Friday, May 04, 2007

Where The Book Business Is Humming

Where The Book Business Is Humming
Bertelsmann is making a bundle off Old Media in former Soviet bloc countries

You wouldn't typically expect to find a high-profile executive of a major media company in drab Kharkiv. The gritty city of 1.5 million is the kind of place where local leaders haven't yet gotten around to tearing down statues of Lenin, and outside Ukraine it's best known (if it's known at all) for the Red Army tanks it used to make. But on a sunny April afternoon, Ewald Walgenbach, a member of the executive board of Germany's Bertelsmann, smiles as he watches a battered steam shovel ladle bricks onto a dump truck at a dilapidated factory that's being converted into a distribution center for the company's Family Leisure book club. Above the din, Oleg Shpilman, CEO of the Ukrainian unit, shouts that the new facility will be able to ship 20 million books a year. "What will happen next year when you have 21 million?" Walgenbach replies with a laugh.

Optimism about the printed word is pretty rare these days. In fast-modernizing Ukraine, though, Bertelsmann is enjoying dot-com-like expansion for its book club, a category that's a slow- or no-growth proposition in the U.S. and Western Europe. Family Leisure moved 12 million books last year—everything from cookbooks to local potboilers to Stephen King thrillers—while sales grew 55%, to $50 million. Today, Bertelsmann is Ukraine's biggest bookseller, with 12% of the market. And the operation enjoys profit margins that are triple the 4% global average for similar Bertelsmann units, which include the Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild in the U.S.

Ukraine is the most spectacular example of Bertelsmann's success with book clubs in the former Soviet bloc. And it's proving that with the right mix of marketing and merchandise, there's money to be made even with low-cost goods. The region has well-educated populations hungry for a good read but relatively few bookstores where they can indulge their passion. As a result, Bertelsmann has also become the biggest book publisher in the Czech Republic and has scored big successes in Poland, Russia, and elsewhere.

The book clubs are part of a broader trend of booming print media in the developing world. In India, newspapers are thriving, with Mumbai alone boasting a half-dozen major dailies. Swiss magazine giant Ringier saw 18% sales growth last year from its lifestyle publications in Vietnam. In Argentina, the number of books published has more than doubled since 2002. And emerging markets are also proving lucrative for another Bertelsmann unit, Gruner + Jahr, which is the second-largest magazine publisher in China via a joint venture.

Bertelsmann's allegiance to Old Media in newer markets is paying off in other ways. In the U.S., its book clubs tend to serve older customers. By contrast, nearly half the Family Leisure Club's 2 million members (in a nation of 47 million) are under 30. The secret: The Bertelsmann club recruits hot young Ukrainian authors and serves as their exclusive distributor, a smart strategy in a country with only about 300 bookstores. "They're very effective, much more than other publishers," says Ljubko Deresch, an intense 23-year-old who has published five novels—the latest with Bertelsmann—dealing with youthful disenchantment and pop culture.

Keeping prices low is crucial. The average Ukrainian makes less than $8,000 per year, and in Kharkiv, Bertelsmann's main competition is an open-air book market. Dozens of merchants in corrugated metal stalls sell everything from textbooks to science fiction. Family Leisure titles typically go for under $5, competitive with the outdoor market. Then to keep costs down, the club delivers shipments to post offices, where customers claim their books.

No doubt Bertelsmann would like to bottle its Ukraine formula for export to other countries. Although few offer such a favorable mix of book-hungry citizens, cooperative postal authorities, and energetic local management, some innovations from Ukraine can travel. Customers there, for instance, are world leaders in ordering via mobile-phone text messages, a promising e-commerce strategy in poorer countries where few can afford Internet access. Says Shpilman: "Our goal is not to be a book club, but an integrated bookseller."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Publishers - Hate being a 97-pound weakling?

"Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers."
Anthony Robbins (American advisor)

Hate being a 97-pound weakling?
By Alan Mutter

Now that newspapers have shed tons of excess and unsightly circulation, it's time to take their extreme makeover to the next level by pumping up their content, circulation prices and advertising rates.

Newspapers need to raise their quality and boost their prices to establish themselves as the premium products they rightfully deserve to be. It'll do wonders for their self-esteem, too, especially in light of the latest circulation swoon.

As duly reported, feebly spun and previously dissected herein, newspaper circulation has been diving on a regular basis for the last few years. The average daily circulation fell 2.1% and Sunday tumbled 3.1% in the six-month period ended in March, according to an analysis of the audited figures from the Newspaper Association of America.

While some of the decline is attributable to the inroads made by new technologies and the inescapable mortality of the population cohort most amenable to print, a considerable portion of the decline results from the efforts of publishers to eliminate the discount and vanity circulation they had employed in a vain effort to make the industry appear to be more robust than it actually was.

Here's one example of how newspapers are moderating their geographic hubris:

"We will no longer deliver a print newspaper to outlying regions every day," said John Mellott, the publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who pared his circulation to 73 counties from a previous 200. "The $5 it costs to deliver a 50-cent newspaper to those areas makes little business sense, especially when our advertisers demand an audience closer to their stores and places of business."

The AJC, which used to pride itself on covering Dixie like the dew, said its circulation would be reduced 5% by denying delivery to subscribers as far away as Alabama, South Carolina and Florida, not to mention many distant parts of Georgia. In the latest six-month period, the AJC's daily circ declined by 2%. The de- dew-ification did not take effect until April 1, the last month of the half-year period. That probably means even less of Dixie will be covered six months from now.

Crash circulation diets have been under way from the Bay Area of Florida to the Bay Area of California and almost everywhere in between. But diet without exercise, as we all know, just leaves you a 97-pound weakling.

A significant amount of hefty lifting will be required to fix an industry that has been a strategic couch potato for a dangerously long time. Here's what it's going to take:

Newspapers need quality subscribers, which requires circulation bases that are defensible and valuable to their advertisers. Fluffed-up, mass-market numbers won't cut it in a world where shrewd marketers are happily buying ads a click at a time at Google. Instead of relying on deep discounts and largely discredited tricks like third-party circulation, newspapers need to attract - and retain - long-term, full-price customers in the geographic and demographic areas that advertisers covet.

Quality subscribers require, and deserve, quality content. Newspapers need to passionately and compassionately set the agenda in their communities, as emphasized here by David Carr in the New York Times. No other medium ever will have the content-producing capabilities of even the most resource-constrained newspaper. Newspapers should take full advantage of their unfair advantage.

A quality audience reading quality content demands quality customer service. Make every customer contact count - and make sure every paper arrives safe and sound at the appointed time.

Great content plus great service equals a premium product. Anyone shelling out $3.75 for a latte three times a day can afford a buck or two for a newspaper. Newspapers shouldn't be coy about charging any less than what most people spend per day on cable TV. The same goes for online content, which the industry has been giving away for a dozen years in history's longest running free, introductory offer.

Put it all together and you have a quality product, hand- delivered each day to a loyal audience paying a premium price. Who couldn't get top ad rates for that?

Editor resigns over apparent ad pressure

"I ran the wrong kind of business (prostitution), but I did it with integrity"
Sydney Biddle Barrows quotes (American madam and Author (mayflower madam), b.1952)

Editor resigns over apparent ad pressure PC World editor resigns over apparent ad pressure
By Tom Krazit apparent+ad+pressure/2100-1030_3-6181075.html

Award-winning Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken of PC World resigned Tuesday over disagreements with the magazine's publisher regarding stories critical of advertisers, according to sources.

McCracken, reached Wednesday evening, confirmed that he resigned after 12 years at the magazine and 16 years at publisher International Data Group, over disagreements with management. He declined to comment on the nature of those disagreements.

But three sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told CNET that McCracken informed staffers in an afternoon meeting Wednesday that he decided to resign because Colin Crawford, senior vice president, online, at IDG Communications, was pressuring him to avoid stories that were critical of major advertisers.

