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Martha’s Sales Sink

Posted by Scott On November - 21 - 2019

Martha Stewart Living continues  its struggles in the Canadian market in 2019. With 8 of 8 issues so far all posting losses from prior year.

  • In 2018, sales were down 24%, with all 10 issues down.
  • In 2017, sales were down 13%, with just 1 of 10 issues up.
  • In 2016, sales were down 12%, with just 1 of 10 issues up.
  • In 2015, sales were down 29%, with all 10 issues down.
  • In 2014, Martha Stewart Living sold 13,820 copies per issue, and in 2018 they sold 5,653 copies per issue.   So far in 2019 they are averaging 4,426 copies per issue.

It’s a very crowded category, with excellent Canadian competitors that dominate the landscape in Canada.

Contributing to the problem is a cut in dealer coverage.

  • In 2018 dealers cut 16%.
  • In 2017 dealers cut 19%.
  • In 2016 dealers cut 1.4%
  • In 2015 dealers cut 6.1%

However, covers make a big difference too.

Check out these covers from Dec 2017, Dec 2018, and Dec 2019.  The 2017 (Live Wreath) cover is great, despite having the cover lines on the right instead of the left.  It sold 13,075 copies at a 54% sell-through, the best issue of the year.  Plus, it was up 91% or 6,842 copies more then the average of the other 9 issues that year.  The 2018 (Fake Stale Cookie Wreath) sold 8,467 copies, down 35% from prior year.  And I don’t hold out too much hope for the Dec 2019 cover (Charlie Brown Christmas Tree), which looks quite sparse and pathetic.

New Look for Fly Fusion

Posted by Scott On November - 13 - 2019

Fly Fusion (which was originally launched in 2006) has just unveiled a completely re-designed magazine, inside and out.

The Winter 2020 issue, which goes on sale November 26th, will have the following upgrades:

  • Changed width from 8 3/8” to 9” wide – adding a full inch to a double-page spread
  • Half-page ads were upgraded to a full bleed (from 7.25″ x 4.575″ to 9.125” x 5.479”)
  • Cover was upgraded to 80 lb cover weight – Matte stock with Grit UV coating
  • Interior pages changed from gloss to matte stock
  • Full redesign from cover to cover
  • Cover Price Increased from $7.95 to $8.99

The Publisher, Jennifer Bird, adds…

Our approach to this process was to dismantle the way we approached everything.  Strip the magazine down to the roots.  We examined what Fly Fusion meant to our team and what we wanted it to represent to the reader.  Then we built it back up based on those core values.  Virtually every aspect of the magazine has undergone some degree of change.  

First we changed our tag line from the dated “North America’s Fly Fishing Authority” to the more culturally relevant “The Soul of Fly Fishing”.  In doing so, we have given ourselves a bar by which to measure everything that appears within its pages.

Next, we looked at how we could change the materials used to impact the readers experience.  A matte stock gives images more depth and removes the text glare provided by the more traditional glossy coating.  The grit coating on the cover was thoughtfully selected in that it adds a tactile experience for the reader. The added width ensures extra impact with larger images and a cleaner design, featuring more white space.   And of course, our advertisers aren’t complaining as they now enjoy a significantly larger piece of real estate to feature their products. 

Finally, we wanted our most loyal readers, our subscribers, to receive an additional benefit for their commitment to Fly Fusion.  So, we have created a separate cover, clean from the traditional sell lines, that they can proudly feature on their coffee table…or toilet. We’re not picky!

The newsstand cover, and the subscriber cover, can be seen below:

Previous design looks:

A Message from Presse Commerce

Posted by Scott On February - 15 - 2018

One year after the acquisition of Express Mag by Presse Commerce (the leader in waiting room subscription through unsold newsstand copies), things are speeding up. Canadian publishers are now able to sell current subscriptions to waiting rooms along with individuals.

