Archive for November, 2007

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Bringing Down the House of Reiman: Roy Reiman’s on the record response

November 30, 2007

I have never written a blog that generated more responses and counter responses than the one I wrote on Bringing Down the House of Reiman one “Ripple” at a Time take one and take two. My friend Bob Sacks picked up the blog on his electronic newsletter Bosacks.com and even more people responded to the blog including Ellen Morgenstern, director of public relations at Reader’s Digest Association. Well, the man himself who founded Reiman publications has decided to respond to all the responses regarding my piece on Reiman publications. What follows is Roy’s response (on the record for the first time) to Ms. Morgenstern and others. Following his response is Bob Sacks’ entry regarding the matter and Ellen Morgenstern’s letter to Bob regarding the same issue. I look forward to other “on the record” comments about this important issue regarding magazine publishing, ownership and the possibility to publish magazines in this day and age with or without advertising.

Roy Reiman on setting the record straight:

“The writing has been on the wall for some time that a ‘no advertising’ model no longer works in this day and age. Even Roy Reiman’s new magazine venture, ‘Our Iowa’, accepts advertising.” –Ellen Morgenstern, Reader’s DigestThere she goes again–contending that a “no ad” magazine couldn’t make it today…and contending that even I no longer believe so, because we’re accepting advertising in Our Iowa.I’ve watched from the sidelines and tried to stay out of this fray, because I recognize that when someone buys a company, the buyer has the right to be wrong. But after seeing the quote above–for the second time at that–I can no longer resist sharing my opinion. I’ve concluded that if I don’t respond, it will not only add credence to her comment, but may appear I have no opinion or don’t care what’s happening to my old company, when the truth is I care a great deal.I don’t appreciate her implying that I no longer believe in the no-ad concept without first checking with me. The fact is I believe as strongly today as ever that it can be achieved with a national magazine that is truly different, sparkles with creativity and delivers what readers can’t easily find elsewhere. The lack of advertising was the most noticeable difference our 16 million subscribers mentioned and appreciated, and now–with the acceptance of advertising–that uniqueness is gone.The problem with Ellen’s conclusion is she’s comparing apples to tomatoes. Here’s why: With today’s printing, paper and postage costs, you need about 1 million paid subscribers to make a go of it with a no-ad magazine.Well, when you have a NATIONAL magazine directed at the U.S. population of nearly 300 million people, garnering 1 million subscribers is a reachable goal. I feel that’s still currently attainable with the right kind of magazine. As I’ve often said, if you can’t lure 1 million subscribers from a 300-million audience, maybe your new magazine isn’t really that good after all.But when you have a REGIONAL magazine, such as Our Iowa, directed at a much smaller audience (Iowa’s population is 2.8 million), any logical person would understand that attracting 1 million subscribers is out of reach. In that kind of limited market, you need the ancillary support of advertising. The comparison and facts are that simple.I’ve never been “against advertising”. My first success was with a magazine supported solely by ads, with no paid subscribers. But I also learned–with the right concept–you can make it without ads as well.We successfully launched 14 national magazines without advertising, eventually topping 16 million paid subscribers. But not one of those magazines would have made it without advertising if it had been limited to a single state or regional audience.This being the case, it bugs me big time that Ellen keeps implying I’ve “caved in” and that I no longer believe a NATIONAL magazine can make it without advertising…and bases her conclusion on what she now sees I’m doing with a REGIONAL magazine.For her to keep using me as a defense of RDA’s move to accepting advertising by asserting “even Roy Reiman knows that times have changed”, as she was quoted recently, is very disturbing, especially in view of her added comment: “It is normal to have disgruntled former employees acting as ‘sources’, but there’s always another side of the story.”I find that comment particularly interesting, when it appears she is now acting as the “source” of my thinking, without first checking my side of the story.Most bothersome of all, though, is her assertion that a “no advertising model no longer works in this day and age”. That comment minimizes and discredits the efforts of the incredibly creative crew at our company that successfully launched 14 national no-ad magazines over the years…and likely, if we surrounded up the best of them, would love the challenge of making it happen again today.
–Roy Reiman, FounderReiman Publications

Ellen Morgenstern and Bob Sacks exchanges
Bob Sacks on his bosacks.com electronic newsletter wrote:

Friends, A few weeks ago I accidentally reposted in this newsletter an article by Samir Husni about the goings on at Reiman Publishing, now owned by the RDA which is in turn actually owned by Ripplewood Holdings. It was a mistake on my part, because I had previously posted exactly the same article a month or so previously. To the best of my knowledge, it is the first time in fifteen years that I have reposted an identical article.Reader’s Digest Association has asked for an editorial correction and this is it. Mea Culpa.For the further enlightenment of our readership I will post the letter from RDA, which is printed here at their request. I am also posting Samir’s note to us on the same subject.As always, you can make up your own mind on the observations from RDA. Do you agree or disagree with the points taken?BoSacks