Wired News reported Wednesday evening that McCracken quit after Crawford killed a draft story titled "Ten Things We Hate About Apple."

An IDG representative confirmed McCracken resigned, but said he was unable to comment on personnel matters. In an e-mail to, Crawford denied that advertiser pressure played any part in McCracken's resignation.

PC World is best known for its product reviews and how-to expertise. The magazine has won numerous awards over the years for its coverage of the PC industry and technology in general, including six prizes--such as Best Computer/Consumer Magazine-- just awarded last week at the Maggie awards, run by the Western Publications Association.

Now on
Digg in tough spot with DMCA debacle Images: Hidden gems among Webby winners A battery of questions about lithium ion Extra: A cleaner environment--through beer Video: Play old games on your PC "I spent 12 years at PC World; it's been incredibly good to me," McCracken said. He said he will still have some sort of writing relationship with the organization.

A source at PC World who wished to remain anonymous praised McCracken's decision.

"It saddens us all that Harry, a PC World institution, decided to leave," the source said. "But dammit, we're proud of him of doing it."

PC World is published by IDG, a venerable trade publishing organization that has been covering the technology industry since 1964. The monthly magazine reaches 4.3 million "purchase influencers," and has 6.8 million unique visitors per month, according to a Wednesday press release touting the Maggies winners.

IDG also publishes well-known trade magazines and Web sites about the computer industry such as ComputerWorld, Network World, and InfoWorld, which recently shuttered its print publication and focused solely on its Web site. IDG was founded by Patrick McGovern and is privately held.

Crawford has been with IDG since 1994, according to his blog, when he became CEO of Macworld. He ran Macworld until 2003, when he became vice president of business development within IDG's corporate management structure, before assuming his current role.

Libraries to cut out print with eBook loans

"After a day spent staring at a computer monitor, think of (a) book as a kind of screen saver for your brain"

Libraries to cut out print with eBook loans
Caitlin Fitzsimmons 4/Libraries-cut-print-eBook-loans

A library initiative in Canada to offer loans via eBook readers could be another blow for print.

EBook technology is gaining traction in the library sector with a Canadian government research body and eBook aggregator MyiLibrary partnering to launch a new service called eBook Loans.

Billed as an "electronic twist on the traditional library- interlending model", the service offers instant access to tens of thousands of electronic books from academic publishers such as Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Blackwell and Springer.

Pay-per-download for individual journal articles have been available for some time but this is thought to be a first for full-length academic books.

Each loan costs £11.33 (CAN$25), payable online using a credit card. Users are given access to an eBook through a URL that expires after 30 days.

This widens the choice of books available to researchers and reduces the cost of inter-library loans for the institutions, while providing a new revenue stream for publishers.

Chief executive and president of Ingram Digital Group, which owns MyiLibrary, James Gray, said: "This launch is the culmination of months of tireless research into how to develop a robust and intuitive inter-library loan system that easily integrates into library workflows.

"The ability to deliver the content instantaneously is a key feature of this service, and one we believe will help libraries service the needs of their patrons in the most effective way possible."

MyiLibrary's partner in the venture is the National Research Council Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, a science and technology research centre and one of Canada's biggest publishers of scientific books.

Publishers and technology companies have been actively developing eBook products, which allow readers to transport several books in a small package, eliminating the need for print and paper.

In the consumer market, Sony last year announced the launch of its eBook Reader in the US and agreements with several publishers, including Cambridge University Press, Simon and Schuster, Random House, HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group USA, to make 10,000 titles available for download.

'Mr. Magazine' Believes We'll Always Crave Ink on Paper

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul."
Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

'Mr. Magazine' Believes We'll Always Crave Ink on Paper
by Mark Glaser rmr_magazine_beli.html

When Lebanese journalist Samir Husni was teaching students at the University of Mississippi about magazine journalism in 1986, one student had trouble pronouncing his Arabic name and took the simple route, calling him "Mr. Magazine." The student eventually gave Husni a plaque with the moniker engraved, and the name was so apt for the lover of print magazines that he eventually trademarked the Mr. Magazine name and launched a website with the same name.

Now almost every news story about the magazine business includes an expert quote from Husni, whether it's about Teen People closing shop online or about Garden & Gun magazine's awkward name. He's done consulting for magazine companies, and he's written the popular Magazine Guide profiling each year's magazine launches for 22 years running.

So I wondered how this master of the print magazine world, who is chair of the University of Mississippi's Department of Journalism, thought magazines would cope in an increasingly digital world. How should magazines adapt, or should they adapt?

In a wide-ranging phone interview, Husni said he believed people would always want print periodicals, even as new media and online sites gain in popularity, but print publications should shift to more analysis and add more photos. He says he's not anti- technology and even launched a blog recently, yet he remains staunchly old-school in his belief that you can't do journalism on a blog.

"When I started blogging I said, 'Blogging is not journalism, it's a different form of communication,'" he told me. "In no way, shape, or form is it journalism. A journalist can be a blogger. But a blogger is not a journalist."

Husni believes one of the biggest mistakes being made in the magazine industry is shoveling print content onto the web, where he believes interactivity and original content should be the rule. And he railed against magazines that consider only their advertisers to be their customers - and not their readers.

The following is an edited transcript of our conversation, which ranged from his early days covering the civil war in Beirut to his thoughts on e- readers and the future synergy of print and the web.

Tell me more about your background, where you grew up, and how you became interested in journalism and magazines.

Samir Husni: I was born in Tripoli, Lebanon. When I was 8 or 9 years old, I bought a copy of the first issue of the Arabic Superman magazine. I fell in love with the ink on paper more than the blue and red cape. I knew I wanted to be a journalist and a magazine person from that age. I used to spend my time at home creating my own magazines and newspapers using whatever was available. I used to rub candle wax on paper so I could lift off the pictures from newspapers. I was multi- tasking at that age, listening to news on the transistor radio in one ear and writing it down with a pen, taking down the news of the world before there was an Internet.

I took my hobby to college where I started studying journalism at the Lebanese University in Beirut. I started at a music weekly magazine and moved to a movie daily magazine. A friend of mine started a newspaper and I was doing you-name-it: part design, part reporting, part journalism. In school I studied more journalism than design but design was always my hobby. The first issue of that newspaper in Beirut came out in March 25, 1975, and the civil war started on April 13. We didn't have even three weeks until we were in the midst of civil war. As awful as it sounds, those were great times to be a journalist if you survived to tell about it. I lost a lot of my friends and colleagues at the paper.

The civil war ended and I finished my degree and finished as the top student in my class. At the same time, I was working at two different magazines and at the daily paper. I got married and I received a phone call from the university saying, 'Do you want to consider going to get a PhD scholarship?' It was our ticket. We were newlyweds, and the war had started again, and my wife was terrified I would be killed by a stray bullet. I didn't know until I reached Washington that University of North Texas had accepted me for my master's degree, and we landed in Texas in 1978. The first thing I did was go to a bookstore/newsstand and you talk about a kid in a candy store. I was, like, wow!

I did my dissertation in Missouri, and I started collecting magazines. I now have 23,000 first editions of magazines . . . Magazines have been my hobby, they became my education, they became my profession. Now it never ceases to amaze me that when I give a speech or consult with people, that they pay me at the end.

What does the future hold for print magazines in an age of the Internet and digital technologies?

Husni: As long as we have human beings, we are going to continue to have ink on paper. I'm not an ostrich who puts his head in the sand because I know there are some things that print cannot compete with the new technologies. But there are also ways that the new technology cannot compete with print. There will be room for everything. As long as we remember that we as journalists are not the readers, are not the users, we will continue to be in good shape, if we provide relevant content in the relevant medium to the relevant audience.

When you say that 'the journalist is not the reader,' you mean that journalists need to understand what the audience wants and not write for each other?

Husni: Yes. I was at the conference, We Love Magazines, in Luxembourg, and there were 200 editors and publishers there of great, marvelous magazines. None of them are making money, and you can tell, you can look at them. They are designing them to compete against each other, [to get] magazine awards, rather than saying, 'What's in this for the reader?' or 'Is this the best platform?'

