Covers Sell

Covers Sell

First Flight

Posted by Scott On April - 30 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The Jun/Jul 2018 issue of Canada’s History features Canada’s first female aviator.  Art Director James Gillespie commissioned this fabulous illustration to grace the cover.  The issue goes on sale May 28th.

Canada’s History does well with illustrated covers.  After all, often photographs just don’t exist.  So we improvise.

In 2017 we had two covers with illustrations, both posted sales gains of 12%.

Canada’s History is on a roll, with 3 of 6 issue in 2017 setting all-time new sales records for their time slot.  Plus, 5 of 6 issues were up from prior year, and overall sales were up 12%.



Posted by Scott On April - 27 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The May/Jun 2018 issue of Horse Canada features a “celebrity cover” with Amber Marshall of TV Show Heartland fame.

Art Director Sieu Truong has created a compelling and energetic cover, with a straight-ahead approach.  Good use of the important cover real estate and color to direct the reader’s eyes down the page.  Including the skybar, this cover packs in 9 different hooks to lure a newsstand sale and communicate value for money.

This issue goes on sale April 30th.  Based on past experience with Amber as a cover girl (Horse Canada has featured her on two previous covers) this one will be a winner too!



Summer is Coming…Really it is!

Posted by Scott On April - 19 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The Summer 2018 issue of Creative Scrapbooker is scheduled to hit newsstands on May 28th, 2018.

This gorgeous magazine is over-sized, perfect bound, always 150 pages thick, and retails for $12.95.

The Canadian gem, is now selling briskly in the USA too.  Sales in the USA in 2017 were up 84%!  Plus, the magazine’s sell-thru was a stellar 46%.


Cosmo’s Bad Date Again

Posted by Scott On April - 6 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

In this era of “extreme volatility” many “A List” women’s service magazines are taking a beating.  Even the great Cosmopolitan isn’t immune.

In 2017 all 12 issues of Cosmo were down in Canada…and for the entire year they were down a depressing 29%.

But it seems that even the pros in New York can make the same mistake two year’s in a row.

The Nov 2016 issue (Date Smarter) was down a staggering 47% from the prior year’s issue…making it the worst of 2016.

But yet, despite that spanking, the Nov 2017 issue returned to the same subject (Dating Now), which was down 46% from the previous year’s abysmal number.  That made it the worst of the year as well.  And it sold-thru at a humiliating 15.8%.  I believe this is the worst-selling issue ever in Canada.  I looked back 5 years and nothing else even comes close.

When the data speaks to you, don’t ignore it and repeat the same mistake over again. You’re just fighting yourself.


Nov 2015:  Sold: 68,548

Nov 2016:  Sold 36,141

Nov 2017:  Sold 19,456





Country Living: “Creativity” issue Flops

Posted by Scott On April - 6 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

“Extreme Volatility” is how I describe the newsstand environment these days.  Covers that once may have worked well-enough, now can be brutally punished.  So it’s more important than ever to get the cover right.

Case in Point:  Country Living magazine, who saw sales tumble 14% in Canada in 2017, with 8 of 10 issues posting declines.  At the top of the list of an avoidable self-inflicted mistake was the Sep 2017 cover that had a horse in the Kitchen (that’s normal right?), which resulted in loss of sale of 33%.  The previous year they had their Small Spaces themed cover in that time slot, which was the #1 seller in 2016.

But was the lesson (If it works, keep doing it) learned?  Apparently not.  Rather then go with their Makeovers themed cover, which was their #1 best-seller in 2017 in the Jan/Feb time slot, the decision was made to try a “Creativity” issue in 2018.  Result?  Sales down over 44%.





In Style…Not so Much!

Posted by Scott On April - 5 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

Let’s face it, 2017 was a tough year for a lot of “A List” women’s service magazines.  It’s what I call “extreme volatility”.  Covers that might have worked fine a few years ago, just don’t get the job done today.

