthday

Today is the birthday of Alfred “Eisie” Eisenstadt, referred to in his 25 August, 1995 New York Times obit as the “quintessential Life photographer. One of a band of Leica-bearing photojournalists, Eisenstadt made some of the pictures that became cultural icons. This was back in the day when magazines, particularly Life were considered mass media. Most notable among these was his Times Square shot of a sailor and woman kissing on V-J Day. The use of the compact 35mm rangefinder camera technology brought an amazing change to the priint magazine platform.

Magazine Hunting Season

Back on 30 November “Magazine Death Pool” blog’s The Reaper announced that the next 60-90 says are “officially magazine hunting season and” offered these telltale signs.

Take a good look. Many ads? Can you get the same stuff easily on the web? Does the content seem pointless? It may be time to start saving back issues as souvenirs of the "good old magazine days."

We would add the following: How sharply focused is the editorial? How fetching are the covers? Are retail copies moving? Is there effective consumer marketing going on? (This last is based on the touching notion that consumer magazines are consumer products and as such might even benefit from consumer marketing.) Is there any marketing going on at all? Does it vibrate with today and tomorrow or does it reek of yesterday?

24 October 2007

A New Kind of Hope

In his latest “Bo Sacks Speaks Out,” Bob Sacks tells of the plaintive reader requests for good news about the survival of print. He honestly and sympathetically explains that he tries to find positive gems and that he does pass along what he finds. But there isn’t very much.

He says:

"So in my writings and my daily newsletter, I am offering a new kind of hope. Nature abhors a vacuum. For every job that is eliminated in print there are even more new jobs created in the digital arena. Look it up. It is in the US census bureau data. Graphics jobs, editorial jobs, production jobs, and jobs we have never heard of. Those jobs are the new frontier. And it is growing by leaps and bounds."

And concludes:

"What I am dead sure of is the future direction of information distribution. The king of the information forest is not tree based life, but silicon based information distribution."

Allow me to insert my own two bytes. Two factors and two factors alone will determine if the tree goes the way of the dinosaur — technology and the marketplace.

Is there available technology to emulate the print magazine digitally? Almost. We already have specifically magazinoid digital formats. We are awaiting a relatively cheap reader. And there is a sense it is coming, so help me Microsoft.

The marketplace is trickier. Marketers and technologists can reason, declare, insist, bluster and foist all they want; but consumers (you know . . . people?) decide what makes sense to them and what doesn’t..

In the mid-‘80s I was at a 20th Century Fox Home Video press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show. The news? The studio declared it would not distribute to any video dealers who let their customers rent instead of buy. So, how did that turn out?

It is entirely possible that current and future magazine buyers will decide that paper covers screen— no matter how light of weight, portable, convenient, paperish the screening device is. But considering the current and growing comfort with the screen and the digital technology behind it, I’d have to say paper is a paper tiger

As I asked previously, when was the last time you said, “send me a photocopy” and the last time you said, “send me a link?”

15 October 2007

Digital, Digital, Digital

Steve Ballmer of Microsoft delivered more than a keynote at the opening of the Association of National Advertisers conference last week. He delivered a shot across the bow of traditional media, including our friend the print magazine.

He stated that in 10 years, all media would be digital and delivered over the Net.

Advertising Age reported the following:

"What if in 10 years we can give you a screen that's this light, this manipulable," he said, pulling a sheet of crumpled paper from his pocket. "That's what hardware will permit over the next 10 years."

Here at Magazine Daze we agree with him. But sad to say his prediction did not receive unanimous agreement.

Brand Week reported

While some of Ballmer’s futurism (such as digital media that’s as thin and malleable as paper) seemed a bit too sci-fi, attendee Eric Leininger said never bet against Microsoft’s predictions.


others, however, weren’t buying. Motorola CMO Casey Keller said that Ballmer “was speaking in hyperbole. At a high level he is right, but I don’t think traditional media will die in 10 years.”

