Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bauer Tops List of Newsstand/Subscription Pricing Ratios

"It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."
George W. Bush

Bauer Tops List of Newsstand/Subscription Pricing Ratios
By John Harrington
The New Single Copy

Harrington Associates, publisher of The New Single Copy, completed a comparison of magazine newsstand cover prices and the "average price" the publisher is selling a subscription copy for. The latter figure is now required by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The list of major titles with the highest ratio (subscription price versus newsstand cover price) is dominated by the titles of Bauer Publishing (page 2). The company's weeklies, Life & Style, Woman's World, and In Touch, are the only magazines combining average newsstand sales of more than 500,000 with ratios of over 70%. A fourth Bauer title, the monthly First for Women, is next on the list with a 58.3% ratio. The weeklies sell well over 90% of their circulation at retail, and First for Women's share is 85%. Only a handful of magazines have newsstand shares over 50%, and only another handful have a better than 50% newsstand/sub ratio.

An irony is that Bauer is clearly committed to newsstand as its primary circulation source, yet its largest titles all currently have cover prices below $2.00. Wholesalers have been very vocal in the last year about their inability to produce profits from magazines with under $2.50 cover prices, regardless of volume or sales efficiency figures.

In addition to the figures listed on page 2, six magazines with average newsstand sales of over 30,000, maintained newsstand/sub ratios of over 60%: Girl's Life, Fine Gardening, Discovery Girls, Easy Home Cooking, Travel & Leisure, and Woodenboat.

The obvious question is How important is the newsstand/sub ratio? More than a few industry observers, not just wholesalers and their representatives, have long argued that large subscription discounts, heavily marketed, have depressed newsstand sales. Samir Husni, known for his counts of new magazines, recently devoted his blog, (6/5/07) to the subject, urging publishers, if they are serious about the newsstand, to even up their pricing strategies. He wrote, "Stop selling your magazine on the newsstands if you are not willing to reduce your newsstand price or increase your subscription price." Most would agree with the latter, but probably not with the former.

Meredith's Griffin Describes Whirlwind of Change, Both for Industry and for Company

The thing that's wrong with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur"
George W. Bush

Meredith's Griffin Describes Whirlwind of Change, Both for Industry and for Company
By Tony Silber

In an 'Age of Participation,' magazines are a great business to be in, according to Meredith Corp. Publishing Group president Jack Griffin, who in a speech Tuesday offered up seven reasons why this is true-and a revealing picture of how Meredith is acting on this.

Griffin, speaking in New York at the latest installment of Magazine Publishers Of America's Breakfast With a Leader series, opened with a description of the dramatic changes in the media world. This era, he said, is marked by "discontinuous change." It breaks with past patterns, he said. It's not incremental. "The impact of search in general and Google in particular rivals the introduction of the telephone or the automobile in its impact," Griffin said. "In the age of participation, communications power is open to anyone who wants it. Smart marketers are inviting people into conversations."

This new approach to marketing is doubly important today, Griffin said, since traditional go-to-market strategies don't work anymore because they assume consumers will stay in the same channel. But the traditional channels do still have relevance. "Television and print are crucial in brand building, and are the spark for other kinds of creative marketing," Griffin said. However, he added, echoing National Geographic's John Q. Griffin earlier this month at the Circulation Management Conference & Expo, "Magazines have got to make progress on selling on audience. Selling magazines based on distribution is akin to selling television advertising based on the number of TVs that exist, or online advertising based on the number of computers."

The seven reasons why magazines are a great business in an age of participation are these, Griffin said:

1. Editors are a lighthouse in a sea of information.

2. New technologies are enhancing the knowledge of consumers.

3. Magazines are opt-in in an opt-out world. "Consumers are in avoidance mode until something interests them," Griffin noted. "But they invite magazines into their lives."

4. Adult millennials are reading magazines, research shows.

5. Starcom reader-engagement research indicates that advertising in magazines is essential content, with ads pages being cited as key content for three pages in 10, according to the research.

6. Magazines drive new-media consumption.

7. Magazine advertising works across the spectrum. Ad share is up, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Broad industry trends aside, Griffin's presentation was most fascinating for his description of where Meredith fits and what it is doing to adapt. Meredith has been active in preparing for this new era, Griffin said, creating an internal 'flexible architecture,' and concentrating on developing and enhancing its skills in marketing. Consequently, it has focused acquisition and investment activity in the last three years on those areas. It:

· Acquired four parenting and family magazines from Gruner + Jahr in 2005, including Parents, Child, Fitness and Family Circle

· Acquired the five-year-old DIY brand ReadyMade in 2006.

· Acquired the interactive and relationship marketing firm O'Grady Meyers in 2006. "This took Meredith into beyond-ink-on-paper custom marketing," Griffin said.

· Acquired another marketing-services firm, Genex, and the 'buzz-marketing' firm New Media Strategies, earlier this year.

· Acquired Helia, a consumer health search engine specializing in high quality and personalized healthcare information online.

In all, Griffin said, Meredith has made over $600 million in investments in the publishing group alone. It has transitioned from a home-and-shelter focused company to a leading media company that reaches women across media platforms. "Our connection to this audience is crucial to our future relevance and prosperity," Griffin said.

And all this activity is based on five core strengths, according to Griffin:

· Leadership brands across life stages. "We have a database of 75 million women," Griffin said. "Using our database, we are becoming skilled at migrating our customers across our brands at different life stages." American Baby has 95 percent coverage of new-parents market. At ReadyMade, over one-third of all content is user generated.

· Trusted content in multiple platforms.

· Focus on consumers. "We have created an 'architecture of participation.' Our More team, for example, doesn't make a move without considering how the audience can participate."

· Deep and diverse marketing capabilities. "Meredith has always been more than a magazine company," Griffin said. "It is an integrated marketing-services company as well. Today, more than ever before, what we do is like riding a bicycle: We are either moving forward or we are falling down."

· Operational excellence, defined as publishing fundamentals, digital development, integration, organizational alignment, developing people, measuring what matters. "The idea of meeting the consumer on the consumer's terms seems to be working for us," Griffin said.

It's Final: No Reprieve on Postal Rate Hike

"One of the common denominators I have found is that expectations rise above that which is expected."
George W. Bush

It's Final: No Reprieve on Postal Rate Hike

By Mark Del Franco and Jim Tierney

Catalog mailers can kiss any dreams of a postal rake hike reprieve goodbye. The U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors (BOG) on June 19 rejected the Postal Regulatory Commission's temporary rate reduction. That means catalogers, who were hit hardest when the new pricing structure took effect May 14, will have to live with the postage increases of 20%-25%, and as high as 40%.

The PRC had less than one month ago recommended to the BOG a temporary rate reduction of $0.03 in its reconsideration of rates for Standard Mail flats--the category affecting most catalogers. The PRC recommended the temporary lower rates last through Sept. 29, before fiscal year 2008 begins for the USPS on Oct. 1.

No dice, said the BOG: "We appreciate the commission's thorough review of this matter and its creative recommendations to implement temporary rate reductions for mailers of Standard Mail flats. We are concerned, however, that approving those recommendations would not be legally sound or practically prudent." The BOG had asked the PRC to consider whether "some rebalancing between Standard Mail letter and flat rates might be appropriate."

By recommending temporary rate reductions that would expire before the test year (the postal fiscal year 2008 that runs from Oct. 1, 2007 through Sept. 30, 2008) begins, the BOG says the PRC "devised an approach that would avoid any direct financial consequences in the test year." The PRC failed to address the BOG's request to rebalance the pricing between flats and letters, the decision says. As postal rate cases are a zero-sum game, the BOG says lower rates for some must be offset by higher rates for others. "As the commission estimates, the financial cost to the Postal Service would be on order of $100 million. That amount of money is substantial and its financial effect cannot be discounted even though the effect comes before the test year, rather than during the test year."

The BOG also said the temporary rate reduction for Standard Mail flats would be difficult to implement. "Given the amount of lead time necessary to develop the software changes required to support these rate changes, the actual number of weeks in which the reduced rates might be in effect would be minimal," according to the decision. "Such a short timeframe of relief, during the low mailing season of a catalog industry that makes plans months in advance, is not likely to mitigate rate shock significantly."