Case in point:  In Style was down 22% in Canada in 2017.  Yikes!  Plus, 11 of their 12 issues were down.  It’s tough out there.  The June issue was down 50% from prior year.  November was down 34%.  February down 32%.  October down 30%.

The one bright spot in 2017 was their January issue, featuring Sarah Jessica Parker…up 14% from prior year…and 3rd best of the year.  But did they learn their lesson?  Apparently not.  The January 2018 issue is down 30%!  I’m not sure who that child is, but it sure isn’t Sarah Jessica Parker.

It’s hard to succeed when your covers fight against you.





Trump a Pig

Posted by Scott On April - 2 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

Not to be outdone by their crosstown rivals at the New Yorker, the April 2nd issue of New York magazine sports a cover depicting  President Trump as a pig. Excellent photo-shopping work!

As is typically the case, reactions to the cover are predictably partisan.  Comedian Kathy Griffin, who was investigated by the Secret Service for her decapitated Trump head,  loved it on Twitter.  Others ask the question: How would you feel, had Hillary Clinton won, if New York magazine made her into a pig? Would that be funny?

New York magazine is probably just loving all the attention and sreaming “Wee Wee Wee”, all the way to the bank.

Be controversial.


National Geographic: Racist

Posted by Scott On March - 27 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The April 2018 issue of the National Geographic came with a big dose of self-flagellation:  “For decades, our coverage was racist.”

Thus proclaims the new, and only 10th, editor of National Geographic, since its founding in 1888…130 years ago.  Susan Goldberg is the first woman, and the first Jewish person, at the top of the Masthead.  Her editorial letter goes on at great length talking about their many sins from the past.  She commissioned a renowned historian to dig into it and report on the findings bluntly.

“We asked John Edwin Mason to help with this examination. Mason is well positioned for the task: He’s a University of Virginia professor specializing in the history of photography and the history of Africa, a frequent crossroads of our storytelling. He dived into our archives.

What Mason found in short was that until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.

For us this issue also provided an important opportunity to look at our own efforts to illuminate the human journey, a core part of our mission for 130 years. I want a future editor of National Geographic to look back at our coverage with pride—not only about the stories we decided to tell and how we told them but about the diverse group of writers, editors, and photographers behind the work.

We hope you will join us in this exploration of race, beginning this month and continuing throughout the year.”

This has generated mostly praise from both the mainstream media and social media.

This cover, which has gotten plenty of free “earned media”,  showcases fraternal twins as a jumping off point for a discussion of race.  It will probably sell incredibly well.


Stopping the Panzers

Posted by Scott On March - 26 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The May/Jun 2018 issue of the Legion magazine is set to hit newsstands on April 30th.

Art Director Jason Duprau has created another “poster-quality” cover.  Lightly colorized archival image, bold type treatment, clean and focused feel, with strong central image, and a layered, 3-d effect, are all hallmarks.


New Yorker Body Shames Trump

Posted by Scott On March - 22 - 2018ADD COMMENTS

The March 26th, 2018 issue of the New Yorker is generating a lot of buzz, both roars of laughter and twitter users denouncing “body shaming”.

Artist Barry Blitt has created a memorable and emotive illustration that is sure to help it sell.

Folks on the left seem a bit conflicted.  Sure, they say, fat-shaming is terrible and wrong, but in this case, well, he deserves it.

The irony of Fox News publishing this nugget is quite rich:  “While many critics chimed in with responses calling the image “disgusting” and “repulsive,” others accused the image of mocking the president for his physical appearance – which is generally frowned upon in the current cultural landscape.”

Some outraged Conservatives tweeted:  “Why is his weight relevant?”  Or “Imagine the s–t storm had Madame @HillaryClinton won and a magazine had decided to run a cover of her along these lines.”

Is it wrong to Fat Shame?  I guess it just depends.  But I’ll bet it helps sell this issue!





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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