Come on folks, that paper-thin reader is coming. After all if we can put a golf ball on the moon . . .etc., etc.

03 October 2007

Cell Phone Novels

In Web mag 3:AM Roland Kelts tells about how the recording industry is trying to cope with the downloadable, digital sea change. Kelts, author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US, suggests the US publishing industry might be in worst shape than the music biz. US book publishers, he suggests, are in denial. He cites as contrast the Japanese embrace of “cell phone novels.”

Kelts writes,

“when I raised the topic of cell phone novel downloads as a promising new format for writers like me and publishers like mine in the U.S., a prominent and progressive editor from one of New York’s major international houses shook his head. “They’d just outsource the work [of producing the downloads] to someone in Chennai [India],” he said, referring to his superiors. “And it would just be a mess.”

He adds,

“When the concept of the electronic book (E-book) surfaces at the American Book Association conventions, or other major book fairs, Western publishers begin their moaning and dread. But in Japan, the success of downloadable cell phone novels is being celebrated by young editors, who are pursuing the format avidly.”

If it’s any consolation to our bibliopeers, the magazine industry has a louder chorus of digital deniers. The most forward of these talk about cross-platforms —marketing and content programs that encompass Web and print and mobile and whatever other media platform buzzword is floating around. Fine!

But this neatly ignores the evidence that the foundations of print magazine publishing —readership, advertising, circulation —are collapsing.

Indicators, Shmindicators

There’s a simple formula that always helps when writing a blog about magazines. Just start with the phrase, “Samir Husni writes, “ . . .” and then blithely go on to agree or disagree with quoted comment, while adding a riff of your own. What’s the point of being involved with magazines if you can’t be formulaic? So here goes.

In yesterday’s Bulldog Reporter’s Daily’ Dog, “Samir Husni writes,

“When sporting events see small crowds, you don't hear the managers bemoaning the death of a sport; when stocks prices fall, you don't hear CEOs complaining that money is no longer a viable product; but for some reason a drop in new magazine launches makes our industry think our days are numbered.

The numbers this year are lackluster at best, but there is no reason to think this is the first step down a slippery slope to the death of the magazine industry. Just as many other industries experience every few years, we are seeing nothing more than a market correction. I said a few years back that we would see something like this during 2007 and 2008 with a rebound to normal form in 2009.”

Okay. Professional sports are not going out of business and money is probably here for the long haul. BUT some sports do crash and burn when they can’t take root. And some sports franchises move to (they hope) greener pastures. When people with means find one marketplace isn’t working, they move their action into an entirely marketplace.

I’m not sure that the quantity of magazine launches is a reliable indicator of industry health. I suspect they certainly are a good barometer of both individual and zeitgeist passion, and perhaps a slight indicator of the prevalence of bipolar disorder. The quantity of new specials and annuals might deserve notice. These are forays by experienced publishers into established markets.

The article’s main thrust was to remind PR practitioners of the classic rule of pitching: Know thy audience. In this case, Samir Husni was advising publicists that mass email blasts are not as effective as targeting niche publications and niche specialty freelancers.

It got me to musing, possibly even thinking. One of my wonderments about the consumer magazine segment is how little it relies on marketing to consumers. Its major marketing efforts are directed at advertisers and retailers. We understand why, of course. But isn’t the magazine a consumer product? Aren’t quality, quantity and loyalty of readership the foundation on which advertising and single sales are based? Or am I missing something?

29 September 2007

Finding a Pulse

The 28 September issue of PDNPulse (published online by Photo Dsistrict News) offers encouraging news to magazines — and I don’t agree with a word of it.

It quotes the Economist.

To wit:

There are good reasons why magazine owners should not feel despondent … many of the pleasing characteristics of magazines—their portability and glossiness, for instance—cannot be matched online. And magazines are not losing younger readers in droves in the way that newspapers are … On the advertising side, magazines are faring much better than newspapers, which are losing big chunks of revenue as classified advertising shifts online. Advertisers like the fact that in many genres, such as fashion, readers accept and value magazine ads and even consider them part of the product.”

