Friday, August 17, 2007

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Time, Newsweek, and Staying Employed, Circ

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Time, Newsweek, and Staying Employed, Circ Time's Lead Over Newsweek Narrows
As I predicted in January . . . changing to Friday publication was a REALLY stupid idea, and the fall in circ does not even take into the full year's cycle of people who will choose NOT to renew over the next five months . . . I always liked Newsweek better, anyway!

The leading newsweekly sees a 17% drop in circulation during the six months ended June 30, after cutting its rate base in January.
(Submitted by a Dir of Manufacturing)

Re: How to Stay Employed in Today's Publishing Industry
Bob, I received my copy of Publishing Executive Magazine this past week and quickly turned to the last page (as I usually do) to read the article you wrote regarding the note I sent to you. It was fantastic!! It was a honest and telling account of the state of the state so to speak. It was also comforting to know that many have the same questions, fears and concerns. Thanks so much for addressing this very important industry concern. I'm quite certain that your article will resonate with many folks that are facing similar concerns and challenges. Thank again and keep up the great work!
(Submitted by a Production Person)

Re: How to Stay Employed in Today's Publishing Industry
Bob, I have been reading your e-mails everyday for the past year or so. This one struck me enough to write back. Perfect analysis of the shift and rift caused by the on going evolution within our industry. For me, the past 18 years have seen a number of job changes-all voluntary, with increased pay and value. This has been done by selling my service values each time. Now I am working on staying ahead of the curve via education. But the one difference I see currently with my employer is that I do feel a sense of loyalty with and between my colleagues and managers. Certainly this can change in a flash, but right now it is evident to know there are many good people in this industry managing through these times despite the often transparent lack of loyalty from employers to employees.
(Submitted by a Distributor)

Re: How to Stay Employed in Today's Publishing Industry

Isn't a shame that it has come to this. It's just not in publishing, but all area's of our mutual businesses. The days of having a good relationship is no longer the norm to keep business or a job. You must be on top of your game and know all aspects of every industry. The day of doing business over lunch, is no longer viable. You won't be seeing any brass names tags at the Steak houses in the city from our industry any more. And the average age of the people in this business is probably 45, you got a lot of people fearing for their future and asking "what next?" Where are the young people that drive innovation and new ideas, on the other side of this screen - techno power, baby! Cut a tree, save a job! The power of the printed word is still powerful, except now it's being produced in smaller installments and on flat panel monitors. Is there hope, absolutely, don't give up and continue to produce a good product the draws advertisers and readers! Don't crawl into a fox hole, stand on the mountain and face the new challenges with excitement and enthusiasm. Don't sell out just yet!
(Submitted by an Unknown)

Re: Do Print Buyers Lie?
I never lie - but boy do I often lose my patience with some of the sales reps that I am dealing with. They often just don't listen to what I am saying - and even with specs sent in writing - will misquote or omit certain information. If they cannot communicate clearly to their estimating and production departments at the plant - how wise would I be

on behalf of my clients to award such a printer a job. The printing companies' management need to monitor some of their reps and how they deal with the customers - they are always polling clients' about how well the customer service department reps are doing - the same should be done on a continuing basis for the reps. Now that being said, I have also worked with some of the best reps in the business - who will honestly walk
away from work that isn't suitable for their equipment - and will give a reco for a
competitor. Sort of like Macy's sending the business to Gimbels . . . now that's a real miracle!!
(Submitted by a Senior Publishing Consultant)

RE: Magazines: Unfulfilled Fulfillment?
In addition to the unreasonable slowness of a subscription starting up is the extremely annoying practice at Conde Nast of also sending the new subscriber the PREVIOUS issue of the publication (an issue that is no longer even on the newsstand) and using that issue as the start date of the subscription. That has happened to me twice with Vanity Fair, which usually arrives shrink-wrapped with promotions for other CN magazines. When they send the old issue, they just slap a subscription label on it and put it in the mail. It is obviously from the pile of extras in the mailroom.

It must work for them. They have done it for years. Personally, I always call them and make sure they extend my subscription by another issue. Many people must not bother.
(Submitted by an Editor)

RE: Magazines: Unfulfilled Fulfillment?
When you're lucky to get $10 for a 12 issue subscription that costs you $1 or more per issue to manufacture and ship, you've already lost before you tack on the exorbitant amount of postage and extra handling charges that would be required to get that first issue out in Amazonian fashion. Not to mention all the rules imposed on us by the likes of ABC and BPA and the challenges of meeting ratebase all the while balancing customer service and print budgets, etc. If it wasn't for his excellent spelling and decent grammar (certainly better than mine), I'd swear this guy was born yesterday.
Submitted by an Unknown)

RE: Magazines: Unfulfilled Fulfillment?
Bob, Being a prolific subscriber to magazines it has been my experiences that not only do you get an issue that you already have, but sometimes as many as 2 or 3 back issues. A simple phone call will get your subscription extended to cover the unwanted issues which of course represent a cost to the publisher as well as an annoyance factor to the subscriber.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: How to Stay Employed in Today's Publishing Industry
How serendipitous for me that this article came out now. It makes me feel more secure in the decision I made last month.

Come next Friday, I am leaving xxxx xxxx Media after 15 years with XXXX xxxx --my first job--and going out on my own.

I am taking advantage of the dominant philosophy in the publishing neighborhood I inhabit that skeleton staffs and lots of freelance contribution will carry the day. So instead of losing sleep over never-upbeat budget meetings and new brand extensions we've created without any additional staffers to maintain them, I started my own writing and consulting firm.

I negotiated with the boss to write an article each issue for XX XXX and also for sister pub xxx xxxx. . . .

I've had enough of being stretched just a bit thinner every six months--I am all stretched out. I decided that from now on, I am going to do only the type of work I like to do. And even though the result is a (hopefully temporary) cut in pay, I will enjoy waking up to walk across the hall to my office and do my assignments each day, for people who need me.
(Submitted by a Senior Editor)

Re: How to Stay Employed in Today's Publishing Industry

Wow. I've thought it often, but you said it. Dead on, as usual.
(Submitted by a Senior Director of Mgf and DST)

Re: Content really IS king
How many publishers in B to B magazine and book publishing have a content strategy? I'm not sure of the answer from my travels. I see B to B magazines and books still producing static products and their content is valuable.

There are some book publishers who totally embrace technology with a detailed content strategy, coupled with a DTD that gives them the XML for numerous uses and additional revenue. But there are few.

