Posts Tagged ‘magazines’


Around the World in 21 Days: Magazine Power and Reach Are NOT a Figment of the Imagination…

June 5, 2013

at Arab Media ForumWhen it comes to magazines and magazine media we are not lacking the research that shows the effectiveness of print and its reach. We are lacking people who are willing to translate that research and put it into practice. What profit do we gain if magazine companies ask their researchers and research departments to conduct all kinds of research and then ignore it?

I have been traveling the world in the last three weeks. I have attended and spoke at four different “research gatherings” in Lisbon, Portugal(The IMMAA Conference); Dubai, United Arab Emirates (The Arab Media Forum) ; Barcelona, Spain (The FIPP Research Conference); and Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Sanoma). Most of the readers of my columns and blogs know my views on print in this digital age. However, what I learned from those international meetings is that I am not alone. I learned that what I have been preaching is not a figment of my imagination or the fact that I am, in the words of John Harrington, a “print passionista.” I learned that print is still alive and kicking worldwide and researchers are showing the evidence for that statement on a daily basis.

at FIPPStudy after study is showing what print can deliver to advertisers and to readers at the same time. The return on the investment is great for both customers. To say I was relieved to hear that and to see all the research would be an understatement, but to say I was not bewildered as to why the leaders of those media companies are not following up on their own findings would be ludicrous on my part.

I asked the media researchers at one of the conferences, “Why after all this data, do your CEOs and publishers continue to push ‘Digital First” and not apply the findings of your research?” The simple answer I heard was that they’ve closed their eyes and ears and are determined that the only future is the digital way. They, in fact, are not only ignoring the research but also ignoring reality and common sense. I wonder if that is the effect of the “virtual” world we live in today that makes us forget about anything and everything that is physical and tangible.

National Geographic overseas-26None of the researchers, including myself, deny that we live in a visual, digital, mobile age; however, that does not mean that print should play second fiddle to digital in today’s market place. All agreed that, yes, some magazines are struggling, some others are dying, but a lot more are coming to the market place. When visiting Dubai for example, to speak and attend the 12th Annual Arab Media Forum, I visited one of the many newsstands at the Mall of Dubai. You name the magazine it was there. Marie Claire in Arabic, Esquire, the Middle East edition with a promise of a weekly print Esquire coming soon to the market place. Forbes Middle East in both languages, English and Arabic, Men’s Fitness Middle East, National Geographic in Arabic, etc. etc.

Women's Health-20Women's Health-14New Scientist-15
In Lisbon I picked up several new magazines, and in Barcelona I picked up the first issue of Women’s Health that appeared on the newsstands the day I was leaving… By the time I landed in Amsterdam the first issue of Women’s Health in Dutch was welcoming me at the airport. New magazines are aplenty and there is no shortage of them.

Newsweek And that joke about the #last print issue of Newsweek is only alive and well in these United States of America; the rest of the world is still enjoying a printed Newsweek. Needless to say the recent news about the possible sale of Newsweek is no joke. I could easily say I told you so, but I am resisting this temptation since there are a lot of folks who are offering their opinions about the past, present and future of Newsweek.

So, why the doom and gloom you may ask in the magazine business? Well, for one, the magazine industry is not making as much money as it used to make. Other non-media platforms are making more money than in ad revenues than the entire print industry. None of the media entities have figured a way, a good way, to make dollars and not pennies from their digital ventures. And above all, our institutional memories are so in need of a crash course in learning the past and how it applies to the present.

Did you know that Radio advertising revenues exceeded all of print ad revenues in 1934? Did you know that Television advertising revenues exceeded all of print and radio advertising revenues in 1955? The mere fact that someone else, some other medium, media related or not, is making more money than the magazine or print industry, does not mean that print or magazines are dead. If my neighbor is making more money than I am, it definitely does not mean that I am pushing up daisies in some serene cemetery on the backside of nowhere!

It is about time to wake up and focus on our customers, the readers/viewers and advertisers. If we are going to survive we better listen to our customers and follow their wants and desires. Research is showing that customers in this digital age still love and utilize magazines and other print entities. Why is it print and magazines leaders are not listening to their own research and studies? I do not know, but what I know for sure is that it is funny when less than 25% of iPad owners tell researchers that they prefer to read magazines on digital devices and media reporters spread the news of the digital success of reading… Folks, read that aforementioned statement one more time, less than 25% of iPad owners enjoy reading their magazines on the tablet… What about the 75% that don’t? Since when is 25% a much bigger deal than 75%? I do not know.