Others disagree. Mark Lee, who owns the Charlottesville, VA-based catalog consulting firm Mark Lee Group, says the majority of damage to catalogers was already inflicted on May 14. But he adds that "Its abruptness and severity is sending a shock wave throughout the catalog industry, and some companies probably won't survive it. The $0.03 temporary reduction would have eased the pain a bit, since it represents a 5% - 6% reduction in the overall cost of a typical catalog. Given the length of the planning cycle, most firms could have altered the course of one catalog as a result of the reduction."

Dana Springfield, the general manager of consumer direct for South Deerfield, MA-based scented candles manufacturer/marketer Yankee Candle, says "a favorable ruling would have allowed us to increase circulation in August-September and drive more growth in our business. Now we are forced to employ a conservative growth strategy in the face of this cost increase."

Indeed, in a June 20 release, DMA President John A. Greco Jr. warned that the BOG's rejection of any rate reduction for flat-shaped mail would have a severe impact on the mailing community. "America's mailers sent a clear message to postal officials that the surprisingly high increases in flat mail rates will lead to significant cuts in mailing volumes, and a long-term downward spiral in postal revenues," he said. "The Postal Governors made a bad call yesterday. It was a bad decision in February when the PRC made its recommendations for rates far in excess of what the Postal Service originally requested. Now by refusing to make the much-needed corrections, the Governors have all but assured a decrease in mail volume that will be felt for years to come."

It's not just the catalogers that are going to feel the pain, warns the DMA's senior vice president, government affairs Jerry Cerasale. "Paper companies are dropping production of coated papers in anticipation of lower demand caused by these high postal rates," Cerasale says. "This is only the beginning."

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Magazines now and Later

"A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility."
Aristotle (Ancient Greek Philosopher, Scientist and Physician, 384 BC-322 BC)

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Magazines now and Later

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out - Printed Magazines as Plastic Records

Although you might be right in your conclusions, I am somewhat skeptical of your reasons. Being pretty much a curmudgeonly traditionalist, I ditched my crystal ball many years ago. Being a card carrying futurist, you keep yours strapped to your wrist. Heck, you probably picked mine up in a garage sale. But I see what I see when I look around.

What I see is that, if magazines die, it will more likely be the result of the actions of government sponsored monopoly. The impact of their ill conceived tariffs on paper prices is one example but is another subject. At the moment, I speak of the USPS. Their latest innovation to their already Byzantine rate structure adds interesting limits to co-mailing. And anyone who knows me will tell you that I hate "interesting."

For Periodicals to co-mail, they must now adhere to a maximum weight of 20 ounces. Above that you lose the co-mail savings. This is one more step that pushes their customers to electronic delivery instead of physical delivery. Good plan.

Essentially, fat magazines are now illegal or at least unprofitable. You know about fat magazines. Those high page count issues are the ones where publishers and printers make their highest margins. They are to us what Christmas shopping season is to retailers. Imagine what would happen to retailers if the government made Christmas illegal? Oh wait, that effort is already underway too. Never mind. I am glad I am old.
(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out - Printed Magazines as Plastic Records

Publishing from its earliest time was about ideas and getting them from one place to another, from one generation to another. Paper was what was available at the time, from the times of the scribes to the times of the presses. Why is it that there is such trauma over the movement from one capture method to myriad methods? It's the revenue and cost streams that have been associated with that transportation of ideas, and the potential disruption of them. But in the end, publishing is still that transmission of ideas, and that's what should still be exciting everyone.
(Submitted by an Industry Analyst)

Re: Data Reveals Mags Are Fastest Growing 'Non-Digital' Ad Medium

ugh! this is not exactly right in the mpa study. where do i begin? a bigger slice of a smaller pie? the fact that this is measured media alone? that non-traditional media are still growing? that the size of change is well within any statistical error of measurement or misreporting? that the study period is just a blink in a longer well-entrenched trend?

the fact that the report was paired with the abm story was quite appropriate, as it showed that the media mix / communications mix is broader and more volatile than ever.

the key to misunderstanding what is happening in communications is studying only "measured media." the old saying is "if it doesn't get measured, it doesn't get done" is an old saying most people are familiar with. in media, if it doesn't get measured, you can act with impunity and undermine the old guard because you'll never be on their radar screen until it is too late for them to act.
(Submitted by an Industry Analyst)

Re: Taking to Strangers

Bo. Do any of these jerks go down on the pavement and talk to their lost customers. They have numerous data of lost customers and yet I have never read one thing about what the lost customers have said about why they walked away?

Procter and Gamble talk to their customers, one way or another, on a daily basis. What is wrong with the newspaper guys doing the same thing and getting back to us with some objective stuff, instead of all the poor mouth "layoff stuff"?
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

FW: ABC NewsBulletin - June 2007 Issue

I'm glad to see that our ABC publisher membership fees are going to good use. ABC's cutting edge R&D department has created a rebate calculation tool to assist advertisers with those tedious rebate calculations. Yippee!
(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: A Publishing Quandary: Do Excerpts Help Sales?

Some of this book-excerpts-vs-book-sales discussion seems over analyzed. The reason Paula Deen sold more books than Jessica Lynch might be as simple as the fact that people like ladies who make good fried chicken better than they like girls who degrade prisoners of war, even though each did it with a smile on her face.
(Submitted by a Printer)

Re: 10 Obvious Things about the Future of Publishing you Need to get Through your Head

Well done! If truck-loads of pontificating doesn't work, let's try a list and make it all perfectly clear. I'm still amazed that my own local paper doesn't "get it"- they don't even have a website! I'm really curious about the J-school angle to this . . . what are their curriculums like today, and how's the hiring going?
(Submitted by a Circulator)

RE: Hail to the power of print
Except for the fact that he can't spell color ("colour"? What, no spell check in the UK?), Mr. O'Reilly got it right. It's nice to see that someone is able to see the forest without feeling the need to write an obituary for dead trees.
(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: Tab Wars: Breaking News or Faking News?

There's a big difference between pleasing your customers and pandering to them. If you don't have enough self respect to do your work correctly, you customers will start to lose respect, and the next step is that they'll find something else to do. Perhaps I'm misremembering, but aren't some of the biggest gossip rags having large financial troubles? If it's insulting to a reader to assume he or she can't figure out when titles are full of crap, isn't it doubly insulting to peddle that crap?
(Submitted by a Writer)

Re: Growth Demands From Publishers, Rise of Online Rivals May Cause Shakeout

Bo: All these idiots talk about are ad pages, loss of subscribers, etc. Does anybody talk about the out-of-date, timely content, lack of imagination stuff that might stem the downward slide?
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

RE: The Biggest Niche

With an entire XM station devoted to advertising the government, wouldn't the Fairness Doctrine require a SIRIUS Common Sense channel as a counterbalance?
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

RE: Carbon Neutral Paper

Bob, Did you see the piece about Rolling Stone and Catalyst's carbon neutral paper? So much environmentalism is pure posturing, appearing to help the environment rather than actually helping it. First it was PCW in magazine paper. What a crock! Now it's carbon neutral paper. Please! In the meantime, there are actually sensible and effective initiatives that make sense for the earth and from the perspective of our business. The Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification are the two best and most prominent examples.

Anyway, my favorite part of the Catalyst story was where they said they had reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 70%. We'll ignore the fact that we both remember when emission of "greenhouse gases" was called photosynthesis and was a good thing. But if you know anything about the history of Canadian environmental regulations, you know that reducing a Canadian mill's emissions by 70% is like saying, "Use new lower fat Crisco - 70% less fat than a big old tub of fat." It's marketing, not substance.
(Submitted by a Printer)

Re: What Difference Does a Cover Make?

After Readers Digest purchased Reiman Publishing, they started massaging the covers on the various publications, using head liners in reverse, like you would see on any newsstand issues. The one that broke the back of Bird and Booms was when they pictured a couple in a garden, instead of either flowers or birds only. I was told that the folks in Pleasantville, New York at Readers Gigest thought Reiman's covers were too out of date. It is the old adage, anyone West of the Hudson River is in the "Outback"

The rest is history.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: A magazine in every niche
Wow, this article actually describes what I do for a living. Of course, my niches-within-a-niche only total 1/10th of Garden and Gun's circ, but hey, it's enough to keep bread on my table. Thanks for bringing the good news not just the doom and gloom that characterizes more reportage on our industry these days.

(Submitted by a Publisher)

Buyers Still Choose Time's Circ Over Audience

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now."