It's an interesting transitional time for publishers.
(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: When Mags Meet The Reaper
What makes the site so compelling is that it gets about the penny-ante crap
that cause most people to complain and really gets to the substantive issue
of what it takes to make a magazine a real business venture. It's hard to be
in an industry and not get angry when people needlessly flush enterprises.
(Submitted by a Writer)

RE: Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.
Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993)

I like this quotation. Artists can be so self absorbed, self important, and downright tedious that it is particularly refreshing when successful talented people deflate those pretensions. Zappa's comment reminds me of two great remarks made by Spencer Tracy. Once, when asked about performing on stage, he offered the classic bit of advice, "Memorize your lines, and don't bump into the furniture." Even better, he was once asked by a very earnest interviewer to expound on what it took to be an actor, and what made one into a great actor. To which the always down to earth Mr. Tracy replied, "You're an actor when you get paid to act, and Gable's the best because he gets paid the most."
(Submitted by a Printer)

'Old Media' Still Resonate, Survey Says

'Old Media' Still Resonate, Survey Says
By Gregory Solman

LOS ANGELES How do different generations use media? That was the question of a study released last week by Deloitte & Touche's Technology, Media and Telecommunica-
tions practice.

Drawn from a Harrison Group survey of 2,200 consumers 13 to 75 years old, the topline findings of the "State of the Media Democracy" offered hope for traditional media and yielded some fresh insights into new-media trends, according to Ed Moran, director of product innovation in Deloitte's New York office.

For example, consistent across all generational segments-millennials (13-24), Gen Xers (25-41), boomers, (42-60) and matures (61-75)-nearly three-quarters of consumers said they enjoy magazines even though they acknowledge being able to read the same publications online.

Despite their widespread embrace of new media platforms and a "trickle up" effect on older consumers, that tendency was even prevalent (71 percent) among the millennials, Moran said.

Moran said he was also impressed with "the real popularity of user generated content," particularly in terms of its widespread demand. The survey shows that over half (51 percent) of all Internet users consume user generated content across generations.

Even so, what Moran called the "resilience of old media" remains a prominent feature of the landscape. "And one of the main activities online is going to a television Web site," he said. The survey found that 46 percent of consumers do that regularly, including over half (52 percent) of all Gen Xers.

"Television is still a core activity," Moran said. "Even though we see the expected amounts of online, text messaging, cellphone use [and] games-consumers are doing more things, but still watching television. It is always on."

For advertisers, this could be "both troubling and reassuring," he said, predicting that "participatory TV," with some level of interactivity, will become more prevalent, especially as the millennial generation grows up.

Moran said there was also an unexpected result regarding digital video recording devices such as TiVo. "It's the Xers and boomers that rely on DVRs for television use," he said. "But the number-one use for DVR is not commercial skipping."

In fact, the time shifting and the "season ticket" functions (the latter refers to being able to record an entire season of a show) rate highest, he said. The ability to fast-forward through commercials came in third. (The study showed that women like DVRs slightly more than men, and that men are more likely to watch commercials than women.)

Other findings:

--More than a quarter of consumers would pay for online content in exchange for not being exposed to advertising.

--Overall there was more receptivity to print ads than to Internet advertising.

--60 percent of consumers visit 10 or more Web sites a week.

--More than a quarter of leading edge millennials (26 percent) plan to shop online in the coming year.

--Search engines were rivaled by word-of-mouth in driving Internet traffic. Although search was No. 1 at 84 percent, 82 percent of respondents visited a Web site because of a personal recommendation. Ads on television (65 percent), Web site ads (55 percent) and e-mail campaigns (54 percent) followed in influence.

Overview: Cross-Media Measurement Takes Off

Overview: Cross-Media Measurement Takes Off
by Erik Sass, Monday

MEDIA RESEARCH FIRMS ARE PUSHING a number of initiatives to provide media planners with integrated measurements of multiple media. By painting a broader picture of media consumption--which includes different kinds of content delivery--media researchers hope to help their clients to chart the behavior of American consumers, who are proving to be increasingly elusive and fast-moving targets. Several major players--Nielsen, ABC and TNS--are recording key data that will assist present and future ad buys.
Thus, the dominant research firm for print magazines, Mediamark Research Inc., announced last week that it has partnered with Nielsen//NetRatings to jointly produce a new database, called Net/MRI, that tracks readership of magazines' online and print editions. The companies are combining MRI's single-source surveys with Nielsen's Web data to produce a net audience figure for magazine brands, including unduplicated figures for print- and online-only audiences, as well as the overlap audience.

Its first significant finding, released last week: an average 83% of all visitors to 23 large-circulation monthly magazines were consuming the magazine content just online.

Earlier this year, the Audit Bureau of Circulations and Scarborough introduced a similar net print-online metric for newspapers, which are in the midst of a rocky transition to digital publishing. The new service, called "Audience-FAX," gives newspaper publishers the option of including print and online readership as separate figures, as well as a combined net audience figure on ABC circulation reports, as early as November 2007. The data will also be made available to ABC members in a database hosted by Scarborough, which will allow users to create custom reports focused on specific publications and demographic segments.

ABC has already introduced similar "aggregated audience figures" for business-to-business publications, which are now able to report an aggregated figure--including qualified circulation, Web site unique visitors, pass-along recipients and e-newsletter distribution. The data will be included in a sidebar on the front page of ABC publishers' statements and audit reports.

Online measurement firms are booming--and Nielsen//NetRatings underscores its intention to fuse online and TV media measurement. When the buyout was announced, Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting revealed that the two companies had already created a "fusion" database, matching people from its TV sample with comparable people from its online sample. Using demographic profiles and other statistical information, the "fusion" database effectively integrates measurement data from Nielsen's 10,000-plus TV household sample with more than 20,000 respondents in Nielsen//NetRatings' NetView sample, as well as the 130,000 subjects in its MegaPanel.

Aware that demographic matching of databases may not be enough to satisfy media executives, the company is also working to recruit a core audience sample of about 4,000 consumers who will submit to measurement of both Internet and TV measurement through a new division called NielsenConnect. This dual-measurement sample will provide single-source data that can be extrapolated to TV and online samples, helping to ensure the accuracy of the database.

After this core program is up and running, NielsenConnect will roll out a "HUB" component that allows it to measure its panelists' interactions with other media, including print and outdoor advertising. Nielsen's new outdoor measurement system centers on the nPod, a GPS tracking device which subjects carry for nine days as they commute and walk in public spaces. The nPod overlays travel patterns with the range of visibility for out-of-home advertising installations to calculate message exposure.

Rather than burden its current panelists with more measurement devices, NielsenConnect's head researcher, Paul Donato, said Nielsen will collect the additional data from those who are retiring from the TV or Internet panels after their two-year contract expires. NielsenConnect will combine this wealth of data with their out-of-home ad exposure and print consumption. This data can then be extrapolated to current panels with a variety of statistical techniques.

Of course, Nielsen isn't the only company attempting to establish a universal cross-media measurement system. TNS Media Intelligence, for example, is set to begin its second cross-media TouchPoints survey in Britain for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the U.K. equivalent of the 4As.

TouchPoints 2 hinges on a single-source Hub Survey, in which 5,000 subjects carry a PDA-type device and fill out diaries documenting their behavior every half-hour for several weeks. The data from this Hub Survey is then compared and integrated with accepted media currency data from magazines and newspapers, television, radio, cinema and outdoor.