In closing, maybe all the naysayers of the magazine industry and the future of print in a digital age, need to take a trip or few trips overseas. Well, forget about overseas, maybe a trip to Des Moines, Iowa and see what Meredith is doing and the guarantees it is offering their advertising clients. Where there is a will and a vision, there is a way. Print and magazines are not dead; some folks wish they were to fulfill their own prophecies. False prophets start believing their own divinations and they work hard to fulfill them. Well, I have two words for them, go fish.

Printed Pages-9Print is well, alive and kicking. Today’s print is not your father’s print. Today’s magazines are not your father’s magazines. But in both cases they are still print and they are still magazines. Like it or not, they are here to stay. So, to the gloom and doom zealots: go fish in another pond!


The Cost of Living with Magazines Has Definitely Gone Up…But Has the Cost of Living Without Them Become an Option for Some?

February 25, 2013

Receipt The receipt you see to the right is the actual amount that I spent at Wal-Mart on 18 different magazines: $145.61. That’s an average of $8 per magazine. For the typical American looking to buy two of their favorites a week, adding an extra $16 to your grocery bill can cause you to sit those two inedible objects right back on the newsstands.

And we wonder why newsstand sales are declining.

Let’s take a look at what I got for my money, why I chose the issues I did and which ones were worth the price. In no particular order:

Oxygen 15 Minute Workouts
1. Oxygen 15 Minute Workouts – a very specialized magazine that focuses on 15 minute workouts and affirms the validity of such abbreviated physical activities by asserting to be ‘Your no-excuses guide to getting fit fast.’ And while I’m sure there is a great deal of truth in that statement…the price to actually find that out is $9.99. A fitness magazine that costs $10? I was expecting to see Richard Simmons leap from between the pages when I opened it, and lead me in a ‘Sweating to the Oldies’ workout.

Men's Fitness
2. Men’s Fitness
– staying with the physical…the newsstand issue I bought at Wal-Mart is different from the subscriber’s issue. Different, in that it has an alternate cover and the paper the magazine is printed on is totally opposite, with the newsstand issue being much thicker and heavier than the subscriber’s copy. Why is that? Why are we not consistent between out subscribers and our single-copy sales as far as the quality of our product? Shouldn’t we be?

Rolling Stone Bob Dylan
3. Rolling Stone – Special Collectors Edition – Bob Dylan – And of course, the title says it all. Legendary Bob Dylan is on the cover holding a harmonica a hair’s breadth away from his mouth, in preparation to play; all the while staring back at you with that brooding, stony glare that he is known for. And for $11.99 you can count yourself among the lucky ones who own this collector’s copy. His top 100 greatest songs are ranked and listed here, with Bono selecting “Like a Rolling Stone” as number one. It’s an up close and personal look at the man and his music as only RollingStone can put together. Worth every penny!

4. Nail It! – The premier issue of a magazine about nail trends – of the finger variety. A bi-monthly magazine devoted to the latest in nail polishes, decals, and tips. A must have for nail fashionistas everywhere. And for $5.99 you have to decide if it’s worthy or not. But it does prove niche publishing is vogue with the country, and in some cases profitable. It remains to be seen whether this one will be.

Chicken Dinners
5. Chicken Dinners
– from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications – an entire magazine devoted to chicken. Whether it’s fried, skillet-prepared, baked, or brined with maple, this magazine will give you the recipe for preparing it. And it’ll only cost you $9.99 to read. Of course, I would imagine searching the net for few hours one may find the same chicken content for free. However, as experience makers folks, it seems OK to charge $10 for a magazine that shows us how to cook chicken.

30-Minute Dinners
6. 30-Minute Dinners
– also from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications. Please refer to #5.Same rules apply.

Family Circle
7. Family Circle – for $1.99 you get the traditional Family Circle fare at a great price. Unlike the $2.79 cover price at Kroger.

Bonus 2 Magazines-one low priceLadies' Home back Bonus 2 Magazines-one low price
8. Family Circle + Ladies’ Home Journal
– a two-magazine baggie deal that is a tremendous opportunity for fans to get both magazines for the low price of $3.29.