Buyers Still Choose Time's Circ Over Audience
by Lucia Moses

Last fall, Time announced sweeping changes in the way it would do business, planning to offer advertisers the chance in January to buy ads at a 19 percent reduced rate base of 3.25 million, or by a guaranteed audience of 19.5 million. Nearly six months after the new sales approach took effect, media buyers seem to be keeping it Old School and not buying by audience. While the newsweekly says it's ahead of plan in getting advertisers on board, nearly a dozen buyers surveyed by Mediaweek reported none of their clients signed up for the audience option or that they haven't heard much about it.

A widely expressed buyer concern was that the guaranteed audience, representing adults 18-plus, as measured by MRI, is too broad. Others said the audience data are too new and worried that it could be manipulated. Some balked at Time's demand that they commit for the entire year.

Kelly Foster, print director, senior partner, MindShare, said she recommended that her clients, which include pharmaceuticals, financial services and packaged goods marketers, continue to buy on rate base. Kelly said in addition to the broadness of the audience, she was concerned about the methodology (MRI measures audience by asking adults if they read a particular magazine). "The self-reported nature of it makes it very difficult to trust it for buying purposes," she said.

Others said they supported Time's initiative, even if the audience data are too new. (Time is using MRI's new Issue Specific Readership Study as a basis for its audience, but MRI's issue-specific audience data likely won't come out until this week.) "We look forward to working with audience guarantees for all titles when the research is more timely and accurate," said Robin Steinberg, senior vp, director of print investment and activation, MediaVest.
Buyers also noted that other steps the magazine has taken to stay competitive in a nonstop news cycle haven't led to key changes in their appraisal of Time. The weekly moved its on-sale date to Friday from Monday, while managing editor Rick Stengel has made the magazine more visually dramatic, and put more focus on breaking news on the Web site. Even those who said the on-sale date change could help Time accumulate an audience faster said it wouldn't impact their recommendations.

"Is it fundamentally changing our evaluation?" Serge Del Grosso, executive vp, director of media planning at Lowe New York, said of the audience offer and new on-sale date. "No."
Ed McCarrick, president and worldwide publisher, Time Group, acknowledged that a lot of clients are waiting for issue-specific audience data. A "variety of clients," which he wouldn't name, have signed on, he said. Time estimates 20 to 30 percent of clients to be buying based on audience by year's end. "We're right where we want to be on every [index] we set up, and that's not a smoke screen," he said. "Actually, we're ahead of where we thought we'd be."

McCarrick said clients have responded well to Time's effort to foster speed in audience reporting, although Time hasn't yet signed up for the Audit Bureau of Circulation's Rapid Report, which allows for continuous online circ reporting. "We've had enormous positive feelings out there," he said. "Because I think everybody's about immediate return on investment."

Stengel said the earlier close lets Time reach readers when they have more leisure to read it, and that internal research showed people are spending more time with it. "They're enjoying getting it Friday and reading it on the weekend, which is when they said they've always wanted to get the magazine," he said.

It's unclear if the Friday on-sale date has helped Time on the newsstand, though. Preliminary newsstand estimates from an industry source show Time fell 10 percent in the first quarter of '07, a period in which Time published one fewer issue (a spokesperson said the decline is not that steep); Newsweek was down 2 percent. (U.S. News & World Report grew 9 percent, a rise it attributed to some strong-selling history and service covers.) Time, Newsweek and U.S. News averaged 133,084, 110,588 and 36,666, respectively, on the newsstand in the six months ended December 2006, per the ABC.

Only about 30 percent of newsstand copies are getting to racks by Friday, though, according to distribution sources. McCarrick pointed out that single-copy sales are a small percentage of total circ (3.3 percent), and that 90 percent of home-delivered copies are getting to subscribers by Saturday. "We're right on the number that we want to be at in terms of our newsstand distribution for Fridays," he said.
Another complicating factor is that all have raised their cover prices in recent months: Time by $1, to $4.95; Newsweek by 55 cents, to $4.50, and U.S. News by 50 cents, to $4.50.
Greg Osberg, executive vp, worldwide publisher, Newsweek, allowed that the Web has impacted Newsweek's newsstand sales (which he contended were essentially flat in the first quarter), but said Time hasn't hurt Newsweek by going on sale three days earlier. Recognizing the Web's impact, Newsweek has been focusing on building its online site, with a redesign on the way in the coming months. Both titles' sites have grown over the past year, although (linked to by kept its lead over in May, with a unique audience of 6.7 million vs. Time's 4.6 million, per Nielsen//NetRatings.

Elsewhere on the circ front, McCarrick said an adjustment in the draw has resulted in a roughly 4 percent improvement in sell-through. He said that with the ABC publisher's statement for the first half of 2007, all subscriptions will be to direct-to-publisher. Verified, or public-place, copies will be down to about 4 percent, from 8.8 percent in the second half of '06. (Newsweek does not use verified copies; at U.S. News, 1.8 percent of circ was verified.)

For now, newsweeklies face a tough ad climate. Pages for Time fell 5.4 percent through June 25, while Newsweek slid 4.3 percent through June 18, per the Mediaweek Monitor. (U.S. News was up 4.8 percent.) Osberg pointed to softness in automotive, in addition to pharmaceutical and tech. "We've taken a pretty dramatic hit, and so have all the weekly magazines," he said.

"Ten years ago, our largest advertisers were headquartered in Detroit. And that is not the case by far anymore." McCarrick said despite soft domestic auto, foreign auto, pharmaceutical, financial and luxury ads have been strong in Time, with the result that, although the title rolled back ad rates this year in line with the rate base cut, revenue declined less than ad rates did. He believes eventually, audience will be the currency for buying magazines, just as it is for TV, radio and online.

Meanwhile, Stengel plans more changes, like new writers and a fresh approach to covering elections: "I feel like we're just at the beginning. Now we can actually run a little bit."

'Time' Shoving Its Reluctant Writers Online

"A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time."
Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

'Time' Shoving Its Reluctant Writers Online

Yesterday, Time Inc. chairman and chief executive Ann Moore did a Q&A with the Wall Street Journal. One of the things she said was:

The really big breakthrough is that editorial drank the Kool-Aid. The editors of Time Inc. really don't fear the Web anymore. The people who are leading the charge are the writers. When you realized that you could write online, and you would get thousands of readers responding, disagreeing, arguing, it was really great.
Oh, really? Because, in a recent in-house memo, it seems like Rick Stengel's having to really crack the whip over at Time to get his boys on the internets.
To: TIME Edit Staff
From: Rick Stengel

It's been a little more than four months since re-launched with a new look and purpose. By any metric the re-launch has been a success. Page-views are up about 70% over last year, time spent on the site is up 50% and I think we can all agree that not only looks better but reads smarter. We're doing well.

But not well enough. As good as is, it still needs to be better. And it still needs more content, much more. A number of our best journalists are writing stories and covering their beats for and the magazine simultaneously, and it gives me pleasure to single some of them out by name: Joe Klein, Jim Poniewozik, Karen Tumulty, Simon Elegant, Richard Corliss, Alex Perry, Bryan Walsh, Sean Gregory, Bobby Ghosh, Massimo Calabresi, Tim McGirk and Bruce Crumley. As you can see, this list includes many of our best traditional magazine journalists, and that's no accident; if you cover a beat or territory with passion and expertise, you can and should cover it any medium.

That list needs to grow. I sent out a memo last week about evaluations. Let me make this explicit: evaluations of every Time writer, correspondent, and reporter will be based on the quality and quantity of the contributions each of you makes to both the magazine and to is a daily responsibility; Time magazine is a weekly responsibility. TIME is made up of both.

I suspect that some of you regard writing for as an obligation, and not what you came to TIME to do. But times have changed, and we have to change with them. If you care about what you do - and I know you do - then you need to display your talent, your expertise, and your dedication online as well as in the magazine. That goes for editors as well as writers. Everyone should now have beats and areas of responsibility (Ratu has the list), and you should talk to Josh as well as your editors about what your contribution to should be.

All of this will only make you better at what you do - and make TIME stronger. It will serve you and serve our readers, who can and should expect the same devotion to great writing and reporting online as in print. We are now both a 24/7 news organization online and the indispensable weekly magazine that we have always been, and always will be. We don't own our readers or their time - we have to earn their attention and loyalty every week, every day and every hour in a media landscape that is only getting more competitive. Let's go to work.