For its part, Arbitron--which dominates radio measurement in America--is also touting the suitability of its Portable People Meter for single source measurement of TV and online audiovisual exposure; PPM can measure all these media, including streaming Web radio and video, provided that broadcasters encode their signals. While Arbitron says it has no plans to challenge Nielsen in at-home TV measurement, it's promoting PPM's capabilities for measuring out-of-home TV exposure along with radio

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Wholesalers, Circ, Adobe, Playboy

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Wholesalers, Circ, Adobe, Playboy

Re: Wholesalers are not Dying, They are Committing Suicide . . . Take 3

Samir, Sorry cannot find the comment button at the bottom, so here goes. About a year ago I met, and spent the day with a retired Aramark General manager, who had 40 years in the industry. We spent the better part of the day together discussing the ills of wholesaler distribution.

His comment was right on the button, and a year later it still holds true. "The remaining large wholesalers are only looking to cut costs, they are not looking to increase sales"

As a 50+ year veteran of this industry he was(is0 so right. All we see is consolidation. Three of the big 4 don't want to let the ND reps work distributions, they just stifle growth. When they distribute a new title, many times the initial distribution is a disaster. Can you imagine putting an average of 18 copies per retailer in one particular agency, and two weeks later 50% of the allotment had been returned. This was that w/s own distribution.

The w/s have people making decisions who have sometimes less than two years experience in single copy sales, and have zero feel for the retailers who are receiving product. Over the past ten years have we seen any improvement with the overall sell thru? I don't think so, yet how many million(s) less copies are being distributed ion the newsstand.

(Submitted by a N/S Distributer)

RE: 7 Wonders of the Circulation World

#9 Why do people believe in rate base #'s they very well know include nearly as much chaff as wheat?

(Submitted by an Unknown)

RE: 7 Wonders of the Circulation World

Reminds me of the old adage from the 20th century regarding the three greatest myths of the time . . .

French resistance

Swiss neutrality

Qualified Circ

Plus, the answer to #8 is the internet . . . Why buy it when publishers give it away sooner via their web site

(Submitted by a Unknown)

RE: Saving the Magazine Business

Ink on paper - in all forms - will remain in peril as long as decisions are primarily driven by the quest to please the investment community first, the board room occupants second, the advertisers third and the customer a very, very distant last. I've long agreed with your mantra that content is KING. Unfortunately for our industry, the gang at the top is so intensely focused on profit that they've collectively lost sight of the foundation of their business - providing worthwhile content to their readers. People will still spend their hard earned money on worthwhile content and that will not likely change in the next 50 years - regardless of the medium.

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Can't Blame Murdoch for Seizing on Media Shift

everyone thinks that murdoch is this conservative bastion but he's not. he finds niches and does things others won't. if nyc had 2 conservative papers, he would have had a liberal

paper. anyone who's seen what's on the fox network or on fx who is conservative would be shocked at some of the things there (on family guy there was a dance sequence of "prom date abortion babies" which even my son turned off)

one thing murdoch has is a real understanding of digital media, and he's not afraid to fail. he succeeds at driving the analysts and old guard crazy.

as for him buying the wsj, the dirty little secret is how good the online property is doing and how he will really globalize it and make it even more real-time. in 10 yrs the print

version may not exist anyway. he'll use it as a strong brand, and don't be shocked if he doesn't use it and the fox business channel, soon to start, to pry cnbc from ge or create a separate joint venture.

murdoch also knows he will die, something sumner redstone hasn't figured out yet, and his properties run independently with good management. he's been underestimated all his

career, and he's really good at playing along with the joke and counts on surprising everyone, which he will do, again.

(Submitted by an Industry Analyst)

Regarding "Playboy, Others Refuse to Learn from History" . . .

Al Ries's article on line extensions was very interesting. He says that line extensions are a trap that publishers should avoid. He criticizes Playboy for digitizing their archives, cautions the BBC that they might "rack up a big loss" pursuing online videos, and attributes the failure of Talk magazine to Tina Brown's interest in producing books and movies.

I believe that Ries is the fellow who predicted a few weeks ago that Apple's iPhone would fail miserably. Apple sold 270,000 phones in the first 30 hours after the product's introduction.

There's a difference between challenging conventional wisdom and being wrong consistently!
(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: Playboy, Others Refuse to Learn From History
bob- the point is being missed here. it's apples and oranges. it's a great idea to digitize the playboy archives . . . it's a certain money majker, and what's the downside?

why is the writer lumping in everything else Hef has done? This should be standalone-
heck- I'd buy the 60's and 70's archives- the interviews alone are worth the bucks.
(Submitted by a Production Director)

RE: Wholesaler family since 1917.

Yikes a long time, but I have been on the other side for almost 57 years, and what changes. From 800 local distributors we now have less than 100 ownerships.

Anybody wonder why ? Maybe because those other 700 did not change with the times, and those that are left for the most part (not all) have not changed either. If they had we would not have had diminished n/s sales over the past 12 years, nor would we have lost about 100,000 retail outlets that used to sell periodicals.
(Submitted by an Unknown)

Re: Adobe Makes Decision, To Move Quickly to Resolve Printing Industry Concerns
Smart decision on the part of FedExKinko. The many thousands of smaller scale, working printers out there might have no acceptable alternative to doing business with Adobe but each and every one has the option of going with UPS instead of FedEx. The synergies of corporate marriage cut both ways.
(Submitted by a Printer)

Re: Adobe Makes Decision, To Move Quickly to Resolve Printing Industry Concerns
Bob, I think Adobe should leave the button, but give me the ability to program it to "print to the printer of my choice". I'll take the streamlined process workflow.

(Submitted by a Sr. Director of Production)

Jeremy Langmead on the Esquire relaunch

Jeremy Langmead on the Esquire relaunch
By Colin Crummy

Esquire relaunched this week armed with a starry line-up of literary columnists and a promise of "no B-list floozies", as the title bids to set itself apart as a grown-up alternative to the other men's monthlies.

Contributors include Man Booker nominees Colm Toibin, Andrew O'Hagan plus poet Nick Laird. The title has downsized to American A4 and resurrected the original Esquire cartoon mascot, Esky, in a nod to the brand's 70-year heritage.

Editor Jeremy Langmead, who joined from Wallpaper* four months ago, said the changes were to create a point of difference on the newsstand, but added that the title, which currently has an ABC figure of 52,468 (down 3.8 per cent year-on-year), would focus resources on increasing subscription sales. The subscription edition of Esquire has no coverlines.

Langmead said: "It has become increasingly dangerous to rely solely on newsstand sales."

He said the title was now on target to increase circulation "incrementally" but said Esquire was a niche, luxury publication and not mass market.

"If we wanted to be mass circulation, we would be a different magazine," he said. "We want the right readers, not lots of wrong ones."

At its peak, Esquire sold more than 100,000 copies. On the newsstand, it currently faces fierce competition from Condé Nast's GQ, which showed a 1 per cent year on year rise to 127,505 in the most recent ABCs.