9. Historical – the collector’s issue celebrating Black History Month – a vast array of information on many black leaders from yesterday and today. But for $7.99 an issue, you could probably get your history lesson a lot cheaper somewhere else.

10. Flea Market Style
– A magazine that for $9.95 an issue will show you how to take rummage sale and junk sale items and turn them into usable, and in some cases, extraordinary novelties. Another niche publication for just that right audience; whether the price is right for those folks, will be up to them. I bought it because of an article about a home near by in Water Valley, Miss. produced by a former student of mine.

Recycled Style
11. Matthew Mead’s Recycled Style
– Another magazine where throwaways and no-longer used items are, this time, ‘recycled’ and used again. But to read the recycling revelations from the folks over at Oxmoor House, who bring you this magazine, you’re going to have to shell out $12.99.

Taylor Swift
12. Taylor Swift – Special Collector’s Edition – this magazine is just what the title indicates – a magazine devoted to country music sensation, Taylor Swift. And for $6.99 it can be in your collectible magazine stack today. But should it be at that price? Up to you. By the way the real name of the magazine, the smallest type on the cover, is Teen Party magazine.

13. Self – a whole new look from the inside/out, Self magazine has rejuvenated and redesigned. It’s fresh, crisp and only $3.99

14. Vanity Fair
– Special Collector’s Edition – chock full of stylish information and a foldout cover that not only promotes the issue with content teasers as you unfold, but also shares space with a very imaginative Calvin Klein ad. And the magazine is almost 400 pages…all for only $4.99.

15. Cosmopolitan – the March issue with the matured version of teen sensation Miley Cyrus. The magazine sells for $3.99 and my Wal-Mart issue has a $1 off coupon taped to the cover. Of course, only redeemable at Wal-Mart, but nobody’s perfect. By the way I did not use my coupon. I needed to keep it so I can show it to y’all.

TIME What to Eat NowTIME What to Eat Now
16. What to Eat Now – a niche effort from the good folks’ at TIME that has two different covers. One has a more vertical slant to it (no pun intended), the other a more horizontal. For folks who just can’t decide how they want to see vegetables and fruit displayed on a magazine cover. By the way, it’s 12.99.

Celebrate Weddings
17. Celebrate Weddings – a bridal magazine from Hoffman Media devoted to everything matrimonially trendy. Your impending nuptials can feel the effects of the suggestions between the pages for $9.99.

18. Prevention – two different covers promoting getting back into shape by walking. The cover lines are exactly the same, other than the colors, but the pictures are totally different, yet, almost the same, other than the poses. Why the need for two different covers? It is a question I will need to address in a future blog. But for now I am happy to spend $3.99 to get cover 2 of the magazine.

Eighteen magazines for $145.61 …I think it’s a good thing for the magazine industry that Mr. Magazine™ and his love for magazines exist.

Next stop Kroger… the ticket, $95.68. Tomorrow is another day! Indeed the cost of “magazine living” is on the rise.


Killing Me Softly With Her “Talk”: Why Tina Brown’s 10 Excuses for Killing Newsweek Are ALL DEAD WRONG…

December 31, 2012

1356279090281.cached When I was interviewed last October by the Associated Press about Tina Brown’s decision to kill the print edition of Newsweek, I put the failure of Newsweek, to the surprise of very few, right on the shoulders of Ms. Brown. Only a former managing editor of TIME (who by the way was pushed up and out of the magazine that at least five years ago stopped counting Newsweek as a competitor) said about my remarks: “No one said anything stupider than Samir Husni.” That same editor, turned media columnist, amazingly appears in the last issue of Newsweek talking about a competition that ceased to exit years ago).

Heaven forbid that one ever criticize an editor for a magazine failure. It is always someone else’s fault… advertisers, circulation, the weather, anything or anyone but the editor. An editor’s choice of content, covers, or even writers, let alone, an editor’s knowledge of the audience of a magazine, never makes up a recipe for failure. Right? Well, that’s what you are lead to believe reading Tina Brown’s final editorial in the “#LastPrintIssue” of Newsweek.

