Sunday, November 18, 2007

BoSacks Speaks Out: On why?, On Ripplewood, and Publishing Biz

BoSacks Speaks Out: On why?, On Ripplewood, and Publishing Biz Plans.

Re: Advertising
I keep reading that advertising is fleeing print media and going to the Web.
But when I read a magazine or a newspaper, I can't help but notice some of
the advertising, and even appreciate the often beautiful photography, while
I look at the Web every day and I never see an ad because I never click on
them, and as for pop-ups, I cannot resist the temptation to click on 'skip
this ad'. A website is not a billboard: if the ads become so intrusive that
they get in the way of what I want to see, I will stop visiting that site.

So what's going to happen to advertising? I've always been convinced that
most advertising is a waste of money anyway; do some people actually look at
ads for pleasure? Or is it all going to go kerflop?
(Submitted by a Retired writer)

Re: Perspective on Consumer Magazine Circ Levels-First-Half 2007
All I have to say is all of them are still giving away subscriptions at a fraction of the cost of printing and mailing. It still is a joke to me how this works. The advertisers have to be stupid to buy into this farce.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

RE: Bringing down the house of Reiman . . . one "ripple" at a time
Interesting article. There is middle ground: Taunton Press is an example. They sell advertising, but only endemic advertising. In addition, it is kept out of the editorial well so as not to intrude on the content. This approach garners additional revenue for circulation-driven magazines with out compromising the content value of the publication: because of the selective aspect, the ads become, in effect, an extension of editorial value to the customer.
When I worked there years ago, something like 95% of subscribers claimed to keep every issue of the magazine. A lower but similar percentage (maybe 91%) viewed advertising as a significant and positive component of the magazine's value to them. These statistics and commentary in focus groups made clear that the customers recognized what Taunton's policy was all about, and that it benefited both subscribers and the company.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: Bringing down the house of Reiman . . . one "ripple" at a time
. . . It's sad when organizations can't see the beauty and uniqueness of something and feel they have to change it to be like everything else.
I believe there have been some horror/sci-fi movies that dealt with this concept and I don't remember any of them ending well.
Just think, we could see Swarm of Ads, Revenge of the Copy Clones, Return of the Magazine Zombies, Invasion of the Magazine Snatchers,

Hopefully someone will wake up and realize what they are doing before its too late.
(for the sake of full disclosure, my wife subscibes to Taste of Home and we buy the Taste of Home specials from the newstand)
(Submitted by a Purchasing Manager)

RE: Bringing down the house of Reiman . . . one "ripple" at a time
Oh No! There's one ad in the book!! I'm not renewing!! Is this really an issue, a few ad's in the book to help the offset rising postal and paper costs? It's not like they're changing the whole format of the book we're talking about a few ad pages here. Watch out the sky is falling!!!
(Submitted by Senior Paper Director)

Re: The Magazine Format is not a Business Model . . . An answer for Jeff Jarvis:
Great Article! Rex is right on the money (though not 40 million of it) This is the first time I have heard someone divest the magazine format from the business model in this manner. It helps provide greater clarity and insight into thinking how publishers can improve their business model, regardless of what level they function at. The same premise applies to book publishing. I have a friend who recently self-published a high-production coffee-table garden book. He is selling in person at home show appearances and through his website. 2,500 books to sell and every sale is important. He sells 20 per day at the shows, more on his website, was picked up for 50 as upcoming corporate gifts, some at book signing appearances, etc . . . the entrepreneurial spirit finds a way . . . and its very refreshing to see it in action.
(Submitted by a consulting company President)

Re: Your Next Publishing Business Plan . . .
Your recent article in Publishing Executive raises some excellent questions on the issue of how (or whether) the next generation reads. As you suggest, the answers depend as much on the direction of our schools as on the direction of the publishing industry.

The portion of the U.S. population that's illiterate is probably no larger today than it was in the middle of the last century, but it's a certainty that there are more media choices now than there were fifty years ago . . . and that shrill, superficial, and shallow content has grown a lot faster than erudition.

As H. L. Mencken said, nobody ever went broke by underestimating the taste of the American public. It's been true since the birth of print that the least challenging media attract the largest audiences.

But demand drives supply. If, to use your phrase, we've created a generation of instant gratification seekers, the harm was done in our schools and homes, not in publishing companies. We can't reasonably blame the media for making popular products.

Though they hardly qualify as answers, I have a few thoughts on your questions.

First, when it comes to media, desire for instant gratification reflects the absence of critical thinking. It would be very much to our benefit as a society if schools focused more on teaching students how to think critically. One result might be reduced demand for shallow and superficial media.

Second, if there's a single subject that we ought to add to the school curriculum, it's media studies. I'm continually astonished that students aren't taught about the role of commerce in media, about the relationship between advertising and content, about how advertising works and the effects it can have, about vested interests, or any of the dozens of important related issues about a phenomenon that dominates their lives.

Maybe we could find a few extra minutes for this significant subject by eliminating gratuitous award ceremonies.

If increasing numbers of young people are satisfied with "bite-size" media and want instant gratification in content, it's not the result of change in the media or technology. It's the result of schools that are not fully serving our children, and parents who seem oblivious that their children are being shortchanged. For every teenager who doesn't read books there are two parents who didn't read to their child.

Finally, it's indisputable that the invention of printing was an event that changed history in many dramatic ways. But to think that digital technology will have anything close to the same effect on society is a bit far-fetched.

People made lofty and extravagant claims for radio and television, too, back in the day, most of which never bore fruit. I'd love to see some credible, empirical evidence that computers have improved the overall productivity of American business in the past 20 years . . . or that computer-aided education has made students smarter. . . or that the Internet has improved the quality of journalism. I'm not saying the evidence doesn't exist, just that we shouldn't take these things as articles of faith.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Your Next Publishing Business Plan . . .
The question you pose is not new. I remember hearing the same argument as a child, but instead of Playstations, TiVo, the web, PDA's, the iPod, 24/7 smart cell phone as the culprits, it was three channels of television; four when PBS made it through the airwaves. I read little as a teen, but after finishing school and starting life in the real world, I quickly learned reading was a necessary to advance my career. I suspect many others experienced the same revelation since my demographic is now considered the top readers.

The moral is, people, as a demographic, do not read during the years they are not focused on a career. Many studies support this theory, showing the older demographic does not read as much as those in the middle of their career. These are the same people who said my generation did not read.
(Submitted by a Printer)

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