At the same time as Natmags appointed Langmead, Emap recruited Sunday Times interviewer Giles Hattersley to edit its flagging men's monthly, Arena. 27-year-old Hattersley is expected to bring a fashion focus to the title.

Both he and Langmead come from fashion backgrounds, having studied fashion journalism at Central St Martins College of Art and Design in London. Hattersley began his career at The Sunday Times style section, where Langmead was editor in the Nineties.

On the current newsstand opposition, Langmead said: "There are some magazines that you flick through and you feel that everything is chucked at you. It can be slightly intimidating. You don't know where to start with them. A magazine should be a pleasure.

"I thought what was missing on the newsstand was a magazine for intelligent and sophisticated men - which is what I tried to do. When I was doing research for this, I looked and there was not a magazine I wanted to buy that was both entertaining and informative."

A new website is likely to be launched by the end of the year as part of a multiplatform strategy, but Langmead said the magazine relaunch was part of a thinking that the most luxurious and niche publications would remain the strongest, despite competition from other media.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time's Lead Over Newsweek Narrows

Time's Lead Over Newsweek Narrows
Louis Hau

Time magazine remains the nation's largest newsweekly, but its lead over archrival Newsweek has narrowed considerably, according to circulation figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Time's total paid and verified weekly circulation during the six months ended June 30 stood at 3.4 million, down 17.1% from 4.1 million during the same period last year following a reduction in January in the magazine's rate base. Newsweek's circulation stood at 3.1 million, virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

Time spokeswoman Betsy Burton said the decline in circulation was in line with the magazine's expectations after it slashed its rate base--the average circulation level it guarantees advertisers--from 4 million to 3.25 million. The move was part of Time's plans to shift its ad sales efforts to audience measurements, as opposed to strict circulation measurements. The magazine has said the former will provide advertisers with more transparency and accuracy.

Also in January, Time began publishing on Fridays, rather than Mondays, and overhauled the magazine's design to place a greater emphasis on news analysis. Burton said the redesign has been well received by reader focus groups and said she didn't believe it was a factor in the magazine's circulation decline.

The first half of 2006 has been a challenging period of transition for Time Warner's Time Inc. unit. The subsidiary said in January that it would cut nearly 300 jobs, bringing its total headcount down to about 11,000. In March, it sold 18 smaller magazines, including Popular Science and Field & Stream, to Bonnier Group, a Swedish media conglomerate.

In conjunction with the rate base reduction, Time also pulled back on verified subscriptions--those subscriptions sold to doctor's offices, beauty salons and other public areas. Verified subscriptions at Time plunged 63.5% to 128,032 during the six months ended June 30, from 350,623 a year earlier.

But verified subscriptions were up sharply at other big Time Inc. titles. Sports Illustrated had verified subscriptions totaling 144,624 during the six months ended June 30, up 77% from 81,857 a year earlier, while verified subscriptions at Money skyrocketed more than ninefold to 214,760 from 20,866 a year earlier.

Other top 25 magazines notching circulation gains during the six months ended June 30 included O, The Oprah Magazine, up 4.3% to 2.4 million, and Hearst's Good Housekeeping, up 2.8% to 4.7 million. Losers included Gemstar-TV Guide International's TV Guide, down 12.2% to 3.3 million; Playboy, down 5% to 2.9 million; and Meredith's Ladies Home Journal, down 4.3% to 3.9 million.

Celebrity Magazines Gain, but Not Industry Circulation

Celebrity Magazines Gain, but Not Industry Circulation

Magazine circulation continues to hold steady this year, in contrast to declining sales of newspapers, with big increases among celebrity-oriented magazines, according to figures released yesterday.

Sales of most large-circulation magazines changed little from the first half of 2006 to the first six months of 2007, according to the numbers compiled by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The biggest exception was Time magazine, whose circulation dropped sharply, to 3.4 million from 4.1 million, a 17 percent decline that resulted mostly from a planned retrenchment announced last year. The magazine cut back on expensive promotional campaigns that tend not to draw many long-term subscribers and on sales to buyers who are not the actual readers - doctors' offices and barbershops, for example - and are often less appealing to advertisers.

Those changes were among many at Time last year and this year, including staff cuts, a redesign, a newsstand price increase, a shift of newsstand arrival to Fridays instead of Mondays, and the hiring of a new managing editor, Richard Stengel.

"We made a deliberate effort to change the reader mix of the magazine and reduce its rate base," the sales figure promised to advertisers, said John Squires, executive vice president of Time Inc., a division of Time Warner. The readers who were lost, he said, "tend to be people who are really just sampling the magazine."

He added that circulation numbers in the next few reporting periods should be fairly steady.

Circulation at Time's primary competitors in the newsweekly category, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, was essentially unchanged. With more than 3.1 million subscribers, Newsweek was within striking distance of its longtime rival. U.S. News & World Report reported more than 2 million subscribers.

One other large magazine also saw a significant drop in subscribers. TV Guide's circulation fell 12 percent, to less than 3.3 million, after strategic changes similar to those at Time.

Some of the biggest winners this year have been the chroniclers of Angelina, Britney, TomKat and the like.

Circulation of OK! Weekly jumped 54 percent, to more than 809,000 copies an issue, and US Weekly, In Touch Weekly and Life & Style Weekly all rose 5 percent to 10 percent. People magazine, with a less intensive focus on celebrities and a less sensational tone than some of the others, still outsells them all, but its circulation dropped about 2 percent, to more than 3.7 million.

In more serious fare, the North American edition of The Economist had a sharp increase in circulation, to 694,000 from 601,000. The other major business and finance magazines, like Forbes, Fortune, Money, BusinessWeek, Inc. and Barron's had only minor changes.

Over all, 664 magazines reported combined circulation of about 360 million. Year-to-year comparisons are difficult because some magazines are late in reporting and this year's numbers have not yet been audited, but the figures are about the same as last year's.

Magazines: Unfulfilled Fulfillment?

Magazines: Unfulfilled Fulfillment?
by Rob Frydlewicz

When I worked on the agency side, I gained a reputation as being a friend of the magazine medium. This was due largely to an analysis that compared the 25 most popular magazines to the 25 most popular TV programs. It positioned them in a favorable way, and the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) still updates and uses it. I continue to be an advocate and a strong believer of the inherent strength of the medium. With that established, there is one nagging concern.

For those who plan and buy magazines for a living, rate negotiations, merchandising deals and monitoring closing dates are part of your daily responsibilities. On the publishing side, meeting rate base, pitching new accounts and controlling paper and postage costs are paramount. However, because of the focus on catering to clients and dealing with media suppliers, perhaps you've lost sight of what the consumer experience is with the medium. This came to mind after I glanced at the fine print on one of the subscriptions cards imbedded in a typical issue of any magazine.

When I ordered a number of subscriptions for myself, I was discomfited by the inordinately long time it takes for the first issue to arrive. Depending on the title, it's generally four-to-eight weeks before the first issue arrives.(Perhaps because they are weeklies, Time Magazine, People & Entertainment Weekly are faster, coming in one-to-three weeks.

