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Mr. Magazine™ Musings: On Cover Testing and Other “Good” Cover Notes… and The Gift That Keeps on Giving…

December 23, 2012

Simply because the technology makes it possible, it does mean that it has to be used. Technological advances in printing have made it possible to stop the presses, change the plates, and have several different covers of the same issue of a magazine, all at a fraction of the cost. Magazines now-a-days are using technology and all the new technological advances as if there is no tomorrow. It is reaching the stage where every magazine, or so it seems, is using different cover images and cover lines between those on the newsstands and those mailed to the subscribers. Magazines are producing more than one cover of the same issue hoping that folks will buy all three, four, or even eight collectors’ covers. They are testing different logos, cover lines and designs in different markets.

Case in point the January 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping. The magazine, with a lot of fanfare, announced its newly designed and revamped magazine focusing more on GOOD and less on Housekeeping. After few months of testing the magazine settled on a logo that was adopted for use starting with the January 2013 issue. However, to my surprise, I was able to find yet another logo being used on the January issue that was not tested before. So I asked Rosemary Ellis, Good Housekeeping’s editor in chief, “why are you testing more logos after settling on the new one?” Her answer, “We are always testing cover elements, no matter when. We love the new logo and have a lot of confidence in it.” Take a look at the new logo, the new tested logo and the previous logos from December.

The newly adopted and promoted logo:
Good Housekeeping2

The “yet-one-more” tested logo
Good Housekeeping

And the December three used logos: the traditional one, the tested one and the newly adopted logo:

Good HousekeepingGood Housekeeping3Good Housekeeping2

While magazines are always testing different elements on their cover, as Ms. Ellis told me, others have adopted a style that they’ve used for some time now. Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, and Entrepreneur are three examples of magazines that always offer their subscribers a different cover than that on the newsstands. Take a look:

Harper’s Bazaar (Single copy sales cover followed by subscribers cover):

Harper's Bazaar2Harper's Bazaar

Elle (Single copy sales cover followed by subscribers cover):

ELLE2ELLE

And Entrepreneur (Single copy sales cover followed by subscribers cover):

EntrepreneurEntrepreneur2

And Bloomberg Businessweek does the same as above, but every now and then (Single copy sales cover followed by subscribers cover):
Bloomberg Businessweek2Bloomberg Businessweek

Other magazines are using the technology to offer as many different cover images or cover lines as possible. The purpose, of course, is someone besides me, is going to collect every cover and pay three, four, five and in some cases 20 and 25 times the price of the magazine, so he or she, will be the proud owner of all the “collector’s covers” of the same issue. Take a look:

Rolling Stone’s The 50 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of All Times:

Rolling StoneRolling Stone2Rolling Stone3Rolling Stones4

Vanity Fair’s All-Star Comedy Issue:
Vanity Fair 3Vanity FairVanity Fair2

Flaunt’s The Mother Issue:
FlauntFlaunt2Flaunt3

Entertainment Weekly’s The Hobbit Issue:

Entertainment Weekly4Entertainment Weekly3Entertainment Weekly2Entertainment Weekly

Geek’s Superhero Summit issue:
Geek.Geek2

Bicycling’s Get Lean Now issue:

BicyclingBicycling2

And W has four covers in January, Hunger two covers, Thrasher four covers… the list goes on and on… So, my question, do we really need all these covers? Are the customers (readers) really falling for this “collector’s” trick? Or, it is just a “treat” for the editors and art directors to have more than one cover because it was “so hard to choose, so we opted to use all options.”

Either way, it is always fun to see this wonderful world of magazines with all the tricks and treats that it provides day in and day out.

By the way, during this holiday season, why don’t you give the gift that lasts all year long. Buy a magazine subscription to a friend or two. They will be reminded of your gift every time an issue arrives. It is the only gift that keeps on giving! Happy holidays and all the best for the New Year.

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One comment

  1. [...] By Samir Husni Simply because the technology makes it possible, it does mean that it has to be used. Technological advances in printing have made it possible to stop the presses, change the plates, and have several different covers of the same issue of a magazine, all at a fraction of the cost. Magazines now-a-days are using technology and all the new technological advances as if there is no tomorrow. It is reaching the stage where every magazine, or so it seems, is using different cover images and cover lines between those on the newsstands and those mailed to the subscribers. Magazines are producing more than one cover of the same issue hoping that folks will buy all three, four, or even eight collectors’ covers. They are testing different logos, cover lines and designs in different markets. [...]



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