Ellen Morgenstern’s letter to Bob Sacks regarding my blog:

Dear Bob,I respect that you are servicing the publishing industry with your independent voice and insider’s perspective. You keep your fingers on the pulse of what’s current for publishers.Therefore, I am perplexed why you would choose to recycle Samir Husni’s column from August, where unidentified sources complain about changes taking place at the former Reiman publications under the Reader’s Digest Association. You know this is old news, and you already posted readers’ responses.After changes, it is normal to have disgruntled former employees acting as “sources,” but there’s always another side to the story.Here are a few points to consider:The writing has been on the wall for some time that a “no advertising” model no longer works in this day and age. Even Roy Reiman’s new magazine venture, “Our Iowa,” accepts advertising.The ads appear to be a non-issue for our readers. We received but a handful of letters expressing concern. (One loyal reader even sent a $5 cash donation in sympathy with the rising costs of printing and publishing!)The sale of Reiman to RDA made sense for both parties because of the natural synergies between the companies. It took some time to materialize, but by integrating the companies, the business is now headed in a much better direction than where it was at the time of the sale.The key titles – many of which had flattened out in circulation — are doing very well. Investments are being made to revitalize and sustain some of the beloved brands that otherwise might have faded. And the affinity-based strategy of supporting the Food / Entertaining and Home / Garden titles with specialized divisions, related assets and integrated marketing, is clearly designed to give the Reiman titles a great chance for a long and successful future!Change isn’t easy, but it is necessary in this rapidly evolving media landscape. We will continue to look for smart ways to bring the best content to our readers. They will ultimately decide if their interests are being served.
Ellen MorgensternDirector, Public RelationsReader’s Digest Association

And, if you are still with me, Bob’s respond to Ellen:

Ellen:I re-posted that in innocence without an agenda. On Samir’s site it was listed as a recent November release and appeared new. While on the road, I checked my database as best as I could, and, although it sounded familiar, I couldn’t find that I had sent it out before.Mea culpa.As you might expect I am an epicenter of an enormous amount of information and industry-wide emails. I have received dozens and dozens of emails on and about RDA, Ripplewood and Reiman. My guess is that it was this information overload that made me think that Samir’s article was new paralleling most the letters I have received.I will gladly write an editorial correction if you would like or empower you to write a response to my readership.Bob Sacks

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People magazine’s latest Telemag…The sound of music

November 29, 2007

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If you want to be entertained, be proactive, and listen to some good holiday music then go no further than the latest edition of People magazine “Digital magazine.” It is a special issue themed Holiday Fun and comes with all the bells and whistles an interactive digital magazine (or what I like to call Telemag) should have. The movement, the speed, the viewer driven interaction and the great sounds of music and advertising all in one. Is it People magazine? NO. Does it replace People magazine? NO. Can you enjoy it the same way you enjoy People magazine? NO. Would you use your brain less to watch it? YES. Would you know that only one company advertises in it? NO (Hint to the viewers: all the ads belong to KRAFT). Would I recommend all magazines to create something like that? YES if they can afford it and if their content supports the brand and not take away from it. Will it ever replace the print edition of People magazine? NEVER. So having said that, hurry up and click here to view the issue. It self destructs in four weeks.

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A Body from Scientific American to keep its Mind company…

November 26, 2007

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The oldest continuously published magazine in America is becoming a parent one more time. Scientific American magazine will add a new sibling to its family of magazines. In addition to the mother ship, SA now publishes SA Reports and SA Mind. Now comes to the SA Body. On newsstands Dec. 4 and on the web Dec. 12 SA Body promises to be a welcomed addition to a newly energized science magazine field that will see yet another new science magazine launch on Dec. 18, when the first issue of Science Illustrated from the Bonnier
group hits the newsstands.

I asked Bruce Brandfon, VP and Publisher of Scientific American Why Body? His response,

” We conducted extensive audience segmentation research earlier in the year which identified a “science-interested public” in excess of 40 million adults in the US. SciAm reaches 3.5 million of this market. One of the top areas of interest of those not currently part of the SciAm audience was Health. We perceived an opportunity to create a product that served these interests in the “zone” between the New England Journal of Medicine and magazines that are essentially life style magazines such as Mens Health and Self, etc So the science behind health and wellness with an emphasis on health (and not disease) is our focus. Since all of us have had to become more knowledgeable about our own health (as a result of health insurance etc) we believe that there is an educated, affluent dual audience of readers (and a web audience also) that aren’t SciAm devotees but will be interested in an authoritative source of reliable and accurate information about the subject.”