Why such a slow, drawn-out process?

We're not talking about custom-made furniture here. Nor are the issues being individually hand-stitched by monks, the exception may be Martha Stewart Living. What's going on at the fulfillment centers? Are they doing background checks? You can get a firearm in your hands quicker than your first issue of Good Housekeeping!

Perhaps we'd be a lot safer if Conde Nast, Hearst or Meredith were in charge of firearm purchases, and we let the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (BATF) approve magazine subscriptions.

I don't care it there are good reasons for this lengthy wait.

In today's world of overnight delivery services and with and eBay purchases arriving in days, this consumer unfriendly aspect of the magazine industry is inexcusable. Why is there such a lack of urgency to get the product in new subscribers' hands? I don't know about you, but that tiny hard-to-read type on the subscription card screams to me in boldface: Magazines are stuck in the simpler times of rotary phones, black-and-white TVs, transistor radios and The Saturday Evening Post.

Invariably, what happens is that when the first issue finally arrives, the impatient subscriber has probably already purchased it at the newsstand. This is considered subscription fulfillment? Maybe new subscribers put up with it because of the give-away subscription rates they are offered. And perhaps, publishers don't give it much attention because they feel low subscription prices don't warrant the cost or effort.

Granted, this may seem like a trifling matter when you consider the various issues the magazine industry faces. But I find the dissonance between this lag time and the industry's strides in regards to its online presence striking. Magazines have been adapting to the importance of the Internet to compete in today's media environment. Cutting the time for a subscription to start should also be addressed.

It's not sexy, but neither is watching paint dry, and that's what it's like waiting for a subscription to begin.

In an age of channel/communications planning, where every aspect of the consumer experience is worthy of consideration, the lengthy wait for a subscription to begin is a detail that needs attention.

Rob Frydlewicz, former research director at Carat USA and FCB/NY, is a media research consultant and can be contacted at

Monday, August 13, 2007

Content really IS king

Content really IS king
By Paul R. La Monica

What do you do when you are online? Based on some figures from the Online Publishers Association, you're probably reading blogs, watching videos and checking out your friends' pages on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites.
The OPA released a study Monday which showed that content now accounts for nearly half - 47 percent, to be precise - of consumers' online time. The numbers, compiled by Web research firm Neilsen//NetRatings, showed a marked increase in users' appetite for content from four years ago. In 2003, just 33 percent of time was spent online viewing content.

Four years ago, communciations, i.e. e-mail and instant messaging, ate up most Web users' time, accounting for 46 percent of time spent online. Now, communications accounts for just 33 percent of time spent on the Internet. There wasn't a major difference in time devoted to the other two Web categories, search and commerce.

In 2003, 3 percent of time was spent on search. Now, it's 5 percent. And four years ago, people spent 16 percent of their online time buying or shopping for things, just a tad more than the 15 percent of time allotted to commerce currently.

What's this all mean? Expect the big Internet media firms, companies like Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO), as well as traditional media firms like News Corp. (NWS), which owns MySpace, Disney (DIS), which is buying popular virtual worlds site Club Penguin and my parent company Time Warner (TWX), which owns AOL, to continue focusing on the most media-rich applications on their sites, stuff like online video, photos and music.

Ad dollars are clearly migrating to the Web in large part because more users are spending a lot of time watching clips on Google's YouTube, listening to new songs on MySpace and sharing photos on Yahoo's Flickr. And this is a big reason why the Internet's big search companies, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft (MSFT) and Time Warner's AOL, are all increasing their presence in the online ad network business.

Google is buying DoubleClick. Yahoo recently purchased online exchange Right Media. Microsoft closed its deal for digital ad agency aQuantive on Monday. And AOL is buying Tacoda, a behavioral targeting firm.

One reason for the decline in time spent on communication is that content and communication have melded together thanks to the popularity of social networking, which was classified as content but often functions as communication. E-mail and IM may not be as useful in an age where MySpace and Facebook pages have become a means of communication and self-expression.

But the big question that remains for marketers is just how effective advertising on Web content can be and therefore, how lucrative for the content owners?

Companies are still trying to figure out the best way to sell ads on Internet videos and it's a particular challenge to sell ads tied to user-generated videos, which some advertisers are shunning out of fears that they could be associated with questionable content. Social networking sites also have that issue to contend with.

So content may, in fact, be king. But it is going to take some time for major Internet media companies to figure out just how much this content is worth to advertisers.

Free magazines follow in footsteps of successful free newspapers

Free magazines follow in footsteps of successful free newspapers
By Eric Pfanner
LONDON: Mike Soutar refuses to say who or what will be featured on the cover of Short List, a new men's magazine he is introducing next month in Britain, but one thing seems certain: If it is a female model, she will wear at least a bit of clothing.

"No nudity, no profanity," said Soutar, a former top executive at IPC, a British magazine unit of Time Warner, who now heads a group of investors behind Short List. "We don't want to embarrass our readers."

That pledge reflects a minor revolution in the men's magazine business in Britain, proving ground for the "lads' mag" phenomenon of the 1990s. The formula - a low-brow blend of bare-breasted B-listers and bawdy jokes - lately has run out of gas.

Perhaps even more radical, however, is Short List's distribution strategy: The magazine will be given away free of charge. Soutar said 500,000 copies will be handed out weekly near train stations, in gyms and in other places frequented by high-earning, young men in London and five other cities in Britain.

While free dailies have attracted millions of readers around the world - they make up more than 50 percent of the newspaper market in Spain, for instance - magazines have generally been reluctant to drop their cover charges, aside from advertiser-driven handouts aimed at, say, tourists or shoppers.

The backers of Short List want to take free publishing into the domain of glossier magazines like Esquire and GQ - and their advertisers. They say they are encouraged by the apparent success of a free magazine called Sport, which was started three years ago in Paris and which began publishing in Britain late last year.

More than 700,000 copies of Sport are distributed weekly in Paris and other cities in France; with 320,000 handed out in London. The French edition is already profitable, while the British version is on track to break even within three years, said Greg Miall, publishing director for the British edition.

"We're 10 ½ months old, and we've got BMW and Mercedes as advertisers," he said. "If you had asked me a year ago, I would have given my right arm for that. Now I've got them, and still have my arm."

One reason that Miall has been able to keep his limbs intact is that advertisers have had fewer ways to reach sports fans with print ads in France and Britain, compared with America. Because there are no British or French weeklies comparable to the American magazine Sports Illustrated, many readers have gotten their sporting fixes via daily publications - either general interest papers in Britain or L'Equipe, a dedicated sports paper, in France - or from television or the Internet.

"It's not about being paid or free," said Francis Jaluzot, chief executive of Sport Media & Strategies, the privately held company that publishes Sport. "You have to have a concept."

Short List, by contrast, is entering a market with no shortage of existing concepts in Britain.

In addition to British editions of American men's publications like GQ, Esquire and Men's Health, there are homegrown publications like Arena, FHM and Loaded. As competition among these magazines, all monthlies, increased in the 1990s, many of them went down the lads' mag route.

