Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: ABC, Reader's Digest, Bauer, and Printers

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: ABC, Reader's Digest, Bauer, and Printers

Re: Hachette Signs On With ABC Rapid Report

Bob, Here a little secret. The people who put together Rapid Report - have no idea how circulation works.

Every circulator that I know of, must make ratebase on every issue. Most who know that know how to work the levers, do make ratebase on every issue. If you have a soft newsstand returns - you lean on your sub starts. If you have a strong return flow on your newsstand - you push your starts out. To me, Rapid Report solves nothing.

When Jack says that Rapid Report gives greater transparency and accountability - I think he's off the mark. Rapid Report really only gives data on a 'work in progress'.

(Submitted by a Circulator)

Re: Move to 'e-paper' not a Hearst PI Plan

Hi Bo, I look forward to your reports every day (I am in the paper industry). I constantly feel that you are drumming this e-paper thing just a little too loud and often. Being in the paper biz i suppose I am prejudiced, but I see nothing very practical in this technology. It seems unwieldy and un-natural to me. Of course I am old (56) and despise slowly scrolling through downloaded page upon page to find what I want. Also I suspect that the plastics, films and electronics required to manufacture and run this amazing device will have an impact on the environment--must have some kind of foul battery technology as well.

I know millions are riding on the success of this, but I see what the forest and paper industries have invested as well in environmental improvements. Plus you probably can't wrap fish in an e-paper!

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: Prostitution Is Legal

And the magazine industry can't figure out why our profession is in free-fall. I'd laugh myself silly if I didn't want to cry so bad.

(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: In Touch, 'Hell's Kitchen'

Celebrity gawking magazines aside, I object to this TV show on the grounds that it gives my ancestral homeland, the neighborhood where I was born - Hell's Kitchen - a bad name. The people there ranged from blue collar, lower middle class to outright poor and lived in 5 room, walkup, railroad flats. And there is more than one professional second story man, several bootleggers, and a numbers runner in my family tree. But they had dignity, and most of these people are unfamiliar with the word let alone the behavior.

(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: Reader's Digest to Sell Back Cover

Extensive research in-house? Wait, let me guess:

"You think readers would mind having ads on the back cover?"

"I don't think so. Hey, why don't you ask Dave over there; he actually talked to one of the readers once."

"Wait, I know! Let's have a focus group!"

Why do I think that the research had more to do with figuring how much money there was in it?

(Submitted by a writer)

Re: Cocktail

Bob, The "uncertainty in the single copy market" is code for wholesalers finally saying enough is enough with low cover priced titles entering the market but not providing wholesalers with enough revenue to even cover their distribution costs. Titles like Women's World, First, Quick and Simple etc, which have low cover prices should provide wholesalers with subsidies in addition to margin to allow wholesalers to make a profit on low cover priced titles. There is no cheaper or more efficient distribution system than the one that is currently in place through traditional wholesalers. Publishers of low cover priced titles have been taking advantage of that system for too long by providing margin on copies sold only. These margins, because of the low cover prices don't even cover the wholesalers' costs.

(Submitted by a Distributor)

Re: Bauer Pulls the Plug on Cocktail Weekly - Adieu: Jane

You mean that 90% advertising and 10% meat isn't selling anymore. What a surprise, Vogue just tried to give me a years subscription with a tote bag thrown in for 12 bucks, no thanks.

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

RE: Saving the Magazine Business

Bob, The problem with publishing articles not of immediate or momentary interest is that there is no reason for the reader to read them right now and therefore no reason for the reader to buy this issue of your magazine. This has been a real problem at our magazine and at those of general interest magazine now long gone. Readers are so happy reading back issues that they don't keep their subscription current. At a focus group with expired subscribers one woman said she loved our magazine but did not have time to read all the issues. She let her sub lapse and was planning to read this year the issues she had not read in the previous year. The challenge, then, is to make sure your magazine is compelling and timely -- and still deliver lasting value.

