Friday, September 14, 2007

Boston Globe Media launches "Lola"

Boston Globe Media launches "Lola"
Posted by Boston Globe Business Team

Boston Globe Media announced today the November launch of "Lola," a lifestyle magazine aimed at women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

The magazine, with a planned print run of about 45,000 copies, will be available free of charge at 800 locations throughout Greater Boston; starting in January, Lola will appear monthly, said Boston Globe Media, a group that includes The Boston Globe,, GlobeDirect, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Boston Globe Media noted that "Lola" will be the third niche publication it has launched within the last year; the other two are "Design New England" and "Fashion Boston."

Many newspapers, especially those in large urban markets where high-speed Internet connections are readily available, are losing readers and ad dollars to the Internet; developing niche publications is one way to capture additional revenue.

"We are strategically pursuing new markets and niche segments by developing a portfolio of publications that meet the targeted needs of advertisers and audiences," Boston Globe publisher P. Steven Ainsley said in a statement.

The "on-the-go lifestyle magazine" is designed to bring Boston women a "best friend's take on everything and anything that can make local life a little better."

Lucy Bartholomay, the Globe's managing director of product innovation, further described "Lola" in a statement.

"Created as a trusted friend for women, 'Lola' will be informing, entertaining, and inspiring," Bartholomay said. "She'll have plenty to say about local restaurants and shopping as well as about healthy living, relationships, things to do and think about."

For convenience, the magazine will be of a compact size that easily fits into a purse, backpack, or briefcase, the company said.

Susanne Althoff, senior assistant editor of The Boston Globe Magazine, will serve as "Lola's" consulting editorial director, Boston Globe Media said.

Boston Globe Media is owned by The New York Times Co.
(By Chris Reidy, Globe staff)

Posted by Boston Globe Business Team at

Print director talks about the changes in media

Exit interview:
Jack Hanrahan of OMD
Print director talks about the changes in media
By Diego Vasquez

With more than three decades in media behind him, Jack Hanrahan has seen a lot of changes. He spent 22 years with Chicago's Leo Burnett, before the internet boom and the arrival of local people meters, and he dabbled a few years on the client side with Coca-Cola before joining a startup, Prime Point Media. Four years ago he became OMD's director of U.S. print operations and is one of the industry's go-to sources whenever a new magazine launches, an old one folds, or circulation numbers are released. Now Hanrahan is moving into another phase of his career. Beginning next week, he will become a media consultant, continuing to advise OMD but no longer running its print department. The 58-year-old also plans to start a newsletter about the magazine business, which he says needs a serious overhaul in how audience is measured. Hanrahan talks to Media Life about how agencies have changed over the years, the strengths and weaknesses of the magazine business, and why his kids are going into media, too.

Why did you decide to leave OMD?

Where I am in terms of my age. I love this business and I want to stay involved, but I'm 58 and I can't imagine five years from now still wanting to get on a train to NYC.

I just felt it was time to diversify. I want to write, and I want to get into publishing a newsletter. So much information is available to agencies, and at times there's too little time to analyze it.

What will your newsletter cover and who will it be directed to?

The newsletter is going to be geared at issues relevant to magazine selling and buying, so I'm hoping publishing houses, agencies and maybe investment firms and journalists might be reading it. The goal of it is to provide analysis of information that's available.

With the day-to-day crush of things going on, [information] might not get analyzed like it should be, so hopefully I'll save people some time. I also want to have some fun. I hope people will find it both educational and entertaining.

How would you sum up the state of the agency world today as opposed to a decade ago? How have things changed?

Well, it has changed for the better in some ways, and for the worse in others.

Technology has affected the agency world, like it has in most parts of life, for the better. The speed at which information can be analyzed is amazing, the tools that allow you to test out alternative schedules, optimize TV buys, do post-analysis so rapidly, are just great, and they've come at a good time.

Agencies are more of a business today, they're parts of larger companies, and financial matters are a high priority inside of all agencies. The quest for accounts, interest in getting new business, is high. I sense a difference from how it was a decade ago.

I find that people still want to be in this business. Two of my three children are going into it, and listening to them talk about it, they have so much excitement about the changing nature of the business.

Some people thrive on the pace of this business, and that hasn't changed much.

How have things changed for print media, more specifically?

I'd say the integration of print products with the web sites of magazines and other extensions, like mobile and even television. Magazines truly are multiplatform products, or part of multiplatform brands, and that's exciting.

I've always thought magazines are the most connected to clients. They're always trying to understand what they're trying to achieve.

Magazine sales people are phenomenally bright and interesting to talk to. Not taking away from other sales reps, but magazine people seem a cut above the sales people of other media.

That may sound bad, but let me put it this way: magazine people have a curiosity that isn't always found elsewhere.

There is a real partnership interest that magazine sales people have, and that makes the industry enjoyable and makes me want to stay connected to it.

How would you assess the current state of magazines? What are some strengths and weaknesses, from a media buying perspective?

The strengths are, editorially, magazines are phenomenal. I can't imagine a time when there were so many great choices for consumers. A weakness - I'm just baffled by how challenged the industry is trying to get people to buy them. That's clearly one of the areas of possible improvement.

I think the integration I mentioned with other media and event assets is further strengthening what magazines can do for marketers. You have to constantly focus on what the core element is: the magazine itself is a point of uniqueness.

Let's focus on news titles. The fact that the newsweeklies also publish a magazine allows them to be different than any site that simply reports what's happening today. The fact that there's a Time magazine is a point of difference, and I think it positively affects how people perceive magazine news products as opposed to other news products.

Not to knock TV, but I don't think their sites are handled in the same manner. Those are the competitive advantages magazines have, and I think it exists because there is the actual magazine. A million and a half or more people buy, and that's a big advantage.

One more strength. I think there's a growing body of evidence that magazines work for marketers. Marketers care about accountability. I think magazines are in the forefront in many respects on the accountability issues, and that's terrific.

And what about weaknesses?

Circulation is clearly one that's been talked about for years. Newsstand sales are hurting for most magazines, though you have a successful launch of a product like Everyday with Rachael Ray. Or OK! magazine, it kind of limped onto the American scene, but now it has started to hit strides, landing million-sales issues, attracting accounts that in its first year probably wouldn't even take a meeting. Even though circulation is one of those areas where there are negatives, there are also positives.

But too often publishers are leaning on the fact that they can give magazines away, send them to public places. There are all sorts of ways magazines end up in consumers' hands where people don't pay for them. Some of them are okay, but there's a limit to everything, and there's a disproportionality that's wrong. Magazines need to think, "I got here by being well-connected to readers, and I can't do things that cause that connection to be questioned by those who buy ad space."

We probably need to open the door and see what kind of improvements can be made on how the audience is measured. I'm not saying MRI's not a good service, but the way we measure is pretty much the same as how we did it in the early '80s. When you look at how TV audience research has changed -- in the mid '80s the people meter comes along, and now we can get minute-by-minute commercial ratings -- there hasn't been the same acceptance of the status quo with TV. Same with radio and the portable people meters. We need to ask, "How can we do it better?"

