Covers Sell

Covers Sell

Radio Interview (Niche Magazines Rule)

Posted by Scott On July - 5 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

news_green-125x125On Sunday, July 3rd, 2016, I appeared on Mark Towhey’s radio show on CFRB News Talk 1010.

Mark contacted me through the offices of Magazines Canada, to discuss the current market conditions for magazines.

A self described “magazine junky”, Mark’s first question had to do with Men’s Magazines, and specifically regarding how Playboy was doing since dropping nudity.

The link to the radio interview is here:

In Canada in 2014, Playboy sold  71,262 copies.  In 2015 they sold just 50,830 copies, down 29%.  The time for a change had finally arrived.  In March of 2016 Playboy decided to drop nudity.  That issue was up 24% from the same slot last year, selling 5,658 copies in Canada.  It should be noted that the last issue WITH nudity, January 2016, was up 149% from prior year.  The cover featured Canadian Pamela Anderson.  It sold-thru at an astounding 72%.   Dealer coverage has expanded in Canada now that there is no nudity (up 28% effective with the June 2016 issue).

2016 Mar (first issue no nudity)2016 Jan (Last issue with nudity)

We also discussed the fact that many niche magazines are actually thriving these days.  Here are just a few examples of Canadian magazines that are doing great.

Niche Magazines Rule:

  1. Canadian Antiques & Vintage:  Sales up 92% in 2015.  Best Year Ever!  Sales up 189% since 2008.
  2. Canadian Cycling:  Sales up 11% in 2015.  Best Year Ever!   Sales up 50% since launching in 2010.
  3. Canada’s History:  Sales up 40% in 2015.  Best Year Ever!  4 of 6 issues broke sales records.  Sales up 506% since 2004.
  4. Creative Scrapbooker:  Sales up 14% in 2015.  Now distributing in the USA too!
  5. Dirt Trax:  Sales up for 3rd year in a row.  Revenue up 16% in 2015.  Best result since 2009.
  6. Fly Fusion:  Sales up 10% in 2015.  Best Year Ever!  Sales in Canada up 138 since 2008.  USA sales up for 7th year in a row…up 83% since 2008.
  7. Harrowsmith Almenac:  Sales up 3%.  Revenue up 21% in 2015, due to cover price increase.
  8. Horse Sport:  Sales up 158% in 2015.  On track for best year ever in 2016!
  9. Horse Canada Annual:  Sales up 96% in 2015.
  10. Legion Magazine:  Sales up for 6th of last 7 years.  Had zero sales in 2008, now doing $275,191 dollars of sales.
  11. Outdoor Canada Fishing Annual:  Up 21% in 2015.

2016MayJun (Small)DecJan 2015 (Small)Dec 2014 (Small)


2015 Winter (Small)Vol 17 #4 (Small)Winter 2015 (Small)


2016 Regular (Small)Oct 2015 (Small)2015 Annual


Liberating Normanday (Small)Fishing 2015 Annual

Classic Profile

Posted by Scott On June - 30 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

The August 2016 issue of Horse Sport is set to hit newsstands on July 25th, 2016.

Art Director Sieu Truong has created an elegant, timeless, “classic profile” cover.  This angle shows off the muscular pose of the horse, and the fabulous posture of the rider.

With the rider’s head gear gently kissing the logo, the horse’s tail bleeding deftly off the left hand side, and the red ribbon in the upper right corner working its magic, this cover has achieved the “layering” that gives it pop in all the right places.

Lots of juicy benefit-oriented hooks, but the main image remains the focus and is clean and uncluttered.

Horse Sport is on a roll: 16 issues in a row have sold more copies than prior year’s issue in the respective time slots.

In 2015, newsstand sales spiked 158%!  Plus, this lift was achieved while raising the cover price to $5.99 from $4.95…an increase of 21%.  This combined resulted in a 212% lift to newsstand revenues.


2016 Aug


2016 Feb (Small)2016 Jun (Small)



Caitlyn (Bruce) is Back

Posted by Scott On June - 29 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

cover_of_the_week-125x125Caitlyn Jenner (formally Bruce Jenner) poses for Sports Illustrated, with her gold medal, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Olympic win in the decathalon at the Montreal Games in 1976.

Apparently, the medal typically resides in her “nail drawer” now.   Jenner is 66 years old.