(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Saving the Magazine Business

There is no way the present, mostly female management, can turn this thing around.

They are not only going to propel the demise of Readers Digest, but also their other titles.

Last month they dropped the name Reiman off their Greendale publishing company and have given it the name of RDA Milwaukee. A certain Mr. Falk made a public statement that the name Reiman was not a brand but the titles are. Where has this guy been? Not only are they going to sell more advertising in the flagship, which is sinking fast, they are preparing to sell advertising in Taste of Home and the other related titles. Reiman built its reputation on "NO COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING" in all their publications and successfully grew the business to over 15 million subscribers when RDA bought them. Now their subscriptions have dropped to around 13 million across 14 titles. Want to make more money, sell advertising. This will back fire like you will not believe, Reiman readers will not put up with advertising and will drop their subscriptions at a more rapid pace than the fancy ladies in Pleasantville will understand.

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: Saving the Magazine Business

DeWitt Wallace, and later, Roy Reiman, understood that if you build something absolutely different---and focus like a laser on the reader, not advertisers or shareholders--you will succeed.

Most mainstream publishers pay lip service to this, but never practice it.

(Submitted by an Unknown)

Re: Saving the Magazine Business

I don't usually agree with Mr. Magazine, but

today, like you, I find myself saying "Hear,

hear!" If only there were people in our industry with functioning ears.

(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: misinformation

Bob, It is interesting that there never seems to be an attachment of misinformation or disinformation in the printed media to the decline in circulation. Maybe the US reader is also more intelligent than the media gives them credit for and doesn't appreciate the pandering that goes on in the press.

(Submitted by an Unknown)

RE: Readers Response to a Response: Working With Your Printer

(This note is in responce to a sexist reader from the last Bosacks Reader's Speak Out)

Bo, I think we need a chat room. Might be kinda fun! Then we can rant and rave at each other without knowing whether or not we will be having lunch with the person next week. You may share my response to his response with the group, pass it along to your printer friend, or put it to rest. Thanks for letting me rant!

Well, I'm not a he, I'm a she. I've been in this business for 20 plus years; I have a degree in Journalism from one of the big 10 schools (I couldn't afford an Ivy league education); managed manufacturing and distribution budgets in excess of $60 million a year; and my manners are above reproach. Now, I don't have any official documentation to support that last claim, although I did marry one of my print sales reps, so I guess he didn't think I was too Attila-like. Then again, his marriage proposal probably had little to do with which fork I use to eat my salad.

As you know, this industry has changed over the years. Technology has allowed us to produce pages faster, improve quality and reduce costs. Publishers have taken on more responsibility for the production of their publication, while the Printers continue to automate processes for file submission to the point where human intervention is barely required. The lack of human intervention has begun to take hold in the Customer Service area.

Many publishing companies have taken the print buying responsibility from the Publisher and moved it to the Finance Department. (Try explaining to a CFO that buying print is not the same as buying a widget.) Of course we want a competitive price, but when I issue a Purchase Order to a Printer, I am entering into a partnership with the Printer. During the course of that partnership, we work together and "help" each other to produce the best print publication possible. And, if I screw up, I expect you to pick up the phone and tell me so, cause when you screw up, I will pick up the phone and tell you. So by the time the publication mails, you and I have produced an outstanding print product, as well as built a great relationship, and I don't have a mailbox full of accusatory emails.

That is what is gradually being lost, not in just the printing industry, but in every industry: You can't talk to a real person anymore. Many of the younger Customer Service people have spent half their life communicating via email, and they think that's a good vehicle for servicing their customers, but it isn't. Emails can be easily misinterpreted, and if you accidentally hit the Caps lock key, you could have a real problem on your hands. If you want to build relationships with your customers, and win their repeat business, you need to talk to them. But don't call them names, or they probably won't do any business with you regardless of the price.

(Submitted by a Publisher)

No comments: