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Archive for April, 2013

Gay Cover

Posted by admin On April - 30 - 2013

It seems like just yesterday that tennis star Martina Navratilova came out of the closet.  But in fact, it was a lifetime ago…1981..over thrity years have passed.

The latest issue of Sports Illustrated is creating quite a media feeding frenzy, for breaking the story of Jason Collins, the first athlete from one of North America’s big four professional sports (Basketball, Baseball, Football, Hockey) to declare his gender preference openly. 

It’s long over due.

Congratulation to Sports Illustrated for breaking the story. It’s great to see such a iconic magazine brand getting this exclusive game-changing story.


Posted by admin On April - 29 - 2013

The April 2013 issue of Canadian Geographic may not feature a fearsome predator, but the cover does have a way of “jumping” into your face.

Talk about “eye contact”…this cover sure delivers in that department.

We’ll see if this issue scores or if it croaks. 

 I like its chances. 

A Primer from John Harrington

Posted by admin On April - 24 - 2013

Industry expert John Harrington offers…

What Happened to the Newsstand? Understanding That is Step One

By John Harrington 

There are times when seismic changes take place and they are immediately recognized as altering the landscape so dramatically that things will never be the same.  On the other hand, the underpinnings of an environment may shift radically, but a confluence of events occurring nearly simultaneously may manage to camouflage the true impact until the truth gradually emerges in its own good time.

In the summer of 1995, when a major retail chain broke down the wholesaler structure that had sustained the magazine distribution system for more than 40 years, it was quite universally recognized within weeks, if not days.  In one wholesaler’s words, “The genie is out of the bottle and it is not going to be put back in it.”  By the fall of that same year, the financial and contractual relationships at every level of the channel had changed radically and everything about the business was forever different.  That was a seismic change that was recognized on day one. 

In early 2008, the nation’s economy began its rapid slide into the Great Recession, and at the same time magazine retail sales, which had been stable for four years or more, precipitously fell.  The recession proved to be the deepest since the Great Depression nearly 80 years before, and newsstand sales tumbled at nearly double digit rates through the year and into the next.  In fact, 2009 saw the collapse of one of the largest magazine wholesalers, putting the newsstand channel through a convulsion perhaps equal to that of 1995.  In time, the nation’s economy began to recover, albeit haltingly, but magazine retail sales have continued to deteriorate, falling by nearly 10% last year, and cumulatively by more than 30% since 2007.  For most of the channel’s players, it was hard not to associate the initial newsstand collapse with the general economic malaise.  But then, why did magazine sales continue to suffer when the general atmosphere improved?  Was there something that had been missed? 

Well, maybe not entirely missed, but certainly not immediately and clearly comprehended.  The impact of digital technologies, certainly present and progressing for many years, advanced at warp speed during the 2008 to 2013 period; and by the time American consumers were ready to start spending money again, they had found other means of getting much of what magazines had previously provided.  Yes, the internet had been a factor for a decade or more, as publishers established websites and digital entrepreneurs were challenging traditional concepts of media.  However, consider that since 2008, Apple introduced the iPad and created the tablet industry, providing a new platform for delivering magazine content; social media became a staple of personal interaction and communication; mobile devices (once known prosaically as cell phones) may have become the dominant means of human contact; and the world’s daily vocabulary has become overwhelmed by words and phrases hardly ever heard only five years ago. 

Consider just one magazine category, celebrity weeklies.  Of course, it is the category that drove the relatively strong newsstand numbers of 2004 to 2007, and, in itself, masked some signs of weaknesses in the broader newsstand market.  During those years, People, with a 30-plus year history of success, and Us, more recently converted to a weekly, found themselves confronting new competitors – In Touch, Life & Style Weekly, and OK! – and all them were doing pretty well.  Since then, nearly all of the losses at newsstand can be attributed to the declines suffered by those five titles.  The information once provided by these magazines is now available to the public earlier and easier via the new media enumerated above. 

At this particular moment, that profound change is being demonstrated again.  Coverage of the horrible bombing at Monday’s Boston Marathon and its aftermath would have, not all that long ago, driven some staggering numbers for the celebrity weeklies and for the newsweeklies as well.  There undoubtedly will be a bump for some of them, but it will be only a shadow of what the numbers once would have been.  Before they reached the newsstand, the public had access to, and was witness to all the news the magazines could provide, and more. 

So, since “good old days” of 2007, the newsstand channel was buffeted by the recession, but probably as much, if not more, by an accelerated digital revolution that will have an even more sustained impact.  Granted, there were some who recognized this earlier, while for others of us, the dawn was more gradual, but now it is clearly evident.  Also evident is the realization, while the business will not go back to the levels of 2007 and earlier, that magazine media (acknowledging the new terminology) will still need a sustainable newsstand capacity.  Magazine media extends now into platforms only once dreamed of by a few visionaries, but it is a continuum that begins, as restated to me very recently by the president of one of its largest players, with the newsstand.  It will be the task of leaders like him, at every level of the magazine distribution channel to understand its frailties, address them, and build a viable, sustainable newsstand structure for the future. 