What things specifically would you like to see change?

I'd like to see the continuation of showing marketers how well magazines perform. Improving and diversifying the current data we have to buy and sell, and diversifying the measures we have for making media decisions. Third, having publishers take a hard look at their circulations, paying attention to their reliance on copies that aren't as strongly connected to readers as a magazine should be.

How will print buying and planning in general change over the next five years?

Well, I think you're going to see somewhat, because of the structure of the selling side, changes in the integration of digital print buying at agencies. Digital buying is going to touch, and already has touched, on TV buying and radio buying, so I think that will change.

And I actually think there will be more and more data to analyze. Look at how much more is available to me today in analyzing magazines, and that's just focusing on circulation. We have rapid report today, I can go onto the ABC site and look at how individual issues did long before the pink sheet comes out.

I can then look back at the pink sheet and find out a lot more information about where copies are going. I know how many are going to public places, I know what types of places they're going to, which could make a difference to a marketer, say, if a title is available in a beauty salon or auto showroom.

There's just more data to analyze, but sadly I don't think there's enough people there to analyze.

Hachette Cuts Show Results

Hachette Cuts Show Results
by Erik Sass

THE DECISION TO CLOSE A number of magazines, including Elle Girl, is having a positive impact on the bottom line of Hachette Filipacchi's owner, Lagardère SCA, according to the company's earnings report for the first half of 2007. Lagardère's overall global media business saw pre-tax earnings grow 13.5% to $288.6 million. Using current dollar values, net sales rose 6.7% compared to the first six months of 2006, to about $5.15 billion.
According to Lagardère, the company's "recovery plan" implemented in fall 2006 is beginning to pay off. Its press business, now part of Lagardère Active--which includes Hachette--enjoyed an earnings boost of 31.5%, to $80.6 million. Lagardère credits this to strong performances at established franchises, like its women's and celebrity magazines, but also to hard-eyed decisions to cut titles that were underperforming. These include Elle Girl and For Me in the United States, as well as a number of international titles.

The recovery plan involves many other elements, including the sale of some of Lagardère's stock in EADS, the struggling manufacturer of Airbus planes, laying off hundreds of employees at its headquarters in Paris, and buying new media companies in the United States that focused on digital platforms.

In April, Hachette announced the acquisition of JumpStart Automotive Media, an online ad network, for $110 million. Hachette President and CEO Jack Kliger is said to be working closely with new management at Lagardère to plan this and future expansions.

Lagardère has moved to hurry the transition of its media operations into multiplatform digital publishing, beginning with the appointment of Didier Quillot, formerly chief of telecom giant Orange France, last fall. Arnaud Lagardère, who heads parent company Lagardère SCA, has said the company remains committed to magazine brands as its core business.

Hachette Filipacchi is one of the world's largest consumer magazine publishers, reaching an audience of about 50 million in the United States alone through enthusiast magazines, including American Photo, Car and Driver, Elle, Home and Woman's Day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

BoSacks Launches Mag Consulting Firm

Bo Sacks Launches Mag Consulting Firm
Thursday, September 13, 2007
By Jason Fell

Publishing veteran Bob Sacks wants to help your magazine succeed. With help from two other industry professionals, Sacks this week co-launched mediaIDEAS, a global research and consultancy service providing magazines of all sectors with analysis and advice on a range of topics, including the effects of technology on magazine publishing.

“The industry, now more than ever before in its history, needs to understand the dynamic changes in electronically coordinated information distribution, or what I call EL-CID,” Sacks wrote in an e-mail to Folio: Alert. Sacks, who also goes by “BoSacks,” is president and publisher of The Precision Media Group and produces “Heard on the Web: Media Intelligence,” what he says is the world’s oldest e-newsletter.

“It is a matter of taking our true franchise of content and reapplying it with profitable methodology,” wrote Sacks. “We are focusing on every potential level of information distribution, be they circulation techniques of ink on paper, or pixel distribution through the use of the Internet or eventually e-paper deployment.”

“[F]aced with rising costs, falling revenues, and criticism from environmentalists, the magazine publishing industry has to quickly embrace new technology if it is going to survive beyond the next decade,” mediaIDEAS co-founder and digital publishing specialist Nick Hampshire said in a release.

Hampshire, Sacks and consultant David Renard created mediaIDEAS after a year and a half of researching the magazine publishing industry. In that time, the men have advised and worked with a number of publishing groups and individual magazines, including Condé Nast, Crain’s Communications and Folio:.

“We have worked with the largest corporations and universities, to the more humble start-up publications,” Sacks wrote. “They all share a common denominator, and actually have the same needs and goals … they all wish to make a reasonably fair profit with the dissemination of their words and ideas. We help them do that.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Commentary - Media X: Life Story

Media X: Life Story
by Jack Feuer

I SEEM TO RECALL IT was warm for November in New Jersey, but I could be wrong. We were visiting another school in the next town. I was seated in the back of the room, not listening to the teacher, and trying to decide whether to join the weekly football game in Richie Ivanhoe's backyard after class. Suddenly, another teacher burst in, and both women began whispering to each other, eyes wide and faces ashen. They shooed everybody out of the building, and put us back on the bus. It wasn't until we returned to Ralph S. Maugham Elementary School and my mother picked me up, that I learned President Kennedy had been shot.

I seem to recall it was mild for September in L.A.,but I could be mistaken. I had just passed the Lankershim exit, heading south on the Hollywood Freeway. Universal Studios loomed on the hill. I was driving on automatic, not really hearing what they were saying on the radio, and trying to decide which source I could cajole into taking me to lunch at Rita Flora that afternoon.

Suddenly, the newscaster announced that what authorities thought might have been a small plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. "Schmuck," I thought. "How do you not see a 100-story skyscraper?" It wasn't until I arrived at Adweek's Wilshire Boulevard offices and turned on the TV in the editor's room that I learned America was under attack.

I was born into a mass-media world and live in a digital one. I have never lacked for options. But on the two most horrific days of my life, the only medium that really mattered was television.

Sure, I heard about Kennedy's assassination by what was, essentially, word of mouth. We kept the radio on every minute during those dark hours and devoured the newspapers. But it was television that we depended on, grieved before, and on which we first came face to face with Lee Harvey Oswald.

I saw that killer killed on television.

Yes, we scoured the Internet on 9/11. We surfed like madmen from site to site. We glued on our earpieces and kept our Walkmans tuned to the news stations. But it was television that we relied on, gathered before, and on which we first pondered the terrible cost of that awful morning.

I watched the country cry on television.

We are inundated with media choices that seduce us with entertainment, ply us with information, supply use with endless ways to push-pull, opt-in, interact and network. We call it a revolution. But it's not. The options are just choices. The channels are just toys. It doesn't matter if we're five, 15 or 75. When we are threatened, when the world goes mad, when we are desperate to connect, we don't log on to MySpace. We turn on the television.