In 2004 two weeklies, Nuts and Zoo, joined the fray. The distinction between mainstream men's magazines and what the British refer to as "top shelf" publications, for the place on newsstands where pornographic material is displayed, was further blurred, bringing complaints from parents' groups and some retailers.

"The move downmarket by some of these titles will go down in the history of publishing as one of the crassest moves," said Jamie Bill, publishing director for the British edition of GQ, which is owned by Condé Nast.

It was also disastrous from a business standpoint. With "top shelf" and similar content widely available for free on the Internet, many men stopped buying these magazines.

The circulation slump has contributed to the difficulties faced by some British magazine publishers, including Emap, the owner of FHM, Arena and Zoo. Emap said in July that it was considering a sale of "some or all of its constituent businesses." The company has already sold some nonmagazine units.

Meanwhile Dennis Publishing, which owns Maxim, recently agreed to sell that magazine and several others to Quadrangle Partners, a private equity firm.

Other publishers are staying in the market but adjusting their strategies. Esquire, which has a circulation of 52,000 in Britain, recently hired a new editor, Jeremy Langmead, from Wallpaper magazine. Under Langmead, Esquire's British edition has shrunk slightly, moving to a size that is the same as the U.S. version but smaller than many British magazines. The September issue, the first under the new editor, features a cover photo of Michelle Pfeiffer - in a little black dress but discreetly tucked into a big red chair.

Magazines aimed at relatively well-to-do readers, like GQ and Esquire, which is published in Britain by Hearst's National Magazine division, will soon face new competition from Short List. Soutar said the magazine would be edited for career-oriented men in their 20s and 30s.

For advertisers, a major question will be whether the magazine can produce quality editorial content within the budget constraints imposed by eliminating a cover charge, which typically accounts for about 30 percent to 40 percent of glossy magazines' revenue.

"It's probably not something we would look at," said an executive in charge of buying advertising space for a major French-owned luxury brand, who declined to be identified in order to protect industry relationships. "Anyway, they haven't called me."

Net closes in as glossy magazines lose their lustre

Net closes in as glossy magazines lose their lustre,,2146874,00.html

The once-thriving magazine market is in crisis as titles in almost every genre record falling sales and executives prepare to take the battle online, reports James Robinson

Sunday August 12, 2007
The Observer

For magazine executives, D-Day comes twice a year , when the publication of the biannual ABC circulation figures prompts scenes of commiseration or celebration. There are unlikely to be many champagne corks popping on Thursday, when the figures for the first six months of 2007 are unveiled.
IPC's new women's weekly Look will record impressive debut sales figures of well over 300,000, while Emap's Grazia is expected to record year-on-year rises of up to 20 per cent. They are likely to hog the headlines, but a closer look at the figures will reveal the industry picture is far from healthy.

Overall, the magazine market is unlikely to have grown and may even have shrunk - and, although a handful of titles are flourishing, nearly every mass-market category, from men's and women's lifestyle to real-life and celebrity titles, appears to be stagnating. 'We're not seeing many signs of growth in any market,' says one publisher.
Neither monthly nor weekly formats have escaped the trend and there will be some high-profile casualties among the carnage, including IPC's Loaded (down 40 per cent) and Nuts (10 per cent) and Emap's New Woman (25 per cent), according to industry sources. Other well-known brands that are likely to record double-digit year-on-year declines include titles as diverse as Emap's Heat (6 per cent), Felix Dennis's Maxim (27.7 per cent), and Closer (5 per cent), also an Emap title.

It is the second consecutive set of ABC figures to show a sluggish overall performance and, while it may not amount to an industry crisis, it is beginning to feel like a turning point. 'It could be that we've permanently seen the last big growth in consumer magazines,' predicts one industry executive.

The figures leaked to The Observer ahead of Thursday's announcement are based on newsstand sales and exclude subscription copies. Some monthly titles, which have a high proportion of subscribers, may post better-than-expected ABC figures but the sales data is usually a reliable guide to performance. The big four publishers - IPC, Emap, Conde Nast and National Magazines - are likely to respond by hailing a handful of successes while arguing that maintaining sales in a tough market is an achievement in itself. But most publishers accept that the outlook is gloomy. The figures will confirm that so-called 'lads' mags' are now in meltdown, with Loaded, FHM and Maxim recording double-digit declines on the year. Maxim and Loaded have both lost around 120,000 readers and FHM, which has lost a quarter of its circulation over the last six months, now sells 315,000, half what it once sold.

Overall, the men's market is down 23.5 per cent year on year and, more tellingly, sales have fallen by 18 per cent in the first six months of this year compared with the last half of 2006 - itself a disastrous period. Only GQ and Esquire have bucked the downward trend. IPC would happily sell Loaded, the magazine that invented the genre, but there are no buyers for a magazine in inexorable decline.

The focus is likely to shift this week from the collapse of the lads' mag to the plight of mainstream women's monthlies. Fashion titles are expected to fall year on year by 4.3 per cent, with only Vogue bucking the trend (up 2 per cent), and general lifestyle titles aimed at twenty-something women could see a 10 per cent fall. Both Red and Elle are expected to be down at least 5 per cent and Conde Nast's Glamour, the original handbag-sized glossy that was once a star performer, could be down as much as 10 per cent, which will not please MD Nicholas Coleridge. Most dramatically, Emap's New Woman has lost a quarter of its sales, partly because the company has withdrawn all marketing support, and a similar reduction in spending explains the poor performance of its rivals, according to one industry source: 'There has been a lot of unsustainable promotional activity over the last few years that is now coming to an end.'

Some of the best-performing genres of recent years are starting to lose their lustre, despite promotional pushes. The celebrity market, which provided huge growth at the turn of the millennium, is now saturated and performing badly. Although the first half of the year is traditionally slower, mainly because Big Brother does not begin until the summer, the vast majority are down on this time last year.

Closer is expected to post a fall - albeit from a market-leading high of close to 600,000 - and Heat will also be down. 'Real life', the next big growth area, is also well-served with 'me too' titles and, with the exception of IPC's Pick Me Up, they too are performing poorly. Many mass market titles have been employing classic industry tricks to bolster sales; discounting copies, advertising heavily on TV or simply giving their titles away. Closer has been advertised on TV for 14 weeks out of 26 in the first half of the year, and Heat for 10 out of 26.

Richard Desmond's OK!, meanwhile, has advertised for 18 weeks over the period, although it could see a 1 per cent year-on-year rise. Glossy monthlies snare subscribers by giving them heavily discounted rates, and the tactic is also employed by mass market titles. NatMags' Real People sells around 310,000 copies but over 90,000 are discounted, according to the last ABCs.