Express Mag has become known as the expert in managing subscriptions of imported and specialized publications. Today, Express Mag handles over 450 magazine titles in Canada and in the United States. Express Mag is the exclusive North American distributor of subscriptions of nearly 180 titles, including Paris Match, National Geographic (French), Géo and Courier International.

Presse Commerce for waiting room and Express Mag for individuals will act as agencies like the Ebsco, Campus discount and others of this world in collaboration with fulfillment agencies and the publishers.

Some interesting facts about Express Mag :

# Express Mag offers mail order services and subscriptions of collectible series. Tintin figurines are of great interest to fans all across North America. Every six weeks subscribers receive 60$ worth of figurines and the collection lasts for two and a half years! This made Express Mag a one of a kind customer service company.

# The operations has to beat the clock to service Paris Match and the several French and UK people or news weeklies : the plane lands and within 24 hours the magazines have cleared customs, polybagged, identified, stamped and finally given to Canada Post and a US delivery agency.

# The core business is in Canada and the USA, but the service reaches the entire world with customers from Guam to St-Petersburg (Russia). The customer list includes the Library of Congress of the United States of America as well as CBC’s journalists.

# For the 150th anniversary of Canada, subscribers could purchase 150$ worth of subscriptions leading to all kinds of different subscription options.

Folio: Pick 2017 Best Covers

Posted by Scott On January - 5 - 2018

In case you missed this…a good read…pan down for article.

Face Up Year in Review: The Best Covers of 2017
Five expert designers weigh in on their favorite covers of the year.

By Caysey Welton

One of our favorite traditions here at Folio: is looking back at the past 12 months and recognizing some of the most brilliant magazines covers from across the industry.

Magazine covers tell a visual story of the most important people, trends, and events in a given year. Whether it’s a trade, enthusiast, general interest, lifestyle, fashion, or news title, magazine covers are created to engage readers quickly and make them want to explore an issue further.

This year there literally thousands of terrific covers. Admittedly though, many were obscured by Donald Trump, who was the subject of some of the most talked about covers of the year. With that in mind, we feel it’s important to speak to the fact that no Trump covers made our short list of the year’s best. We assure you, it was not by design. The only rules we give our expert designers when they make their picks is that the covers must be from a U.S. magazine and they must be from a regular-frequency title-no special or one-off issues.

The fact that no Trump covers were selected speaks to the beauty of subjectivity. No doubt, several of those covers were smart, edgy, sometimes brutal in their social critique and, of course, extremely well done. And we are positive many will win awards. However, the six covers that are shown below made the list because they connected with the individuals who chose them.

Click any of the covers below to view them full-size

Magazine: Variety
Issue: October 17
Editors: Claudia Eller
 and Andrew Wallenstein
Art Directors: Cheyne Gateley and Chuck Kerr

Variety takes on the powered elite with their unflinching dismissal of Harvey Weinstein on its “Game Over” cover. The simple execution belies its forcefulness. Without resorting to tricks, the illustrated image of Weinstein, now a maligned and forever gone force, uses the slightly harsh lines of the illustration to illuminate the rot of this man’s harassment and crimes.

By simply showing him, with all his crags and bags, Variety lets the reader know where it stands on this hot-button topic, and it isn’t good for this former power player of all power players. He’s now little more than a middle-aged man who relied on being a gatekeeper to force women to his will. They have very effectively used subtlety to drive home their stance. The monotone illustration, rather than using a full color image, further diminishes Weinstein by removing any hint of health. He now borders on the grotesque.

 – Matt Strelecki, Creative Director, Meredith Agrimedia

Magazine: Harper’s Bazaar
Issue: October
Editor: Glenda Bailey
Design Director: Elizabeth Hummer

In a year dominated by Trump covers (and there were so many brilliant ones!), this gem from Harper’s Bazaar is such a visual treat: bright, simple, and unapologetically joyful. The interplay of the logo and the shadow is clever but doesn’t feel forced. And while putting the logo on a curve is not something I would typically endorse, it adds to the overall playfulness here. It’s definitely unexpected for a fashion title. I also love the image of Jennifer Aniston – as if she’s ready to take over the world, a fitting pose to mark the magazine’s 150th anniversary edition. Harper’s Bazaar has been doing some very interesting versions of its subscriber covers (for the November issue with Emilia Clarke, they completely changed their logo) but this is by far my favorite.

