Tuesday, March 04, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out; Time, Newsweek, Teens and Google U

BoSacks Readers Speak Out; Time, Newsweek, Teens and Google U

Subject: Re: Time Vs. Newsweek: Battle Of The Print Dinosaurs
Bob: To paraphrase Montaigne, whether poring over TIME or N/W on the bathroom throne, or reading all the Oscar Gossip online, we are still sitting on our ass. The author reminds me of the spoiled creatures who write reviews of new vehicles for car magazines, wondering why the manufacturers offer limited GPS options, or could find only 6 more horsepower than last year.

Didn't TIME deliberately pare their circ base to contain costs and get more right with ABC? I can't imagine that they would have lost so much more readership proportionately to N/W in an even race on level ground. As logical references go, it is non sequitur.

Yes, I read more news online, and eschew gossip as best I can, but I haven't cancelled my subs to newsweeklies. They offer perspective, and insight, maybe because they have to be good and be right between the event and the print deadlines. 3.2 million readers are counting on it and paying for the privilege.
(Submitted by a self-diagnosed dinosaur, retired)

Re: Time Vs. Newsweek: Battle Of The Print Dinosaurs
Not in a million years will I pick up a print copy of these two magazines, but I'm in love with Newsweek.com!!!!
(Submitted by an Online Production Manager

Re: Time Vs. Newsweek: Battle Of The Print Dinosaurs
Bo- I'm not sure if my attitude is tainted as a publisher or not. I used to love both titles. I would read both on a regular basis. Now I find I almost never read either. Why is that? The internet? I couldn't really say. I continue have great respect for both houses, but my addiction and their usefulness or my lifestyle/needs have changed.
(Submitted by a multi-title Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Snakes, Music, Publishing and Reading

This is a sad commentary about how the printing business has turned into the "business" of printing. Many of the big printers today--except for the one that sprouted out of the cornfields in the Midwest--are run by MBA suits who don't know anything about it. To them, a magazine or catalog is just another widget to be counted and counted, and they push and push, to produce more and more, with less and less. At the end of the day, they are only concerned with showing a profit since that is what will ultimately feather their pockets. So in order to achieve that, they shut down plants, lay off employees, and in the process, they have destroyed the business. With that goal achieved, the MBA suit walks away with a multi-million dollar bonus in his pocket. "What a world, what a world."
Submitted by a Senior Production person)

The inside baseball character of replies to replies can get tedious, I know. So this will probably remain between you and me, and that's fine. While Senior Production Person makes some valid observations, I believe he misses the point and wanted to run my POV by you.

Yes, MBA's and similarly soulless types pocketing obscene amounts of money is an offensive reality. But it is the nature of American business, not just the American printing business. Change it if you can and more power to you. But Wall Street might be a more fruitful starting point than Printer's Row.

As to the continual push to print more and more for less and less, my fellow reader puts the arse before the torse. Could it be that the amount of money that Senior Production Persons will pay their printer might have something to do with this state of affairs? And perhaps the overall nature of the marketplace? "Mmmmm, could be." (Bugs Bunny - American cartoon rabbit and personal role model). Ben Franklin, patron saint of American printers, got it only 2/3's right when he enumerated the things in life that are certain. Actually, there are three: death, taxes, and lower printing prices. There is less, and the customers want more. So, we do more with less.

As for the outrage over the fact that, "at the end of the day, they are only concerned with showing a profit," well, duh! The same is true for the beginning of the day, noontime, and the commute both ways. The first condition necessary to doing a good job is having a job. Whether you are a CEO, a production person, or a pocket feeder, that means contributing more than you are paid. That means making a profit. Call it feathering your nest or feeding your family. Either way, there is nothing shameful in it. In business, it is a moral obligation. That obligation can be met humanely or inhumanly but that is a question of execution and personal responsibility. The goal itself remains honorable.
Submitted by a Printer)

Re: U.S. teens stumped by history Survey
There's absolutely no question that the liberal arts, including history, are essential to every student's education. But this story suffers from serious flaws.

First it offers no points of comparison. Do today's teenagers know less history and literature than teenagers did ten years ago? Do today's teenagers know less history and literature than people in their 40s or 50s?

Second, the survey methodology certainly influenced the results. Who among us is willing to focus carefully when answering 33 multiple choice history questions in a random phone call from a stranger?

Finally, which of the results indicates "stunning ignorance?"

-Half of the respondents knew the dates of the Civil War.
-Three quarters knew when Columbus sailed.
-Three quarters correctly identified Adolf Hitler.
-40 percent were familiar with Ellison's "The Invisible Man."
-Half were familiar with Job.
-80 percent were familiar with "To Kill a Mockingbird."
-Virtually all identified Martin Luther King from his famous speech.

Would we expect any random group of American adults to score much better?