Battle at Top of the Newsstand Sales Pyramid

Battle at Top of the Newsstand Sales Pyramid
By Baird Davis

Six publishers-Time Inc, Bauer, American Media, Hearst, Wenner, and Conde Nast-dominate the newsstand scene. Their combined sales represent 60 percent of the audited consumer magazine market. These six publishing companies are fiercely contesting with one another for newsstand buyers.

But at the top of the sales pyramid it's not simply a publisher-centric contest. It's become a battle that pits, to some degree, the National Distributors against one another. Time Warner Retail, Comag (owned by Hearst and Conde Nast), Curtis, Kable and marketing and merchandising service provider Distribution Services, Inc (owned by American Media) are all actively involved in helping shape the industry to their own needs.

Each has a slightly different vision of how the newsstand should operate. Their divergent interests often make it difficult for them to agree on reform strategy. Unfortunately among national distributors, self interest typically rules.

Wholesaler Initiated Change

Wholesalers, lacking industry leadership from publishers and national distributors, have started taking matters into their own hands. The wholesaler community has begun to fill the market reform vacuum with much more aggressive (albeit self motivated) action.

Let's review what wholesalers have done in the last year or so.

1. Unilaterally Reduced The Number of Copies Distributed-Two of the largest wholesaler groups, Anderson News and News Group, have made unilateral decisions that have taken as many as 140 million copies out of distribution. Wholesalers have reported (confirmed by most national distributors) a four to five percentage point improvement in efficiency without any appreciable loss in sales.

2. Combined Distribution Operations-Anderson News and the News Group have formed a separate company, Prologix, to handle distribution for both companies in selected high traffic locations. By most accounts the results, after a shaky start, indicate that performance at these distribution centers has greatly improved. This has reduced operational costs, without seriously impairing the level of service.

3. Formed Wholesaler Industry Group-Anderson News, News Group and Hudson News formed a group (Magnet) to share information and other things of mutual interest. Their combined influence, especially as a purveyor of information, is now being felt across the industry.

4. Influenced Publisher Cover Pricing Decisions-Wholesalers, reportedly, helped persuade Bauer to increase the cover prices on all its titles. These changes will take effect in the fourth quarter of this year and undoubtedly will have a profound industry effect on future product pricing and revenue.

5. Increased the Number of Scan Based Trading (SBT) Agreements-Wholesalers, in an attempt to satisfy retailer requirements, have recently been aggressive in expanding the scale of their SBT agreements. It's believed that SBT agreements currently represent about 25 percent of wholesaler sales. The percentage is expected to go much higher in the next few years.

6. Tightening Their Relations with Retailers-Wholesalers, by offering - SBT, more in-store merchandising service, more tightly controlling "authorized" lists and managing more promotion programs - are forming tighter bonds with their retailers. This, in turn, has made it more difficult for publishers and national distributors to exert influence with retailers.

Balancing the Newsstand Playing Field

In the "post-consolidation" period, the surviving wholesalers were forced to the financial brink. But in the absence of unified publisher and national distributor effort they are now fighting back. Many of their initiatives appear to have improved industry services. However, for publishers and national distributors there is a real danger in allowing wholesalers, often in conjunction with retailers, to act in such an independent manner.

In order to balance the newsstand playing field, national distributors and publishers must step up to the plate, not individually, but in a unified manner. If they don't, they risk not playing a significant role in what now appears to be a burgeoning wholesaler led industry reform movement.

NPR On the Media - Are you on Drugs?

BoSacks Speaks Out: The following article is not about the magazine business, but it is about marketing and advertising, and that is sure part of our business. It's also about he creation of markets. As a follower of the good uses and bad extensions of advertisinf, I thought I would pass this along.

We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quotes (German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist. 1749-1832)

BOB GARFIELD: This is On the Media. I'm Bob Garfield.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone. Once, makers of prescription drugs didn't market direct to consumers. The FDA requirements for listing side effects were prohibitive, and, anyway, it seemed inappropriate.

Then, in 1985, a couple of ad men working on a new antihistamine called Seldane figured out a workaround. Their ads peddled the condition but never mentioned the drug. And it worked. People, once content to sniffle, made appointments with their allergists, and sales skyrocketed.

Eventually, the FDA loosened restrictions, and now we all swim in a sea of carefully choreographed drug marketing. Some save people's lives. Others just complicate them.

Shannon Brownlee has authored a new book called Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer. Among other drugs, she examined the marketing of the sleep drug Lunesta, approved in 2005 and launched with a $60 million ad campaign.

SHANNON BROWNLEE: The first ad that appeared was on Desperate Housewives, which was quite appropriate, I think. And it featured a black-and-white ad where a man and a woman are in bed, and the woman gets up, obviously restless in the middle of the night, and she's wandering around the room.

And then in through the window comes this incredibly beautiful little Luna moth. And then the voiceover says something like -

WOMAN: Do you lie awake exhausted but still can't sleep? Maybe it's time to ask your doctor if Lunesta's right for you.


SHANNON BROWNLEE: It's the only drug that's approved for long-term use. And the market analysts are predicting this explosion in sales in the sleep drug industry, and, in fact, that's exactly what happened.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: And let's talk about why. It isn't because of the beautiful green moth, however memorable [LAUGHS] it may have been. It's really because of the third-party strategy.

SHANNON BROWNLEE: As one doctor put it, calling what the drug industry does "advertising" is like calling D-Day a bunch of guys waiting in the surf. [BROOKE LAUGHS]
So this third-party strategy, what you want to do is you want to get your marketing message into the mouth of an authoritative third party. One of the third parties are patient advocacy groups, and another third party that they like to use are the media.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: All right. Well, let's stop and examine those. First of all, the patient advocacy group in the Lunesta case was the National Sleep Foundation. What was interesting to me in your book was that when the organization was launched in the early '90s, it claimed that a little more than a quarter of Americans suffered from a sleep disorder. And by the time Lunesta launched in 2005, it was claiming - go ahead.

SHANNON BROWNLEE: [LAUGHS] It was claiming that 75 percent of American adults suffer from some insomnia and that it was ruining their sex lives, which obviously got a few headlines.

Well, the National Institutes of Health says, at most, 25 percent of Americans are suffering from insomnia either regularly or occasionally.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: And that was the National Sleep Foundation's initial statistic.

SHANNON BROWNLEE: That's right. So you sort of wonder whether or not this poll is biased. But then you take the question the next step, which is: why would the National Sleep Foundation have this apparently biased poll?

And one reason is perfectly understandable. The National Sleep Foundation is genuinely concerned about people getting enough sleep. So they have this sort of natural desire to get people to take sleep seriously, and one way you do that is you exaggerate, A) how many people are suffering from not enough sleep, and B) the dangers of not enough sleep.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Whatever their motivations may have been, if you're accusing them of, in a sense, you know, perpetrating a deceit upon the American people - and we should mention along the line that I don't know what their funding was initially, but during the Lunesta launch it was already being funded quite a bit by drug manufacturers - it makes you feel queasy.