– Chin Wang, Creative Director, ESPN The Magazine and

Magazine: Newsweek
Issue: November 17
Editor: Bob Roe
Creative Director: Michael Goesele

I always love the idea of choosing a favorite thing but the reality is always a lot harder. There have been many covers this year that have impressed me and made me incredibly proud to still be part of the print design world. Esquire Spain’s ‘Walking Dead’ cover was inspired, Wired magazine’s ‘Love In The time of Robots‘ was slick and sexy.

But 2017 has obviously been clouded with the continual misadventures of Trump (cover catnip for designers), but also the allegations of sexual misconduct in the entertainments industry which sent shockwaves around the world. The latter for me was the most vital to see take visual form. Timemagazine and The New York Times Magazine both did extremely powerful covers on this subject, but Newsweek’s ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’ cover even manages to deliver a little humor to a subject so dark, a hard thing to do. There are perhaps better looking covers, but for me this ‘pops’.

– Chris Deacon, Creative Director, Playboy

Magazine: GQ
Issue: December
Editor: Jim Nelson
Design Director: Fred Woodward

This GQ cover of civil rights activist and professional athlete Colin Kaepernick was easily my magazine cover of the year. It’s a perfect fusion of art and politics, a brilliant and inspiring graphic statement, but done in a very understated-and because it’s GQ-very stylish way. Everything about this cover is just perfect: the quiet, powerful portrait by photographer Martin Schoeller, the brilliant Black Panther-influenced styling (I love the leather jacket and black turtleneck!), and of course, the hair. And design director Fred Woodward’s restrained and refined typography adds both style and gravitas.

The cover’s timing couldn’t have been better, appearing at the height of the controversy, sparked by Donald Trump, over professional athletes and political activism. There were so many great covers this year featuring critical images and commentary about Trump, covers that made me laugh and made me mad. But this GQ cover, celebrating the power and ability of one person to enact change, is the one that inspired me the most.

– Robert Newman, Creative Director, This Old House

Magazine: Esquire
Issue: December/January
Editor: Jay Fielden
Art Director: Raul Aguila 

This cover sums up the trend I love most about the cover design business this year. Who’d have thought we’d see a cover with the subject lying on a rain-slicked gray street, eyes closed, also spun 90 degrees? And that it’d be so beautiful?

Sure, it’s self consciously retro, but that’s not a criticism. Rather, it shows a confidence in the brand and the cover subject that’s much needed in these fearful times. No screaming cover lines, an image that’s not the standard eye-contact head and shoulders, but of someone you instantly recognize. It exudes attitude and certainty and promises me a magazine that I want to read, without feeling browbeat.

The only shame is, it’s not newsstand, but still, it’s glorious.

– David Gray, Design Director, Out

Magazine: Lucky Peach
Issue: Spring
Editor: Chris Ying
Art Director: Rob Engvall 

Lucky Peach’s ‘The Chicken Issue” embodies what has made the magazine a must-see and must-read in it’s too-short life. Born in an age when everyone was Instagramming their own food beauty shots-Lucky Peach broke through with a new aesthetic, and pushed other magazines to follow suit. Too precious top-down plates of food beautifully lit and paired with restrained typography were replaced by clay sculptures of food, audacious color, whimsical illustration and an overabundance of hand-lettering.

Spring 2017 exemplifies this sense of design adventure, fun and no fear. An inflatable chicken, which looks to be “shot” on a Xerox machine, is wrestled into frame-at once flat cartoon and 3D sculpture. The color, scale and wide-eyed gaze jump out at the viewer whether on newsstand or scrolling screen-everything a cover wants to do. It’s run has ended but the one-of-a-kind imagery will stay and inspire us left behind to keep reinventing. Thank you, Lucky Peach.

