Archive for February, 2010

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“Attack the Stack” Ushers the First National Magazine Day…

February 25, 2010

It is a good sign of things to come. In fact it is a very good sign that this National Magazine Day is not aimed at the advertisers or ad agencies and is not sponsored by a magazine publisher or even an ad club in this city or that. It is the first National Magazine Day organized by a reader, an avid reader who discovered his first magazine, Highlights for Children, at a very young age and never looked back.

His name is Kevin Smokler, a writer and author who lives in San Francisco, CA and the creator of what he hopes to be a national annual holiday event. Mr. Smokler writes on his website, “On Saturday, February 27th, ordinary folk across America (like you, like me) will spend the day “attacking the stack” or reading their way through the unread magazines they’ve accumulated. If you’re a big goody-goody and read your magazines straight through the moment they arrive, you may spend the day at your local library/bookstore/university exploring new periodicals, discussing your favorite magazines with friends, tweeting your favorite articles. As you wish.”

I asked Kevin about the origins of his idea, and his answer did not surprise me a bit. He told me that as a child he used to watch his dad, after dinner daily, go to his study room where a pile of magazines covered his entire checkerboard coach. “It is time to attack the stack, dad would say,” Kevin said. “It was the time to relax.” Kevin learned to humanize magazines and build relationships with them. “A magazine is like a person who will have something for you, whether you have five minutes or two hours,” he said.

Magazine Day is “a celebration of magazines and attacking the stack of unread titles piling up next to your bathroom sink.” Kevin invites folks no matter where they are, to “invite friends over and rumage though each other’s stacks (of magazines). Spend the day reading at your local coffee shop or library. Multch your magazines and construct a giant paper mache wildebeest. It’s up to you. The idea is to spend the day having fun and forming community around a shared love of magazines.”

Congratulations to Kevin on such a great idea, and congratulations to all magazine lovers on finally having a day they can call their own. To find out about the first ever National Magazine Day click here.

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John Harrington on The State of the Newsstands: Bloom in the midst of the doom and gloom

February 23, 2010

If anyone can put a positive and thoughtful spin on the “State of the Newsstand” in the United States after the “2009 worst year ever,” that person would be John Harrington, the founder and editor of The New Single Copy, and the man who knows more about the newsstand business than anyone I know. He has a wealth and depth of information that helps simplify the complex state of the newsstand (hopefully).

Armed with a lot of numbers, Mr. Harrington was my guest speaker at the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism. He revealed to the students that “last year was the worst year ever in the history of the newsstands, yet we distributed more than 9,000 titles on the nation’s stands.” Yes, folks, you read that right. There were over 9,000 different titles (ranging from a one time appearance to a weekly presence) on the nation’s stands. However, Mr. Harrington revealed that his preliminary findings of the key industry performance figures for 2009 were not as encouraging as the number of titles available at the marketplace. The dollar sales for all magazines (audited and not-audited) was $4.44 billion, down 8.1% from 2008 and the total unit sales was 1.11 billion down 12.9% from 2008. The sales efficiency for 2009 was 36.0% up a little from 2008’s 35.2%.

Mr. Harrington also revealed that his research shows that based on available data from 316 magazines in 2001, the average subscription price for a magazine back then was $1.22, and the average single copy price was $2.83 for a ratio of 43% of the subscription price. In 2008, his research on 437 magazines shows that the average subscription price was $1.12 (down 8.2% from 2001), and average single copy prices were $3.76 (up 32.9% from 2001) for a ratio of 30% of the subscription price. His conclusion: we are still using the subscription copies as “a give away” to meet the rate base. That means we are still focusing on the advertising driven model as the major source of revenue. He went one step further and used as an illustration the revenues of the number one selling magazine on the nation’s newsstands Cosmopolitan. The latest available figures show that Cosmo (although it is the number one newsstand seller) generates 76% of its revenues from advertising, 20% from the newsstands and 4% from subscriptions. Keep in mind that Cosmo sells almost double the number of copies on the newsstands compared to subscriptions.