The content of Newsweek for the last two years, from Princess Di at 50, to the First Gay President, to the famous sexy food cover, are three examples of how content (i.e. bad content, irrelevant content to a magazine’s audience, etc.) can and will lead to your demise. Remember Talk?


Well, here are ten excuses I was able to discern from Ms. Brown’s own editorial about the demise of the print edition of Newsweek and my comments on each excuse:

10: To “see the full evolution of the spanking-new, all-digital Newsweek Global…” if it is going to be anything like the evolution of the spanking-new print edition of Newsweek two years ago, don’t brace yourself for any positive surprises. If you could not make it “national” are you kidding me about making it “global?”

9: “It’s been a turbulent two-year journey (since the marriage to the Daily Beast), culminating in our decision to leave print…” I guess the marriage was a blast that created a schizophrenic double personality entity that was neither Newsweek nor the Daily Beast. The decision not to merge the Daily Beast into actually spelled this inevitable doom. In fact this greatly undermined the Newsweek brand because in effect it had no digital outlet — both editorially and in terms of advertising. This decision was totally as a result of Ms. Brown’s vanity about the Daily Beast.

8: “Most of the boldface bylines and star writers who defined the brand had flown the Newsweek coop…” I wonder why some of them went to TIME?

7: “There was no executive editor… no news editor, no managing editor, no features editor, no ….” And I thought that was the reason they brought on Tina Brown.

6: “Advertisers had peeled off…” and now they are going to come back with full force into the all-digital edition? By the way, is the Daily Beast making any money online?

5: The magazine was located in an office “reminiscent of the Stasi headquarters in East Berlin.” When everything else fails, blame it on the brick and mortar building. Newsweek logo on its own building is no longer “in the eye-line of its swaggering competitor in the Time-Life Building.”

4: Newsweek is “embracing a digital medium that all our competitors will one day need to embrace… we are ahead of the curve.” Have you heard of TIME, The Economist, The Week, Bloomberg Businessweek? And by the way how is it that Bloomberg Businessweek has survived, and is thriving–after it was sold for one dollar? By the way, just for the historical record: Newsweek came into being 10 years after TIME was born, and Newsweek’s circulation was always behind TIME in its entire 79 years of publishing. Talk about being ahead of the curve.

3: The re-born, all-digital Newsweek will take “its readers to territory that is new and uncharted.” Wow… I wonder if the majority of the Newsweek readers are avid digital readers who are leaving print by the droves and are willing or wanting to take the “uncharted” road? If the “chartered” road did not work, do you truly believe that the “uncharted” road will? And if it is such a “new-spanking” entity based on 80 years of history, why abandon Newsweek’s main audience in the heartland of America? Under Ms. Brown, Newsweek has become a magazine created for and about the coasts, and a “newsmagazine” like Newsweek is, and should be, about all of America.

2: “We say sayonara to print, we thank our 1.5 million loyal readers…” I guess Ms. Brown does not believe in readership studies that estimate how many readers a magazine has per issue, while the 1.5 million circulation is the rate base number given to advertisers. There is a big difference between readers and subscribers in the magazine business. well, of course, unless the magazine had only one reader per copy, since the readership numbers are absent from Newsweek’s media kit. And, by the way, Ms. Brown said “sayonara” for the loyal magazine readers when she brought in her 80s and 90s sensibility of what would shock and/or titillate. Those were the days my friends, and contrary to believe, they did end.

1: “…Wish us luck and join us… in our all-digital future.” Well, to paraphrase the other Tina, “What’s luck got to do with it?” Oops, sorry, that was “What’s love got to do with it.” But you get my point. As one of my friends once told me, “Ms. Brown doesn’t and never has understood America.” It is all about understanding and knowing your audience; not luck or love has anything to do with it.

Well, my prediction, out of sight is indeed out of mind. Thanks, Newsweek, for the memories, may you rest in peace or pieces as you, that is, Ms. Brown, wishes. And if you ever think that the Daily Beast has a higher value as a brand than Newsweek, think not once, but twice and thrice for that matter.

For the rest of the printed magazines out there (all 10,000 print consumer magazines distributed on the nation’s newsstands), fear not, print is here to stay, alongside with digital and whatever new platforms that are yet to be invented. Bad content and irrelevant content on any platform will continue to die regardless of the device. Enough said.


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