Monday, July 09, 2007

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Why The Newsstand is Dead!

"Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see."

Edward de Bono ((Francis Charles Publius) Maltese Psychologist and Writer, leading authority in field of creative thinking. b.1933)

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Why The Newsstand is Dead!

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Newsstand is Dead?

Bo, It was a great presentation between you and Samir and I thoroughly enjoyed both. Samir was more entertaining, but that is his nature. But I also enjoyed the technology that you introduced and your arguments were very persuasive.

You're almost spot on in your interpretation of the newsstand business being the Titanic. You could also say that all of us worker bees are the soldiers on the way to Gallipoli, and the industry leaders are those genius British nobles who think charging machine guns is a good idea.

I've sat through several presentations by the giants of our industry recently and they all talk a great game about reducing inventories, increasing efficiencies, restoring shareholder value and all that rot. It's great business speak and maybe someone out there is impressed.

But what they forget is that we are in business to sell stuff and until they start talking about selling stuff, we're dead in the water, or wondering why the hell we're charging that machine gun.

We're dead, or dying, because we are poorly led. We're poorly led because the publishers want one thing, the national distributors want something else, the wholesalers want something entirely different (to get out of the business?), and the retailers want something entirely different.

As a representative of a publisher, what is sad about this is all the time and energy these editors and art directors put into putting something together for their readers, and then the mishandling that goes on because the four links in the chain are going in different directions. In the end, the reader is poorly served. To me, that's almost criminal.

Thanks for the enlightenment. I stay in the business because selling insurance has even less appeal. And I do genuinely like most of the people I interact with.
(Submitted by a Publishers Rep)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Newsstand is Dead?

Good One!! I support you!!! The same situation existed in the paperback industry, when the newsstands, (supermarkets, drugstores) were displaced by the large Bookstore Chains.. The same thing has happened now in magazines, with supermarkets, drugstores giving up on the magazine display rack and looking at the checkout only...The amount of display space lost in the last ten years is staggering!!
(Submitted by an Unknown)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Newsstand is Dead?

I have concluded that even in my micro-publishing world, the distros and chain stores are colluding to "wallpaper" with our titles. I recently cut my draw at a major chain (for all three titles) 25%. When the next issue's sales came in, you know how many copy sales I lost? Zero. Actually, sales *increased.* It amazes me that more publishers don't "get it" - with the store-by-store detail now available to us, there's no reason on earth why we should put our zines into stores in which they do not sell. But getting a draw cut requires nerves of steel and a rather aggressive personality; neither the distributors nor the chains will do it themselves. Fortunately, I have both of these qualities, which might be why my sell through averages 50%. (A recent issue hit 62%, I'm happy to say.)

Personally, I believe that magazines should be sold at approx. 80% discount, with no return privileges. You heard me; NO RETURNS. This would put the onus for newsstand management and draw-setting where it belongs: on the retailer and the distributor. Yes, circ would take a huge hit if the true costs of returns were distributed more evenly, instead of the publisher subsidizing the bad habits of the retailers. I have no-returns contracts with several of my distributors, and believe me, they keep their draws tight and their sell throughs average 80%. I'm happy as a clam at high tide with such an arrangement, and know that as long as I keep my content strong, my newsstand will thrive. Three quarters of my income comes from newsstand, so this is my bread and butter. I'm truly appalled at the waste I see on newsstand, and think major changes are vastly overdue.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Newsstand is Dead?

Bo. You and Samir exceeded my expectations in your debate. You are both very entertaining and informative. It was a terrific hour and I hope that you become a regular event at the PBAA, as your rant about why the newsstand is dead clearly demonstrated the need. Congratulations on speaking out on the very hard topics of our industry.
(Submitted by a Distributor)

RE: Abitibi Consolidated/Bowater merger

Bo, The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission okayed the merger of the two corporations subject to stock holders approval at special meetings on July 26, 2007.
If this merger becomes finalized and these two manufactures of newsprint, groundwood specialties, SC grades, etc., come together, end users and brokers better be ready for some major changes, because business will not be done as usual.

For years, many endusers and brokers have been playing off these two companies
against each other. This system will abruptly come to an end if this merger is finalized.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: There Are More Magazines Than You Think

I guarantee that MPA doesn't know that I exist, and I have three quarterlies, total yearly page count approx. 1000 pages and am going to launch a semi-annual next year. I don't support a lot of people and have a gross sales of under a half million $ a year. But yes, I've been making a living off publishing magazines for over fifteen years, and except for a stint with the (alas, defunct) IPA, I have never joined an industry group.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: There Are More Magazines Than You Think

Does this include all the special issues, special interest publications, etc
etc? It's always exciting to see a new mag (well, for me anyway) but there
are dozens of SIPs a year from Meredith alone, and special (additional)
issues of People almost every week. No wonder the page count (advertising)
is predicted to be down.
(Submitted by a Newsstand Operator)

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)

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