Covers Sell

Covers Sell

Archive for February, 2011

Top Predator

Posted by Scott On February - 28 - 2011

The Spring 2011 issue of British Columbia Magazine will be hitting racks next week.  Typically, magazines that deal with nature can count on top predators to help sell copies.  In the world of mammels the celebrity rock stars are:  Wolves.  Bears.  Cougars.  If you are talking about birds:  Eagles.  Falcons.   If sea life: Killer Whales.  Sharks.  Newsstand buyers are drawn to the ferocious animals.

A recent exciting discovery of dinosaur fossils in British Columbia presents an opportunity to see if Canada’s love affair with savage beasts extends into the world of Palentology.  After all, dinosaurs were the ultimate top predators to ever walk the earth.

The cover is clean and uncluttered.  It uses the left hand “real estate” effectively.  It is warm.  The image and words clearly communicate the selling propositon.  And four additional hooks are comfortably wedged in.  The normal sky bar was removed for this issue.

My, my, what big teeth you have.

Pools 2011 SIP

Posted by Scott On February - 26 - 2011

The new Pools, Spas & Patio’s SIP is set to hit newsstands April 25th.  This year’s edtion is the thickest issue ever…with the page count up 29% from prior year to 188 plus cover.

Last year, we raised the cover price from $7.95 to $9.95.  Unit sales increased by 187% and newsstand revenue improved by 259%.

The improvements to the editorial product, cover design, and packaging, all contributed to a fabulous result, which advertisers clearly took notice of this year.

The publisher, Ellen Kral, had this to say:

“We are very excited about the 2011 edition of Pools, Spas & Patios. In 2010, we made the bold decision to switch the magazine to an annual, and the reaction from advertisers and readers was overwhelmingly supportive. In fact, the success of last year’s magazine has propelled ad sales in 2011, making this edition the largest ever. As the ’stay-cation’ trend continues to sweep across the country, Pools, Spas & Patios is uniquely poised to show Canadians how they can turn an ordinary backyard into an extraordinary one, allowing them to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life by simply stepping out their patio door into their own personal oasis.”

NewsWest and Metro News Join Forces

Posted by Scott On February - 22 - 2011

A press release has been issued announcing the merger of two of Canada’s largest wholesale distributors.


Iconic Marilyn Cover Sells

Posted by Scott On February - 22 - 2011

You may recall that three months ago we featured the November issue of Vanity Fair as the Cover of the Week.  Everything about this cover screamed success.  VF had done a similar Marilyn Monroe cover in October 2008, which had been a big winner…the second best-seller that year and 28% better than the 2008 average. Impressive.  Vanity Fair knows a good thing when they see it, and is not afraid to keep working what is working on the newsstands.

The results on the November 2010 issue have now been reported by the Audit Bureau of Circulation:

  • This cover sold 10% better than the average VF issue in 2010.
  • It sold 96,000 more copies than from the same time slot last year (Penlope Cruz)
  • Therefore sales from this time slot improved by 31%

While Icons sell, it should be noted that VF’s Angelina Jolie cover (August 2010) was the best-seller of the year, moving 502,000 copies, or 97,000 more copies than Marilyn Monroe…24% better than Marilyn and 36% better than the 2010 average.

Angelina now holds the record for the best-selling August issue in the decade for Vanity Fair.  Exquisite cover yields exquiste results.

Borders Bankrupt

Posted by Scott On February - 16 - 2011

More distressing news from the United States.  In an article from the Huffington Post, Borders book store has filed for Chapter 11 protection.

This probably does not come as a shock to those who have been following the story, none-the-less, it is a sobering reminder

of how the landscape has changed, and continues to consolidate. Story Here


Posted by Scott On February - 15 - 2011

The March issue of Cosmopolitan is now on racks.  This cover is difficult to ignore. 

Lea Michele’s stock continues to rise…her performance at the Super Bowl was electric. 

The flaming red full-bleed is appropriate for the Valentine’s season. The ” try me” price of $3.99 is working overtime, as is the starburst in the upper right quadrant. 

The rest is formulaic Cosmo cover lines, designed to tease, and to promise benefits and solutions of interest to their audience.  This cover has the energy, the celebrity star power, the gonzo tv ratings, radio play, and talk show buzz to help push sales off the newsstand racks.

Richler aint got the pop of Iggy

Posted by Scott On February - 14 - 2011

When the October 2010 issue of the Walrus hit stands, I posted it as the Cover of The Week.  I loved the classic portrait of one of Canada’s great literary giants.  Perfect, I thought, for the Walrus’s audience.

While the issue modestly outsold last year’s October issue by 6.2%…it paled in comparison to the sales achieved by the Jan/Feb 2010 issue featuring Iggy.