My response:

  1. Although those pleasing characteristics cannot be found online currently, why assume that a digital device —oh say, something like an iPhone — will not come along and totally disrupt paper.
  2. Lucky magazines! They’re not crashing like newspapers. They’re just slowly wasting away.
  3. And yes, readers do “accept and value magazine ads” and they will continue to do so — no matter what form the magazine may take.
Actually the Economist article does an extensive analysis of the magazine industry and its good news for magazines section is brief and not much of a balm.

In the same article, PDNPulse cites Advertising Age coverage of an MPA breakfast. At this meeting Economist publisher Paul Rossi said that as the increasingly eco-aware public looks at the retail sector’s awful waste of paper and petrol, "We as an industry are next on the list as a target.” He also said that the public will continue to accept magazines in paper form.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to think so.


It's been a bit since the last post but here I am. again. I thought I might call your attention to two comments about my 24 June post. It's called "SubHub's Super List" and ventures one guess about the future of custom publishing. See below.

07 August 2007

CDs and Magazines

The London Telegraph has a story about the magazine business in its business pages today (7 August 2007). Philip Aldrick reported on declining revenues, at EMI. His lead is "The demise of the CD is accelerating. EMI yesterday revealed that its first-quarter revenues from the music format had dropped by nearly a fifth."

Okay, the article is about the recording business, but we should take heed. EMI, one of the recording industry's Giants, was purchased recently for £2.4 billion. That's a lot of pounds but it's a heavyweight company. The article also noted that EMI "posted a 26pc leap in digital revenues."

You don't have to be a graphologist to see the handwriting on the wall.

Let's look at the timeline of recorded sound. Edison applied for a patent for the tin foil cylinder phonograph at the end of 1877. This launched what was to be the cylinder era. The 78 rpm disk became entrenched by the ‘20s. 1948 marked the birth of the 33 1/3 long-playing vinyl record from Columbia records. RCA struck back in 1949 with the 45 rpm. In 1963, Philips gave us the compact tape cassette. Sony, working with its partner Philips, introduced the CD player in 1982 and the compact disc. The CD-ROM has been a commercially available recording medium since 1983.

And now digital downloads are poised to replace CD-ROMs. Despite the recording industry's resources and resistance, the marketplace has voted with its feet — or rather, with its digits. Those pesky consumers apparently want downloadable media. The more they get it, the more they want it. We can chirp happily about the wonders of print — especially its virtues and longevity; but nothing is permanent and — dare I say it?— nothing is sacred.

30 July 2007

Good and Bad News for Print from Deloitte

An Advertising Age article, cited by Bob Sacks, contains some very good news for print magazines; but it also is spiced with a bit of foreboding. The piece ("Who Still Reads Magazines? Just About Everybody" by Brian Steinberg) reports on a study of media consumption by Deloitte Services' Technology, Media & Telecommunications group. The study reveals that while the various generational cohorts differ in their media use, they also show commonalities. And that's where we come to the print magazine category.
The survey reveals, according to Ad Age
Almost three-fourths of all consumers choose to read [magazines] even though they can find the same information online. There is also a greater receptivity overall to print ads compared with internet ads, the firm found.
But before we roll out a magazine industry campaign that trumpets this welcome finding, let's not neglect the article's conclusion:
Looking toward the future, Deloitte found that there appears to be significant demand for a portable, stand-alone device that consumers can use to view content as well as communicate with others.
Apparently, nearly 40% of the sample if, left to their own devices, would love to have their media content moved to their own devices.