Thanks, Rick

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Printed Magazines Will Follow the Path of the Plastic Record

"To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser."
Robertson Davies (Canadian Journalist and Author. 1913-1995)

Printed Magazines Will Follow the Path of the Plastic Record
By BoSacks
Publishing Executive Magazine

To paraphrase the sages, publishing is a journey, not a destination. We have been on a very long journey, reaching out to more and more readers as our business models, our technology and our society have progressed and morphed to the challenges and changes of the reading public.

There are enormous new pressures on publishers now, and I think a case can be made that they are different and more complex than ever before. As I stated in a previous column in this magazine, we have been storing out-of-memory text for more than 25,000 years-a very long and noble tradition of teaching and sharing. But where once we had functionally slow and predictable growth strategies, we now seem to have almost instantaneous structural change and a mandatory global outreach program.

As far back as you can go, publishing was always local. Whether it was books, newspapers or magazines, it was a locally constructed, man-made event that required a certain amount of craftsmanship. (Is that term even used anymore?)

That localization included, in almost every case, the "thinking" as well as the physical product. If there was a broader distribution, in most cases it was an aftereffect, not a planned affair.

Until very recently, publishing, writing and printing were handmade products. Until the advent of the typewriter, authorship was constructed by hand with ink and paper.
Even the use of the elegant typewriter was still a process of pecking on a keyboard, which used a mechanical and understandable process of levers and gears to affect the keystroke. I wonder how many of my readers have ever used a typewriter? No, not you geezers-the question really is directed at the younglings.

How many readers understand that paste-up of mechanical boards was just that? Artists took galleys--paper that had typography or ink on paper in columnar, long sheets--spread glue on the back and actually, by hand, pasted the type onto a cardboard sheet, hopefully in an artistic and readable style.

This handmade construct then was photographed by craftsmen, and their product was turned over to a different set of tradesmen, who would, by hand, make printing plates. Then the plates were put, by hand, onto a printing press, and the color adjustments were set, by hand, by a pressman who also was a craftsman of the trade.

So, where am I headed with this nostalgic trip down publishing's man-made history? Magazines are unquestionably printed better and more precisely than ever before. What was once typed or even penned by hand now is instantly spell-checked and corrected without intervention by the author. And the speed of global delivery can be instantaneous if so desired.

In the 21st century, we have a new breed of craftsmanship learning an ever-widening path of information distribution. Where once the written word only was available as ink on paper, we now have a universe of distribution models and methods. There is a debate in our industry about the life and/or death of the printed page. In my opinion, it is an unnecessary debate.

Let me use the music industry as an example. Once, the recorded music industry depended on pressed plastic--records--to reproduce music. Then in 1982, the CD was launched. There were years of transition as the listening public graduated to the new storage system. Now we have MP3s, and the same transformation is taking place. Did you know that there are still audiophiles that cling to the old records as preferable? They are known as the "collectors." And yes, there is still an industry that supports them.

To bring that perspective to the magazine industry, I think we always will have printed magazines, much like we still have plastic records. But the majority of readers eventually will move on to the digital delivery of the printed word with new technology and a globally instant reach. Dead trees with type on them always will be available to the collectors who can afford them, while the general mass of the reading public most likely will pull out their e-paper, and read anything and everything they want to their hearts' content. It's not a matter of if, it's only a matter of when. PE

Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) is a consultant to the printing/publishing industry and president of The Precision Media Group ( He is publisher and editor of a daily, international e-newsletter, Heard on the Web. Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, cameraman and corporate janitor

Why the iPhone Will Fail / Why the iPhone Will Be a Big Success

Why the iPhone Will Fail
Convergence Devices Have a Frequent History of Failure
By Al Ries

In the gold rush of 1849, prospectors checked their finds with Aqua Regia, a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids.
The iPhone may be another convergence device destined for failure.

If a sample passed the acid test, it was the real thing.

When Apple introduces its iPhone this month, will it pass the acid test?

In my opinion, no.

Prediction No. 1: The iPhone will be a major disappointment.

The hype has been enormous. Apple says its iPhone is "literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone." A stock-market analyst says, "The iPhone has the potential to be even bigger than the iPod."

I think not. An iPod is a divergence device; an iPhone is a convergence device. There's a big difference between the two.

In the high-tech world, divergence devices have been spectacular successes. But convergence devices, for the most part, have been spectacular failures.

The first MP3 players (the Diamond Rio, for example) were flash-memory units capable of holding only 20 or 30 songs. The first iPod, on the other hand, had a hard drive and could hold thousands of songs. Now there were two types of MP3 players, a classic example of divergence at work.

Every high-tech device has followed a similar pattern. The first computer was a mainframe computer, followed by the minicomputer, the desktop computer, the laptop computer, the handheld computer, the server and other specialty computers. The computer didn't converge with another device. It diverged.

When the cellphone was first introduced, it was called a "car phone" because it was too big and heavy to lug around. You might have thought it would eventually converge with the automobile. It did not. Instead it diverged and today we have many types of cellphones.

Every Best Buy and Circuit City is filled with a host of other divergence devices that have been enormously successful: the digital camera, the plasma TV, the wireless e-mail device, the personal video recorder, the GPS navigation device.

What convergence device has been a big success? Not many, although there have been a lot of convergence failures.
The computer/phone. AT&T, Motorola and others introduced combination products. Few were ever purchased.
The computer/TV. Apple, Gateway, Toshiba, Philips and others tried to market combination products with little success.
Interactive TV. Microsoft spent $425 million to buy WebTV and then poured more than half a billion dollars into the venture. That didn't work, so it moved on to Ultimate TV, which didn't work either.
Cellevision. Everybody is talking about the third screen, watching TV on your cellphone, but relatively few people do. (The real action in TV is the booming market for divergence products such as big-screen plasma and LCD sets.)
Media-center PCs. Everybody was going to run everything in their homes from personal computers. It never happened.

Prediction No. 2: The media will blame the execution, not the concept.

Suppose the iPhone is a major disappointment. Will another convergence failure convince the high-tech industry of its folly? Highly unlikely.

Once a concept like convergence grips the imagination, it seldom dies.

A convergence failure is never seen as a "conceptual" failure; it's always seen as an "execution" failure. "The concept was sound; they just didn't do it right."

Hope springs eternal.

~ ~ ~
Al Ries is the author or co-author of 11 books on marketing, including his latest, "The Origin of Brands." He and his daughter Laura run the Atlanta marketing-strategy firm Ries & Ries.

Why the iPhone Will Be a Big Success
Apple's Marketing Touch Creates Passion Beyond Reason
By Jonah Bloom

The reality won't match the hype; it was rushed to market and will be buggier than Florida in September; the battery will have the longevity of a mayfly; the touch-screen keyboard will be more irritating than a mosquito bite. It won't hold enough music; the big glass screen will crack;
The iPhone has a lot of expectations to meet, but it will probably succeed regardless of how well it meets them.

the big glass screen will be smeared with unsightly fingerprints; it'll be incompatible with other software makers' applications; forcing users onto iTunes is too restrictive; at $500 it'll be too expensive; and now, from branding expert and fellow Ad Age columnist Al Ries, it'll fail because convergence devices fail.

There are hundreds of pundits who expect the iPhone to flop, and they've come up with a plethora of perfectly plausible reasons why it will sink like Motorola's Pebl in the overcrowded sea of mobile devices.

It's tempting to add a couple more cautionary notes to the list. For example, Apple usually makes complicated stuff feel simple and approachable (one-button mouse, drag-and-drop files and folders, plug-and-play devices), but in this case it's making what used to be a fairly simple device quite complicated. Even TBWA's TV commercials, while beautifully executed and better than 99% of the dreck between shows, feel a touch educational -- as if Apple feels the need to explain itself with this one -- and lack the memorable, one-message simplicity of "Think Different," "1,000 Songs in Your Pocket" or "Get a Mac."

Worse, the ads are deceptive, because they suggest a speed of mobile web surfing that surely won't be available no matter how good the iPhone is. Based on my own experience with my BlackBerry and Razr, both of which rely on AT&T for service, you'd need to buy a 60-second spot just to show one link opening.

But for all of these criticisms and despite the fact that some will prove valid, the iPhone will be a runaway success -- selling as many units as Apple can ship through 2008 and taking at least a 1% share of the market.

Why? Because it looks great, because it is made by Apple, because its high price point will prove an asset while it's being targeted at affluent influencers, because it'll be a badge of honor, because it epitomizes an increasingly mobile world. Because, in short, it will inspire irrational consumer lust.

