Covers Sell

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Archive for October, 2011

Elle Canada Sparkles

Posted by Scott On October - 31 - 2011

The December 2011 issue of Elle Canada sure sparkles this year.

This just in from the editorial team:

“Because we live in such a digitized age, we have been trying to incorporate more personal touches into the book this fall, including illustrations, sketches and writing samples. We had been wanting to do an illustrated ELLE logo, but were waiting for the right time and image. We thought the December cover was perfect for this touch of whimsy as it’s our party issue and there’s the $25,000 Holiday giveaway. Fortunately our associate art director, Elena Viltovskaia, is also a skilled illustrator so she was keen to create the logo as well as the snowflakes. We are really excited with the outcome and think it will attract attention on the newsstand.”

Got Your What Where?

Posted by Scott On October - 27 - 2011

Newsweek (issue 42) is a cover worth tracking.   It’s pretty tough to miss when browsing your local newsstand. 

I couldn’t resist buying it, and I suspect other cover junkies will too.

It does rile a magazine freek to see the $5.99 U.S. cover price on the UPC code alongside the $6.99 Canadian price, particularly with our dollar now trading above parity, but I digress.

 The cover does so many things right:

  • White Background
  • Clean and Uncluttered
  • Less is More
  • Provocative Headline
  • Compelling Image
  • 3 D effect by overlaying logo
  • Great use of skybar real estate

The only question is: how many people are in the market for getting pregnant in public?  We will Check Up on sales and see.

Abe is a Babe

Posted by Scott On October - 26 - 2011

National Geographic has just launched a new brand extension…Exploring History.  The Premier Issue (flagged with a cover slash) features an illustration of a young Lincoln.  The artist, Tim O’Brien, used a photograph taken following Lincoln’s nomination in 1860…Abe was 51 at the time…as a starting point for imagining what he might have looked like as a young man.   On the Editor’s page Anne Alexander writes:

“For our Lincoln cover image, illustrator Tim O’Brien used oil paints to peel back layers of age, creating a protrait of the future president as he might have appeared in his mid-30’s, long before the war years and the Presidency had furrowed his brow.”

Exploring History chose to eschew the safe route of using a real historic image of Lincoln.  They chose not to go with an iconic image of Lincoln the statesman, Lincoln the martyr, the bearded Lincoln, or Lincoln the saviour or saint. Instead they created a bit of their own history, and altered our stereotypical view by filtering Lincoln through a new lense. This speaks to the magazine’s ambition and creativity.

Editor Anne Alexander confessed to me that she too loves magazine covers, and that when she saw the original archival photograph she was blown away by how handsome he was.  “After all, Lincoln was 6 feet four inches tall, when the average man of his day was considerably shorter,” said Alexander.  “His eyes were just so penetrating.  But because of rights limitations held by the image’s owner, the idea evolved into hiring Tim O’Brien, one of the best illustrators in the business.”

When asked if the magazine was aimed at an older audience Alexander said, “We believe the graphics appeal to a wide audience, and based on the feedback we are getting from students, young people, and folks of all ages, we think we have a magazine that has broad appeal.  My hope is that Exploring History will be the Vanity Fair of history magazines, really going in depth about leaders of their time, be they Lincoln or Moctezuma.”  

The cover was also created specifically for the Canadian market, as the $7.99 cover price is quoted in Canadian funds only.  That’s smart. 

Azure Reports Strong Digital Sales

Posted by Scott On October - 26 - 2011

Azure magazine’s ( Melony Ward reports that sales of their digital single copy and subscription offerings are quite robust.

“We’ve been part of the Zinio program offered by Magazines Canada since April of 2010, or 18 months thus far, and we are extremely pleased by the results, ” says Melony Ward, Executive Publisher.

Azure has sold 1,457 digital single copies, or 81 per month, since launching the offering.  Sales continue to grow, with the Jul/Aug issue selling 207 units compared to 121 in the same time slot last year, for a 71% increase.  The Jan/Feb 2011 issue sold 221 copies, up from 63, for a 250% increase.   Year to date in 2011, digital single copy sales are up 40%.

“Given the high demographic quality of Azure’s audience, we are not really surprised.  Our readers are highly educated, affluent, design savvy, forward thinkers, so they are naturally curious about new technology, ” says Ward.

On the subscription side, Azure has sold 1,061 digital subscriptions thus far, or 59 per month.  In July of 2010 they sold 92 but in 2011 sold 159 for a 73% improvement.  Year to date (Jan–Sep), Azure has sold 613 digital subs compared to 239 last year, for a 156% improvement.

Azure’s paid circulation, (CCAB audited) averages 13,741.

Azure’s digital single copies sell for $5.95

Azure’s digital subscriptions sell for $25.95

Compared to other mass market titles who reported digital on their audit statements, Azure’s performance is astounding relative to their overall circulation level…in fact it is better than almost every other magazine in Canada (See stats in link below)

It should also be noted that Azure’s single copy sales on the regular print edition are up 8% for the first half of 2011.  The industry average is forecast to be down 10% for all english language magazines in Canada.