That's why I say newspapers in this country are not dying, they are committing suicide. You go to speak in newspaper newsrooms, I've gone to speak about the future of newsrooms, and their first reaction is that 'You are the anti-christ. You want us to do what? Do more than just go to a board meeting and record it and spit it out? We have to analyze and go beyond that?' Even the Internet is too late to provide me the information. Whatever happens in the world now I get an alert on my Blackberry. The immediacy of news delivery can no longer be done in a newspaper.

We have to change the name of a newspaper to daily paper. We have to accept the fact that we have to go beyond the 5 W's and H [who, when, what, where, why and how] and start talking about 'what's in it for me?' and leave the 5 W's and H to electronic delivery because we cannot compete with that. Newsweek and Time are like a snapshot in time. Instead of giving you a summary of the news, they need to give you an in-depth analysis on a few topics.

I've noticed that the local newspaper here, the San Francisco Chronicle, is trying to make their paper more local and use more graphics, photos and color on the front page.

Husni: Two things we have to do. We have to use more narrative and more pictures. If you look at the Financial Times that was completely redesigned last week, a lot of their stories are a full page. But you read that story and you'll get everything you need to know about that subject. More magazines are moving toward more narrative. I tell my magazine clients we have to deepen the story and chase the photographs. For the service part, send people to the web.

The biggest mistake we've made in this industry is that we send people to the web, and we've left them there. We offered them something that's free, that's like a blizzard that surrounds them with information. But at no website do they ever say, 'By the way, you need to go back to the paper to read page 20 where we have this article that you'll only find on page 20 today.' There's no two-way street, we've created a one- way street and people get lost in the jungle [online].

You pick up National Geographic or Conde Nast Traveler magazine and read a marvelous 20-page article about Italy with gorgeous photography. At the end of the article, you [could] say, 'Interested in going to Italy? Check our website and see all the hotels and museums.' All the service aspects. Of if you go to the website you see all these services, and then it says, 'Interested in going to Italy? Pick up the magazine for this article.'

So you don't suggest that people put magazine content online at all?

Husni: No. The biggest mistake we are doing now, and I don't understand why, is we are duplicating magazine content and putting it online. Why would I have the exact same thing on the screen if it exists in print? If I wanted to have a magazine online I would do something like Monkey magazine that Dennis Publishing is doing that's designed specifically for the Internet. You look at one page at a time and there is no jump. Imagine if you were reading something on screen and you had to jump to page 24?

Yesterday I had the editor of Newsweek here and he was telling the students that 500 words is the max that people are willing to read on the Internet. He said if there are eight pages [of a story] on the Internet, 80% of readers don't even read page 2. The missing part is education in the newsroom and in magazines. Each medium has to respect the other mediums. People are looking for complementary media, and that's what's missing when I look at those magazine sites and newspaper sites.

In talking about Teen People going online-only, you said that that is the death knell for magazines. Do you think that's because what they're creating online is just shovelware from what they had run in print?

Husni: Yeah. And this myth that teens don't read anymore, only online. That's the biggest myth. They are still reading if you give them relevant information. I was speaking to a newspaper group and they were complaining, 'Teenagers never read newspapers.' I said, 'Show me a time in the history of newspapers in this country when teenagers were a big chunk of readers of newspapers.' And by the same token, you look at the same teenagers that we say don't read and they are reading Harry Potter which is 700 pages without pictures. It's something relevant to them.

Why would I wait one month and pay $3.50 to get Teen People when I can get InTouch Weekly for $1.99 on a weekly basis? A month in a life of the teen is a long history. Those kids live in the present time. If they are not interested in your content on a monthly basis, they won't be interested in it on the Internet. Print is still the cornerstone to take me to the web, show me the clip, show me the music, show me the video. You have to give me the cornerstone if you are going to link the two together.

What about someone like IDG, who came out and said they would launch new magazines online first and then later in print? Are trade publications different than consumer magazines in that way?

Husni: It's not a different case, it's a cheaper case. It's easier and cheaper [to launch online] but how are you going to brand it? If you have a lot of competition in print, imagine all the competition online. When Conde Nast launched Portfolio magazine, look how much they were investing to launch print and online. You have to have the cornerstone to build on. If they had only launched Portfolio online without the print magazine, it wouldn't have the same impact. It gives them the ability to go deep in the print edition and do snippets on the website on a daily basis.

What about online-only magazines such as Salon and Slate? Obviously it took them a long time to make money, but it is possible to go online without a print magazine.

Husni: Yes, and there are a lot of those online magazines coming along . . . Imagine for someone's birthday, saying, 'Hey John, I've given you a subscription for, which is a free magazine.' What's the value in that? Can you imagine giving someone a website for a gift? There's still a reason for that tactile feeling of holding something in your hand and having something you're proud of. And how many people have had the money that Slate and Salon had invested? And after all that money they've invested, if they had had a print publication, do you think they would have made more money by now?

I am not the anti-technology person. I am the one who tells people who want to dive into technology, 'Why start something online under a totally different business model?' I have someone who comes to me and says he is going to start a magazine. And you ask for a business plan, what the costs will be, what's the exit strategy. And someone comes to you talking about launching a website and that's the whole business plan, and nobody questions that! It's so frustrating because it's so cheap. If you have a laptop, you are a publisher . . . Everybody now can own their own press. But imagine reaching an audience of one for every publication we have.

What is your suggestion to newsweeklies? Their circulation is going down overall. Do you think it was a mistake to put all their content online?

Husni: Definitely. The day I cancelled my subscription to Newsweek was when I saw in print a snippet of an interview, and below that it said, 'For the whole interview go to' I am paying money and you are offering me less in print than what I can get for free on the web. That's why I was very happy when Time reinvented itself with more in-depth [strories] and more photography. They cover two or three topics, but I still need editors to figure out what my readers want each week.

There's been a lot of talk about having the readers get involved with reporting as citizen journalists. Is there room for that in magazines?

Husni: Oh yeah. The best example of that is JPG magazine, and they call their company 80/20. What they are saying is that 80% of the content comes from the wisdom of crowds, people submit pictures to them, other people vote on them. Then editors play the gatekeeping role, bring that professional touch, bring a journalist's objectivity to it. That's one reason when I started blogging I said, 'Blogging is not journalism, it's a different form of communication.' In no way, shape, or form is it journalism. A journalist can be a blogger. But a blogger is not a journalist.

How do you make that distinction?

Husni: I can write on my blog, 'I like this issue of Newsweek,' it's like writing it in my diary but I'm putting it up for anyone to read so they know what I'm thinking. I'm not getting an opinion here or giving objective analysis. With blogging, you're not required to do balance. I call blogging the virtual barber shop. Some years ago, you used to go to the barber shop and hear gossip.

In this age, which I call the 'Isolated Connectivity Age,' we are more isolated and connected than ever before. Our social skills are going to start appearing on the web. We live by our cell phones, computer screens and TV screens. It gives us a sense of connectivity but we are very isolated. I see my son watching a clip of a movie on YouTube and he's text messaging his girlfriend and she's watching the same thing on her computer. I say, 'What's wrong with the good old- fashioned way where you went to a movie theater and got popcorn and try to reach for the popcorn and miss?' They look at you like 'you're a weirdo, daddy!'

Do you find fault with the way magazine companies cater to advertisers?

The major problem in our industry is that we have not changed our publishing model in this country. We are very advertising driven. If I am a big magazine in New York I cater to 50 customers, the Chanels and L'Oreals, and we ignore the two million customers who are our readers. When Victoria magazine folded it had a circulation of almost one million, but Hearst killed the magazine because it didn't have enough advertising. People still write on my blog how much they loved Victoria magazine, a magazine that's been dead for four years. But Hearst and Conde Nast don't care about the readers of their magazines, they're just numbers to sell to those customers, the 50 customers they are catering for, throwing parties for, begging them to advertise.