Indeed, anyone who ever uttered the word "brand" in anger, or in a new-business pitch, should wish it success. Companies such as Apple, one of the few that can still create passion beyond logic for its products, remind us that marketing is more than computer science. Not that there's anything wrong with computer science. Indeed, it's making the ad game a lot less laughable in the C-suite. But isn't it nice to know the entire business of connecting with the consumer can't be successfully outsourced to the machines just yet?

The fact that Apple's rivals in the mobile space are such a bunch of inept followers will help too. There might be a sea of offerings, but most of them are mediocre for devices people spend their entire lives attached to. Amazingly, aside from the possible exception of the Pearl, with its cute little rollerball, there's been nothing to inspire phone pride since the Razr, which has been decidedly unsexy ever since everyone got one. Then there's the cellphone manufacturers' marketing, or mystifying lack of it. Too much of it still is left to the networks.

Al makes a really interesting case against convergence. As comedian Ricky Gervais recently put it in one of his stand-up routines, we don't need to be able to take a piss in the washing machine because we've already got toilets. Yet, every time I pack my iPod, phone, BlackBerry and laptop into my travel bag, along with all their various chargers, I find myself wishing I had one mobile device. Call me irrational, but I'm willing to believe the iPhone might be the one.

A Cautionary tale for all publishers - The Yahoo Booboo

BoSacks Speaks Out: Now here is a tale of caution for all modern day publishers. As stated below there are valuable cautionary words for other media companies - old and new - who are struggling to stay focused in an era of rising competition and competing opportunities.

"One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody."
Mother Teresa

Yahoo's booboo
BY Alan Mutter
The overdue departure of the overcompensated Terry Semel as chief executive of Yahoo represents not only the definitive end of Web 1.0, but also a valuable lesson to other companies thinking they can successfully create undifferentiated, monolithic brands on the Internet.

Although Yahoo got off to a great start as one of the premiere web directories in the pre-Google era, it followed the now-discredited lead of America Online by stretching far beyond its core competence to become a "portal," a jack of all trades offering not just search, but also horoscopes, email, classified ads, news, picture hosting and everything in between.

In its quest to be something to everybody, Yahoo ceased to be particularly good at anything for anyone. And, thus, it lost its way, putting its stock into an 18-month slump and leaving itself open to a take-over - hostile or otherwise.

Among the company's strategic blunders, as noted in this excellent article by the Associated Press, was ceding search leadership to Google, which it could have bought for a mere $5 billion as recently as 2002. Today, Google, whose market capitalization is $160 billion to Yahoo's $38 billion, makes more money in a quarter than Yahoo earns in a year.

Rather than sticking to the business that put it on the map, Yahoo until recently had strayed so far from its roots that it actually subcontracted its search function to Google. It attempted to reclaim its search advertising business only last fall with the launch of a home-brewed system that continues to sub-perform Google's commanding pay-per-click search engine.

Beyond the mistake of forsaking search, Yahoo over the years entered one online business after another with scarcely a vision or a plan, much less a cohesive approach to capitalize on the disparate initiatives.

In so doing, Yahoo became the archetypal Web 1.0 company, grabbing eyeballs as fast as it could in hopes that the rapidly growing number of people newly attracted to the Internet would develop lifelong loyalties to its services.

While this worked for a while, it didn't last long, as increasingly sophisticated users recognized that they could go one place for shopping, another place for videos and someplace else for email. Innovation was rapid, the barriers to change, nonexistent, and loyalty, if there ever had been any, was a relic of the past.

Thus, we entered the era of Web 2.0, an environment so thoroughly disbursed and democratized that people had a limitless choice of cheap, if not free, content and services. If they didn't like what they saw, they could fairly well create something of their own.

Yahoo, which in retrospect stands clearly as the first geezer media company of the Internet, failed to grasp the changes in the marketplace, much less adapt intelligently to them.

"We lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company," said Brad Garlinghouse, a senior vice president of the company in a leaked memo last fall that became known, for obvious reasons, as the Peanut Butter Manifesto. "I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and, thus, we focus on nothing in particular. I hate peanut butter. We all should."

His memo also contained valuable cautionary words for other media companies - old and new - who are struggling to stay focused in an era of rising competition and competing opportunities.

"We are reactive instead of charting an unwavering course," he said. "We are separated into silos that far too frequently don't talk to each other. And when we do talk, it isn't to collaborate on a clearly focused strategy, but rather to argue and fight about ownership, strategies and tactics."

For all its resources, Yahoo couldn't get its act together. Even if you like peanut butter, don't let this happen to you.

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: The Price of Paper: Publisher's & Mill Reactions

"Don't try to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. It can't be done except by liars."
Bernard M. Baruch (American Economist and adviser to US presidents, 1870-1965)

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: The Price of Paper: Publisher's & Mill Reactions

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Price of Paper is on the Rise

Bob: If you are going to ask whether the announced price increases were accounted for in your reader's budgets, perhaps you should earlier have asked whether the price reductions they have already benefited from were also accounted for.

Paper prices have been dropping while production and raw material costs continue to rise.

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Price of Paper is on the Rise

Gee, what happened to that guy who wrote to you saying that the purpose of the tariff was NOT to raise prices? Of course it was. Now that a competitor has been neutralized, prices can go up, and this will not be the end of it. Don't be surprised if there's not another round by the end of the year. It's nice when you can get the government to do your dirty work for you.

(Submitted by an Industry Consultant)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Price of Paper is on the Rise

Bob: The real story is why these prices are increasing. It's certainly not demand.

This price increase is brought to you by your friends at NewPage owned by private equity firm Cerebus. In 2006, they filed an anti-dumping/illegal subsidies suit against Chinese, Korean and Indonesian paper manufacturers and have been successful in gaining a very favorable and, in my opinion, political ruling from the US Government specifically against Chinese paper makers.

As a result, supply from China (which is very significant) is drying up and the supply/demand advantage goes from the end-users to the Domestic and European paper manufacturers (less so Europe because of exchange rate issues).

Brilliant move by Cerebus/NewPage? Absolutely! They have zero interest in the well being of the Magazine/Catalog/Retail/Direct Mail business. They are only concerned with an exit strategy. Getting the price of paper up will go a long way towards that end.

Now, if I was an end-user, I would boycott Cerebus/NewPage to the extent that this is possible. Since they've decided to play in our industry, let's make it more painful to exit.

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Price of Paper is on the Rise

Bob- this is exactly why there is no trust and no positive relationships (for the most part) between Publishers and Paper Mills. No sooner do some paper mills and machines reduce the tonnage available than the rest of them raise their prices to take advantage of the anticipated panic over shortages.

Rest assured, more magazine titles will be threatened due to the USPS increase and this escalation in paper pricing. Nice job guys! Great way to keep the industry at the precipice.

(Submitted by a Senior Director of Manufacturing and Dist)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Price of Paper is on the Rise

Bo:Did you know that the price of woodchips is going up for the making of paper? One of the biggest reasons is the downturn in the construction business shrinking orders for lumber and cutting the supply of woodchips coming out of saw mills to the paper companies. This is very acute in the Northwest where much of our lumber is manufactured.

Don't forget the price of ink is going up again at about 10%. Might not be a huge percentage of the printing job but it still adds cost.

In your presentation about prices going up, it is good information but what sticks is what counts. School is still out on that one. If you notice, not too much bull in the LWC price increases. Those guys are really hurting.

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Price of Paper is on the Rise

Bob: We are carefully monitoring Domtar's freesheet coated mill in Ontario and Catalyst's coated groundwood mill in Vancouver. The Canadian dollar's strength is reeking havoc with the Canadian forest product industry.

Bottom line still is that it takes demand to get prices up and keep them up. This upcoming catalog season should be a watershed event.

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Price of Paper is on the Rise

About time. Maybe we can begin to make a profit like other businesses.

(Submitted by Paper Person)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Price of Paper is on the Rise

Thanks for sending Bob - I've read all the various mill announcements, but this puts it in a clear, concise format - one that I can share easily with clients. Thanks.

(Submitted by an Industry Consultant)

Re: A Private Dow Jones?

I'd put in some money if it would keep WSJ out of Murdoch's hands. Where do I sign up? What he's done with tabloid journalism is about criminal.

(Submitted by a Publisher - Retired)

RE: All-out outsourcing

this is absolutely despicable. Anyone who is outsourcing overseas and taking jobs away from Americans deserves to go out of business.

