Covers Sell

Covers Sell

Summer is Coming…Really it is!

Posted by Scott On April - 19 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The Summer 2018 issue of Creative Scrapbooker is scheduled to hit newsstands on May 28th, 2018.

This gorgeous magazine is over-sized, perfect bound, always 150 pages thick, and retails for $12.95.

The Canadian gem, is now selling briskly in the USA too.  Sales in the USA in 2017 were up 84%!  Plus, the magazine’s sell-thru was a stellar 46%.


Cosmo’s Bad Date Again

Posted by Scott On April - 6 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

In this era of “extreme volatility” many “A List” women’s service magazines are taking a beating.  Even the great Cosmopolitan isn’t immune.

In 2017 all 12 issues of Cosmo were down in Canada…and for the entire year they were down a depressing 29%.

But it seems that even the pros in New York can make the same mistake two year’s in a row.

The Nov 2016 issue (Date Smarter) was down a staggering 47% from the prior year’s issue…making it the worst of 2016.

But yet, despite that spanking, the Nov 2017 issue returned to the same subject (Dating Now), which was down 46% from the previous year’s abysmal number.  That made it the worst of the year as well.  And it sold-thru at a humiliating 15.8%.  I believe this is the worst-selling issue ever in Canada.  I looked back 5 years and nothing else even comes close.

When the data speaks to you, don’t ignore it and repeat the same mistake over again. You’re just fighting yourself.


Nov 2015:  Sold: 68,548

Nov 2016:  Sold 36,141

Nov 2017:  Sold 19,456





Country Living: “Creativity” issue Flops

Posted by Scott On April - 6 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

“Extreme Volatility” is how I describe the newsstand environment these days.  Covers that once may have worked well-enough, now can be brutally punished.  So it’s more important than ever to get the cover right.

Case in Point:  Country Living magazine, who saw sales tumble 14% in Canada in 2017, with 8 of 10 issues posting declines.  At the top of the list of an avoidable self-inflicted mistake was the Sep 2017 cover that had a horse in the Kitchen (that’s normal right?), which resulted in loss of sale of 33%.  The previous year they had their Small Spaces themed cover in that time slot, which was the #1 seller in 2016.

But was the lesson (If it works, keep doing it) learned?  Apparently not.  Rather then go with their Makeovers themed cover, which was their #1 best-seller in 2017 in the Jan/Feb time slot, the decision was made to try a “Creativity” issue in 2018.  Result?  Sales down over 44%.





In Style…Not so Much!

Posted by Scott On April - 5 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

Let’s face it, 2017 was a tough year for a lot of “A List” women’s service magazines.  It’s what I call “extreme volatility”.  Covers that might have worked fine a few years ago, just don’t get the job done today.

Case in point:  In Style was down 22% in Canada in 2017.  Yikes!  Plus, 11 of their 12 issues were down.  It’s tough out there.  The June issue was down 50% from prior year.  November was down 34%.  February down 32%.  October down 30%.

The one bright spot in 2017 was their January issue, featuring Sarah Jessica Parker…up 14% from prior year…and 3rd best of the year.  But did they learn their lesson?  Apparently not.  The January 2018 issue is down 30%!  I’m not sure who that child is, but it sure isn’t Sarah Jessica Parker.

It’s hard to succeed when your covers fight against you.





Trump a Pig

Posted by Scott On April - 2 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

Not to be outdone by their crosstown rivals at the New Yorker, the April 2nd issue of New York magazine sports a cover depicting  President Trump as a pig. Excellent photo-shopping work!

As is typically the case, reactions to the cover are predictably partisan.  Comedian Kathy Griffin, who was investigated by the Secret Service for her decapitated Trump head,  loved it on Twitter.  Others ask the question: How would you feel, had Hillary Clinton won, if New York magazine made her into a pig? Would that be funny?

New York magazine is probably just loving all the attention and sreaming “Wee Wee Wee”, all the way to the bank.

Be controversial.


National Geographic: Racist

Posted by Scott On March - 27 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The April 2018 issue of the National Geographic came with a big dose of self-flagellation:  “For decades, our coverage was racist.”

Thus proclaims the new, and only 10th, editor of National Geographic, since its founding in 1888…130 years ago.  Susan Goldberg is the first woman, and the first Jewish person, at the top of the Masthead.  Her editorial letter goes on at great length talking about their many sins from the past.  She commissioned a renowned historian to dig into it and report on the findings bluntly.

“We asked John Edwin Mason to help with this examination. Mason is well positioned for the task: He’s a University of Virginia professor specializing in the history of photography and the history of Africa, a frequent crossroads of our storytelling. He dived into our archives.

What Mason found in short was that until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.