27 July 2007

New portable, digital magazine medium

Texterity has released a new platform to access publications on your Apple iPhone (not my iPhone because I don’t care for one just yet), according to knowledgespeak.com (which covers the scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishing sector. The digital edition readers see emulates the magazine, as published. It’s a beta test and 20 publications are taking part and providing free iPhone editions of their mags.

The magazines, according to a Texterity press release are:

The American Lawyer, ALM Media

Baseline, Ziff Davis Media

Cabinet Maker, Watt Publishing Company

CIO Insight, Ziff Davis Media

Cottage Living, Time, Inc.

Craft, O'Reilly Media

eWEEK, Ziff Davis Media

Elite Traveler, Universal Media

ID Magazine, F+W Publications

Industry Week, Penton Media

Make, O'Reilly Media

Northern Home & Cottage, Prism Media

Oracle Magazine, Oracle Publishing

Popular Science, Bonnier Magazine Group

Quest Magazine, Quest Media

Quick & Simple, Hearst Corporation

Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Ready Made, Meredith Corporation

Statement Magazine, EJJ Publications

Taste of Home, Reiman Media Group

Telephony, Penton Media

Vibe, Vibe Media

WoodenBoat, WoodenBoat Publications

Knowledgespeak reports that Texterity’s iPhone interface uses “the company’s long-standing ‘browser-only format’ that does not require Flash or plug-ins to ensure broad compatibility and easy access.”

Several publishers quoted in the press release offer warm sentiments to the effect of “wowee, the iPhone owner is a great demographic and we want ‘em.”

The Texterity iPhone option is browsed — not downloaded. Still, it brings us closer to the day when the magazine as a portable, digital medium is the (pardon the expression) norm.

23 July 2007

From toys to mags…is it the new convergence?

Samir Husni, Mr. Magazine, offers the existence of two new magazines --- Barbie and Hot Wheels as proof that print has many days left. He says:
For anyone who still doubts the future of magazines, and print in general, here are two new magazines that were launched this year celebrating toys, yes toys…

So if a company invests money in an old technology, then that technology is safe? Putting the irrelevant premise aside, I too find joy in the ingenuity and vision people bring to the creation of new titles. The expanding universe of niches instills much awe. I still miss Yo-Yo World which, by the way, also was based on a toy.

21 July 2007

Magazine City

We know two things about the above photo.
  1. I should forget about photography as a career.
  2. The picture is a metaphor for the print magazine's downfall (and perhaps a snarky photo op).

16 July 2007

Kids to Print Media: Well . . . Duh

Some years ago, while at a magazine industry conference, I sat at a breakfast table with a bright young man who worked for a wholesaler.

“Within 15 years,” BYM said, there won’t be any newspapers.”

“Sure there will,” I said. “We just don’t know what form they’ll take.”

As it turns out we both may be proven right.

The New York Times reports that “Only 16 percent of the young adults surveyed aged 18 to 30 said that they read a newspaper every day and 9 percent of teenagers said that they did.”

This and a lot more depressing stuff comes out of a paper, “Young People and News” released by Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

While newspapers and, by extension, magazines (oh, say for instance Jane) matter less to that perpetually perplexing group known as “The Kids,” portable media do matter. When print magazines and newspapers finally go to that great parrot cage in the sky, their digital counterparts may well be going strong in whatever device takes its place beside the iPod and iPhone.

01 July 2007

Er-uh-excuse me. The ship is sinking.

Bob Sacks reports back from the Periodical and Book Association of America(PBAA) meeting. He and Samir Husni had a stimulating debate. There were some thoughtful and hope-inducing presentations. But there also was a shocking supply of self-destructive conventional wisdom. It was as if some industry people thought it okay to steer through the icebergs. Apparently there was a supply chain panel and a wholesaler told of a program that reduced inefficiencies. This was good; but another panelist dismissed the results by trotting out that old chestnut, "cut the draw and you cut the sales."
Sacks notes
Anyone that tells you there absolutely cannot be improvement in the print-ten-copies-and-sell-three model is leading you towards a big iceberg in an increasingly digitized sea. Get off now or get off later, it's your decision, but I guarantee you are getting off that ship or sinking with it.