(Submitted by A Director of MFG and Dst)

RE: All-out outsourcing

Hey Bo, After all of our jobs have been outsourced, where will the "customers" come from that can afford to by all of these products?

(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: All-out outsourcing

Here we go again. Would someone please explain to me when all the editorial, production, sales, and advertising jobs are in Mumbai who exactly is going to be left

to *read* our magazines? Or will we be selling them to the Indian market (which is undoubtedly already well-serviced by its own media.)

This is the ultimate commodification of our industry: outsource

*everything*. I first wrote an outraged letter to Folio three years ago

when I was solicited to "save 50%" by outsourcing my design and editorial

work. As I'm a tiny niche publisher and do this work myself (I know,

radical idea) I was, in effect, being asked to outsource my own job.

Needless to say, I didn't bite.

Has anyone considered that if everything is written and designed in one

place, by one giant staff of (presumably expendable) low-wage workers, that

all the titles will start to look and sound the same? Why should readers

*pay* to read lowest-common-denominator content cranked out by the

mega-load? No wonder readers continue to march off to the land of free

online content; at least user-generated content has *passion* behind it, if

nothing else.

P.S. One last note: publishers wouldn't be so eager to outsource if the

industry weren't so bloated in the first place. I read Folio regularly and

laugh until I cry every time I come across the "industry salary reviews"

that they periodically trot out. According to them, as the publisher,

editor, advertising sales manager, circulation director and art director

(of three quarterly titles, no less) I should be pulling in around $200K a

year for my work -- don't I wish. (I make about a quarter of that.) My

conclusion is that our industry is astonishingly overstaffed and

inefficient. Of course, not everyone wants to put in the hours I do, and

many markets are much more complex than mine, but honestly, the level of

puffery, self-importance, and rockstar-ism that seems to characterize most

of the publishing industry is leading to its own demise.

(Submitted by a Publisher)

Biggest Threat to Newspapers Is ... MySpace?

"Tilford Moots wuz over t' the' Henryville poor farm th' other day t' see an ole friend o' his thet used t' publish a newspaper thet pleased ever'buddy"
Kin Hubbard (American Humorist and Writer, 1868-1930)

Biggest Threat to Newspapers Is ... MySpace?
by Erik Sass
IN ADDITION TO NEWS AGGREGATORS like Google and Yahoo, newspapers need to watch out for online competition from a less obvious source--social networks.
That's according to a global study of youth media behaviors commissioned by the World Association of Newspapers and performed by research firm D-Code. The study "Youth Media DNA" presented a decidedly mixed picture of newspapers' future prospects, based on young people's current usage patterns.

Many of the findings weren't particularly surprising--young participants said that new media (i.e., computers, mobile phones, the Internet, and MP3 players) takes up time that participants would have spent with traditional media. In a correlated finding, many participants said their interest in passive media is in decline.

More novel, however, was the finding that "the importance of the social network as a disseminator of news and information is on the rise." The survey elaborated: "Many participants in this phase listed 'discussion with friends' as a top source for news and information, sometimes ranking higher than TV or newspapers."

In this context, the best strategy for newspapers may be inserting themselves into the social networks, so their content will appear alongside--and perhaps become absorbed into--the online discussion and debate. The opportunities are there. Indeed, in mid-April, MySpace launched a news aggregator that draws on content from newspapers as well as other sources, and allows MySpace users to vote for the best stories.

But that arrangement brings up another problematic finding from the WAN global survey. Often, young people "do not realize they are reading online versions of newspapers." The culprits, according to WAN, are the very aggregators that might initially get newspaper content in front of young people.

Newspapers are struggling to remedy the problem--seeking ways to brand content so it can be both recognized by the reader and monetized by the newspaper.

Men Online More, But Still Influenced By Traditional Media
by Tameka Kee, Monday
SOME 71% OF MEN AGES 18-34 spend more time online now than a year ago, according to Maxim's latest annual Man Study--but a resounding 74% still felt that putting an ad on TV would be the "most effective" way to get it seen by guys.
To commemorate its 10th anniversary, the men's magazine commissioned research agency Hall & Partners to do an in-depth study of U.S. men's media usage habits. The findings confirm that although men ages 18-34 have been characterized as "advertising averse," marketers can still target them with entertaining, multi-channel messages.

While 83% of men surveyed said they watch less than 5 hours of television per day, a clear majority (74%) would use TV as their primary distribution channel if they had to create an ad themselves. A little over half would target their demo with ads in magazines (56%) or on the Web (55%), and only 17% would choose radio.

For ad content, 48% of Maxim readers said they would use female models to target men, and 35% would strive to make their ads funny. But while sex appeal and humor were key, so was clearly defined product information--with almost 40% saying they'd "focus on the product."

"If advertising is cool and relevant, this demo will give it the same amount of attention that they give to any other form of content, and they'll even send it to their friends," said Rob Gregory, group publisher, Maxim.

For example, 30% of men surveyed said they "enjoyed using social networking sites," and 26% said they regularly "forwarded content to [their] friends online." The two factors combined illustrate the growing importance of community-based online activity among 18- to-34-year-old males, a bright spot for marketers seeking to leverage viral advertising.

"Advertisers are dealing with the most plugged-in generation in history," said Gregory, "but this shows that the traditional methods are still as viable as emerging media at reaching 18- to-34-year-old-men."

Still, the most successful brands have leveraged media companies like Maxim to target men using a mix of print, online, and even mobile content--highlighting "the increased viability of a 360-degree approach," said Gregory.

A magazine in every niche

"Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas."
Joseph Stalin (Russian Prime Minister, Communist leader and Political Dictator. Governed from 1929-53. 1879-1953)

A magazine in every niche
J. Peder Zane, Staff Writer
Garden & Gun hit the stands this spring with a slogan that sounds like a shotgun approach to publishing a magazine. Calling itself the magazine of "21st-century Southern America," it describes its geographic target as Virginia to Venezuela.

Garden & Gun calls itself a magazine for '21st-century Southern America.'

But Garden & Gun isn't really trying to appeal everybody who lives south of the Mason-Dixon line, much less south of the border. Based in Charleston, S.C., it's aimed at people whose idea of fun includes horseback riding, skeet shooting and trout fishing, and who don't need someone to explain the magazine's name to them.

"Our niche is adventurous upscale men with an active lifestyle who believe in conservation and in enjoying all the Southeast has to offer," said publisher Rebecca Darwin, a UNC-CH graduate and former editor of The New Yorker and Mirabella.

"Niche" is the key word. It encapsulates not only Darwin's hopes for success but also the strategy that enables many magazines to flourish. Instead of striving to reach the largest possible audience, niche magazines slice and dice the public, creating publications aimed at specific interests.

Since 1986, the number of consumer magazines has quadrupled to 7,150, according to Samir Husni, a University of Mississippi journalism professor who specializes in magazines. Garden & Gun was one of 54 new titles or special edition magazines that arrived in April, Husni says. The names include MMOGames for online players, Toddler for parents, Verdant for the eco-friendly and The World of Rods for people who restore vintage hot rods.

"Publishers and their advertisers are much more interested in the quality of their audience than the quantity," Husni said. "They are identifying people's changing needs and interests and responding to them."

Publishers have long lamented that young people don't read anymore. But targeted special interest magazines -- such as Giant Robot (for enthusiasts of Asian pop culture), BrickJournal (for Legos lovers) and Bail (for skateboarders) -- have countered the trend. A new survey by the consulting firm McPheters & Co. found that during the past six months, 19- to 24-year-olds reported seeing an average of 18.3 different magazines, compared with 14 for people 65 and older.

Such findings belie that notion that print media are doomed, says Howard Polskin, a senior vice president at Magazine Publishers of America.

"Magazines work because they follow people's interests," he said. "Instead of telling people what they ought to read, they write about the things that interest them."

Readers also crave authoritative sources of information, Polskin added. Even as the Internet has decentralized the flow of knowledge, enabling readers to sample the opinions and insights of innumerable pajama-clad pundits, they also hunger for the expertise that traditional media offer.

Magazine publishers aren't the only ones narrow-casting in an increasingly fragmented culture. The major television networks have to share the audience with hundreds of cable and satellite stations. The Internet offers sites for every interest -- even when that interest is ourselves. And as Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson detailed in his 2006 bestseller, "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More," businesses from record companies to appliance manufactures are targeting niche audiences.