SHANNON BROWNLEE: Yes. Innocently or not, most of them seem to be taking money from the drug industry. One of the marketers for one of the competitor drugs, Sonata, she told me that they very deliberately told organizations like The National Sleep Foundation how to do their polls because they wanted the result that comes with saying lots and lots of people have this disorder called sleeplessness.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: We should also note that The National Sleep Foundation gives the press something to cover when it releases its polls and the press is an important additional third party that you refer to in your book. How do the drug companies make use of the press?

SHANNON BROWNLEE: Let me answer the question by kind of going at it from the perspective of the media, who are bombarded with information from a variety of sources. One of those sources is The National Sleep Foundation, which sends out its poll and wants us to write about the results of that poll.

Number two, we get information from universities. So one of the places that did some of the research on Lunesta was Duke, and what Duke's P.R. office did is it offered the press a patient who said Lunesta was the greatest thing that ever happened to her, and it offered up a researcher, a Dr. Andrew Krystal.

And it turns out that Dr. Krystal is paid by the company that makes Lunesta, and the press is offered these people as if it's all coming completely independently out of Duke University. So then a bunch of people wrote stories on Lunesta based on that press release.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is the last thing I want to do is to quote from a book that you quote [LAUGHS] called Selling Sickness. "With many medical conditions there is great uncertainty about where to draw the line that separates the healthy from the sick. The wider you draw the boundaries that define a disease, the wider the pool of potential patients and the bigger the market for those making the drug."

That all seems sort of straightforward, but how does it affect the way we see ourselves as people?

SHANNON BROWNLEE: I think over the last 30 years the pharmaceutical industry and the patient advocacy groups have, in effect, made us think we're sick and that we have to be constantly vigilant. It leads to the medicalizing of [LAUGHING] all of human existence. I mean, every little woe that we have, every worry we have might be depression. You know, every heart palpitation we have might be heart disease. Every headache we have might be cancer. And that's a lousy way to go through your life.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Shannon, thank you very much.


BROOKE GLADSTONE: Shannon Brownlee is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. Her new book is Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

mediaIDEAS - Research and Advisory Service for the Publishing Industry

BoSacks Speaks Out: What new business paradigms are really around the corner?

With all the public debates that Samir Husni and I have had over the past many years about the future of our business, my long time readers must have known that those intense exchanges would have cultivated in me a strong desire to truly examine our industry in great depth. Where are we, and where do we need to be in the not so distant future of our business. What new business paradigms are really around the corner? What kind of information must publishers have to not only survive, but to prosper at will?

In that process, I have had the privilege over the past year-and-a-half to be part of an international team of publishing experts that have formed a new research and advisory service for our industry. The rest of the story is below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

"You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else."

Albert Einstein

For Immediate Release

Press Release

Subject: mediaIDEAS - Research and Advisory Service for the Publishing Industry

New York and London, September 12th 2007

This week global consultancymediaIDEAS ( announced the launch of a new research and advisory service to provide actionable analysis and advice on a wide-range of issues dealing with the effects of technology on magazine publishing.

Created following a year and a half of joint research by Bob Sacks (BoSacks), Nick Hampshire, and David Renard, mediaIDEAS looks to guide publishers by presenting successful strategies in an environment where traditional distribution and content paradigms are being challenged. According to technology consultant and mediaIDEAS co-founder Nick Hampshire, "faced with rising costs, falling revenues, and criticism from environmentalists, the magazine publishing industry has to quickly embrace new technology if it is to survive beyond the next decade."

The main focus for mediaIDEAS research will be to define the magazine business models that will survive and emerge over the next 5 to 10 years. mediaIDEAS will explore the technologies that will provide a competitive advantage, and track and evaluate the vendors and their solutions. "New technology is fundamentally changing the way in which publications are produced, distributed and sold," said co-founder Bob Sacks. "We are now at a point in the history of publishing where the impending changes are as significant as those resulting from Gutenberg's invention of moveable metal type. The future is here now, but it is yet to be widely distributed and integrated into today's publishing business models. mediaIDEAS will facilitate that transition for all members of our industry."

The services, which officially start this week, are centered around periodical research that is actionable and forward-looking. The services also provide one-on-one analysis to apply the best strategies to specific business situations and needs. Publisher, distributor, and mediaIDEAS co-founder David Renard, formerly senior analyst at Gartner Group, sees "an opportunity for publishers to take control of their future and empower their business with the right technology. But for this, a publisher needs to be supported by the right information and advice."

mediaIDEAS was created by Bob Sacks, President/Publisher of The Precision Media Group, AFAICS Research Senior Partner, Nick Hampshire and David Renard, President of MU Inc, to help everyone involved in the information distribution industry make informed strategic decisions and plan for a more competitive future with its subscription-based global research and analysis. With over three-quarters of a century of publishing experience, including 22 years providing consultancy services to publishers on a wide range of critical issues, our founding analysts will draw upon their collective expertise to provide real time guidance for future growth and development.

For further details and inquiries or to sample mediaIDEAS research please visit or contact David Renard or +1 718 473 0720 or Nick Hampshire in Europe or +44 (0) 20 7871 2626.

Magazines: How 'Vogue' and the other cool prints stay ahead

Magazines: How 'Vogue' and the other cool prints stay ahead
By Sophie Morris

Sales of newspapers and magazines may have been hit at the news-stands, but print can still be cool, according to those polled in an annual survey of Britain's hippest brands.

True, it will not be the print brands that make headlines when the top 20 "CoolBrands", an initiative of the SuperBrands consultancy, are announced on Thursday. Nor will it come as a surprise to find global internet phenomena such as YouTube, Google and eBay among the highest ranked. What should turn the heads of those sounding the death knell for newsprint are the 22 publications that make it into the top 500.

"There is a misconception that to be cool you need to be new. That's not true," says Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the CoolBrands council and managing director of SuperBrands. The list confirms this, certainly where print media are concerned. Vogue is 115 years old but is still seen as the coolest brand in print, at No. 69. Vanity Fair, still a few years short of a full century, is not far behind at 112. The Guardian (166), The Observer (207), The Independent (223) and The Sunday Times (367) show that newspapers can still be considered hip. Perhaps unsurprisingly, style magazines such as i-D (328), Dazed & Confused (311), Pop (201) and Another Magazine (365) all feature.

CoolBrands are not measured by traditional criteria such as size and sales. Cheliotis asks his judging panel - 25 arbiters of style from the creative industries, including Dylan Williams of advertising firm Mother London and Ekow Eshun, the artistic director of the Institute for Contemporary Arts - to remember that "cool" is subjective, and to bear in mind the words "stylish", "innovative", "original", "authentic", "desirable" and "unique" when ranking the thousands of brands picked by independent researchers. The list is eventually whittled down to 500 with the help of a YouGov public survey, and ranked based on a combination of public and expert opinion.

Dylan Williams joined the council back in 2003 when he was given the tall order of defining "cool" for a CoolBrands publication. He came up with: "an adherence to a belief system which champions something over time and pursues it with a degree of energy. The last mercurial little element I suppose you would call attitude. Muhammad Ali's stance on Vietnam conscription is as cool now as it was at the time."