100th Issue of SkyNews

Posted by Scott On October - 25 - 2011

The Nov/Dec 2011 issue of SkyNews magazine is a celebration of a major milestone for the outstanding Canadian astronomy magazine.

This issue includes a FREE Wall Calendar premium, which is flagged boldly in the “skybar” above the logo.

The bold type treatment leaves no doubt that this is indeed a “collectors issue”.

Celebrating an important milestone by giving readers the “biggest issue” ever will also result in big newsstands sales too.  Thickness matters.

The issue is hard to miss at Chapters, where it has received outstanding display.

Baby Thinks Magazine is an IPAD

Posted by Scott On October - 20 - 2011

In case you haven’t seen this video, take a look.  Very funny.

Speaks to human beings innate curiosity and playfulness, and to how our future readers are being indoctrinated.

Hot Kitchen

Posted by Scott On October - 19 - 2011

The November issue of Canadian House & Home is sure to be a winner.

We always love Anniversary issues, especially when celebrating a big juicy milestone number like 25.

Nice cover slash too.

And scoring Michal Buble as the cover boy, makes for one hot kitchen.

So, in summary:  Anniverary Issue + Kitchen + Celebrity + Thick November Book + Gorgeous Cover Treatment = Scorching Hot!

Watch this issue fly off the shelves at newsstands. 

Apple Newsstand

Posted by Scott On October - 16 - 2011

This link from Folio on the new Newsstand App seems to be generating some excitement amongst publishers.

Here in Canada, Disticor has been working with the Apple platform since March of 2011.

“We see the Apple Newsstand as a fantastic opportunity for publishers and one not to be missed. For this reason we are in the process of

updating all of our magazine apps, at no expense to our publishers, so they can benefit from the new technology”, says CEO John Lafranier.

“By participating in the Apple subscription model, publishers will tap into the growth opportunities presented, as more Apple Ipads and I Phones are sold, and as Apple continues to refine and evolve their digital offerings.

We launched our program in March of 2011, and thus far have over 400 custom digital apps in the Apple store. Sales have grown each month, with our biggest growth rate registered in September, with sales up 30%.”

Full Disclosure…I am working on this project. If you want to learn more about it, please contact me at 647-345 6523 or

Katy Perry Cover a Winner

Posted by Scott On October - 16 - 2011

According to the June 2011 ABC report, the Summer issue of FASHION, was their best-selling issue of the five issues reported on during the period.

The issue sold 57% more copies that the overall average of the other four issues combined. That’s a huge success!

See original post here:

Sizzling hot Summer issue indeed!

Digital Statistics

Posted by Scott On October - 14 - 2011

The June 2011 ABC statements for ten of the most prestigious and beloved Canadian and U.S. magazines offer some interesting statistics on the very hot topic of digital replica edtions, both for single copy sales and for subscriptions.

Of the ten titles in the Canadian set of magazines, Canadian House & Home is enjoying the best reported success.  Paid digital subscriptions now number 2,295, up 63%.  They are also the only Canadian magazine in the group to report on digital single copy sales, with an average of 279 per issue.  Digital subscriptions account for 1.4% of their total paid subscriptions, while digital single copy sales represent 0.4% of total single copy sales, which means digital accounts for 1.1% of their total paid circulation.

Of the ten titles in the U.S. set of magazines, Cosmopolitan leads the pack, with 81,690 digital subscriptions reported.  However, this is down 16,400 or 17% from the previous ABC statement.  Still, digital subscriptions represent 6.1% of the reported paid subscriptions, by far more than any of the other titles in the group.

Oprah posted a big gain in digital subscriptions, reporting a total of 12,567, up by 10,672 or a 563% improvement.

Esquire posted a big gain in digital subscriptions, reporting 20,997, up by 8,845 or a 73% improvement.

Rollingstone posted a gain of 7,288 digital subscriptions for a 119% improvement.

The New Yorker reported a gain of 4,500 digital subscriptions for a 105% improvement.

As impressive as these gains are, digital subs represent 0.7% of Oprah’s subscriptions, 3.5% of Esquire’s subscriptions, 1% of Rollingstone’s subscriptions, and .09% of the New Yorker’s subscriptions.

On the digital single copy front, Vanity Fair led the pack, reporting an average sale of 9,600 digital single copies.  However, this was up just 2% from the previous ABC statement, with digital single copy sales accounting for 2.7% of the paid single copy sales reported.

The biggest gainer was the New Yorker, reporting an average digital single copy sale of 2,817 copies, when they had zero in the previous period.  Digital singles now represent an astounding 8.9% of their reported paid single copy sales.

Other notable gainers were Cosmopolitan, who reported a 1007% gain in digital singles, from an average of 203 per issue to 2,247 per issue.  Oprah got into the game too, reporting an average sale of 1,320 digital single copy sales, up from 190 in the previous ABC period, for a 595% gain.  (CLICK ON CHARTS TO ENLARGE)


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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