But having a niche isn't enough to ensure success. About 40 percent of magazines fail to make it through their first year, Husni said. Four years after their premiere issues, only 18 percent of them are still publishing.

The challenge is finding and tapping overlooked niches, said Garden & Gun publisher Darwin, and there is as much art as science in that effort.

Refined idea

The name Garden & Gun pays homage to a dance club that thrived in Charleston in the 1970s. The concept came out of years of discussion between John Wilson, its editor in chief, and Pierre Manigualt, chairman of Evening Post Publishing Co., the media company that owns it.

They contacted Darwin last spring, after they had refined their idea for a magazine reflecting the "Southern sense of gentility and strength ... love of the land and the sporting life that goes with it."

"Right away I thought, that's a great idea," recalled Darwin, who was The New Yorker's first female publisher (she and her two children returned to her native South Carolina three years ago when her husband decided to attend seminary and become a Presbyterian minister).

The hard part was determining whether there was a market and then finding the readers.

Darwin checked out the competition. Like a literary Goldilocks, she concluded that the reach of Southern Living and other lifestyle magazines was too broad, and that of sporting magazines such as Gray's Sporting Journal was too narrow. National upscale magazines such as Town & Country, Departures, Men's Vogue and Men's Journal "didn't seem to have as much appeal to people in the Southeast."

Darwin isn't talking about the tens of millions of people who live or vacation in the region. Reflecting the niche mentality, her Southeast is made up of the 400,000 to 500,000 readers she hopes to attract. "We are not looking to be a mass publication," she said.

To reach them, Darwin bought finely tuned mailing lists filled with wealthy, active Garden & Gun people and promoted the magazines at Garden & Gun kinds of places: upscale hotels, spas and clubs, Virginia's Upperville Colt and Horse Show, Atlanta's Home and Garden Show, the Gibbes Museum in Charleston, a professional golf tournament, a meeting of the board of directors of the UNC's Business School.

The first issue looks like a Southern version of a Ralph Lauren ad. Rich color photographs of Buckhead mansions, idyllic vineyards and remote streams illustrate articles about trout fishing with bamboo rods, efforts to preserve wild turkeys and Thomas Jefferson's contributions to gardening.

When Garden & Gun readers aren't taming the land, they enjoy quality writing. Pat Conroy, who poses barefoot on the cover of the first issue, contributes an essay. The issue also features nonfiction pieces by some of North Carolina's top writers, including Reynolds Price, Daniel Wallace and Clyde Edgerton.

"I always think of a magazine as a community, and as a friend," Darwin said, "the friend that arrives every month."

In the age of niche, Garden & Gun's success will not hinge on whether it makes a lot of friends, but on whether it makes the right ones.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Electronic paper is catching up with the real thing

"I no longer want my MTV"
Bart Simpson

Paper chase
Electronic paper is catching up with the real thing

AN INVENTOR meets a venture capitalist in a bar. He pulls out of his pocket something that looks like a grubby handkerchief, straightens it out on the bar top, and begins his pitch for $10m of venture money.

It's a video display that can be furled, folded or rolled up into a ball, the inventor enthuses. He shows how it can be viewed from any angle, is easy to read in bright sunlight, has a contrast ratio better than a laptop's liquid-crystal display (LCD), is light and portable, and can run for months without being recharged. It will change the way we view the world, swears the wide-eyed inventor. "Naw, it's all been done better and cheaper before," says the unimpressed VC, as he crumples the newspaper he was reading and tosses it into the bin.

Ink on paper has evolved over the millennia to become the easiest medium to read and the most efficient means for conveying information. And despite all the talk about paperless offices, computers have contributed mightily to today's deluge of printed material instead of helping diminish it. But that hasn't stopped researchers around the world from trying to replicate print on paper electronically.

The one thing going for e-paper, which the dead-tree version can't hope to match, is its programmability. Imagine a newspaper that could be updated as events developed during the day. Think of a book that could change its contents after you'd finished reading it. How about a laptop-sized screen that unfurled from your mobile phone so you could watch TV while strap-hanging to work? What if your tee-shirt could flash intimate messages to attractive passers-by?

Sony is the latest in a long line of gadget-makers to flaunt a paper-like electronic display. The flexible 2.5-inch display it demonstrated a couple of weeks ago was notable for two reasons: it offered full-motion video and was in living colour.

E Ink Corporation

In some ways, Sony is playing catch-up here. LG Philips, a joint venture between LG of South Korea and Philips of the Netherlands, has been showing off a 14-inch colour screen that's flexible enough to wrap around a lamp post. Prime View International of Taiwan has something similar. So does Samsung of South Korea and both Seiko Epson and Fujitsu of Japan, as well as a handful of start-ups in Britain and America. But until recently, few of them were able to display colour video properly.

While making flexible displays in monochrome has been difficult, adding colours and making them switch fast enough for full-motion video has been a tougher nut to crack. The trick to making such furlable displays has been to fabricate the electrode arrays for switching the display's millions of picture elements ("pixels") from either conducting plastics or extremely thin metal foil. Fortuitously, the recent improvement in plastic electronics for ink-jet printers has invigorated the whole of the e-paper business.

Like real paper, e-paper has to be both highly reflective and passive-ie, it should need no juice for backlighting or for maintaining the image. The best way to do that is to use a medium that's bi-stable. Like a tossed coin, a bi-stable material can flip between two possible states-and then remain stable, and require no energy, in one or the other state until flipped again.

The first attempts to devise a bi-stable ink were made 30 years ago at Xerox's legendary Palo Alto Research Centre in California. Called Gyricon, the technology was based on a transparent silicone sandwich with millions of tiny polyethylene spheres floating in oil between the upper and lower surfaces. Each of the tiny beads, less than a hair's width in diameter, was black on one side and white on the other, with each hemisphere carrying an opposing electric charge. When an external charge was applied to an electrode array on the upper surface of the sandwich, the beads floating beneath them rotated promptly to reveal either their white or black sides-spelling out words and images, depending on the pattern of surface electrodes switched on or off.

Nowadays, a Xerox subsidiary called Gyricon LLC sells its SmartPaper-the polarised-bead form of e-paper-as reprogrammable displays for draping inside retail stores, hotels, conference centres and colleges. The flexible signs are connected wirelessly to computerised databases so they can be changed with the click of a mouse.

The bi-stable technology that has progressed the furthest, however, is a refinement perfected at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the early 1990s. This uses tiny microcapsules filled with electrically-charged particles of white titanium dioxide suspended in an oily solution of black dye. The capsules themselves are trapped in a liquid polymer that's sandwiched between two arrays of electrodes.

When a negative charge is applied to individual electrodes, the titanium-dioxide particles move to the top of the microspheres and make that part of the display appear white. As with the Gyricon, the pattern of electrodes switched on or off determines the image on the display.

E-Ink, the company spun off from MIT to commercialise the idea, supplies such displays to electronics firms around the world, including LG Philips, Samsung, Motorola and Prime View as well as Sony. The first e-book reader launched by Sony in 2004 used an E-Ink display with electronics supplied by Philips.

Sony's latest announcement promises to bring e-paper even closer to everyday use. This time the device appears to be a home-grown development. Unlike the electrophoretic displays used in E-Ink's products, which rely on charged particles being physically moved by an electric field, Sony's new imaging device uses an organic electroluminescence display (OLED). Such displays emit light in response to an electric current or field being passing through them.

OLEDs generally use a glass substrate, or backing material. But Sony has found a way of forming the organic transistors for switching the pixels on and off on a flexible plastic substrate. The 2.5-inch prototype is little thicker than a sheet of actual paper and weighs about the same without its associated electronics.

Don't expect such a clever innovation to be wasted on something as prosaic as a portable reader for e-books. Apple's multimedia iPhone may be the gadget du jour, but Sony may trump it with an all-singing-and-dancing gizmo, built around a foldable display for downloading television, which can run for days without recharging. Now that's something not to be sneezed at.

Publishers test e-books for young readers

"There is a whole group of young people now with attitude and sharpness that comes from a Bart Simpson approach to life. The Mickey Mouse Club is not in business. Mickey Mouse was wonderful but Bart Simpson rules today."
Walter Isaacson

Publishers test e-books for young readers
Hillel Italie, The Associated Press

Teachers and librarians can access Scholastic's BookFlex Web site at
AP Photo Courtesy of Scholastic

NEW YORK - Two leading children's publishers, Scholastic Inc. and Disney, will soon discover whether the laptop compares to the lap in the hearts of young readers.
Scholastic is officially launching BookFlix, an educational Web site pairing short films based on popular picture books along with nonfiction e-books that allow early readers to follow the text online.