Bluenose Reborn

Posted by admin On April - 19 - 2013

The Jun/Jul 2013 issue of Canada’s History is set to hit newsstands May 27th, 2013. 

Here’s what Mark Reid, Editor, has to say about the issue:

The Bluenose was the greatest racing schooner to ever sail the waves. Fast, graceful, she took on all comers — and outran them all. To Canadians mired in the Great Depression, Bluenose offered a spark of hope. Gathering around their transistor radios, they thrilled to her exploits as time and time again she defeated her American rivals. 

After the original Bluenose sank in the Caribbean, Nova Scotia built Bluenose II. The ship proudly represented Canada for decades. But when rot was recently discovered in the beautiful schooner, many feared it would lead to her ruin. 

Thankfully, a massive restoration effort has saved Bluenose II. This June, she will be once again be sailing as Canada’s cultural ambassador — a reminder of a different age, a time when men of iron sailed ships of hard timber and and helped shape a nation. The legend of Bluenose and Blunose II lives on, and you can learn more in the June-July 2013 issue of Canada’s History magazine.

Canada’s History (aka The Beaver) has had much success with covers featuring ships over the years:

  • Apr 2012… Set all time sales record.  Still holds record for best in this time slot.  Sold 36% better than the rest in 2012.
  • Dec 2006…Set all time sales record. Sold 96% better than the rest in 2006.  Won Gold at Canadian Newsstand Awards
  • Dec 2004…Best seller that year.  Sold 48% better than the rest in 2004
  • Dec 2003…Best seller that year.  Sold 48% better than the rest in 2003
  • Jun 2009…2nd Best ever for this time slot.  Sold 13% better than the rest in 2009
  • Jun 1996…Best seller of 1996.  Sold 15% better than the rest in 1996

Dreamy Covers

Posted by Scott On April - 19 - 2013

The 2013 Travel Guides, published by Canadian Joe Turkel, are looking quite fine.

These annuals are not available by subscription, and are 100% newsstand driven products.  The publisher supports the channel with aggressive newsstand marketing.  All three are priced at $6.95 in both Canada and the U.S. markets.

“We are thrilled to have our 3 travel guides on newsstands across the U.S. and Canada as well as in other countries around the world.  Our 2013 guides are being sold in over 9000 retail locations and we expect our sales to double versus our 2012 newsstand sales, “says Publisher Joe Turkel.  The magazines are distributed by Coast to Coast.

Last year’s guides sold well:

  • Florida Guide sold nearly 11,000 units
  • Canada Guide sold nearly 9,000 units
  • California Guide sold nearly 7,600 units


Posted by admin On April - 17 - 2013

The Summer issue of GardenMaking is set to hit newsstands on May 13th, 2013.

“Roses tug at a gardener’s heartstrings, but they can bring heartbreak if they don’t survive our winters,” says editor Beckie Fox. “Our feature describes 43 Canadian-bred roses that are as beautiful as they are dependable.” 

But Beckie points out…”And if roses aren’t your passion, there are plenty of other plant temptations in the summer issue: easygoing container plants; tall, slim trees for small spaces; and excellent eggplants.”

Click to enlarge image:

  1. Subject Matter Matters…Roses are to GardenMaking like Joile is to Vanity Fair
  2. Great use of Skybar area
  3. 8 Tools numerically quantifies benefit oriented hook, as does 43 All Canadian Beauties in main sell line
  4. Well-placed starburst elegantly packs in 3 additional appeals
  5. Big Bold Type Treatment both aggressive and sophisticated


Posted by admin On April - 17 - 2013

Shrink:  More than a Seinfeld skit.  Great Post by Bo Saks below

The Shrinking SBT Iceberg

by newsstandpromos

Last week the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM, formerly known as the Audit Bureau of Circulation), announced that it would allow for the calculation of “shrink” in determining the single copy sales of it’s audited magazines. While this wasn’t unexpected, it goes a long way towards the recognition that there’s a whole new way to look at both the delivery, sales and returns processing of newsstand copies.

Shrink is commonly considered to be copies that were stolen from the rack by the retailers customers or employees. It can also be copies that are damaged and unsalable. Sometimes copies simply disapear and can not be accounted for. Under more traditional sales terms with magazine wholesalers, if a retailers customers were engaged in poor behavior, too bad. Unreturned copies were considered to be sold and had to be paid for. Apparently under the new proposed terms of SBT that the News Group has presented, shrink will remain the responsibility of the stores. I think this is the right place for it to remain.

There are now more copies sold through SBT retailers than the traditional method of determining sales (deducting returns from deliveries). Therefore it seems apparent that once all of the calculations are figured out, every publisher, large or small, who uses the services of AAM auditing is going to take advantage of this. 

This should be a benefit the three hundred or more titles that have their circulations audited.

For the rest of the print newsstand world, this may not mean all that much.