I can attest to the self-delusional conventional wisdom that poisons the magazine publishing industry. In preparation for the launch of Magazine Retailer magazine, I asked a number of leading publishing people what information they thought I should deliver to retailers. They told me the following:
Since the magazine category is one of the most profitable in a retail store, they should know that they should devote more space to magazines.

I thought, thank you very much. I'm going to tell retailers what does and doesn't sell in their stores. That was just the first of the many quaint notions that it was my privilege to encounter. But jeez, I thought the "cut the draw" routine had gone to that great shredder in the sky.

24 June 2007

SubHub's Super List

SubHub is stating a simple truth about digital publishing when it compares conventional printing on paper to the Internet. The lessons are here not only for conventional publishers but for custom publishers as well. Custom publishers — companies that create and manage publications (i.e. marketing tools) for nonpublishers — are an esteemed part of our community. They provide service, eyeballs, work, and a really neat (if not necessarily new) paradigm. Whether using the single sponsor or multi-advertiser approach, the editorial and demographic focus they provide tends to rock.

Even so, SubHub may be showing a bit of the future of custom publishing. The company’s stated mission is to provide “an affordable solution for publishers who wanted to control their own site and have the option to make money in different ways from their content. . .[the site would be] comprehensive yet simple to use; fully managed, but would leave the publisher in control.”

Granted, most SubHub clients seem to have deeper roots in products and services than in content. Neverthless, the SubHub tools enable smaller businesses to do their own custom pubs.

20 June 2007

Felix Dennis on Editing

The sale of Dennis Publishing's Blender, Stuff and Maxim US editions pretty much takes a sharp mind out of the U.S. publishing biz. A snapshot of how Felix Dennis thinks can be found in a report I wrote for the Spring 2000 issue of Magazine Retailer. It goes a little something like this.

On December 2, Felix Dennis of Dennis Publishing was the luncheon "entertainment" at a meeting of the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). His stateside publications РMaxim and Stuff Рare relative newcomers to the North American scene. Their verve and, even more importantly, their success have made Dennis Publishing a player in the new world market. In a brash, droll and informative talk, he told the assembled New York editors about the power of single copy. The cr̬me de la of prime time editing understood this intellectually and many had personal experience with the concept.

He cited some delightful statistics about Maxim's growth. The print run jumped from 175,000 copies to 2,700,000 in 25 issues. An MRI study revealed the average Maxim reader is a 30-year-old male with a median household income of $62,000 a year. He reported that the October 1999 issue "brought in 55,000 new subscription blow-in cards." Then he topped that nugget with the news that Maxim's newsstand percentage sale is currently 73% nationwide."

And then he shared his company's authentic success secrets. Staffing levels are lower than the norm which leads to "an environment where creativity and risk-taking dominates our company's culture." He also told the New York editors that "the cult of the celebrity editor" has no adherents at Dennis Publishing.

"The concept of one man or one woman," said Dennis, "as the big cheese, the font of all wisdom, is, in my judgement utter baloney. It leads to self-indulgence and a pomposity, which creeps inevitably onto the pages of the magazine."

He said that his company "worships at the altar of the reader" and that "the advertising community is a welcome and essential element of our congregation; but they are not invited to conduct the service or choose the hymns."

Dennis then gave a breakdown of Maxim's editorial content by category and confided that his company "arrived at these allocations of editorial content by the astonishing methodology of asking our readers what they wanted . . . and then supplying it." In looking at other magazines he pointed to "a gap in real affinity between reader and content" and observed that the "paid circulations of hundreds of magazines have been declining for years." To attract subscribers, American magazines have, according to Dennis, have employed such "promotional smoke and mirrors" as "junk mail drops, promotional giveaways and stamp sheets."