For example, click on the bar that reads "People and Places" and you'll find a pair of offerings on Abraham Lincoln: An animated film of a storybook, Jean Fritz's "Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln"; and the animated image of a nonfiction work, Will Mara's "Abraham Lincoln," with children able to turn pages, backward or forward, by clicking on an arrow on the lower right- or left-hand side.

Other books include such favorites as Jules Feiffer's "Bark, George," placed alongside Alyse Sweeney's "Pets at the Vet," and Syd Hoff's "Danny and the Dinosaur," featured with Susan H. Gray's "Dinosaur Tracks."

The Disney Publishing Group plans a similar project later this year, making favorites such as "The Jungle Book" and "Cinderella" available online. While Scholastic, for now, is sticking to the school and library market, Disney will offer books to general consumers, charging a fee, still to be determined, for downloads.

"We saw a void in the marketplace and decided to act upon it," said Jon Yaged, U.S. publisher of the Disney Book Group.

E-books for early readers come as e-sales overall have been rising quickly, even if they remain a fraction of a $35 billion dollar industry. The market for trade releases nearly doubled from 2005 to 2006, from $11 million to $20 million, and already totals $8 million in the first quarter of 2007, according to the International Digital Publishing Forum, a trade and standards association.

IDBF executive director Nick Bogaty said he had no statistics for the educational and library market but believed the numbers were at least triple those for commercial releases.

"It's starting to become real," Bogaty said of growth in the digital market. "Publishers are starting to take this seriously."

Unlike a few years ago, e-books have users in high places, including Penguin Group (USA) CEO David Shanks and Borders Group Inc. CEO George Jones.

Yaged remains in transition. "I still prefer to read traditional books. ... But if our program was available right now, I would be reading it to my child," he said.

Children's titles have been a weak part of the e-book market. Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins are among those saying they have no plans for digital texts designed for young people, while a Penguin spokeswoman said e-picture books are "part of the long-term plan," but not "the immediate future." The problem has always been a proper reading device; a laptop screen, a familiar sight for more and more children, could be the solution.

"We will look very carefully to see how this rolls out," said Suzanne Murphy, Scholastic's vice president of marketing for trade books, when asked if the publisher would make e-picture books available for general release. "We have to ... look at parents today and what they're most comfortable with; and they're more and more comfortable with technology. I'd be hard-pressed to say there won't be a time when bedtime reading is with an electronic device."

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With big web users, print takes the hit

"I never thought it was humanly possible, but this both sucks and blows."
Bart Simpson

With big web users, print takes the hit
Spending less time with papers and magazines
By Diego Vasquez

It's already been a rough year for magazines and newspapers, with ad revenue falling, high-profile publications closing and circulation slipping. Now here's another worry: Heavy internet users, who long reported going online at the expense of TV watching, say that it's now print media that's getting less of their attention. When asked which medium they use less because they are spending more time online, respondents to a new JupiterResearch study on media consumption picked newspapers No. 1 and magazines No. 2. What's more, the percentage of those citing those media has risen 4 percentage points apiece since 2003, with newspapers at 39 percent and magazines at 32 percent. By comparison, the percentage who say they're spending less time with TV has actually fallen 11 percentage points. to 30 percent. The study also looked at time spent per week with different media, and newspapers and magazines were again at the bottom, taking up just one hour each per week. Going online and watching TV led with 14 hours apiece, followed by radio at four hours. Of course all of this is based on what consumers reported, and such self-reporting is not always totally accurate. David Card, vice president and senior analyst at JupiterResearch and author of the report, talks to Media Life about what the print drain means for buyers and planners, what smart print publications should be doing, and why households with high incomes are using the internet more than TV.

The perception used to be that online time was infringing on TV, but now it seems the infringement has shifted to print. Why, and how much will this continue in future years?

That's what our stuff suggests. TV's the biggest time consumer other than the internet, so you wouldn't be surprised if people say that's what they're spending less time with. Over the years more people said they were spending less time with television a few years ago than now, so I think that's stabilized.

But there is some evidence that if anything's getting hurt it's print. I'm nervous about that if I'm in that industry, but I'm not sure I would panic. Magazines are struggling, but [lifestyle and women's titles] have big, colorful pictures that advertisers like to take advantage of.

A weekly news magazine, that's a tough business to be in right now. But the token, the daily local news business, is a model that translates online. From a user experience you can create content, since the internet is still primarily a text medium. I think clever newspapers will figure it out, but it is one [medium] that could go away in the long run.

Now the local news business, smart papers will figure out how to deliver a smart news product like carrying a paper if you're a commuter, we're seeing the free commuter tabloids. I'm not completely sold on that model, but they do get into people's hands. But I don't think it's going to save the industry or anything.

I'd look hard at it if I were a newspaper, but I'd look harder at going online.

What does this mean for advertisers?

The big advertisers in newspapers aside from classifieds tend to be cars, retailers, department stores, some entertainment, the big bucks. It's funny, there're plenty of people who live in New York and use Yahoo. So you could, in fact, buy local on quote-unquote national sites, or global sites for that matter.

The people who are taking advantage of local internet advertising are national advertisers who target locally. It's about [smaller businesses] becoming comfortable with it. It will take local businesses time to come around to that.

Right now it's more for people with bigger budgets and a staff who think about marketing. So it will take a while before they come online, but the audiences they're trying to reach are already there.

What's the most important thing media buyers and planners can take from this study?

I don't think I'll try to make the case that they should take TV money online or newspaper money online. Half the time people spend online is doing email or instant messaging, so it's not a traditional media experience.

That's what makes it interesting too. The internet is a medium, yeah, but it's a two-way and a communications medium as well. The takeaway as a marketer or programmer is you have to optimize for that experience.

We as an industry need to figure out how to do marketing in a mixed communication environment. Paid search is kind of like direct mail in the real world, but it's actually quite self-selected, and that's different from regular media.

I think the big deal is it takes a different kind of marketing strategy to properly use the internet. And there's no medium that's for reaching everybody, especially everybody a lot of the time.

You found that users with household incomes above $100,000 spend a lot more time online than watching television. Why?

I think those people are probably not that young but in that internet sweet spot of 35-55, probably hard workers too. It may just be that they're not couch potatoes and they're doing a lot of communication online. I just assume they're not classic entertainment types. And that's a good one, that's a striking number.

You found that people report spending as much time with TV as online, but there's still a hugely disproportionate amount spent on television advertising compared with the web. Why is that, how will we see it change, and what sort of patterns do you think will emerge because of this in e-spending?

There're a couple of reasons. TV is the big spending pot, although newspaper is pretty darn big. Newspaper classifieds are actually migrating online. But the local display ad stuff really hasn't.

But TV is the place where they spend the most money, partially because if you're a packaged goods company or a car company, chances are you actually aren't doing much direct selling. The product moves through a complicated distribution channel. In Wal-Mart's case, they're very much doing awareness and brand identity.

TV is a great medium for those kinds of messages, you can tell a visual story. It's also interrupted, so it's a linear medium. In reality it's not measured as well as the internet, but for the most part people are comfortable with how it's measured.

The internet's kind of a cross between a print experience and a TV experience at best, so it's not surprising the money you'd spend is less.

On the other hand, it's highly targetable, highly measurable, and capable of delivering these messages. And it can be linear in the cases of pre-roll ads, etc. When the current generation of buyers and sellers is replaced by the next, who were raised with the internet, I think you'll see a lot of techniques migrate across media, and also by then TV will be as measurable as the internet.

You found that young adults spend more time online than watching television. Obviously no one will be abandoning TV, but how important are multi-media campaigns these days in reaching this desirable audience?

I think that's the real key. If you look at 18-24s, for a lot of the research we do, this group is very different because they aren't always "settled" yet, and they're probably more willing to try new things. But you will see some striking differences.

They claim they spend twice as much time online than with TV. The internet's not a perfect medium at all, but you do probably need to be there-but you also need to be on TV. It's still important to deliver the glory shots of the car or beer on TV, and then follow with the detailed information online. Also, talking about how it's a two-way medium, you'd think that means a social network is a perfect blend, but I think we're definitely still trying to figure out what to do, how to market on social networks.