Woman's weekly Love It!, published by News International's magazine arm News Magazines, is likely to be stable at around 400,000, but industry sources claim that over 120,000 copies were sold at a lower rate compared with fewer than 5,000 at its rivals Chat and Pick Me Up. Love it! has been cross-promoted heavily by its parent company's tabloid titles, but News Magazines' bold plan to launch five titles within a year has not been realised. Of the two that appeared, only one remains, and the fact the Murdoch empire has failed to establish a foothold may illustrate just how competitive it has become.

Executives are blaming the internet for the downturn, and are beginning to accelerate plans to take the battle to their online competitors. 'It's all about digital now,' says one. 'This ABC period marks a sea change in how magazine companies attend to digital.' IPC has just announced the launch of, a portal aimed at working class women who want to swap tips on diet or health issues. IPC has already unveiled similar sites aimed at different audiences, including and, but goodtoknow is a more general portal that does not piggyback on an existing magazine brand and is aimed at a wider audience.

The high hopes that IPC is attaching to the site may provide a clue to future projects, which could rely less on leveraging existing magazine titles and more on carving out new niches online. The other main threat to paid-for titles is likely to comes from free titles, which already give newspapers stiff competition but are now beginning to make their presence felt in the magazine market. Sport magazine is set to expand outside London this year, and another title will launch next month when former IPC executive Mike Soutar unveils ShortList, a weekly aimed at affluent men. Without a cover price, free titles have to set far higher advertising rates than their paid-for rivals, but if they can demonstrate they are pressing 500,000 copies into the right hands, they may prove viable.

The internet is partly responsible for the success of free titles because it has created an expectation among consumers that journalism should be free. Ultimately, the magazines' response to this threat will determine their future in what one source concedes is 'now a completely different media landscape'. D-Day is approaching once more, but the final day of reckoning may not be far off.

What's that in your manbag? Esquire's new look

'Smart, sexy, stylish', declares the first edition of the new-look Esquire, the original men's lifestyle title. The words refer to its cover star, Michelle Pfeiffer, but they could just as easily apply to the magazine new editor Jeremy Langmead has spent months overhauling.

The first issue, published on Thursday, came too late for this week's ABC figures, which are expected to show Esquire's circulation rose slightly to about 53,000 in the first half of the year. Before that, sales had fallen from over 100,000 a decade ago and Langmead, poached from IPC's Wallpaper earlier this year, is expected to reverse the trend.

At first glance, there is little to distinguish the 'rejuvenated' (Langmead's word) Esquire from its upmarket rivals, aside from its new smaller 'manbag' size. The coverlines - 'How to spot a gold digger', 'Football's Own Goal', 'Lethally Blond'; 'What to Wear' - are conventional, and so too is the blonde on the cover, even if she is a Hollywood star. But the front is uncluttered and clear, using just three colours (red, black and white) and there are some interesting innovations inside. A blue-tinged 'critics' section printed on heavier, more expensive paper and the business pages, complete with a pink tinge, are genuine departures.

An interview with News International chairman Les Hinton has already made headlines, and the title's roster of writers - including Jeff Randall, Andrew O'Hagan and The Observer's own Rachel Cooke, is a strong one.

And then, of course, there is the advertising - page upon glossy page of display ads for designer perfumes, clothes, cars and watches. If Langmead can produce a product that luxury brands want to be associated with, and assuming Natmags has handed him the cash to do so, he will be worth the huge salary the company is rumoured to have offered him to turn Esquire around.

The magazine is already, according to Langmead's editor's letter, 'intelligent, incisive and informed'. But is the title the best men's magazine, as well as the oldest? Not yet.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Memo Pad: Winners and Losers

Memo Pad: Winners and Losers

WINNERS AND LOSERS: The first half of 2007 proved on average to be an OK one in circulation terms for niche, fashion, fitness, and teen titles, but wasn't so great for more general interest pubs, according to figures filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. ABC will release the full list of magazine circulation figures on Monday.

In the latter category, Vanity Fair struggled this period to top its strong newsstand performance in the first half of 2006, posting a 15.7 percent drop in single-copy sales. "In 2006, Vanity Fair had the best newsstand year in the magazine's history. So 2007 was up against a number of very successful issues," said editor in chief Graydon Carter. "And some of this year's covers just didn't do as well as we hoped. There is, unfortunately, no science to this." Perhaps one explanation could be that men don't sell as well for the pop culture monthly - Bruce Willis, Owen Wilson, Chris Rock, Leonardo DiCaprio and James Gandolfini all appeared on the cover in the first half, compared to female cover subjects like Naomi Watts, Lindsay Lohan and Teri Hatcher in last year's first half. "It depends on the man, of course, but as a rule, women do sell better than men. Unless that man is Brad Pitt," quipped Carter. In fact, Demi Moore, the only woman who appeared on its cover alone this period, sold best.

But Elle reported a 9.1 percent increase in single-copy sales, while Vogue posted a 4.6 percent uptick in newsstand sales, to 452,207. Lucky posted an 11.9 percent newsstand increase, to 250,240, and an overall circulation increase of 9.4 percent. Shape reported a 2.2 percent growth in total circulation, to 1.7 million, and Women's Health continued its strong circulation growth, reporting total paid circulation of 786,892. The title is raising its rate base to 1.1 million in January.

In contrast, general interest women's magazines reported softness on newsstands. Marie Claire posted a 20.1 percent decline in newsstand sales, to 328,200, despite a return to more traditional cover treatments compared to last fall's edgy experimentation by editor in chief Joanna Coles. Glamour posted a 7.3 percent drop on newsstands, to 755,289.

Redbook saw a 12.9 percent decline in single-copy sales for the first half, to 244,500. This comes after a 28.6 percent drop in the second half of 2006 and a 19.9 percent decrease in the first half of last year compared to the same period in 2005. Though such declines could rattle the average editor in chief, Redbook's Stacy Morrison said she's not worried. "It is a number. It is one number that is one part of many pieces of our overall strategy." Meanwhile, according to Morrison, the Redbook reader isn't wasting time thumbing through the racks. "When we're talking about a busy 35-year-old woman, she's the least likely person to dally at a newsstand."

In the teen category, circulation figures seem to prove that teens do indeed read magazines. Cosmogirl's newsstand grew 4.6 percent, while total circulation rose 3.1 percent, to 1.4 million, and Teen Vogue posted a 9.1 percent bump in newsstand sales, while overall circulation remained flat at 973,172. At Seventeen, single-copy sales increased 8.5 percent for the period and total circulation grew nearly 2 percent to 2 million. Editor in chief Ann Shoket took over the title in January, and its best-selling issue was, happily, Shoket's first, featuring Avril Lavigne. Shoket succeeded Atoosa Rubenstein.