Williams was pleased to see Vogue placed so high - "it stands the test of time within its market" - and he is a big fan of the art direction of fledgling style magazine Marmalade (458 on the list). Mainstream magazines such as Vogue, Grazia (243) and GQ (289) are perceived to be just as cool as their edgier competitors, but in the newspaper market only the quality titles get a look in; there is no sign of the red tops.

"I don't think any of the tabloids were on the radar because we found it quite hard to establish a belief system around The Sun or The Mirror compared to 10 or 15 years ago," explains Williams. "The Sun doesn't have a cause they advance in the same way they did in the Eighties." He says the Labour and Conservative Parties are not on the list for the same reasons.

The quality papers, on the other hand, move with the times and react to their consumers. The Independent and The Guardian, says Williams, "champion free, liberal thinking, and have confidence in the population to infer conclusions for themselves."

Cheliotis says: "You can be cheap and cool, but with certain brands there is a little bit of snobbishness. The Sun might be witty and original but people probably think it's a chavvy and white-van man. It's not cool."

How, then, will these brands benefit from acquiring CoolBrand status? "If something is thought of as being cool, it is desirable. People want to be involved with it and they buy it," says Cheliotis.

In his quest to nail down the biggest, coolest consumer brands, Cheliotis has been keeping an eye on anti-consumerist thinking. "After Naomi Klein and No Logo, some people were saying brands are dead," he says. "Actually, the opposite is true. We don't even trust non-governmental organisations at the moment - is that money I'm giving to WWF really going to the animals or is it lining a lawyer's pocket?"

New Magazine Launches: A healthy August

New Magazine Launches: A healthy August
Posted by Samir Husni

The August numbers of new magazine launches are in and they are almost double than July, but still short of the numbers of August 2006. A total of 61 new titles were launched in August compared to that of 74 last August bringing the number of new magazines so far to 439 way short of the 681 new titles launched in the same period of 2006. The good news this month is that the number of titles launched with four time frequency or above is 27 which is 16 more titles than the 11 launched in August 2006. The overall number of new titles launched with a frequency of four time or above so far this year has reached 163 compared to that of 217 for the same reporting period of 2006. By far August has been a very good month for new magazine launches, a much needed boost in the midst of some of the announcements of magazine closures. I am glad The Reaper is providing a RIP website and I am gladder that the delivery room in the magazine world is introducing many more titles than The Reaper can handle. For a complete list and images of all the new titles of 2007 so far click here.

Want to know how the year is shaping up so far? You can keep track of the new titles month-by-month, as well as how this year's numbers compare to the last. Click on the months below to view their respective releases in all their glossy glory. You may also click on each graph to see a larger version of it. The graphs and covers will all be updated as we receive new titles.

Monday, September 10, 2007

BoSacks Speaks Out: Magazine-Style Life, Made Manifest

BoSacks Speaks Out:

I'm sending this article out because of it's an examination of out of the box thinking. I think the demonstration of advertising/advertiser cooperation shown here, can be applied by a small magazine as well as a large magazine. We all have a magic blend in our cauldron of readers, content and advertisers. How we use that mixture tells the tale of our success. A creative use of this power is demonstrated in the article below.

Any magazine can perform as the Hearst titles have done below. Take your advertisers, and get them unique exposure to your readers in creative ways. It's good for everybody.

Someday I will tell you all the details about the jamborees my first newspaper used to hold. It was a brilliant mixture of our advertisers (bars) and our readers (College Students), and the local bands they wanted to hear, coordinated by the newspaper that they read. It was a win-win for everybody involved.

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.
David M. Ogilvy

Magazine-Style Life, Made Manifest


NEW YORK brokers can sell new condominiums with little more than a mock kitchen and bath, tucked into a sales office, and some floor plans. But they don't deny that buyers are won over more quickly with actual apartments, especially if furnished.

In the last few years, design magazines (and their advertisers) have been increasingly happy to help out, sponsoring the decoration of units in exchange for short-term branding rights.

One developer-publisher cross-promotion is taking place at 10 West End Avenue, a new condo between 59th and 60th Streets developed by the Manhattan-based Apollo Real Estate Advisors.

There, four 18th-floor two-bedroom units, with two baths and 1,200 square feet of living space, have been transformed into showcases for designers and editors at a quartet of Hearst publications: O at Home, Country Living, House Beautiful and Veranda.

The group has crammed each condo with a photo-spread-worthy medley, including porcelain chandeliers, spa tables, canopy beds and leather-topped desks, styled in the tastes of imaginary inhabitants.

For example, the dark-wood dining-room furniture and thickly fronded plants in Veranda's apartment are supposed to evoke the lifestyles of a jet-setting actress and her husband, a banker.

Throughout the fall, the condos will be the settings for a series of charity fund-raising events, which may double as open houses, said Kelly Mack, the president of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, which is handling sales.

Unit prices start at $1.6 million, Ms. Mack said, though for an extra charge, buyers can keep certain furnishings.

In a year and a half, about 90 percent of the building's 173 units have sold, she said, though 13 others are still on the market, with three-bedrooms from $3.2 million and four-bedrooms from $5.7 million.

"It's incredibly helpful to the sales process to show how buyers can live in a space," Ms. Mack said.

Another Hearst title, Esquire, along with its advertisers, will also sponsor a makeover, at 111 Central Park North, a new 19-story condo at Malcolm X Boulevard in Central Harlem. The magazine is commandeering one of a pair of penthouses, a 4,000-square-foot triplex with an additional 1,700 square feet of terraces.

One room will gain curved corners and a projection screen to mimic an airplane's interiors, courtesy of Lufthansa. Versace, working with the designer Campion Platt, will fashion the living room, with its 22-foot ceilings.

Over all, 20 percent of the 48 units are available, including Esquire's penthouse, which is listed for $8.5 million, according to Louis Dubin, the president of the Athena Group, the building's Manhattan-based developer.

Most are three-bedrooms, with two and a half baths and 1,900 square feet of space, and start at $2.1 million.

"This is a much better way to get people up here than a wine-and-cheese party," Mr. Dubin said.

Having that much repeat foot traffic, though, can take a toll on the elevators and floors, according to Donald J. Trump, who in 2003 played host to Esquire's first show condo, at Trump World Tower, at 845 First Avenue.

That four-bedroom condo, with 5,000 square feet of space and five and a half baths, sold for $17 million the same year, though Mr. Trump plays down the role the cross-promotion played.

"I don't really know if there's any bounce," he said. "In the end, the building and the market determine what happens."

Emap Magazines Expected to Attract More Bidders

Emap Magazines Expected to Attract More Bidders
BY James Robinson,,2165137,00.html
The Observer

Finnish publishing giant Sanoma is among the bidders for Emap's consumer magazines, which have been put up for sale by the British media company as part of a likely break-up of the group.

Its biggest titles include 'lads' mags' Zoo and FHM and weekly fashion title Grazia. Sanoma Magazines is one of the largest consumer magazine publishers in Europe. It publishes more than 300 titles in 13 countries, including Marie Claire and Autoweek, many of them under licensing agreements with their ultimate owners. The company claims to be a market leader in Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands and Russia.