The cover features a strong sky bar sell for the main feature, a cut out of an old SI cover, and a gold Double Issue stamp in the upper right area, plus good use  of the “real estate” on the left hand side.

Look for sales to spike.




Posted by Scott On June - 15 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

cover_of_the_week-125x125People magazine’s June 27th, 2016 cover is a welcome approach to covering the appalling hate crime/mass murder in Orlando this week.

Rather then focusing on the terrorist or his despicable deed and the horrific carnage, People gives us something positive to focus on:  the human beings whose lives were stolen.  Better to glorify the victims, not the hater.

Too often, in the aftermath of these outrageous mass murders, all we get is an overdose of details about the terrorist’s life, and what might have caused him to act out.  Then we get the political spin from the pro & con gun control professionals. And inevitably arguments about immigration.  So tiresome, so boring, and so missing the mark.

Anderson Cooper of CNN did a moving tribute to the victims too.  He read out their names, one by one, with little details about their lives…incredibly powerful.






5 Egregious Covers

Posted by Scott On June - 15 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

news_green-125x125This morning I was sent a link that calls out 5 magazine covers, as the 5 Most Egregious Covers of 2016 (so far).

I prefer to point out and praise covers that work.  But I thought this was worth sharing.

The writer does point to a cover of Chicago Magazine that he likes.

Hummm….seems very familiar to a recent Toronto Life cover.  Now that’s “egregious”.  You be the judge.


Jan 2015chigago dog


Azure’s 30th Anniversary Issue Sells

Posted by Scott On June - 14 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

check_mark_125x125The May 2015 issue of Azure was their 30th Anniversary issue, which I selected as the Cover of The Week.  So, how did it do?

  • It outsold the issue that came before it by 58%.
  • It outsold the issue that came after it by 70%.
  • It outsold the issue from the prior year in the same time slot by 53%

Congratulations to Azure!  Thirty years of success is totally  worth celebrating!

The only issue in 2015 that outsold the Anniversary issue was the annual Houses issue, which was also a Cover of the Week.

  • It outsold the issue before it by 32%.
  • It outsold the issue after it by 107%.

30th Anniversary (Small)

Jan 2015 (Small)






Mark Hamill Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted by Scott On June - 14 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

news_green-125x125The CMC presented Mark Hamill, of Rogers Media, with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.  With many of his colleagues in attendance, the crowd roared enthusiastically when Mark stepped to the stage.

A former colleague, Peter Willson shared this with

“My colleague Mark Hamill, the premier marketer in the magazine newsstand business in Canada, has been given a Life Time Achievement award by his peers in the magazine publishing industry.

In 2008, I did this spoof about him for an industry conference. His greatest work was always accomplished outside the office. The last shot where he is hogging the screen was from the Jumbotron at the Rogers Centre August 2006 for the launch of Hello! Canada.

Enjoy the video and congratulations Mark. Well deserved!”



The Greatest

Posted by Scott On June - 10 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

cover_of_the_week-125x125The June 13th, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated is a beautiful tribute cover to Muhammad Ali.

This legendary boxing icon transcended sports and became a cultural force with respect to civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War.

Many covers have been done of him over the years, but this one certainly is a classic.




ali 1ali 2

ali 4ali 6

ali 7ali 3


Vacation Properties

Posted by Scott On June - 3 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

The Jul/Aug 2016 issue of Canadian Real Estate Wealth goes on sale June 20th.

The  Vacation Properties theme has been used in the past, and it always performs well.

This year’s cover features a very bold type treatment for the main sell.

Sep 2016 (Small)





Posted by Scott On May - 31 - 2016ADD COMMENTS

The Summer 2016 issue of Prairies North features a black cover treatment.

Rule #11 is that Color works better then Black & White, and White covers work better then Black Covers.

Rule #1 is that There are Always exceptions to the Rules.

This service-oriented cover feature requires a black cover, for obvious reasons.

PN Summer 2016 cover (Small)




Azure (10)
Canadian Geographic (10)
Check Up (110)
Circasaurus (49)
Cover Fight (20)
Cover of the Week (202)
Covers that Sell (260)
Esquire (10)
Hall of Fame (17)
New and Net-worthy (202)
Quiz Show (5)
Texas Monthly (10)
The Beaver (10)
Then and Now (34)
Uncategorized (11)

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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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