For us this issue also provided an important opportunity to look at our own efforts to illuminate the human journey, a core part of our mission for 130 years. I want a future editor of National Geographic to look back at our coverage with pride—not only about the stories we decided to tell and how we told them but about the diverse group of writers, editors, and photographers behind the work.

We hope you will join us in this exploration of race, beginning this month and continuing throughout the year.”

This has generated mostly praise from both the mainstream media and social media.

This cover, which has gotten plenty of free “earned media”,  showcases fraternal twins as a jumping off point for a discussion of race.  It will probably sell incredibly well.


Stopping the Panzers

Posted by Scott On March - 26 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The May/Jun 2018 issue of the Legion magazine is set to hit newsstands on April 30th.

Art Director Jason Duprau has created another “poster-quality” cover.  Lightly colorized archival image, bold type treatment, clean and focused feel, with strong central image, and a layered, 3-d effect, are all hallmarks.


New Yorker Body Shames Trump

Posted by Scott On March - 22 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The March 26th, 2018 issue of the New Yorker is generating a lot of buzz, both roars of laughter and twitter users denouncing “body shaming”.

Artist Barry Blitt has created a memorable and emotive illustration that is sure to help it sell.

Folks on the left seem a bit conflicted.  Sure, they say, fat-shaming is terrible and wrong, but in this case, well, he deserves it.

The irony of Fox News publishing this nugget is quite rich:  “While many critics chimed in with responses calling the image “disgusting” and “repulsive,” others accused the image of mocking the president for his physical appearance – which is generally frowned upon in the current cultural landscape.”

Some outraged Conservatives tweeted:  “Why is his weight relevant?”  Or “Imagine the s–t storm had Madame @HillaryClinton won and a magazine had decided to run a cover of her along these lines.”

Is it wrong to Fat Shame?  I guess it just depends.  But I’ll bet it helps sell this issue!




Toronto Life…Take the Quiz

Posted by Scott On March - 15 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

Toronto Life had a pretty good year in 2017.  As always, some covers sold more than others.  See if you can guess which ones sold more or less.

Which of these 4 Covers was the best-seller in Canada in 2017.

Better yet, try ranking them from #1 to #4!

  • Get none right…You are a Dunce
  • Get #1 right…You graduate High School
  • Get #1 & #2 right…You graduate University
  • Get all 4 in order…Masters Degree


Jan 2017                                     Feb 2017


Aug 2017                                    Nov 2017


Don’t Look Yet!

Don’t cheat!

Scroll Down for Answers…

Answers Below:



#1.  Jan 2017…Best Stuff…sold 8,779 copies…best of year!  (Subject Matter Always a Hit with Readers)

#2.  Aug 2017…Sandwich…sold 7,595…3rd best of year.   (Food Almost always Works for TL)

#3.  Nov 2017 2017…House…sold 6,591 copies…7th for the year. (Solid Performer)

#4.  Nov 2017…Boy…sold 4,026 copies …worst of the year (Don’t bring me Down)


Best New Restaurants Issue Sizzles

Posted by Scott On March - 14 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The April 2018 issue of Toronto Life hits newsstands this week.  Their annual Best Restaurants issue is always highly anticipated by Foodies all over Ontario.  The Top 10 have been revealed today as a tease…

Skippa (379 Harbord St., Toronto)
Aloette (163 Spadina Ave., Toronto)
Bacchanal (60 Sudbury St., Toronto)
Hexagon (210 Lakeshore Rd. E., Oakville)
La Palma (849 Dundas St. W., Toronto)
Labora (433 King St. W., Toronto)
Kiin (326 Adelaide St. W., Toronto)
Estia (90 Avenue Rd., Toronto)
Atlas (18 Dupont St., Toronto)
Café Cancan (89 Harbord St., Toronto)

This year’s cover by Art Director Christine Dewairy, is mouth-watering indeed.

The Press Release adds:

The ranking is compiled and written by Toronto Life restaurant critic Mark Pupo and focuses on the must-hit restaurants that opened in the previous year.

“It’s so exciting to see the range of restaurants featured on our list,” said Sarah Fulford, Editor of Toronto Life. “Toronto is an amazingly vibrant, creative city and Mark’s recommendations reflect that.”

The magazine retails for $6.95.


About Me

Scott Bullock’s Newsstand Cover Quiz Show is legendary in the industry. Using covers as the catalyst, this interactive and entertaining format is a light-hearted but hard-hitting spin on Packaging 101. Testing the cover savvy of magazine professionals across disciplines, the Quiz Show pits publishers against editors, circulators against art directors, retailers against wholesalers -- ultimately leading to new common ground in the quest for better covers. Scott is the Owner of Circ3, Smart Circulation Solutions, a circulation consultancy.



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