There's something wrong with our publishing model. The industry always focuses on the wrong things. The MPAA is jumping head first about going digital, without first focusing on how people can make the printed edition connect with readers and go from there.

What do you think about e-ink and digital ink? Do you think it will be viable?

Husni: It will happen, we will have e-paper. But the beauty of print magazines, print on paper, is like a candy bar. Nobody needs them, but like a candy bar, you want to eat it fast so your wife doesn't see it, or your mother doesn't see you eating it before dinner. It's also disposable. If you left your newspaper on the train, you won't go back to search for it, but if you have e-paper or your iPod and left it on the train, you'll go searching for that iPod. The beauty of that disposable medium, the beauty of print on paper that we are addicted to is not replaceable with any other media. Yes we'll have all these other new media but it will have a different purpose, a different use, a different relationship.

The New Publishing Org Chart BY Eric Shanfelt (Blog)

BoSacks Speaks Out: This is an opportunity for real perspective. Today, in another email I have also published an interview with Samir Husni , A.K.A Mr. Magazine. If you can read Eric's article below and then the counter point with Samir's interview . . . Then you will have two divergent points of view.
Please tell me what your opinion is on these subjects.

"A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding."
Marshall McLuhan (Canadian communications theorist Educator, Writer and Social Reformer, 1911- 1980)

The New Publishing Org Chart BY Eric Shanfelt (Blog)

(NOTE: This article first appeared in the March 2007 issue of Folio Magazine. Below is the full, un-edited version.)

Your readers are online. Your advertisers are spending money online or will be shortly. Online-only competitors are innovating their way into your market and gaining momentum. In most markets revenue is shifting from print to online and there are new, non- traditional revenue streams to go after.

You need to innovate and adapt rapidly, but your number one market position in print doesn't automatically translate into a number one position online. To truly capture online revenue opportunities and protect your market position, it's not enough to hire a webmaster and a token inside emedia sales person.

So what's the answer? You need an emedia cultural overhaul. Over the past ten years I've had the privilege of helping dozens of publishers in a wide variety of markets develop their emedia businesses. Regardless of your market or where you are in developing online media, the steps to transforming your organization into an emedia powerhouse remain the same.

It Starts at the Top
The road begins with an attitude change at the very top of the organization. I am still amazed how many publishing executives do not believe their market is online. Go to your favorite search engine and enter key terms for your market. Ask your readers what sites they use. You will discover more online resources, communities, advertisers, and successful media models than you thought possible. They may not be traditional companies with traditional media business models, but there they are creating content, aggregating an audience, and connecting buyers and sellers online.

Another objection is publishers who don't want to "step over print dollars to pick up online dimes." Granted in most markets print is still the lion's share of a publication's total revenue. Online appears difficult because there are different business dynamics, requires dedicated focus, and seems like extra effort for less money. But markets continue to mature with respect to online and today's online dimes will become tomorrow's dollars. I can already point you to several publications that have turned the corner and now make as much or more money online than in print - and at higher margins I might add.

Afraid of cannibalizing your print publication? Your online competitors aren't. They are busy building online resources and want to undercut your prices, deliver better value for readers and advertisers, and make money while doing it. As dollars continue to shift online, don't lament the change. Embrace it, go after it, and keep the revenue for yourself. If anyone is going to cannibalize your print revenue, make sure it's you and not someone else. Remember, it's not about growing print or emedia revenues specifically. It's about growing total revenue and profit across your brand.

Embrace New Roles
There is no room for print publishers any more. In today's media world, you must make the transition to a brand manager representing an editorial position and value to your readers and advertisers across multiple media channels. Your goal is to grow total revenues and profit across your brand whether it come from print, online, in-person, data, or any other source.

Likewise, sellers can no longer survive selling 12x print schedules each fall. Marketers are under pressure to perform and want solutions targeted to their specific marketing needs year-round. They want creativity and quantifiable results. Sellers take note: bring innovative print and emedia solutions that meet your customers' marketing objectives on a regular basis or lose out on business and be replaced by others who can.

In this new publishing age, circulation managers must become audience development managers. Yes, print circulation and audits are still critical, but now must be augmented by developing email lists, managing web site registration, generating attendees for webcasts, and managing lead generation programs for advertisers. An understanding of online privacy laws, dynamics of email delivery, and how to prevent list burnout is critical. Make the transition from managing a print circulation to managing a database of readers that consume a wide variety of products.

For editors, the mental transition is about no longer being just the authoritative source of information on a periodic cycle. Yes, there is still a role for authoritative information, but it's now also about facilitating information exchange and interaction among readers, advertisers, associations and even your competitors - all on a continual and immediate basis. It's about creating interactive databases and tools; aggregating, filtering and organizing content from the entire community; fostering (not controlling) online communities; and developing content for web seminars and online video. Adapt to these new roles and it can be the most fun you've ever had as an editor. Resist and watch your readers go elsewhere for their information.

There are also new roles for accounting, IT, production, and even HR. I don't have room here to elaborate, but how you structure these groups can significantly impede or accelerate your emedia growth.

Give It Focus
Finally, you must give online media the focus it needs to fully develop its potential. This doesn't mean you need to invest millions of dollars into people and infrastructure. Quite the contrary, you can grow rapidly with very modest investment. But the most critical investment is hiring a dedicated person to oversee your online efforts. This is not an easy job, nor an easy person to find. They need to know online media intimately, but also understand the dynamics of print publishing. They need to create product development and marketing plans and make your editors, sellers, and circulation managers feel ownership without allowing those same people to bog down progress. They need to train and support the sales staff, talk with customers, and ensure that content and ad production processes are rock solid to deliver results. They should report directly to the head of the organization (the CEO at the company level or the group director/publisher at the business unit level), have bottom line responsibility for online, and have the authority to make the decisions required to grow the business.

Most importantly, they need to help you transform your entire organization into being just as comfortable and proficient with online media as it is with print. They need to help your editors, sellers, marketers, circulation, and production staff adapt to the dynamics of online publishing. Ultimately your goal, and the goal of the eMedia Product Manager, is to equip your entire staff to serve your readers and advertisers regardless of which medium they choose to use and grow your business in the process. After all, growing your overall publishing business should be the driving force of every publishing executive.

A True 'New York' Kind of Night City Mag Sweeps the National Magazine Awards

"And now I depart hence condemned by you to suffer the penalty of death, and they, too, go their ways condemned by the truth to suffer the penalty of villainy and wrong; and I must abide by my award - let them abide by theirs."
Plato (Ancient Greek Philosopher He was the world's most influential philosopher. 428 BC-348 BC)

A True 'New York' Kind of Night City Mag Sweeps the National Magazine Awards
By Nat Ives article_id=116464

NEW YORK ( -- New York magazine's success was spectacular at today's National Magazine Awards as the title won for general excellence in its circulation category -- for the second year in a row -- and collected four other prizes throughout the night. And in a big reversal of fortune, perennial favorite The New Yorker didn't win a thing. New York magazine, edited by Adam Moss, took home five awards, including General Excellence.

The judges said New York, which Editor in Chief Adam Moss led to its first general-excellence award last year, had demonstrated that city books can provide a lot more than event listings and restaurant reviews. "From probing the tortured negotiations behind the city's 9/11 memorial and the embattled nerve center of The New York Times," judges said, "to the buzzy, reconfigured 'Intelligencer' and the innovative 'Strategist' service sections, New York revels in the diversity, sexiness and intensity of the city it covers."

New York won in five of the seven categories in which it was nominated; in addition to its general excellence win, it took home prizes for profile writing, magazine section, design and, via, interactive feature.

It slowly became clear that the night would belong to independent titles in general and New York magazine in particular. Upon collecting the third award for New York, Mr. Moss apologized to the crowd. "Sorry if you're way too sick of me already," he said.