According to Mr. Harrington, Cosmo is not alone. In 2001 the revenue sources for the major 153 magazines were divided as follows: Advertising 70.9%, Subscriptions 18.9%, Newsstand 10.2%. In 2008 the revenue sources for the major 196 magazines were as follows: Advertising 79.2%, Subscription 11.9%, Newsstand 8.9%.

A lot of the current problems in the American publishing model are related to the economy of revenues that model has depended on for years. When the economy tanked in 2008, the business model followed. Mr. Harrington’s offered three “hopeful” predictions and one “better be”:

1. The newsstand will return to being friendly (hopefully)
2. Subscriptions marketing will be more rational (hopefully)
3. The publishing financial model will be more balanced (hopefully)
4. The world will be a better place (it better be)

And to cap it all, he reminded the students that “the newsstand IS the place where success in our business can truly be measured.” Why, you may ask? “Because folks have to pay the cover price to get the magazine, there is no other way around it.”

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New Magazine Launches: A Big January 2010 Comeback

February 8, 2010

January may have been the coldest month weather wise so far, but it had been anything but cold for the new magazine launches. Almost double the number of new magazines were started last month than in 2009. January 2010 witnessed the arrival and birth of 56 new titles for the first time on the nation’s newsstands. The 56 titles of 2010 compare with only 28 titles in 09, and 43 titles in 08, but still a little bit short of the 63 titles of January 2007.

From those 56 new titles only 15 were published with any intended frequency while the remaining 41 were either book-a-zines or one shots celebrating specific events and foods (college football, comfort food, etc.) Leading the pack of January 2010 are magazines such as the advertising free, circulation driven My Home My Style from August Home Publishing in Des Moines, IA (six times a year with a subscription price of $19.95), and the web and television based getmarried.com publication Get Married published by the Atlanta, GA Get Married Media, Inc (four times a year with a cover price of $4.99). And talking about jumping from the web to print (what a great new discovery) is Hearst’s Delish.com new magazine Light & Delish that sells for $9.99 and comes full with recipes “developed and tested by the editors of Good Housekeeping, Redbook & Country Living.”

Also appearing for the first time on the nation’s stands is the British import HEPT Media Ltd. Elevator (quarterly with a $5.99 cover price) that is making its debut on the United States shores providing information on private equity, luxury and philanthropy. And celebrating its first anniversary by reaching out to the nation’s stands is Cheese Connoisseur published by Phoenix Media Network, Inc. in Boca Raton, FL (four times a year with a cover price of $5.95). Just in case you were a connoisseur of “art on the body,” the beautiful Inked magazine launched their first spin off Inked Girls filled with “world’s most beautiful women with tattoos.” Inked Girls comes with a bonus “Sailor Jerry pin up 2010 calendar” and costs $7.99 per issue.

So here you have it, a recap of the first month of the second decade of the 21st century showing no signs of cold, death or any frozen in on paper experience. Also recapping the numbers of launches of the last three years here are the latest numbers after we’ve added some, deleted few duplicates and went through 36 boxes of new magazines each representing a month since the beginning of 2007. The total number of launched in 2007 stands at 713, the total number of launches in 2008 stands at 685 and the total number of launches in 2009 stands at 747.

Enjoy the early signs of the crop of 2010 and keep on working your magic in ensuring a print future in a digital age.

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From God to Indie… Good Design IS Worthy of Repeating!

February 7, 2010


Back in the 60s, TIME magazine ran the famous cover “Is God Dead?” in red and black. Half a century later Christianity Today magazine ran a similar cover answering that famous question by stating “God Is Not Dead Yet.” This month Paste magazine took the exact TIME magazine design and asked a similar question, only replacing God with Indie? We may have to wait half a century to get the answer to Paste magazine’s question, however one thing is for sure, good design never goes out of style and is worthy of repeating time and time again (pun intended).

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Innovation in Print: The Qlix’s Experience Tenisha Anderson’s New Magazine in an Envelope

February 5, 2010


They say good things come in small packages, and they are right! When the first issue of Qlix magazine landed on my desk, WOW, was my first reaction. I know I have been writing about innovation in print every now and then, but now I am starting to see more of that innovation coming my way. Maybe, at last, that light at the end of the tunnel is not the train coming after all.

