Covers Sell

Covers Sell


Posted by Scott On January - 21 - 2011

Ever wonder why it is that (despite heroic efforts to produce better covers, on better paper, with perfect binding, and despite promoting  more aggressively then ever before) selling single copies continues to be such a challenge?

Thanks to MAGNET, a U.S.-based data clearinghouse, part of the mystery may have been solved.  (See graph below).

With dealers who carry magazines dwindling at such a pace, in both the US and Canada, is it any wonder sales are tougher to come by?  This type of erosion is akin to the Global Warming syndrome…a slow and steady melting away of our future.

Fewer dealers, fewer sales.  Who’da thunk it?   Thanks to Doug Bennet for this link.

Since December 2007, retail magazine outlets have declined in North America by some 18,000 outlets or 11.3%. Currently the number of retail outlets in North America totals just over 142,000. This number represents all retailers selling magazines, including specialty retail outlets like hobby shops, craft stores or home improvement stores. Some may believe that the majority of this decline is or was the result of the Anderson News demise in early 2009. Interesting enough, the Canadian retail outlets have also declined at nearly the same pace, 11.0%, with the current retailer total setting just shy of 25,000 outlets. The US retailers currently reside at just over 117,000 with an 11.4% loss over the same period.

3 Responses to “Meltdown”

  1. Deb Morrison says:

    Interesting data Scott – I’m wracking my brain and can’t think of any Anderson News-sized events that might have caused the Canadian market to erode commensurately… so does this mean our newsstands are shrinking twice as fast?

  2. Scott says:

    Excellent question. Perhaps we will hear from the national distributors and wholesalers.

  3. Michael Fox says:

    This is not a new trend, but it is accelerating for reasons that only partially have to do with magazines. I’d cite 4 factors:

    1. Fewer convenience stores can survive with reduced tobacco sales. For society, fewer smokers is a good thing. For store owners, if it weren’t for the government lottery ticket sales, they wouldn’t have enough repeat customers to stay in business. As it is, these stores continue to struggle. Even in Quebec, which historically had as many stores selling magazines as the rest of Canada, has been declining in store count 5%+ a year for years.

    2. Book stores are struggling with fewer sales of conventional books. Most expect huge contraction in the U.S. because both Barnes & Noble and Borders are on life-support, and probably need to merge and consolidate to survive at all.

    3. Wholesalers have needed to give big cuts of cover prices to the big chains, and they’ve been able to raise delivery fees and minimum sales levels to the independent and smaller stores, making it harder for these stores to make money selling magazines, so why bother.

    4. Some (but not all) magazine publishers (in Canada, primarily but not only, the Americans) still push too many copies into the system. With big chains annoyed with the labor cost for them of this dumping, they’ve forced this overload of copies into these small stores, few of which can merchandise or display the covers.

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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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