Iggy sold over 12,500 copies, or more than 139% more than Richler.  While it was a double issue, meaning it got a longer shelf life, the Walrus crowd certainly voted with their wallets and declared Iggy the Walrus’s best selling issue of 2010.

Trout System

Posted by Scott On February - 9 - 2011

The Spring 2011 issue of Fly Fusion hits newsstands on February 21st, 2011.   In case there is any doubt, yes, that is a Trout.  And yes, the publisher has so much confidence in their brand that the fish is obscuring half the logo.  Normally, the upper right corner has been reserved for a “drop down box” device, selling one of the other key features on the magazine.  However, it was decided that committing to the cover in a radically clear way was more important this time.  Last year’s Spring issue (Ultimate Trout) was the best-selling issue in the magazine’s history, so we wanted to take our best shot at topping that achievement.

The strong use of numbers, to quantify the key selling propostions, and the benefit-oriented “hooks” deliver clear soultions for anglers seeking tactical advice on how to get the most out of their sport and passion.

FAS FAX Dec 2010 Released: Canadian Newsstand Up!

Posted by Scott On February - 8 - 2011

The new ABC Fas Fax report was released today, and there is some very good news on the newsstand side of the ledger for many top Canadian magazines.  In fact, some of the newsstand sales increases are absolutely stunning.  These results do demonstrate that the newsstand remains vibrant and unpredictable. 

Plus, given the softness in subscriptions, the newsstand has arguably never been so important to publishers, seeking consumer support and paid circulation, solid cost per copy recovery, and insert card production for rate base managment requirements.

  • Overall, single copy sales of ABC titles show an improvement of 6.5% in Canada
  • Overall sales improved to 1,162,710 units from 1,091,269 copies (stripping out magazines that were not reporting single copy sales last year)

The folks at Rogers should be extremely proud…the top four ranked by % improvement are:

  1. Canadian Business tops the list with a 155% increase in  the Dec 2010 period, compared to Dec 2009. 
  2. Lou Lou is up 108%
  3. MoneySense up 104%
  4. Maclean’s is up 77%

Other notable and praiseworthy achievements include:

  1. Canadian House & Home, who enjoyed the 3rd highest improvement in terms of total copy variance…up 16,415 copies or 26% overall
  2. Chatelaine, who turned in the largest improvement in terms of copies…up 23,296 or 45% from the same period last year
  3. Elle Canada, who enjoyed a sales increase of 6,661 units for a 43% improvement
  4. Canadian Art turned in a great result, with sales improving by an average of 957 copies or 28%

It’s great to see the newsstand has rebounded so smartly for the ABC-audited titles in Canada.

Two from Overseas

Posted by Scott On February - 4 - 2011

Guest Expert, Martin McKewen, National Sales Director, LMPI, offers up these  two standouts from overseas to

Courrier International, a weekly digest of world news published in France, features an illustrated cover of Sarah Palin. The illustration gives her qualities you rarely see in photos or video, which helps it stand out. This is not the super-duper, happy

Sarah we’re used to seeing. The cover lines are simple, and will draw a reaction from just about anyone – whether it’s

inspiring, frightening or comical depends on your own worldview.  It’s a definite stand-out on the mainline and at the counter in the photo-heavy news category this week, and we’ll watch the sales to see how it performs against the news from Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia.

In sharp contrast is the annual Victoria’s Secret cover for British GQ. This is a classy cover bringing together two strong brands. This issue tends to be a strong performer for a very consistent newsstand title.  Is it promotional? Is it editorial? One could argue that for a quality men’s title like British GQ, this is straightforward coverage of an important event on the fashion calendar.

Alas, my only concern is that the omission of any other cover lines will lead readers missing an excellent interview of Piers Morgan (the new Larry King) by Vanity Fair regular Michael Wolff.”

Thanks Martin.  Report back when sales firm up.


About Me

Scott Bullock is a veteran circulation expert with over 38 years experience in both Canada and the United States. He has worked on trade titles such as Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal and Small Press in the USA. In consumer magazines, Scott was the Circulation Director for D Magazine (the city magazine of Dallas, Texas), and in Canada he was the Circulation Director for Toronto Life, Fashion, and Canadian Art. From 2000 to 2004, Scott was a partner at Coast to Coast Newsstand Services. Scott has also held the post of VP Sales & Marketing, for CDS Global, Canada. Currently, CoversSell.Com is Scott’s circulation consultancy. Active clients include: Fly Fusion, Canadian Geographic, Canadian House & Home, Canada’s History, Canadian Real Estate Wealth, Canadian Woodworking, Canadian Cycling, Canadian Running, Canadian Scrapbooker, Legion, Harrowsmith, SkyNews, and SuperTrax.



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