But this will: Last Friday, the IPDA (The International Periodical Distributors Association), released a link to an article that any publisher with single copy sales at an SBT participating wholesaler should pay close attention to.

IPDA is a trade organization comprised of national distributors and publishers. Their goal is to work with other participants in the supply channel of the single copy magazine and book sales industry. Throughout the year they provide a wealth of information and research relevant to the single copy sales world. They work behind the scenes with retailers promoting the sales of our category. You can subscribe for free to a daily news digest they put together outlining important details in the single copy sales, magazine publishing, and retailing industries. If you’re currently subscribing to the BoSacks newsletter, “The New Single Copy,” or Samir Husni’s blog, I would urge you to subscribe to the IPDA feed. The articles they glean will provide you with excellent balance and insight into many issues affecting our industry.

The article, by IPDA president Jerry Lynch, describes some important developments regarding SBT. In particular, it discusses the recent decision by AAM to allow for the reporting of shrink in single copy sales for audited titles and a list of “Best Practices” goals that IPDA suggests as the industry moves forward with the more universal deployment and acceptance of “Pay on Scan”.

Overall, the objectives are quite notable and make sense. They range from the goal to “Engage all parts of the suppy chain” to the recognition that “shrink and its casual factors must be identified  . . . reported and mitigated over time.” Read the lists of goals. If we can make this work, we could see wholesalers return to some semblance of profitability. This would be a good thing because if wholesalers can be assured that their businesses are profitable, then we can all focus on selling magazines.

But as this process moves along, the questions on my mind, as a representative of smaller and medium sized magazine publishers, is two-fold:

 1) Are the ultimate goals of these “Best Practices” the increased and expanded sales and marketing of magazines?


 2) If we know more quickly the final sales by store and chain and issue of these magazines, are we advancing forward the final payment for these magazines to all participants in the channel. Will this allow magazine publishers to share in a stabilized industry and focus on creating more publications we can sell?

At present the answer to question number 2 seems to be “No”. Two of the three major wholesalers recently requested a longer term to pay on less frequency titles (Quarterlies, bi-annuals and annuals) citing the difficulties in carrying the inventory costs associated with these longer on-sale magazines with their SBT retailers. I’ve also had discussions with wholesalers who cite slow payments from retailers as a major impediment to their long term profitability. 

I have no real problem with this technology. Quick access to sales data is very 21st century. It’s a necessary part of our work today. But the end result of this process has to be the sales of more magazines. It’s important for wholesalers to reduce their costs. They’ve been working at this since consolidation began back in the  90s But you can only reduce costs so much. Now it’s time for them to be profitable. You can only do that by selling more product.

And that’s the same issue many publishers have. I recently took a call from one of my clients after posting an updated POS report to him. “I like getting this sales data so quickly,” he said. “Now why can’t I get paid more quickly too?” 

Why, indeed?

Pools 2013

Posted by admin On April - 16 - 2013

The 2013 issue of Pools, Spas & Patios is set to debut on May 13th.

Published by Kenilworth Media Inc., Pools, Spas & Patios is the only Canadian magazine targeted to the backyard leisure living market.

Editor Blair Adams says:

This annual magazine showcases the latest pool and spa designs and encourages readers to relax, retreat, and rejuvenate through the creation of a backyard oasis. Inside the 2013 edition, readers will find:

  • ‘Sensual Appeal’ profiles designed to offer inspiration by showcasing the backyards of those who took an ordinary space and turned it into an extraordinary one
  • An exclusive, step-by-step guide to selecting the pool that best meets their family’s needs
  • Eco-friendly pool care tips
  • Landscaping ideas for small spaces
  • Editor’s picks of the hottest pool, spa and backyard products
  • The ‘backyard service finder,’ Canada’s premier resource of pool and spa builders, retailers, service professionals, and landscapers
  • How to select a hot tub/swim spa
  • Expert advice on mastering the barbecue

Both beautiful and practical, this cover delivers many reasons to buy.  The magazine is being promoted aggressively with retailers such as:

  • Chapters
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Home Depot
  • Loblaws
  • Lowes

Bitter Pill

Posted by admin On April - 15 - 2013

The March 4th 2013 cover of TIME is noteworthy.  I just stumbled upon it and loved it.

It takes guts and talent to try and pull off a white on white cover. 

The subject matter matters on this cover…appealing bang on to the anxieties of greying boomers.

Clean and uncluttered.  Less is More.  Radical Clarity.  Yes. Yes and Yes!

Screaming Hot

Posted by admin On April - 12 - 2013

The Spring 2013 issue of Dirt Trax magazine is screaming hot.  Art Director Andrew Knor zero’d in on all the right hot buttons on this issue:

  • Hot energetic image
  • Starburst treatment
  • Cover Slash on right corner
  • Large type for Main cover appeal

The cover is what I like to call “Poster Worthy.”

The distribution has been increased by 106% in Canada, and will be promoted at:

  • Canadian Tire
  • Loblaws
  • 7-11



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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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