This story is cut from a well-worn mold . In a few months we'll hear how ignorant American students are about geography. Then another group with an axe to grind will find another subject in which American teenagers are woefully underinformed. Common Core, the organization behind the survey, owes their extremely important cause less sensational and more serious treatment. And we're as "stunningly ignorant" as the kids we're snickering at if we swallow this stuff without thinking about it first.
Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Google U
"It is quaint that people speak of separating dogma from education. Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from education. It IS education." - G. K. Chesterton
In his Google U essay, Jeff Jarvis (the creator and original Managing Editor of Entertainment Weekly, whose early version of that title was hipper and more insightful though perhaps less commercial than the magazine's current iconic incarnation) has discovered home schooling. Welcome aboard!

As the failure of the model enforced by the government schools and the culture at large becomes more obvious to more people the collapse of that model becomes more and more of a likelihood; a consummation devoutly to be wished. I'll take Mr. Jarvis' comments as a positive sign, especially considering his track record for getting in front of cultural trends.

The educational system as it currently exists does not, cannot, and will never provide actual education. According to the model of its founder, John Dewey, it provides indoctrination for the production of usable, lead-able citizens. According to the wishes of the teacher's unions, which appear to be modeled on the coal miners, it provides gainful employment for life for anyone willing to keep paying their dues and pass along whatever drivel is put in front of them. According to the pleasure of academics and administrators, it provides a cocoon safely insulated from the demands of the real world and protects their phoney baloney jobs. For politicians, it provides another means of access to taxpayer dollars and a power base built on spending those dollars. But education? Sorry, wrong number. . . .
Submitted by a Printer)

Re: In men's magazines, a question of size
Bob; With the seemingly perpetual increases in paper and postal costs, the next major "universal" trim-size reduction (from the current 10.5" short-cutoff) will be the aptly named "handbag" size. Unfortunately, there is not currently a "natural" press-cutoff within the U.S. web-offset world to deliver this product efficiently. I know this because we looked at producing such a product. It is my understanding that the current U.S. titles -- produced at the handbag trim size -- are printed on short-cutoff presses. The oversized sigs (i.e., at 10.5" + trim) are sent to the bindery...where the book is trimmed to the smaller 9" trim size. This is a huge -- and expensive -- inefficiency/waste. For my project, which was ultimately tabled, the other option was to look at a rotogravure scheme. Alas, the relatively small print order did not justify this.

It is my prediction that the handbag trim size will become a viable option -- and viable press platform -- in the not too-distant future. This will occur when one (or more) of the major magazine publishers "challenges" one (or more) of the "Big 3" -- RRDonnelley, Quad Graphics and Quebecor (?) World -- to convert a significant portion of their press platform to a 9" trim-size press cutoff...in exchange for a very robust portion of their titles/print order. Only a large -- and committed -- publisher volume would justify the significant investment that this would represent to any one of the printing Big 3. Could another candidate (e.g., Brown Printing), beyond the Big 3, emerge to seize some of this "new" trim size volume? Maybe...but less likely. And one of the Big 3 already has its hands full with financial challenges.
Submitted by a Dirctor of Operations)

BoSacks isn't cheap but he can be had for free

BoSacks isn't cheap but he can be had for free
Hear/See Bosacks Live for Free in NYC

Friends, I have cajoled the powers that be at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo on March 10th through 12th in the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square to offer my readers free admission to see one of my lectures and hang out with fellow publishing executives. The free pass also includes entrance to the mighty exhibit hall.

In my opinion the exhibit hall alone is worth the price of admission. Since I started my career I have absorbed an enormous amount of information at various publishing exhibit halls by talking to the vendors and seeing the latest and greatest "things" available. You have heard me say before that the future is here now, but it is not widely distributed. Well, the future is usually at the exhibit hall first.

So, you get all that and it's free, and you get to see me, too. I am giving three lectures in two days. Come and see Bo live and in person.

The sessions I am giving are listed in the brochure as:

E-Paper and the Future of Publishing
Focus: Book & Magazine
Monday, March 10, 2008, 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Industry veteran, guru and "Profit Prophet" Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) will present a lively and critical look at e-paper in its current forms, including a hands-on exploration of Sony's Reader and Amazon's Kindle, and their current and future impact on book and magazine publishing. Sacks will also share his insights and predictions on what you can expect from e-paper in the not-so-distant future.


5 Key Future Magazine Trends to Plan for
Focus: Magazine
Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM

The periodical publishing industry has entered a new period of change. There is much uncertainty today about how the magazine will evolve, how it will be paid for and how it will remain relevant. We look at the 5 key issues that will affect our industry over the next decade and provide actionable advice to help keep publishers prepared in defining their own future.

· David Renard : Co-founder, mediaIDEAS
· BoSacks Co-founder, mediaIDEAS


Keynote Panel: Magazine Publishing in the Digital Age

Focus: Magazine
Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM

What publishers should be doing now.
· Steve Palm : President and CEO, NewBay Media
· Robert Sacks : Co-Founder, mediaIDEAS
· John Sateja : Senior Vice President for Information Products, Consumer Reports
· Rich Zweiback : Executive Director of Manufacturing, Lebhar Friedman
· Ned Borowsky :President and CEO, North American Publishing Co.

All you have to do is register your name at this URL and use the discount code: BOSACKS08 http://www.publishingbusiness.com/

If you need any help or have questions send an email to my buddy Matt Steinmetz at msteinmetz@NAPCO.com Regardless of what you hear about other editors, Matt is OK in my book.