Last year I wrote about Abe’s Penny (it is one year old this month), a magazine that comes in weekly post cards mailed to the readers one card at a time. It is an attempt to utilize the sense that print, and only print, can master: A product you anticipate, you touch and feel, it comes to you, it seeks your address and knocks on your door steps, and then you sit back, relax, grab that glass of wine or cup of coffee and get engaged in an experience of the most “me-time” that can ever exist.

Well, Qlix magazine, published by TenStyle Media Inc. of Chicago, provides such an experience. It is innovative, creative, romantic, and above all engaging. It is a “found” experience to use a phrase from the tag line of the magazine. The magazine is divided into four sections: The Envelope (the cover of the magazine) that holds the content, Collectible Cards (interviews/profiles of emerging talents and concepts in the fashion industry), Fashion Poster (fashion visual editorial), and Poster Magazine (article features, columns and departments). The inspiration of the magazine comes from overseas and similar innovative magazine concepts such as South Africa’s MK Bruce Lee and Spain’s La Mas Bella magazines.

I asked Tenisha Anderson, the magazine’s publisher and editor three questions regarding Qlix magazine that aims to create “a visual and kinesthetic experience within an independent publication that celebrates all emerging talents and concepts within fashion semi-annually.” What follows are my questions and her answers.

Samir Husni: How did you come with this idea and why?

Tenisha Anderson: During my time at Colophon 2009 in Luxembourg, being around various independent magazine publishers and learning how they started, and just seeing how enthusiastic people were about print magazines really inspired me to pursue a long time goal of starting a magazine. Qlix’s packet format was inspired by several publications I came across at Colophon 2009 that bucked the normality of what a magazine is aesthetically suppose to look like and I was drawn to their magazines and seeing what they are about just from their unique format, more so then many of the others that would typical catch my eye. Therefore, I felt that if I was going to create a magazine, and a fashion magazine at that, that I needed to add my own ingenuity of how I wanted to present it. I didn’t want Qlix to appear as your typical independent fashion publication, although the content of Qlix covers emerging fashion talent (and who doesn”t), we also focus on emerging fashion concepts that are coming out. Plus the talent we cover isn’t only an emerging fashion designer, or photographer, but we also try to cover the talent that is sometimes forgotten (i.e. business mavens behind a new fashion pr firm or retailer, or a fresh forward illustrator, a crazy-skilled textile designer, fashion writer, a trend forecaster, etc.). Qlix knows it takes a village to showcase the end result.

SH: How important is the print component of the “experience” of the Emerging, Fashion and Found?

It’s very important, because the print component of the Qlix brand is to show that “Print IS NOT Dead”, but just evolving. Although Qlix is a multiplatformed brand with Qlix magazine, Qlixmag.com and the upcoming Qlix TV, the experience that the readers get with the print component is a kinesthetic one, encouraging reader interaction with the content, building a cohesive community between the reader and the publication.
Thus, whenever our readers “experience” Qlix magazine , they become inspired/motivated by what their peers, people just like them, are doing. Inspiration doesn’t always come from the top of the totem pole, and exposure for an emerging talent can come from some of the unlikeliest places. In a nutshell, I feel when you see what your peers are doing and that people are taking notice of that, then hopefully it will motivate you to do the same. That’s the Qlix experience.

SH: Why fashion and do you see this experience going into other categories?

I chose to do a fashion publication for several reasons, 1) fashion is my background, both educational and career-wise; 2) I’m part of the market I’m targeting; 3) I wanted to create a magazine where it didn’t seem like work to me, no matter how much research I do or how many hours I put into Qlix, it never feels like a job. Plus, fashion appeals to so many of the senses, I don’t think fashion magazines will ever be irrelevant. I hope this type of “experience” goes into other categories, although I do agree with your last interviewee, Magnus Greaves, that all magazines that are in print right now are not best served by that format. However, I do believe such creativity and innovativeness regarding the aesthetic of print magazines could revitalize the industry again and subdue all the naysayers that want to see the doom of print.

Here you have it. A new experience waiting for you to immerse into. Don’t wait, click here to order your free copy of the limited edition first issue, and get ready to relax and enjoy.

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