It already has the licence to publish several Emap titles, including FHM and Top Sante, in foreign territories. 'It already has a big presence on the continent, but this represents a good opportunity to establish a foothold in the UK,' said one City source.

Emap has appointed investment banks Lazard and Citigroup to carry out a strategic review of the business, which is likely to lead to a break-up. The business also owns radio stations Magic FM and Kiss FM, and dozens of business and trade publications.

Some industry analysts have placed a value of £700m on the consumer magazines business, and most expect the break-up of the group to fetch around £2.5bn. A memorandum was sent out to interested parties at the end of last week, and first round bids must be tabled by the end of this month.

Other bidders for all or part of Emap are likely to include German publisher Gruner & Jahr, its French competitor Lagardere, Mondadori, the Italian publishing company controlled by former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, and Guardian Media Group, The Observer's parent company. A host of private equity companies, including Apax Partners and Quadrangle Group, are also likely to bid. Apax has reportedly had talks about tabling a joint bid with GMG.

The crisis in the financial markets, prompted by problems in the US sub-prime housing market, is unlikely to affect the sales, according to sources close to the situation, although Emap could be forced to reduce asking prices if the situation worsens.

Emap's former chief executive, Tom Moloney, resigned this year after the company posted a string of profit warnings. Some shareholders had criticised its strategy, arguing that it failed to respond quickly enough to the challenges posed by the internet to traditional magazine businesses.

Emap insisted that investors were supportive and claimed that they played no part in Moloney's departure.

Product Recalls, Financial Schemes Could Spawn a New Ralph Nader

Product Recalls, Financial Schemes Could Spawn a New Ralph Nader
In Zeal to Appease Wall Street -- not Consumers -- U.S. Marketers Are Sewing Seeds of Their Own Destruction
By Rance Crain

The series of Chinese product recalls, especially the Fisher-Price debacle, has the capacity to spawn a new Ralph Nader, according to the former Washington editor of Advertising Age, Stan Cohen, who was my first (and best) boss. And, I would add, the interest-rate manipulation schemes that triggered our current housing meltdown only add to that impetus.

"American marketers are fortunate to be operating in a culture that leaves them free to innovate as they see best. But they must never forget that in a democratic society there is a day of reckoning if they get carried away by temptations, such as the exporting of jobs to low-wage and primitive-values societies to the point where consumers find themselves in unsafe markets," Stan told me.

"There has been a sea change in the culture of American business since it built its success on brands consumers could trust. It carries risks that cannot be ignored with impunity. It was easy to respond to an opportunity to serve consumers by bringing down manufacturing costs, but that was relevant only without evading product quality and safety. We now know this side has not received sufficient attention."

Stan sees a major reversal of business tactics on the horizon. He predicts a "shift of responsibility from managements that saw the cultivation of brand-name loyalty as a priority consideration to a generation of management that sees companies and their brands as blue chips in Wall Street's craps game where capital gains pay off far more than a steady flow of profits."

Brand names, Stan believes, were tailor-made for large-scale media advertising. "They offered a signpost that would enable the consumer to identify products that could be trusted. In this new age, advertising has a hard time finding anything meaningful to say. Because there is seldom anything truthful that implies its products may be more reliable than anybody else's.

"Fisher-Price not only allowed the Chinese to ship dangerous products, it even left the testing to them. But more significantly, its American engineers produced a dangerous product [with magnets small enough to be swallowed] and did not protect the company from doing something no less irresponsible than what goes on in China. You cannot blame that on the Chinese.

"Karl Marx was dead wrong when he hyped the virtues of Communism. But he apparently may have had an inspired premonition about Fisher-Price when he wrote that the seeds of self-destruction are built into capitalism."

Stan asserts that "those of us who lived through the Nader era recall that the ad business was caught completely off balance. Even as it courted consumer confidence in brands it failed to see itself as others saw it. Out of the blue, Ralph Nader took center stage. And the rest was history.

"At the moment the political focus is Iraq, but it would be foolish to assume that will not be resolved long before the votes are cast next November. In the issue vacuum that follows, the next Ralph Nader could find a window of opportunity. It's time to get back to reality. What's good for consumers is good for business. All the rest is puffery."

There's no doubt in my mind that many U.S. marketers are sowing the seeds of their own destruction. What happened to Stan's contention that what's best for consumers is best for business -- words that this publication has adopted as its own?

The first priority of business is Wall Street, and corporations are willing to take any expediency to appease the gods of finance. Is it any wonder CMOs have such short tenure?

They don't have the luxury of building great brands -- they've got to produce every quarter.

So all I can say about a new Ralph Nader is: Bring him on.

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Jobs, Mags, and our Future

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Jobs, Mags, and our Future

Re: BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Jobs, Mags, and our Future
Your "loyal reader's" (below) comment reminded me of the experiences I have frequently had during the past few years with our magazine wholesalers and retailers. It led me to pick up an article in last week's Newsweek Magazine entitled "Era of the Super Cruncher". The gist of the article is that "expertise and intuition can be replaced by objective, data based decision making. Those who control and manipulate this data will be the masters of the new economic universe," according to the article.

This seems to tie in with "loyal reader's" statement that once he was a craftsman, now he is overhead.

The same could be said for newsstand distribution. Representatives of the publishers and national distributors used to rely on instinct, intuition, a study of past sales and like titles in categories and then work their business relationships with wholesalers who (at least the good ones) had long term ties to the communities and retail locations they serviced.

Now everything is managed remotely by people who have no ties to the retailers or the communities they service and the deliveries are, frequently, third party. There is no room for intuition, experience, salesmanship or even relationship building. The numbers are the numbers are the numbers (Of course, if you give us a little more discount and buy this promotion - which we won't guarantee full distribution on, we can change your numbers...). If this is progress, perhaps we should see what our sales efficiencies were before consolidation and after.

As a representative of smaller publishers, I can't change the distribution paradigm. I can believe in the Tooth Fairy and be all I want to be, but I can't change the paradigm. But I can and do work in and around it. I passionately believe that print and web and and should work together and can sell each other - so, I just try to live in this brave new paradigm and hope the bean counters keep thinking I am worth keeping around.

(Submitted by a Newsstand Guy who was also recently reminded by upper senior executive level "my stocks worth more than yours" management that he, too, is overhead)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: On Media Buyers, Mags, and Football
While you are correct that publishing a Sport magazine like a (Football Fantasy) is difficult to have timely information; you don't need e-paper to rectify the problem. All you have to have is a web-site that consumers can down load (print on dead tree paper) the most current information.

You remind me of those dorky kids that took metal lunch pals to school. Us brown-bagger don't want to walk around holding my e-paper all day. That is the beauty of recycle paper, I don't need to worry if it stolen, broken, etc. When its usefulness is done, I toss it out.

Besides, the new I-pods now will have Internet access, which have already made e-paper obsolete. The beauty of Magazines and down loaded printed info is the transportability of it. Like everything in life e-paper will work on certain categories and not on others.

Keep up the good job, enjoy reading your point of view.
(Submitted by an Unknown)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: On Media Buyers, Mags, and Football
Bo, I have three sons; ages 18, 16, and 12. All three read paper magazines about their chosen interests. The fact that in two out of three cases those interests are *electronic gaming* does not stop them for wanting to curl up with an ink-on-paper magazine at the end of the day.

Unless and until an "e-paper" solution has all the virtues of paper: portability, ease of

reading, disposability, low-cost of use, low entry cost, low risk (read in the bathtub, like I

read magazines and my husband, too) etc. I don't think niche/passion magazines will be dinosaurs.
(Submitted by a Multi-Title Publisher)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: On Media Buyers, Mags, and Football
I stopped buying the fantasy football pubs a few years ago. The online sites (I like are simply better sources of information and are up-to-the-minute regarding the latest player developments. The price for the online service is probably comparable to what you paid for three fantasy magazines, and it includes weekly match up forecasts and daily player news throughout the football season (after all, a fantasy owner's job is just beginning at the draft!)

Is this yet another indication that print is dead? No, it's an indication that for the very latest news and information, the web can't be beat. I am a firm believer that in-depth reporting and full-length magazine narratives will always be best received on a dead tree.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: On Media Buyers, Mags, and Football
Thanks bo, It's readers like you that continue to support my titles. I publish several small niche titles for readers just like you. Your description is my mission. I publish titles that my readers feel they must have. It's all about understanding your clients and never, ever forgetting that without passionate readers you have nothing.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: On Media Buyers, Mags, and Football
Great to hear about your love of football. Maybey ou can add a summary of game results on Monday morning? Or better yet add a demo based on the city you live to get your insights on upcoming games!

Forget about epaperm watch the next iPod for the first real digital handheld device for reading that will be sold to the consumer. This time next year, you will see kids reading on iPods! Schools are already purchasing ebooks for iPods.

The problem with epaper is there is no system to deliver the data. ITunes handles the delivery very well except you need to connect to a computer. With the iPhone you will be able to get away from the computer.
(Submitted by a Global Procurement manager)

Re: Bauer Upping Most Low-Cost Weeklies' Cover Prices
Bo, this is detrimental to true market demand and not good for unit demand. The consumer has determined Bauer's success, which has always been recognized by the publisher. The model works for the publisher, and you know what they say if it aint broke. The dollars will look good but it will again lead to a major decline in unit sales on an industry wide level and especially at publisher level. If a consumer chose a Bauer publication based on price over the competitive titles will they now chose to buy nothing as the price creeps closer to the competition? If so, how does this model work for the distribution channel? Essentially, when a newsstand customer purchases a low priced Bauer publication they are hiring the product to do a chosen edit content, which ever it may be, at a low cost. Clearly Bauer has carved our a niche. Wholesalers understandably want to carry less on their trucks of titles that do not sell, not less on there trucks of what used to sell.
(Submitted by an unknown from a major Publisher)

Re: And now, Grim Words from The Reaper
I've read with interest the Speak out series that gives everyone an option to vent their thoughts and opinions. Our industry changed years ago. Once the large became larger and the publisher and yes printers (accountants started to think pennies and not nickels) this industry changed.

Not being able to see beyond ones nose, thinking that if I can save a penny it will better the bottom line and more importantly having individuals in high management positions who do not have a complete understanding of our industry put another nail in our industries coffin. Sounds awful doesn't it. It is.

I've always respected the production people I've spoken to over the years. But the one's who know their stuff are disappearing or retiring (?).

We're losing the knowledge and expertise we one had. Too bad.
(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: My former employer

I just wanted to tell someone today that I am eternally grateful for my life as a self-employed writer. We all have our difficult spells, but I thank the gods and goddesses that I'm no longer at a newspaper.

My former employer, The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville just had a major shake up. On Friday, they announced the abolition of Metro, Lifestyle and Features departments in favor of interest "groups". They also abandoned most of the existing beats--no more movie reviewer, no more music writer. All the existing reporters now have to reapply for newly created positions. So the guy who's been doing movies for 10 years and the guy who's been doing music get to both apply for one "entertainment writer" job which doesn't include reviewing at all. The former Home and Garden editor can apply for the "nesting" writer job or just become a GA. All this in an atmosphere where people dare not complain because there are been plenty of layoffs in other departments.

When I left there in 2004, I was the Features editor and I'm cannot tell you how happy I am to have been spared all this. Apparently, the Atlanta paper did a similar thing a couple of months ago
(Posted by a Writer)

Re: The Worst PR Debacle in History
Two points appear to be lost to the "media" etc.

1) That even though there should have been no lead in any of the paint no child was killed, injured or maimed. So where is the actual damage--except to Mattel.

2) That Mattel is supposed to be taking a sample from each day of production and sends them to lab --one in China and one in the USA. How come both labs didn't find the paint problem?

The fault should not be with China but with the American mfg that allowed this to happen.

(Submitted by a Toy Consultant)

Envisioning the Next Chapter for Electronic Books

Envisioning the Next Chapter for Electronic Books

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 5 - Technology evangelists have predicted the emergence of electronic books for as long as they have envisioned flying cars and video phones. It is an idea that has never caught on with mainstream book buyers.

Two new offerings this fall are set to test whether consumers really want to replace a technology that has reliably served humankind for hundreds of years: the paper book.

In October, the online retailer will unveil the Kindle, an electronic book reader that has been the subject of industry speculation for a year, according to several people who have tried the device and are familiar with Amazon's plans. The Kindle will be priced at $400 to $500 and will wirelessly connect to an e-book store on Amazon's site.

That is a significant advance over older e-book devices, which must be connected to a computer to download books or articles.

Also this fall, Google plans to start charging users for full online access to the digital copies of some books in its database, according to people with knowledge of its plans. Publishers will set the prices for their own books and share the revenue with Google. So far, Google has made only limited excerpts of copyrighted books available to its users.

Amazon and Google would not comment on their plans, and neither offering is expected to carve out immediately a significant piece of the $35-billion-a-year book business. But these new services, from two Internet heavyweights, may help to answer the question of whether consumers are ready to read books on digital screens instead of on processed wood pulp.

"Books represent a pretty good value for consumers. They can display them and pass them to friends, and they understand the business model," said Michael Gartenberg, research director at Jupiter Research, who is skeptical that a profitable e-book market will emerge anytime soon.

"We have had dedicated e-book devices on the market for more than a decade, and the payoff always seems to be just a few years away," he said.

That disappointing history goes back to the late 1990s, when Silicon Valley start-ups created the RocketBook and SoftBook Reader, two bulky, battery-challenged devices that suffered from lackluster sales and a limited selection of material. The best selling e-books at the time, tellingly, were "Star Trek" novels.

Hopes for e-books began to revive last year with the introduction of the widely marketed Sony Reader. Sony's $300 gadget, the size of a trade paperback, has a six-inch screen, enough memory to hold 80 books and a battery that lasts for 7,500 page turns, according to the company. It uses screen display technology from E Ink, a company based in Cambridge, Mass., that emerged from the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and creates power-efficient digital screens that uncannily mimic the appearance of paper.