Two more items that might work for my readers:

If you are interested in going to the whole shebang They will offer you their lowest conference rate -- discount code: BOSACKS200 ($200 off Full Conference Pass, pay only $595)

Or, you want to just attend the Digital Magazine Symposium, chaired by Peter Meirs of Time Inc fame, $75 off -- discount code: BOSACKS75 ($75 off Digital Magazine Symposium, pay only $120)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Requiem for Old-Time Radio

BoSacks Speaks Out: I'm not sure why I chose to send out this article. It is not about our industry or at least not directly. But it is about the decline and inevitable diminishment of a big part of the media industry. And that recognition is important. Not that it is about us, put perhaps that there are lessons to be learned so that it doesn't become us.

"Ronald Reagan has held the two most demeaning jobs in the country; President of the United States and radio broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs."
George F. Will (American editor and news commentator b.1941)

Requiem for Old-Time Radio

Hit hard by the music world's fragmentation, it's handicapped in making a Web transition
by Jon Fine
BW Magazine

I remember what we now call "terrestrial radio" with ridiculous fondness. I recall huddling with it long past bedtime, the volume set low, hoping to hear something I loved. Thus the truism of how radio is the most intimate medium: You're in bed with the lights out, the music and the DJ's voice going straight into your brain, the images created are yours alone.

I remember, with terrible pangs of longing, my first days as a college radio DJ. Doing a 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. slot in a small town in Ohio, even if, during those still and wintry nights, I could have been the last living person on earth for all the people who were actually listening.

All of which testifies to how old I am. Realities of the music world-the explosion in both expression and availability, first on independent labels and now everywhere, thanks to the Internet-began overtaking commercial radio stations well over 20 years ago. (I feel profoundly sorry for anyone whose musical universe is limited to the shrunken playlists of commercial radio, given the bounty available elsewhere.) There was a complicated blood bond that budding music geeks of the 1970s and '80s formed with radio, which today seems quaint. You loved radio for first opening up a world; you hated it for falling behind what was actually going on.
That's the emotional aspect of this medium, which almost certainly has more songs written about it than any other. Or at least it's me acknowledging my complicated feelings about it. The market is less sentimental. Rush Limbaugh may still mint millions, but a private equity firm that ran stock analyses of key publicly traded media companies in the past five years found that the worst-performing sector was radio, which managed the neat feat of underperforming newspaper companies. (This helps explain why radio giants Clear Channel (CCU) and Cumulus (CMLS) are in the process of going private.)

Flat industry ad revenues began a steady slide into negative territory beginning in May of last year, and January's decline was 6%. But monthly falloffs in local advertising, which accounts for around two-thirds of radio revenue, began surfacing regularly in '06. (These figures come from trade group Radio Advertising Bureau, which tracks the top 150 U.S. markets.) So much for thinking radio's losses might have been early indicators of recession. "It used to be a leading indicator," says Marci Ryvicker, a Wachovia Securities (WB) analyst who covers radio. "The model is broken. The negatives you saw in 2006 had nothing to do with the economy." She's expecting radio revenues to fall at least 1% in '08, and don't forget that this is despite sky's-the-limit campaign spending we're seeing this election year.

"The biggest failure of many broadcasters is understanding how much the environment has changed," says Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan. Clear Channel, long a flash point for listener anger over homogenized and overformatted airwaves, has beaten the industry's revenue performance in the past two years. For 2007, though, Hogan concedes that this meant his company's revenues dropped only slightly.

As with newspapers, small-market radio stations have been insulated from their bigger brethren's woes. And radio still boasts the odd trump card, formats that make up in uniqueness what it has lost in monopolized distribution: morning zoo DJs, rush-hour drive time, the Limbaughs of the world, and local talk. But of all major consumer media, radio is the least suited to an online transition.

Industry executives fiercely deny this point, but consider the landscape. Newspapers' ills are well-documented, and I've had much sport with them in this space. But the local paper's Web site is almost always the dominant local online entity. Newspapers churn out tons of original content daily. Radio is built to a large degree on music it doesn't own and syndicated talk shows. Both are available in countless venues online, which means radio Web sites have less unique stuff to attract audiences. And stations aren't structured like newspapers. While their profit margins are much higher-try 40% and up-they also have much smaller news organizations and fewer bodies to create new content that can be slapped up online. Ryvicker says radio companies that are doing well in the Web are getting 1% to 2% of revenues from it. Hogan says Clear Channel Radio will get 5% of revenues from its 1,005 Web sites "very soon" but isn't there yet. (Radio executives also extol the revenue potential of radio stars turning up on cable, à la Imus, or on local TV, but few can make that leap.)

By comparison, the big newspaper companies get about 8% of total revenues online, according to public companies' comments and an analyst tracking the industry. It says something about radio that a commonly cited star example of its online efforts is the not-for-profit npr.org, which has Web traffic growth most companies would envy. (HD radio, a newish technology that opens up spectrum on the dial for more niched music offerings, requires consumers to buy equipment and is considered a revenue nonstarter even by some industry executives.)

And another thing: I haven't even mentioned iPods or satellite radio.