It wasn't much longer that Mark Whitaker, the former editor in chief of Newsweek, said, "I guess if brown is the new black, Adam Moss is the new David Remnick." Mr. Remnick, of course, is usually the one wearing a path in the floor to the podium.

After collecting his magazine's fifth and final prize, Mr. Moss said: "You will never give us one of these again."

New Yorker keeps its seat
Conde Nast Publications' New Yorker, with a staggering 46 wins over the years, typically plays the role of the New York Yankees at the National Magazine Awards. Its eight nominations this year had seemed to give it a good shot at more, but it got no calls to the podium.

The awards, nicknamed Ellies for the elephant sculptures that serve as trophies, were presented by the American Society of Magazine Editors, in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, during a black-tie evening ceremony for about 1,000 guests at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. While ASME officers gave out the coveted general excellence awards, a smattering of boldface names were in attendance to give out some of the prizes, including actor Kevin Bacon, actress/author Carrie Fisher, NPR's Ira Glass, "Sopranos" Edie Falco, director John Waters and actress Aisha Tylor. Also appearing in taped video segments were talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, and America Ferraro as "Ugly Betty," TV's most famous editorial assistant.

Some of the celebrity presenters were not shy about looking for love from magazine editors and publishers. In a video presentation, Ellen Degeneres poked through a magazine rack, cracking wise and adding, "I don't publish a magazine, but I might if anyone's interested . . ."

Later Kevin Bacon joked, "Since you're all here, I might just mention that I haven't gotten a cover since 1982."

Edie Falco, presenting for columns, took a different tack. "I once read in a column how my show was hurting the country because it promoted violence. . . .I don't know what happened to that writer. Just a word of advice."

She then went on to present the Ellie to the editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, for columns by Christopher Hithchens. Mr. Carter then told the audience what Mr. Hitchens current assignment is: a piece on self-improvement that included going for a manicure today. "So he comes back from the manicure and asks me 'What's next?' Mr. Carter related. "'Waxing,' I told him. 'Well what would I wax?' he asked. I told him, 'Well there's such a thing as back, crack and sack.'" Mr. Hithchens paused before replying, "Ah well, in for a penny in for a pound."

No magazine approached the success of New York this year, but National Geographic and Vanity Fair each won two awards, including a general-excellence win for National Geographic among titles with circulations of more than 2 million.

General excellence
The remaining general-excellence winners were Wenner Media's Rolling Stone, for titles with circulations from 1 million to 2 million; Conde Nast's Wired, for books with circulations from 500,000 to 1 million; Foreign Policy, for titles with circulations between 100,000 and 250,000; and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for magazines with circulations below 100,000.

There were first-time winners, too: Departures, from American Express Publishing, for single-topic issue; O, The Oprah Magazine, published by Hearst Magazines, for leisure interests; The Paris Review for photojournalism; McSweeney's for fiction; and for general excellence online.

But the 2007 winners included more magazines that had won a number in the past, including Hearst's Esquire, which raised its total to 19 awards; National Geographic, which got to 15; New York, which now has 14; and Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, whose wins over the years now number 13 each.

The 2007 National Magazine Award winners:

National Geographic for General Excellence (over 2,000,000 circulation)
Rolling Stone for General Excellence (1,000,000 to 2,000,000 circulation)
Wired for General Excellence (500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation)
New York for General Excellence (250,000 to 500,000 circulation)
Foreign Policy for General Excellence (100,000 to 250,000 circulation)
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for General Excellence (under 100,000 circulation)

Glamour for Personal Service
O, The Oprah Magazine for Leisure Interests

Esquire for Reporting
Vanity Fair for Public Interest
GQ for Feature Writing
New York for Profile Writing

The Georgia Review for Essays
Vanity Fair for Columns and Commentary
The Nation for Reviews and Criticism
New York for Magazine Section
Departures for Single-Topic Issue

New York for Design
National Geographic for Photography
The Paris Review for Photojournalism
City for Photo Portfolio
McSweeney's for Fiction for General Excellence Online for Interactive Service for Interactive Feature

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: ON MPA, Time Inc, Conde and Mentors

"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong."
Charles Wadsworth

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: ON MPA, Time Inc, Conde and Mentors

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
Today's mentors? You mean you want young people to learn from the upper- and mid-level executives who dismissed the Internet, desktop publishing, cross media, and ran bloated, bureaucratic self-protective organizations? Okay. I guess we need to cultivate more narrow-minded bonus-focused executives to discourage the young people below them so that, in frustration, those young people can they out on their own and start their own businesses. If that's what we want, then mentoring is a great idea. Everyone can learn a lot from viewing a bad example. Many successful businesses were created by inspired executives who could not make headway in the organizations they were in.

Seriously, mentoring comes from age diversity in organizations, not just a plan. In many job cutting schemes, middle-management is cut the most, which creates a discontinuity in organizational succession. When companies stop growing, as many big publishing companies have, there can be a serious age-imbalance that interrupts traditional passing of knowledge as one generation looked out for another. What this means is that managers start making old mistakes in new ways because there is no one there to stop them.

Industry growth can cover a multitude of sins; industry decline exposes them and creates new problems. The lack of mentoring is one of them.

There is another issue. Many young people are in a marketplace for which additional education is quite common. For example, one-third of all business students will have MBA's about 10 years after they graduate. Much of what was passed in the mentoring process is now passed in additional outside educational endeavors that were not available in the past.

Technology has also changed things, and standardized them. Desktop publishing has standardized trade practices that were sometimes unique to organizations that would have otherwise required a mentoring process to impart.
(Submitted by an Industry analyst and one of Bosacks favorite pundits)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
Look at the "New York School of Printing" aka now "High School for Graphic Communications" a public high school quietly dying in the heart of the world's media a scream away from some of the worlds largest publishers. My recent visit there was a very sad event.
(Submitted by a Senior Print Sales Director)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
Not so fast Bo. There is still mentorship going on. It's not like the old days, but here and there the teaching still goes on. You judge the world from your own experiences, and as fair as that may seem, most of your experiences were very uncommon. Who else got the chance to learn from Lowell, Vito and Irving?
(Submitted by a Senior Dir of Mfg)

Is this really that valid a test, though? Not only did In Touch not use a celeb, but it tried to cover a serious topic and did so at a traumatic time when most of the serious media was all over the situation, increasing by orders of magnitude its competition. I think it's smart to try something new, but to go with a choice that altered that many factors at once means that you'll never know what the test taught you.
(Submitted by a Writer)

RE: Magazine Series Raises Ethical QuestionsWell, this is about the fastest way to get the general public to stop watching web content from reputable information brands and instead tune into the knucklehead bloggers and video producers who contend that their own crap is as credible as ours. Without that distinction, I might as well find another line of work.
Thanks for nothing, Marie Claire.
(Submitted by a Senior Editor)

RE: Conde Nast's Portfolio Pits Old Media Against Web Models
One question about "top writers": how many readers even recognize the majority of those bylines? I don't have an answer, but it's something I've wondered about. Would a title be smarter to search out talent that doesn't get all the attention to present something new? And when it comes to business magazines, I've talked with editors I know in that area and have come away with the thought that most of them are really about investing and horse race reporting, not about understanding business. And what does Portfolio do? Hire Tom Wolfe to write about hedge funds. Gee, how about covering management, strategic planning, supply chain issues, companies moving away from convention wisdom, and all the topics that you generally only find in business trade magazines that seem to attract devoted readerships.
(Submitted by a Writer)

Re: Magazine Series Raises Ethical Questions
Bob: In advertising, as in war, Truth is often the first casualty.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: News Flash: Anything This Graphic Should Never Have a Logo
We, in media, especially in the digital era where anyone and everyone can "publish", are nothing if not our brand.
(Submitted by a Online Database Manager)

Re: Time and Hearst focus on new media, not new titles
Time inc will be more digital when they shake up the organization from the top. Their current moves of downsizing staff and selling properties is just senior management chess. All those resources and they are not dominant on the web?
(Submitted by an Industry supplier)

RE: Magazine Ad Pages Grow 1% - New MPA Ad Campaign
I believe we're all very much excited about the MPA Marketing Coalition's initiative to grab the attention of advertisers in all the right places in the media. So, well done. They set out on a mission, pulled together key players from all teams and they have shown the industry just what can be done even on a highly limited association/member budget.

But what is missing?

Any true consumer database marketing and advertising expert will be the first to tell you that you start with the CONSUMER first and the advertisers will follow. I know I couldn't have been the only one who absolutely loved the Conde Nast agency's spin on the ads all over Manhattan and in print ads that had consumers hugging and kissing their magazines. Although those ads were intended to strongly reach the advertisers, it's the consumer driving the purchases, driving the advertising and driving the success of all sides of the publishing industry picture. It gives the the impression to the CONSUMER that THEY may be missing something and can't live without a title they love. That works for ALL who work in promoting the purchase of a magazine.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that these ads are perhaps the finest and most important work the MPA Coalition has done and we should be expanding it's use in all forms of our own magazines, newspaper inserts, billboards, insert media---all forms that GET IT IN THE PUBLIC EYE as well as the key advertisers.
(Submitted by a CEO/Publisher)

Magazine Learns to Heed Its Own Advice

"The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable."
Sun Tzu

Magazine Learns to Heed Its Own Advice
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA 1mag.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Business 2.0, the technology-aware magazine published by Time Inc., periodically reminds readers of the importance of backing up computer files. A 2003 article likened backups to flossing - everyone knows it's important, but few devote enough thought or energy to it.

Last week, Business 2.0 got caught forgetting to floss.

On the night of Monday, April 23, the magazine's editorial system crashed, wiping out all the work that had been done for its June issue. The backup server failed to back up.

Good thing the magazine, based in San Francisco, is a monthly. "If it had happened a week later, we would have been in trouble," said Josh Quittner, the editor.

But all is well, he said, and the magazine will go to press on schedule next week. The recovery was made much easier, paradoxically, by a bane of modern business, litigation - or at least the fear of it.

"The text had all been copy-edited and sent off to the lawyers, so it had been saved as e-mail," Mr. Quittner said.

But the artwork, the page layouts, were truly gone, he said, and "our heroic art department had to rebuild all the art assets." He said they had caught up by Thursday.

The night of the crash, Mr. Quittner said, "our tech guy was here until 4 o'clock in the morning, but the patient died." Until then, the magazine had never had to rely on its backup server, he said, so no one had noticed that its programming was either obsolete or dysfunctional, or both.

Just last November, the magazine had listed off-site backup as being among "the usual precautions."

Mr. Quittner said that Time Inc., a division of Time Warner, now has Business 2.0 linked to a more sophisticated - and, presumably, more frequently checked - backup server in New York, "so if we crash here, the worst that would happen is we would lose a half-hour's worth of work."

Business 2.0 has drawn attention for skewering companies, including, occasionally, other magazines, in its annual list of the "101 Dumbest Moments in Business."

So is Business 2.0 now a candidate for its own list?

"I think we would be if we didn't make it to press, but we've done far dumber things than this," Mr. Quittner said. "We were lucky. It could have been a lot worse."

Newsweek Editor: 'Dead Tree' Magazines Will Continue

"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."
- Yogi Berra

Newsweek Editor: 'Dead Tree' Magazines Will Continue
By Samir Husni

This week's cover of Newsweek happens to reflect editor Jon Meacham's "two favorite topics": God and War. Meacham shared his views about his favorite topics and many others in an hour-long Q and A session with the journalism students at the University of Mississippi during a meeting with them on the Oxford campus.

The Newsweek editor told students that these are "interesting times" and that the business of "printing on dead trees" will continue to be with us in the future. Armed with a circulation of over three million copies every week, a readership of over 20 million readers, and five to five and a half million unique visitors on the web, Meacham compared the reading habits of consumers in print and online. Meacham said "people do not read long form on the internet. 500 words is the max.

An average cover story of Newsweek is 4,000 words, so it takes eight pages on the web." Meacham asked the students to guess the percentage of viewers/readers who go from page one to page two on the web. "80% DO NOT . . . they drop before they flip to page two." And how many stay until page 8 on the web with the story, he asked and quickly answered, "My mom will be the only one."

He reminded the students that journalism is not for the faint hearted and the future is always going to be for good writing . . . however he warned the students that we have to earn people's attention and respect their most precious resource, time (I am sure he did not mean TIME). "In a blizzard of choices," Meacham said, "To reach your audience, you need to be eloquent in the narrative with something new on every page to stop the readers." Good words of wisdom for everyone who believes that our future is based on good reporting, good writing, good editing and above all a good sense of news judgment. Thank you Jon, we indeed live in "interesting times."

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Where are Today's Mentors?

"Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three." Confucius (China's most famous teacher, philosopher, and political theorist, 551-479 BC)

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Where are Today's Mentors?

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
You struck a nerve. I take for granted all my graphic arts knowledge though think back to times when I knew far less and read ever pocket pal, SWOP manual and took a loop to every color bar to be sure all materials were in compliance or just to see how another prepress shop prepared their materials. You state you were inquisitive though I don't find this to be the general sentiment out there these days. It is more let me program my itunes, download my custom ring tone on company time and IM or text my buddies then get some work in between these activities. Attention span deficit! The people who take the time to think about how their activities in NY can make or break hours of production at some midwest printing plant are the rare ones. I have to fight the same inclination myself sometimes and get sidetracked too.

Usually if I make a press check, I realize what a tightly integrated thing this publisher/paper manufacturer/printer/distributor/consumer business this we take part in and those are not even all the stakeholders involved. A lot of jobs depend on it.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
I wholeheartedly agree. I too had many mentors and one in particular was George Carl Sr. He was inquisitive about everything and as such was a very detail oriented person. He made me aware of the things I had to know to do my job properly. Consequently ink was not just ink but a liquid that was made of chemical components for different printing processes, also paper was not just paper and printing plates took many forms.

I was also fortunate to have been in the business when there was more than one printing process. I made it my business to pass this information along to others. In all my dealings with my fellow workers I made it imperative that when they were taught something it was their responsibility to pass along what they learned.

It was why I enjoyed being so involved with the APPM and being Program Chairperson at least 5 times and President twice, it was a great association for learning. It has been 7 years since I retired and I know for a fact (and you have confirmed it) that there are no more mentors- they seem to have disappeared with the advent of computerization-I guess now we will have to rely on robots! Keep up the good work.
(Submitted by a retired Production Director)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
Bo, I couldn't agree more with the article concerning mentoring. I was fortunate to have several mentors on my way up the corporate ladder and nurtured those relationships to maximize what I could learn from them.

Much of what I truly learned about the publishing business and people in business came from my daily interactions with my mentor in NYC. I spent three years learning from him, being challenged by him and often being frustrated or anxious with him. Adolph Auerbacher (Meredith Corporation) was one of the last of a dying breed of classic publishing mentors. He taught his lessons through parable and personal experiences. He often didn't answer the question or critique the decision made, but would get his message across through example or a story. You always wanted to do your best because you knew he expected it of you.

I find today many people are too busy making a name for themselves through their "hard work" or "last big sale" and miss the opportunities to listen and learn.

The idea of an internal publishing school makes lots of sense and was initiated at Meredith back in 1989. Their "publishing college" program continues today and has spawned many great careers, including mine.
(Submitted by an experienced industry veteran willing to mentor)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
I completely agree where are today's mentors? You are right there does need to be a broader understanding of the roles and functions and cross pollination within publishing organizations.

I think more importantly the question is why does the industry limit itself by not developing and reaching out to those that get less exposure or are one level down within an organization. The industry continues to tap into the same key leaders. The future leaders are there Bo and ready to take a more upfront role in the industry. Tap into it.
(Submitted by a Director of Mfg. & Dist.)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
The mentors are here, Bob. There are a lot of people like me who spend a great deal of time teaching and helping anyone who asks. But, a couple of things have changed in this industry - and not for the better, I'm afraid.

Companies aren't so willing to invest in training employees now - they don't send them to conferences or industry luncheons and events or pay for subscriptions to the trade press or encourage others in the company to help train the staff. The truth is there is not a lot of inhouse training going on in most companies today. I see it all the time in client companies and hear about it from other consultants to the industry. Too often when training is offered, some employees resent it because it "adds to the work load and stress". Yes, I just heard that sad story this week. Amazing, isn't it?

The trade press has stopped publishing real "how to" articles that concentrate on building core skills in each important publishing area. It's weird. No pme thinks it's important to understand the basics of anything anymore. A foundation for your profession just isn't exciting to most. It goes along with the attention deficit syndrome most people seem to value now.

Events managers expect seasoned professionals to show up a conferences on their time and dime to make money for someone else's company. A lot of experienced, talented speakers and seminar leaders have gotten off the speaking circuit because after 40 years, we think it's important to be compensated for travel expenses, if not for our time. So what I'm seeing now at these events is a lot of sales presentations for supplier's companies or the wisdom of people who haven't much experience. This type of conference content is a real event killer.

Lots of people mentored me. I owe my career and my business to them. I'm willing to do the same for others but often help is not wanted or easily available to those who do want it.

I hope you're able to encourage the industry to find a solution.
(Submitted by an Industry Consultant)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
Right on. I've been in sales for more years than I want to remember. But, before I went into sales I was in magazine and book production. The knowledge I gained, the mentoring I had, is no longer there.

The problem goes beyond magazines, it's in book publishing also. Both magazine and book production are the very similar. Technology has encroached upon both. Publishers are scrambling to figure out what is happening to their business models.

Look at books. Google decides to scan books and the major book publishers raise the flag to say, you can't do that. But, Google did. The technology was there, but book publishers either did not know about it, did not understand it, or could not see the application.

How many publishers, magazine or book, understand XML?
(Submitted by a Printer)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
Well said, Bob. My belief is that companies have cut "to the bone" and we're all working so much and at a fast pace that there is not time for mentoring & coaching, much less the quiet time for deep thinking about strategy development. The "younglings" are not able to learn about developing and maintaining relationships that will can them when its crunch time or they're in crisis, either personally or professionally. They don't know how to properly communicate verbally or in writing and rely too much on emails; all of which actually hurts their interpersonal skills. In fact, we just lost a young sales rep in training since he could not get over the fear of talking to people, relied too much on email contact, and lacked the business maturity to operate effectively in an office environment. A "very young & immature" 30 years old, did he not spend enough time being mentored or coached?

So how will business find the time to develop better mentoring programs? That's the $24 million question that could hinder business overall; not just the publishing industry. Thanks for your insightful musings. Keep up the good work!
(Submitted by a 20+ year employee on both sides of the printing and publishing industry)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
I completely agree where are today's mentors? You are right there does need to be a broader understanding of the roles and functions and cross pollination within publishing organizations.

I think more importantly the question is why does the industry limit itself by not developing and reaching out to those that get less exposure or are one level down within an organization. The industry continues to tap into the same key leaders. The future leaders are there Bo and ready to take a more upfront role in the industry. Tap into it.
(Submitted by a Director of Mfg. & Dist.)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Where are Today's Mentors?
Bob, I consider myself one of the real lucky one's. Your mentorship of me back in the mid-1980's at xxx- xxx publishing, was excellent. You opened my mind to ways of thinking that were extraordinary then and now. The two most special golden Bo-rules that I remember are the following:

Never panic. . . there is always a solution if you look in the right place and ask the right questions.

And my very top favorite Bo-ism, that I have used in every application wherever possible is:
if something isn't working, see if it's plugged in.

That little gem is as deep and as good as anything Aristotle ever said and I have put it to good use over the years.
(Submitted by a Senior Director of Mfg and Dst)

You Know Who's Boss -- Consumers

"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps."

You Know Who's Boss -- Consumers
But Do You Really Know Them Well?

By Rance Crain article_id=116348

I don't get it.

P&G says the consumer's the boss, and we name the consumer Agency of the Year.

Everybody concedes that once advertising hits the printed page or the airwaves or is unleashed into cyberspace it takes on a life of its own and is out of advertisers' control. All the industry can do is get out of its way and watch the boss -- consumers -- run with it in ways the ad makers never even contemplated.

We heard lots of discussion at the recent American Association of Advertising Agencies' conference about ROI. But how can you even discuss ROI -- return on investment, ideas or involvement -- if you've already conceded advertising is out of your control? Why bother to exert your authority when consumer- produced TV commercials score better on the Super Bowl than lavishly produced ones from your ad agency?

It's kind of pathetic to read and listen to how agencies need to tear down their individual fiefdoms (called silos) to work together to produce ads that seamlessly follow consumers from one place to another. But both sides are having a hard time evaluating such ads, and insist on taking them apart to measure their individual components.

So almost by default, consumers are seizing control. These are the consumers who care enough about brands to shape them in the directions they think they should go. With so much marketing and agency turnover, in many ways consumers are the only custodians left for the brands.

To quote my favorite ESPN program, "Pardon the Interruption," I'd like to take a quick paragraph to (partially) defend the recent 4A's conference. I know we said the meeting lacked substance, but if what Howard Draft is doing with his war-room teams and real-time sales data really works, it's not only breakthrough but has the potential to gain back some control over those pesky consumers.

But what about consumers who feel disconnected? What about blacks and Asians and Hispanics who feel most brands aren't part of their lives, at least as they are filtered through the power structure of today's advertising business?

It makes all the sense in the world for ad makers (both clients and agencies) to be well-stocked with people who understand consumers, whether young people who fathom the mysteries of cyberspace, a good mixture of people who reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our country, and, yes, even older people who understand the vitality and buying power of the great gorge of baby boomers overtaking our land.

Talk about the need for greater diversity in the business largely has fallen on deaf ears. Nobody likes to be told whom they should hire -- unless it can be demonstrated that hiring the right mix of people can improve the bottom line.

Agencies and their clients understand the importance of culture in directing ads to the right recipients with a message that reflects their background and interests. Ads for Ford trucks speak differently than ads for Aston Martins.

Culture has to do with all sorts of things -- education, religion, status, income, ethnicity, even music. It's driven not by color but by a common heritage that transcends color.

I like Jo Muse's approach to diversity because it incorporates the need -- the urgency -- to involve all constituents, including, presumably, the young and the old.

Jo, who runs an agency in Hollywood with Honda as his major account, believes culture "is more important than race, language or ethnicity."

If the ad business is serious about regaining control of its brands, it must first understand that the "boss" is not just a 35-year-old white American. He or she is younger, older and black, Asian or Hispanic.

A good place to start would be in the corridors of the ad-industry meetings, where too often we see the same people and hear the same things.

MPA member blogs now stand at 400

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop."

Blogging is Serious Media Business
By Kristina Joukhadar p?prmMID=3038

MPA member blogs now stand at 400. Not to be outdone, 75 percent of the nation's largest newspapers currently blog on business related topics.

The Magazine Publishers of America has released an online listing of the approximately 400 blogs established by its publishing members. Although there are 32 publishers-among them Fortune, Forbes, Scientific American, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Good Housekeeping, Advertising Age and FOLIO:-who only list one blog for their magazines, many have multiple blogs.

The "winner" in terms of pure number of blogs for one "publisher" would have to be CNET Networks, with 33 individual blogs. This is a bit deceptive, though, because the blogs cover different areas of the network and are not tied to print magazines. In second place, at 17 blogs each, are Business 2.0 and Computer World. InfoWorld is next up, with 15 distinct blogs.

