Covers Sell

Covers Sell


You’d think that in the Sports & Fitness category, the ASME nominations might have something to do with winning or losing readers.  After all, the ABC numbers still matter to advertisers in the game of publishing.  And newsstand sales are a great scorecard of success, when readers actually vote with their wallets.

Let’s blow the whistle and break down these nominations, shall we?

Reality Check on ESPN Cover:

Some of the greatest covers ever produced (see Hall of Fame section of have been illustrated covers.  In my experience, they typically don’t work at the newsstand, but when they do, they sometimes score big wins.  Not so much with this nomination.  ABC statistics report average single copy sales for the Jan/Jun 2010 period were 17,034 copies, yet this candidate for an award sold 15,516 copies, or 9% worse than the average.  Newsflash:  the whistle has blown and this cover was a loser.

Reality Check on Field & Stream Cover:

According to ABC statistics, the average sale for Field & Stream during the Jan/Jun 2009 period was 35,987 copies. The June 2009 nominated cover sold only 33,625 copies.  That’s 6% below their average sale.  Compare and contrast that to their block buster February 2009 issue which sold 47,046 copies…40% better than the cover nominated for an award.  Strange, don’t you think, when winning paid readers is more important than ever?

Reality Check on RollingStone Cover:

Love Shaun White.  He owned the Winter Olympics.  But, while he is a great american sports hero,  I suspect Mr. White is not known for his singing ability while playing air guitar.  According to ABC statistics, RollingStone averaged 79,940 single copies per issue, during the Jan/Jun 2010 period.  The nominated cover sold only 71,558 copies.  That’s over 10% below the average, and placed ninth out of twelve covers in the rate base management event.  Certainly not worthy of a gold medal celebration.

Reality Check on Sports Illustrated Cover:

This cover certainly is worthy of an award.  According to ABC statistics, the Pictures of the Year cover sold 90,000 copies.  The average for the Jul/Dec 2009 period was 60,345.  Therefore, the nominated cover sold 49% better than the average issue in the rate base period.  However, two other covers during that stretch sold even more.  Why were they not nominated instead?

Reality Check on Garden & Gun Cover:

Until now, I must confess, I had not yet stumbled upon this interesting offering on newsstands.  If awards have a place to help elevate awareness of new magazines that are creative, that are experimental, and that are keeping our category fresh, then this is my winner.  The nominated cover from Dec 2009/Jan 2010 sold 13,270 copies, according to ABC statistics…their best ever performance since ABC began auditing the title.

(Note:  New York Times Magazine is not ABC audited)

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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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