Sony will not say how many it has sold, but the Reader has apparently done well enough that Sony recently increased its advertising for the device in several major American cities.

"Digital readers are not a replacement for a print book; they are a replacement for a stack of print books," said Ron Hawkins, vice president for portable reader systems at Sony. "That is where we see people, on the go, in the subway and in airports, with our device."

Book publishers also seem to be preparing for the kind of disruption that hit the music business when Apple introduced the symbiotic combination of the iPod and its iTunes online service. This year, with Sony's Reader drawing some attention and Amazon's imminent e-book device on their radar, most major publishers have accelerated the conversion of their titles into electronic formats.

"There has been an awful lot of energy around e-books in the last six to 12 months, and we are now making a lot more titles available," said Matt Shatz, vice president for digital at Random House, which plans to have around 6,500 e-books available by 2008. It has had about 3,500 available for the last few years.

Amazon has been showing the Kindle to book publishers for the last year and has delayed its introduction several times. Last fall, a photograph of the device, and some of its specifications, leaked onto the Web when the company filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to get approval for its wireless modem, which will operate over a high-speed EVDO network.

Several people who have seen the Kindle say this is where the device's central innovation lies - in its ability to download books and periodicals, and browse the Web, without connecting to a computer. They also say Amazon will pack some free offerings onto the device, like reference books, and offer customers a choice of subscriptions to feeds from major newspapers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the French newspaper Le Monde.

The device also has a keyboard, so its users can take notes when reading or navigate the Web to look something up. A scroll wheel and a progress indicator next to the main screen, will help users navigate Web pages and texts on the device.

People familiar with the Kindle also have a few complaints. The device has a Web browser, but using it is a poor experience, because the Kindle's screen, also from E Ink, does not display animation or color.

Some also complain about the fact that Amazon is using a proprietary e-book format from Mobipocket, a French company that Amazon bought in 2005, instead of supporting the open e-book standard backed by most major publishers and high-tech companies like Adobe. That means owners of other digital book devices, like the Sony Reader, will not be able to use books purchased on

Nevertheless, many publishing executives see Amazon's entrance into the e-book world as a major test for the long-held notion that books and newspapers may one day be consumed on a digital device.

"This is not your grandfather's e-book," said one publishing executive who did not want to be named because Amazon makes its partners sign nondisclosure agreements. "If these guys can't make it work, I see no hope."

For its part, Google has no plans to introduce an electronic device for reading books. Its new offering will allow users to pay some portion of a book's cover price to read its text online. For the last two years, as part of the Google Book Search Partner Program, some publishers have been contributing electronic versions of their books to the Google database, with the promise that the future revenue would be shared.

The service could be especially useful to students and researchers who find information they need through a Google search, but it is also likely to include material suited for leisure reading. It will be separate from an effort called the Google Book Search Library Project, which is digitizing the collections of some libraries. That program has angered publishers and led to several pending lawsuits over copyright issues.

Both the programs of Google and Amazon are drawing attention, and some skepticism, from traditional book retailers. Barnes & Noble, the largest bookseller in the United States, once invested in early e-book creator NuvoMedia and sold its RocketBook in stores before getting out of the business in 2003.

Stephen Riggio, chief executive at Barnes & Noble, argues that for most people the value of traditional paper books will never be replicated in digital form. Nevertheless, he plans to compete with Google and Amazon. Mr. Riggio said in an interview that the full texts of many books will become available on the company's Web site over the next year to 18 months. He also said that Barnes & Noble was considering introducing its own electronic book reader - but only when it can sell one at a low price.

"If an affordable device can come to the market, sure we'd love to bring it to our customers, and we will," Mr. Riggio said. "But right now we don't see an affordable device in the immediate future."

Guilt Trip

Guilt Trip
By William Powers, National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.

There's a new twist in the ongoing drama of the poor beleaguered mainstream media. Rather than merely bemoaning the plight of traditional news outlets, some people are suggesting that users of the new media -- pretty much all of us -- should feel guilty for undermining the blue-chip operations that are struggling to stay alive.

Nothing will kill the great newspapers more quickly than turning them into charity cases.

Writing in The Boston Globe, Lou Ureneck, chairman of the journalism department at Boston University, told the story of how, after a recent fly-fishing trip to a relatively untouristed corner of Greece called Epirus, he decided to start a website offering information about the region. Like many Web entrepreneurs, Ureneck signed up with Google's advertising program and, voila , the money started to roll in. Well, sort of. In its first week of business, pulled in just $1.05. Still, money is money, and therein lies the guilt:

"I love newspapers and subscribe to three of them at home.... I believe that the work that they do collecting and analyzing news is an essential part of a healthy democracy," Ureneck wrote. "But those little Google ads that are popping on my website are chipping -- more like hacking -- away at newspapers by cutting into their revenue streams.... In a sense, I am contributing to problems of newspapers by jumping into Web publishing and accepting advertising."

In suggesting that he kept those ads from appearing in print and thereby helped to impoverish the outlets he loves, Ureneck is making a leap. As Boston-based media blogger Dan Kennedy put it, "Does Lou Ureneck really think the little guys whose ads have popped up on his website about fishing in Greece would otherwise be taking out ads in newspapers?"

Still, the column's core point, that ad dollars are migrating from old media to new, is inarguable and nothing new. What's remarkable is the remorse, and it may be spreading. In one of the most talked-about media books of the moment, "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture," Andrew Keen strikes a similar note. Discussing the public's attachment to free media sites such as YouTube, MySpace, and Craigslist, he writes, "What you may not realize is that what is free is actually costing us a fortune." Later he specifically cites the way this practice is hurting old media: "Of course, every free listing on Craigslist means one less paid listing in a local newspaper."

Keen believes that amateur-produced content is destroying the best things about our culture, and he places the blame squarely on you and me: "We ... are being seduced by the empty promise of 'democratized' media. For the real consequence of the Web 2.0 revolution is less culture, less reliable news, and a chaos of useless information."

Again, the basic business dynamic is real, but the implied conclusion, that old media are dying as a result and we are the guilty assassins, is not. Digital outlets have stolen a lot of business away from traditional outlets, but the two are also converging and growing interdependent. Mainstream news outlets operate major Web portals (a fact Keen himself notes). Without newspapers and other traditional sources, Google News would have virtually no quality journalism -- the hard news and investigative work that are the media's most important products -- to offer. In an implicit acknowledgment of this fact, Google just inked a deal with the Associated Press in which it agreed to pay for AP content.

Nothing will kill the great newspapers more quickly than turning them into charity cases. And nobody should ever read a newspaper out of a dreary sense of civic obligation. Like great books, the best news shops have always drawn readers because they were feisty, well executed, and thrillingly alive to their own times. Their magnetism was rooted partly in the fact that they were optional, something you didn't technically need to get through the day, yet somehow couldn't live without.

When we take our eyeballs to a new media site, we are helping the old media more than hurting them, by showing them what works for us -- teaching them to be not weaker but stronger. Are they getting the message?

-- William Powers is a columnist for National Journal magazine, where "Off Message" appears. His e-mail address is