– Dave McKenna, Art Director, 5280

Editor’s Pick

Magazine: San Francisco Magazine
Issue: January
Editor: Jon Steinberg
Design Director: Clark Miller

I had a lot of favorite covers this year, one being the Harper’s Bazaaranniversary issue. But thanks to Cover Junkie’s tremendous work curating “ace covers” from North America and Europe, I was turned onto San Francisco Magazine’s 2017 Best Doctor’s issue. I’m a sucker for Americana and illustration and this cover so brilliantly plays on 18th and 19th century elixirs like snake oil.

Besides the really fun and thoughtful illustration, what I really dig about this is how it took a staple franchise for city magazines-best doctors-and had some truly creative fun with it. There are so many nuanced details on this cover you can spend a lot of time just working our eyes around the page. A cover like this should give magazine makers true inspiration when it comes to rethinking recurring annual features.

– Caysey Welton, Content Director, Folio:


Title…new launch by St. Joe’s

Posted by Scott On October - 27 - 2017

St. Joseph Communications, Media Group, has announced the launch of a new Men’s Fashion magazine…called The Title.  It replaces the former Men’s Fashion magazine.

The Title will be published 3 times per year…Winter, Spring, Fall.  The new magazine debuts on newsstands November 20th, 2017.

Editor-in-Chief, Greg Hudson said this in the Press Release:  “Our objective is to create a voice for Title that readers relate to.  That voice is one that’s smart, funny, addictive and, uncannily similar to their own.”

The magazine’s target is:  educated, affluent, creative men between the ages of 28 to 50.

The distribution model includes select geographical areas in the following newspapers:

  • National Post
  • Vancouver Sun
  • Montreal Gazette
  • Calgary Herald

And it will be delivered to carefully selected postal codes that will be delivered by Canada Post.

Plus, it will be polybagged with Fashion and available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart stores nation-wide.



Posted by Scott On May - 31 - 2016

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)


Cottage Life SIP Results

Posted by Scott On May - 1 - 2015

On December 2nd, 2013 Cottage Life produced a Special Interest Publication called:  How to Buy a Cottage.  The cover price was $9.99 compared to the regular price of $6.95. That’s a variance of $3.04 or a 44% increase in the price for the SIP.

So, how did it perform?

In a word, brilliantly.

The issue sold 9,444 units, and generated  $94,346 gross newsstand dollars.

The average sale of the regular six issues that year was 6,090 copies, generating $42,326 dollars.

Therefore the SIP sold 55% more copies than the average regular issue, and generated 123% more revenue.

No other issue from 2012 to 2015 has sold more copies.

The April 2015 issue of Cottage Life is a beauty.  It went on sale March 9th, and I suspect it will do well too!

I really love the Cottage Life West cover from January 2014, which is a best-seller since Cottage Life West took over from Cottage.

SIPApr 2015

winter 2014 (Small)



Panda Covers

Posted by Scott On October - 2 - 2014

Rule #30     If it works, keep doing it

Nov 1973Dec 1981

Mar 1986Feb 1993

Jul 2006

Legion Nominated for Gutenberg Award

Posted by admin On March - 25 - 2014

Legion Magazine has been nominated for a Gutenberg Award for the Design and Printing of the 2013 Victoria Cross SIP.

The press release goes on to say:

The Gala Gutenberg awards are presented by the Printability and Graphic Communications Instutute, formerly known as the Quebec Institute of Graphic Communications, to recognize excellence in graphics and the printing industry.

The 100-page magazine, published last fall, featured more than 100 archival photos and illustrations to go with a text by historian Hugh A. Halliday.  It’s striking cover, designed by the magazine’s art department, features an embossed Victoria Cross, and fold foil logo.

The winners will be announced at a gala in Montreal on April 22, 2014.

For more information on Legion Magazine contact:
613-591-0116  •


Posted by admin On March - 21 - 2014

I received a note from Kevin Brannigan, who offered high praise for this cover.

It does indeed very quickly convey the message.


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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