Extra Covers: Consumer Centric or Advertising Centric?

March 24, 2011

From the good, the bad and the ugly department, this week witnessed the arrival of three magazines with “an extra cover.” Same magazine, two covers that are not split covers, but rather one cover on top of the other (if there is such a thing as a second cover since it is already covered). One of those covers was, believe or not, nothing but an advertisement. Yes you read that right. An ad with the complete magazine logo, UPC and cover price. The folks at BlackBook magazine seems to have gone out of their way to provide T-Mobile with a platform like no other. Never mind the confusion on the newsstands and the problem with having two covers that carry the UPC imprint (the computer coded universal price code) on both covers. In stores that depend on stripping and returning the covers only for credit, which one of the two will they send? Also, of course is this practice acceptable for a consumer magazine sold on the newsstands? Judge for yourself and take a look at BlackBook covers below.

RollingStone magazine also had a double cover this issue. The newsstands distributed magazine had one cover before the other and the subscription edition had a very creative (which is the second time RS does something like this) embedded second cover within the first one. Subscribers have to peel the cover off the second cover. The end result is the same, more fun for the readers and more space for advertising. Now we have two front back cover-ads instead of one. Subscribers were directed to peel the cover to see the other one, single copy buyers were told nothing. They just had to open the page! See both covers below.

Last, but not least, is Country Living promising its readers on the front page with a bonus cover inside. The covers are editorially different, but they share the same DNA of the magazine. However, it is obvious that the “two for one” covers were created to create space to a well coordinated ad campaign for Jelly Belly. The first “back cover one ad” is a question with a little Jelly Belly logo (see below) and then when you flip cover two you see the rest of the ad (You have to buy the magazine to get the rest of the ad… I limit my examples to covers and not ads)… Take a look and judge for yourself.

Who says the magazine business is not a fun business! Enjoy.


  1. We actually did something like the Country Living example (if I’m reading this correctly) with a previous magazine I edited. The publisher duplicated the editorial cover image on a slightly heavier stock, put a new advertiser on the back of it, and then glued that “false” C1 to the “real” front cover. Important to me editorially was that there was zero difference between the false/real editorial covers — the only difference was the ad on the reverse of each.
    Interestingly, by the way, this had major advertising repercussions: the advertiser on the back of the “real” front cover refused to pay for his ad because he said he no longer had the “IFC position,” which he had paid extra for.

  2. Super cool examples. Here in Brazil “Super-Interessante” (a magazine about science, gadgets, pop culture, a bit like Wired) made one with three covers. And you could cut and play with it.
    Here’s a video showing their cover:

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