Finally, the men's magazine circulation results varied, with Details and GQ reporting the strongest growth. Both Condé Nast men's titles posted 9.3 percent gains in total circulation, to 457,186 and 931,694, respectively. Details also reported strong newsstand growth for the period, an 11.6 percent increase, to 75,365. But the new owners of Maxim and Stuff have their work cut out for them. As private equity firm Quadrangle Group prepares to acquire the titles along with Blender in the next week or so, both reported shrinking circulation. Rumors continue to swirl about Stuff's eminent closure once its new owners take hold, and its numbers could signal that the end is near. Newsstand sales fell 33.9 percent, to 170,747; overall circulation declined 3.9 percent. Just two years ago, young men showed stronger affinity to its beer and babes content - Stuff averaged more than 300,000 single copies back then. - Stephanie D. Smith and Irin Carmon

Focusing on Success

Focusing on Success
Noelle Skodzinski
Publishing Executive Magazine

You have probably heard the news that Condé Nast is folding women's magazine Jane. This follows a number of closings this year, including other big-name consumer and b-to-b titles. All these closings have to worry even those of us with the brightest outlooks. There also are a lot of mixed messages out there, and sometimes even if there are reasons to be optimistic, they get lost in the shuffle.

While we may have seen a ray of hope in the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) announcement that 105 magazine launches were announced in the first quarter of 2007, a 4-percent increase over the same period in 2006, that ray was somewhat clouded by a July 8 blog entry titled "There May Be More Announcements, but There Are Fewer New Magazine Launches in the First Half of '07," by Samir Husni, Ph.D. (aka Mr. Magazine), chair of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi. His post suggested that while more new magazines may have been announced in 2007, "the real numbers of new magazine launches have witnessed a major drop in the first half of 2007 compared with that of 2006." He even noted, "In fact, this is the first year that I can remember the numbers dropping by more than 38 percent from the previous year's numbers."

Mr. Magazine predicts a decline in 2008 as well. The not-so-dismal detail behind those figures, however, is that the two-year decline is part of the historical, predictable ebb and flow of the market, and he expects to see a turnaround in 2009, if historical patterns hold true.

Another bright spot appeared earlier this year when the Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization (PRIMIR) presented a report showing that the magazine industry is alive and kicking. Announcing the results of the study, "Magazine Printing and Publishing 2006-2011," PRIMIR reported:

" . . . Magazines . . . can be found in the vast majority of North American homes and businesses, and that trend will continue despite the onslaught of the Internet and other competitive alternative electronic media. As evidence of the continuing viability of magazines, the report, which is the result of an extensive year-long study of the magazine industry, cites the birth of 1,370 new magazine titles that were issued in the United States and Canada last year (2006), swelling the total to an all-time high of 26,140 titles. In 2007, a net growth of 820 new titles is expected, bringing the end-of-the-year number of magazines to 26,960. This is the largest number of magazine titles ever identified and is a testimonial to the vitality of the media for both advertisers and readers."

It's hard to ignore the predictions of print's continual decline, as well as news of layoffs and folding magazines. But it's also hard to ignore the fact that many publications are still growing. According to Inquiry Management Systems (IMS), which tracks advertising across a variety of publishing markets, seven out of 21 of the largest b-to-b publishers saw ad sales increases in January to April of 2007 vs. the same period in 2006. While that could be viewed as the glass being two-thirds empty (14 companies saw declines), it raises the question: Are the ones shutting their doors just the product of market challenges in their particular fields? Or perhaps poor management or direction?

I believe that some print publications are just not of the nature and focus to continue to be relevant in today's market. Some are just poorly run, and others just got going in the wrong direction and couldn't make it back.

Regardless, the thing that is most important for the rest of us is to look at what those publishers who are succeeding are doing right and to seek information and tools that can help us produce quality content (in any medium) more efficiently and cost effectively, and to adapt to an increasingly multimedia world. As so many of us are proving, it can be done. PE

When Mags Meet The Reaper

When Mags Meet The Reaper
By Jon Fine

For five years beginning in 2000, I had a job in which I wrote almost exclusively about the magazine business. It turned out to be a fine time to watch a flotilla of famous and not-famous magazines sail into eternity: Industry Standard, Talk, Mademoiselle. I could go on. (For a long time.) I kept the last issue of each departed title on my desk, in a stack that grew into an unmanageably sprawling heap by the time I left. That pile's online equivalent is, which launched in February, 2006, with the cheery greeting: "The beginning of the end is here."

The site is registered anonymously. It is run by an unidentified but knowledgeable (apparent) insider who calls himself or herself Grim Reaper, and who has a good record at predicting what's not long for this world. (And who winningly signs e-mails "Grim.") Among a subset of the media-obsessed, the site is a new version of the dot-com era's beloved Amid the medium's ongoing remaking, Magazine Death Pool calls attention to a macabre parlor game usually confined to magazine circles: Which one's the next to go?

CURRENTLY THE REAPER IS TAPPING a scythe at, among others, Business 2.0 (whose travails were previously reported by many blogs, including mine, and by The New York Times (NYT )), a verdict I agree with, and Condé Nast Portfolio, which I do not. (Condé Nast won't spend nine figures on that launch to give up so easily.) A previous Reaper prediction about Maxim's little brother, Stuff--that it may die as a standalone but live on, say, as a section of another magazine--now seems likely. (Reps for Stuff and Business 2.0 refused to comment.)

Thus far, the site has forecast virtually all of this past year's major closings--including Life, Premiere, Shop Etc., and Jane. All had struggled for ads and had problems amply documented elsewhere. But sometimes that means little, because magazines remain a perverse medium. Privately held companies far outnumber public ones, and the tenor of the business is, perhaps refreshingly, often divorced from market realities. The No. 1 and No. 3 players--Condé Nast Publications and Hearst Magazines--are private, as are many other biggies. Idiosyncratic entrepreneurs, like Wenner Media's Jann Wenner, are still in place. Nearly all are concentrated in Manhattan's tight geographic confines, which, like other company towns that attract the chatty and status-conscious--hello, Los Angeles and D.C.--breeds gossip like a wet basement breeds mildew. Unlike newspapers, many magazines die; unlike TV shows, they tend to die slowly. The correct question is not who's behind Magazine Death Pool, but rather what took someone so long to do it?

In other words: I have no idea who Mr. or Ms. Reaper is. Everyone I thought might be behind its skeletal visage denies it, and--surprise!--Grim won't open the kimono. (Cloak?) Nevertheless, he/she appears to understand what goes on in the deep hidden plumbing of magazine circulation. (And also has a mordant sense of humor. Asides begin like this: "I was just chiseling my nails....") He/she appears to be well-versed in rock music past and present, but favors '70s-era lyric references. In a series of e-mails--which, obviously, defy fact-checking--Grim claimed to be a solo operator, to have worked "on and off the staffs of major consumer magazine publishers," though not Time Inc. (TWX ), and to have experience on magazines' editorial and business sides. The site came about after the first major wave of Time Inc. layoffs in late 2005: "The writing was definitely on the wall for where ad dollars and readers were going."

Well, yeah. The whys of what's happening to lesser-tier magazines are obvious. Chronicling it in such a darkly funny way, though, is not. As far as summertime guessing games go, "Who's the Reaper?" isn't exactly lonelygirl15. But I'll take it. And Grim, when you're ready to step from Stygian obscurity into the light of day, give me a call.

For Jon Fine's blog on media and advertising, go to