He suggested another way: "What if magazine subscriptions could be driven primarily by newsstand sales, and newsstand sales driven by editorial that connected with the reader." Dennis acknowledges that he does do some direct mail and that he has a three-person circulation department.

"I believe," said Dennis, "that the real circulation department at Maxim is called 'the editorial team." And that is the secret of reader-driven success."

15 June 2007

The Meaing of Magazines

As we ponder the magazine’s fate, it’s kind of fun to look at the first time the word was defined. We take you now to A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson. A magazine, sayeth the good doctor is:

A storehouse, commonly an arsenal or armoury, or repository of provisions. Of late this word has signified a miscellaneous pamphlet, from a periodical miscellany named the Gentleman's Magazine, by Edward Cave.
Built into the very meaning of a magazine, then, are the notions of power and sustenance. You can learn more about Cave and his magazine at John Lienhard's "Engines of Ingenuity " site.

07 June 2007

Learning From Magazines

In his blog, the Inksniffer, veteran British journo/international consultant John Duncan talks about what newspapers could learn from magazines. My God, man, haven’t papers suffered enough?

Actually he was reacting to a speech about “The Magazine in the Age of the Internet” that Canadian corporate exec Isabelle Marcoux of Transcontinental Inc. gave on 6 June at Mags University Conference. And he makes some good points.

Duncan says

Magazines are the handsome cousins of newspapers. They look like us in lots of ways, only they're prettier and they smell better. We could marry them if we wanted to and even have kids, but in the end we're just not attracted to them
.He states that the lessons newspapers could learn from magazines might include “keep launching with confidence . . .try much harder to make newspapers beautiful . . .see the internet not in terms of terrifying migration but useful augmentation . . .copy relentlessly from abroad.”

I'm convinced. Maybe magazines could learn something also. Miracles happen, so help me Christopher Hitchens..

06 June 2007

Don't Get Me Wrong

Don't get me wrong. I love magazines.
And to be honest I love print. Or maybe I've been indoctrinated since birth about the eternal life of print that I stammer and shiver at the thought of a (-gulp-) world without print. (A chorus, if you please, of "Gimme That Old-Time Religion.") No matter. Print is dead.
But back to my magophilia. Fern Siegel's witty review of Bookmarks magazine in MediaPost shows why we love this medium.
She notes:
The 5-year-old bimonthly is chock-full of reviews; it summarizes more than 500 from over 50 major pubs. It’s a digest for those obsessed with new books and a user-friendly way to keep informed — and impress your friends.
She cites other features worthy of notice, such as a regularly-appearing piece, devoted to a past writer or era. She concludes by praising Bookmark's "devotion to literature."

She paints a picture of a magazine that delivers focus, smarts and passion to its subject matter. . .in other words, it exemplifies the qualities we have come to associate with magazines.

05 June 2007

Okay, I have a flair for the obvious. (Why else would I have felt at home in magazines?) So here’s my two cents.

The magazine industry’s current hell only starts with cultural tsunami stirred by the Web. Yes, there’s been a migration of eyeballs to the Web. Yes, there’s been a migration of advertising to the Web. And yes, yes, yes, the Web is becoming a favored source for information and ideas.

The deeper problem is the entrenched structures and conventional wisdom of the publishing industry.

For example,The overwhelming majority of marketing and financial decisions are based, in my opinion, on enticing advertisers and retailers. Not a sin, per se. But aren’t they forgetting something? Oh yes, the readership.I

I know firsthand that publishers like, respect, maybe even love their readers. They adore the reader’s passion, knowledge and commitment. But I think that ultimately publishers do not see readers as customers but as bait.

23 May 2007

How do you like them peanuts?

If the medium is the message, then clearly BusinessWeek is declaring "come fly with me."
According to Advertising Age, the McGraw-Hill business title is partnering with Brand Connections to put ads and BW columns on airplane table trays. Now if only they could find a way to put some food on those trays.
I guess we can expect a magazine industry study that shows table trays will not replace print -- at least in the immediate future.