I asked Bruce why now? His response,

“In addition to the above mentioned need, we know that there is an expanding interest on the part of the educated general public about science issues, particularly when these issues have personal implications such as physical and mental health, aging, environment and “green,” education,etc. SciAm the brand believes that we can expand our franchise by reaching out to this audience both in print and digitally. This is another step in that direction (along with SA Mind and our redesigned website and flagship).”

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A new mag from Men’s Health…

November 25, 2007

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Since we are still on the Men’s Health page, the magazine announced that it is launching a new title Men’s Health Living on Dec. 4. (see ad above… with the small Living word). However, the Brits were quicker in launching their edition of Men’s Health Living on the flip side of the November issue of the UK Men’s Health. (Note the word Living is much bigger in the UK edition). If the UK edition is the preview of the USA edition, it will mean a whole new genre of magazines aimed at men (home and interior design) is on its way. Check it out on Dec. 4 in the US, or if you are like me and can’t wait, take a look at the UK Nov. issue on the US marketplace right now.

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Tech toys for the boys from Men’s Health…

November 22, 2007

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Are you looking for the “100 Best New Tech Toys for Men?” Well look no further than the December issue of Men’s Health. The magazine’s sky line invites you to flip over the magazine to look at those toys on the back cover. To my surprise, the back cover shows no toys, but instead the star of Heroes Dania Ramirez holding a camera in her hand with an added cover line “100 Sexy New Gadgets That Will Change Your Life.” I am not saying I was disappointed but rather surprised. One more action and the toys are revealed…the back cover opens to a gate-fold that shows some of the toys. The picture below is for the back cover opened…Toys or no toys, it is the season to be thankful, so many thanks to all the Mr. Magazine blog readers, and to all the friends and peers in the magazine world. Happy Thanksgiving and all the best from me and the entire staff of www.mrmagazine.com
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Hottest Magazines of the Year: Condé Nast Portfolio, Garden & Gun , Outside’s Go, JPG magazine and 13 other hot launches

November 16, 2007

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Once a year min magazine asks me to select my hottest magazine launches of the year for the period of Sept. thru October, including the hottest magazine launch of that period. This year more than 700 titles were introduced to the market place during the aforementioned period. The job was tough, but as is the case every year a choice has to be made and the 17 titles that surfaced to the top are indeed hot in all what that word embodies. Hot in terms of their vision, hot in terms of their voice and hot in terms of their values. They are all vibrant and they all deserve the awards that were presented in New York City at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. In addition to the 15 printed magazines, this year I awarded the first online/offline magazine award (JPG magazine) and the first telemag award (an online only magazine, Automotive Traveler.com) award. I have asked the editors and publishers seven questions about their magazines and the challenges they face in launching a new title in this day and age.
At the event I handed the Hottest Launch Award to Condé Nast Portfolio, and the second place went to Garden & Gun magazine with the third place went to Outside’s Go. After the awards presentation the Hottest Launch Publisher of the year David Carey of CN Portfolio worte me to say that the Hottest Launch Award “provides the ‘soul satisfaction’ that a launch culture simply thrives on.”

Check all the winners and what they have to say about their magazines here.

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Dave Eggers and the wisdom of the readers…

November 12, 2007

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I met Dave Eggers for the first time in 1994 right after he published Might magazine which I have selected in that year as one of the most notable launches of 1994. I was so impressed (and still is) by the magazine that folded after a year or so for lack of funding. Dave tried his best to secure funding for the magazine, including sending a letter to John Mack Carter at Hearst (who was publishing my Guide at that year) asking for Hearst to be involved with Might. The response from John was negative and Dave, in a very smart move, published the letter from John in Might.
Well, times have changed and as fate will have it, Dave’s odds in book and magazine publishing have changed and he is in no need to write letters to big companies asking for help in funding his great magazine ideas. He can do it on his own (or with his wife) and in a completely different way. In the November 2007 issue of The Progressive Dave is interviewed in depth about his books, organizations and magazines. One paragraph caught my attention from that interview. It was the one dealing with Might, McSweeney’s and The Believer. Nina Siegal asked him whether he fears the corrupting influence of the mass market. Here is part of his answer (which works also as a great response to all the naysayers who continue to spread the word that no one can start a magazine in this day and age):

“With Might, we did it the dumb way. We thought we had to do 100,000 circulation and we had to have all this advertising, and it was never going to happen and no one got paid, we were all perpetually disappointed, and it folded. We found out that wasn’t the way to do it.
With McSweeny’s and The Believer we decided to do the math better, to depend on the readers, not on advertisers or anyone else. If the readers think it’s good, it will keep growing. That way, there’s no compromise. The Believer ahs a circulation of 17,000 to 20,000 and I don’t know if it will ever surpass that. And get this: Because of reader support, McSweeney’s, the literary quarterly, is able to subsidize some of the more eccentric projects we take on. It’s bizarre but it can work if you depend on the wisdom of your readers.

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