Perhaps some of the most unusual blogs are listed under the Glamour magazine brand. Topics like Beauty Insider, Did You Hear, and Slaves to Fashion are blogs one might expect to see-even Don't Spotting isn't too much of a stretch. But two of Glamour's blogs-in particular, See Allysa Date and Life with Cancer-both written by staffers, represent an incredible extension of the brand in a very personal way.

75 Percent of Newspapers Blog

According to a study released yesterday by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University, 75 percent of the national's largest newspapers now include business-related blogs.

Although 38 of the largest 50 papers have a blog and 24 of them have two or more, less than 10 percent of papers overall have blogs. The average number of blog postings per week is three; and the median number of reader comments to business blogs over a two-week period was nine. Half the respondents said they receive from one to five reader comments per posting; one third receive no responses at all.

"Newspapers clearly need to be experimenting with blogs as another way of reaching readers beyond the printed page," said Stephen Doig, the study's researcher, "But it's less clear at this point that blogs give an immediate payoff in increased readership for most news sites."

Mag Bag: National Geographic Launches Green Site

"I never leaf through a copy of National Geographic without realizing how lucky we are to live in a society where it is traditional to wear clothes."
Erma Bombeck (U.S. humorist, 1927-1996)

Mag Bag: National Geographic Launches Green Site
by Erik Sass fuseaction=Articles.san&s=59488&Nid=29870&p=204 904

National Geographic Launches Green Site
With its tradition of advocating conservation and care for the environment, the only surprise is that it took National Geographic this long to launch a "green" Web site. On April 22, the venerable society announced the launch of, which highlights the numerous environmental issues covered by its journalists, photographers and field researchers.

Along with the reporting--which boasts the added incentive of adventure in exotic locales--the new site provides readers with environment-friendly tips and techniques for everyday living.

The site is a full multimedia experience, with video, podcasts, photos, daily news updates, quizzes, surveys, and social network-style participation in online activities. Topics covered include an array of bad things people do to the environment and vice versa, including global warming, natural disasters and habitat destruction. Online simulators allow users to create virtual tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, avalanches and earthquakes. Modeling software also enables users to investigate the effects of climate change on the environment.

Advice for consumers includes product recommendations and home-makeover ideas to lessen individual environmental impact or "footprint." This content is an extension of National Geographic's initiative to provide more practical advice for real-world lifestyle issues, following its acquisition of

Betsy Scolnik, president, National Geographic Digital Media, commented: "We've created to be a multimedia tool kit for green living. It's a powerful communication tool that is interactive, engaging and fun for all ages." The goal, she says, is to encourage individuals to make a difference by "giving them practical advice that empowers them to become environmental stewards."

Philips Brings Conde Nast Content to Travelers
Philips Electronics and Conde Nast are teaming for the launch of Philips' Simplicity Concierge, a service that delivers travel-related content directly to business travelers. The content, created by travel experts at Conde Nast Traveler, Self, Gourmet, Golf Digest and The New Yorker, will be accessible to travelers through an online portal and text messages. It includes the latest news and recommendations about shopping, nightlife, dining, events and lodging in 20 of the world's most-visited cities.

Online, the content is available at Travelers can also access it by sending a text message code (82222), then entering a category of information and city. The concierge processes their query and produces an expert recommendation sent back to the user's phone in text-message form.

The information at the Simplicity Concierge will be updated on a monthly basis.

Victoria Gets A Second Chance
Magazines that close don't always stay closed, as the ongoing saga of Radar proves. Now Victoria, beginning anew as a bimonthly in October, is back. After ceasing publication in 2003, the magazine-- founded in 1987 by Nancy Lindemeyer--is being reintroduced through a partnership between Hoffman Media and Hearst Magazines. Hoffman Media, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., will take over responsibility for publishing and managing brand extensions for the magazine, which was the sole property of Hearst in its previous incarnation.

The Victoria brand is positioned as an authority on "romantic living," including home, garden, fashion, beauty, food, collectibles and profiles of notable women. Hoffman is planning intensive newsstand distribution and a substantial Internet presence, while promoting the brand through direct-mail campaigns. Hoffman hopes for a paid circulation of 250,000 issues by early 2008. Hoffman's other publications include Southern Lady, Tea Time and Taste of the South.

Figure Relaunches Web Site
Figure has relaunched its Web site with a new look and content targeting plus-size women. Still delivering an array of fashion, beauty, health, entertaining and relationship tips, the Web site leverages a number of new channels, including podcasts, blogs, fashion slide shows and interactive polls and quizzes. The Web site offers plus-size women, says its editor B.J. Towe, "a chance to connect with their communities." The Web site relaunch follows the July 2006 relaunch of the print magazine with Meredith Corporation.

New York Launches Blog, Newsletter, the Web site of New York, has launched two new digital content offerings: a blog, "Vulture," and a daily email newsletter, "Agenda." "Vulture" specializes in entertainment, delivering edgy and opinionated reviews and analysis--and freely mixing content on lowbrow and highbrow culture, including TV show recaps, concert footage and assorted "Web video nuggets." Theater, book and movie deals will be featured prominently.

The blog will be headed by Melissa Maerz, formerly of Spin magazine, and Dan Kois, former director of development for Scott Rudin Productions. "Agenda" will cover many of the same topics, with a format that introduces readers to six cultural highlights daily, selected by New York's staff of critics.

The USPS Sends Flat Sortation Down the Rabbit Hole

""But I don't want to go among mad people," said Alice.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the cat. "We're all mad here.""
Lewis Carroll

The USPS Sends Flat Sortation Down the Rabbit Hole
By Bill Mickey prmMID=7637

In a letter submitted to the USPS this week, ABM postal counsel David Straus, takes the postal service to task for its recent requalification of "machinable" mail. Straus, in his comments submitted to the USPS on behalf of ABM, noted the proposed rules, "which in this respect could have been written by Lewis Carroll," make little sense from an incentive standpoint, and urged the USPS to reconsider their actions.

According to Straus, the postal rate increases going into effect on July 15 were, among other reasons, designed to send out "pricing signals"-meaning they're intended to not only increase revenues, but encourage publishers to modify their practices to help drive down postal costs. In the meantime, however, the USPS has been transitioning its flat sortation systems to a faster machine which will be introduced next year. During this transition, the USPS is adjusting "machinability" qualifications.

"The new rates have a pretty big distinction between the price if you're 'machinable' and 'nonmachinable,'" says Straus. Complicating the matter, however, are the two flat sortation machines that are currently in use-and the new machine being introduced next year.

"The postal service now has two machines that it uses to sort flat mail-the FSM 100 and the UFSM 1000. Based on postal service peculiarities, the 1000 is the older one and the 100 is the newer one. The 1000 has capability of machine-sorting a wide variety of sizes and shapes, but it's slow. The 100 is more restricted in the sizes it can handle and because it has less tolerance it operates much more quickly," says Straus.

As a result, the postal service wants to sort as much as they can on the 100 and use the 1000 for the leftovers. This is where the rate changes separate from reality, says Straus. "What the postal service has decided in terms of implementing the rates is that for pieces that are prepared in 3-digit, ADC and mixed ADC bundles and containers they'll only declare you to be machinable if they can handle you on the 100."

Yet the pieces that receive nonmachinable status this year will likely regain machinability next year when the new FSS flat sorters are introduced. "There's good reason for it in terms of costs but next summer they're going to start deploying these brand new flat sorters. They are not only going to be super fast but they're also going to have broader tolerances," says Straus.

In the meantime, some publishers will be penalized until the FSS machines are fully deployed. In his letter, Straus says, "The imposition of this added burden on pieces that the notice recognizes might well be 'machinable' in the 'flats sequencing environment' makes little sense from an 'incentive' standpoint, if next year the same pieces that are now deemed 'nonmachinable' become 'machinable.'

In other words, why try to force a publisher to change its trim size if the magazine's original size will once again be machinable next year?

"And also these rate increases are pretty punishing for some of the smaller circulation publications. So if you're small circulation and non-machinable you're going to get a double whammy here," adds Straus.