22 May 2007

Et tu, Pecker?

In his Ad Age "The Media Guy" column, the ever insightful Simon Dumenco uses the Ron Burkle purchase of the Primedia enthusiast group to make a point: What's wrong with magazines? Look at executives within the industry.

Or as he puts it "the print-media industry is not only filled with f--k-ups, it coddles them." He hopes that Burkle, a newcomer to publishing might come in with less baggage and more vision.

I suspect that we already have passed the rearranging-the-chairs stage. (It comes somewhere after grief and denial.) And we need to look beyond print.

18 May 2007

Newspapers Here to Stay?

A new report from the World Association of Newspapers sets "the record straight" on questions about the "relevance, vibrancy and future vitality of newspapers in this fast-growing digital age."

Glad that's settled.

Of course we'll always have newspapers. And we'll always dial our phones and type our copy.

01 May 2007

Backing Up Is Hard To Do?

Okay, I don’t back up my files nearly enough (if you consider never to be not nearly enough). Still, Business 2.0 has made it a point to remind the world that backing up is a wise policy. So,when the magazine’s system crashed in the midst of production, salvation came in the form of an unlikely ally — the lawyers. Here’s the story.

26 April 2007

Great Covers

While print magazines stll are with us, let's remember to take care of basics. As editor of Magazine Retailer, I had the good fortune to interview ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) Hall of Famer John Mack Carter. He has developed a set of cover design principles to grab the consumer during the 60-second first impression sniff test. Most of the wisdom he shared pertains to the cover lines - a/k/a blurbs or sell lines. I offer his insights here for you to measure against your own experience.
"We put the blurbs where they're most likely to be exposed," says Carter. "We run the logo large at the top -- often with a banner behind it. We run it as clean as we can so it can be seen from as far away as possible and seen before other logos. We don't believe in covering up the name with the head of a model, which you can do once you're well known.
"We also have a number of guidelines that say you ought to have interesting blurbs about things people want to know about or are likely to want to know about. I'm a great believer that the sum of your cover lines ought to represent a value the magazine has that is greater than the price of the magazine. You can almost take a little calculator out and say what that value is worth. Dollar signs should be in there indicting that dollar is not money to be spent but money to be saved and the magazine is going to tell you how to do that. The magazine should do something for you or you're not going to buy it. Make your thighs slimmer, make you handsomer, make your abdominal muscles ripple, make you richer make you appear to be more intelligent and make you to come back for the next issue and buy another one of these magazines."
Another Carterism is to make a boastful promise.
"If you don't have something good to say about yourself," he says, "nobody else is going to, which means there are some superlatives which are useful [such as "best" or "most"]. As a matter of fact, the well-edited magazine can have superlatives on the cover. because it is the best accumulation of information about that subject."
Carter reports that when the first issue of Country Living came out, it immediately made money.
"You're not supposed to do that," we told him.
"It," he responded with a straight face," was awkward explaining it."

25 April 2007

Harper's Bazaar vs Vogue

It’s battle of the bands time as Phyllis Fine of Mediapost.com compares Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar with each other. I was pleased to learn that a Vogue article “tests out the theory that shoulder pads are coming back.”

24 April 2007

Tell people the print magazine is dead and you’ll get one of two responses.

1. Nonsense!
This Chicago Tribune article (registration required), for example, cites the tactile, portable virtues of paper.

2. Tell me something new.

Reluctantly, I’m in the second camp. The structures that have served magazines so well for so long are, shall we say, challenged. Cheap subscriptions, advertising support, retail distribution just don’t have the magic.

Certainly some magazines (in-flights, for example) have more reliable structures than others, than most. And it’s not like a comet will strike the Earth and eliminate all magazines at once.

But still, when was the last time you said, “send me a Xerox;” and when was the last time you said, “send me a link?”