Thursday, December 4, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: The Looming Pullback or the Start of Something Bigger?

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: The Looming Pullback or the Start of Something Bigger?

Re: Magazines, And The Looming Pullback In Automobile Adv
Auto advertising and Rick Wagoner. Why is that name so familiar? We all know he recently flew in his corporate jet to the Congressional hearings, but how many remember him from a few years ago as the guy who tried to merge church and state by intimidating magazine publishers with threats to pull GM's advertising unless favorable editorial appeared in the same magazines? That's called extortion. This is the same guy who brought us the Hummer and the Lincoln Navigator. If GM gets bailout money, Wagoner's departure must be a precondition to any financial assistance. And, if David Pecker is such a strong supporter of the auto industry, why did he close AMI's auto titles a few short months after forcing their move to Detroit? What goes around, comes around. Sadly, this development will does not bode well for mass circulation magazines.
(Submitted by a Senior Dir of Mfg)

Re: Consumers Bugged by Many Ads
Reminds me that there are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies, and
(Submitted by an Industry Icon)

RE: What Makes the ebook Experience Potentially Viable
If things get any worse, we are going to using real books and mags for kindling.
(Submitted by a Senior Dir of Mfg and Dst)

Re: NYT's 10K subscribers on Kindle: The start of something bigger?
The only major issue I see with the logic at the end of this piece, is that subscribing to something on the kindle downloads it - so it's on the device. If you're reading it on the web, and you lose signal . . . in the subway, or at any point during your commute (when I assume most people use the device) . . . then suddenly it's no good. And I think there is a major draw for e-readers if we get them tailored to the point where students can use them for text books and for research . . . i think they have HUGE potential as research/reference tools that are not currently being exploited. Add a ready, searchable reference tool in addition to being able to search in books, and suddenly you can save articles and then search through them later to find the one you saved. You could actually create a device that has everything any consumer reads on it, where they can go "I know I read something about this..." and search and pull up exactly what they read.

Of course this will only be helpful with news if they remember this will have the opposite effect as the internet - it will lengthen circulation of each issue and each article so they will have to do more editing, not less. When people refer to something again and again errors will be less likely to slip through; if too many mistakes are present, it will discredit the paper, and people will not continue to buy it.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Mumbai Attack and Social Media
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. George Bernard Shaw
We gave up dreading liberty long ago, and shelved it instead. Liberty has been replaced with license, which is much less demanding on us as individuals and as a culture but only in the short term. Freedom, properly understood, means the freedom to do the right thing, not the freedom to do anything. Freedom to do anything based on the whims of our convenience and comfort is license, not liberty. It is what we currently practice. And it cannot last.
(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: Where mail goes to die...
Bob- This is symptomatic of Philadelphia. We should not be surprised.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

RE: Magazine Survival Thoughts..
Bob: I'm a former publisher of a few titles in the consumer print magazine biz; I was always a bit of a maverick in this industry, as I truly believed that our role, in the media, is not to sell customers advertising. Heretical as that may sound, I rather believe it was our role to sell their products and services. I have quite a few customers who could not agree more. Seems simple on the face of it, but the stark reality is that the magazine industry has rarely served in this capacity.

In media, we live in a zero-base market, where advertisers/agencies retreat to a re-evaluation of their media plans each year. How you have managed their ads, where you placed them, the discounts you've given and the added value you've thrown on top is irrelevant in the analysis. The full value of the medium or property is never exposed or exploited. When times get tough, and spending dials back, there's no foothold with the customer that ensures further business...all you get is a 'we're sorry'.

When you elevate the business philosophy to leverage captive and external assets to effect results on sales, you now transcend zero-base media planning. Immediately, the conversation shifts to 'what can you do for me next'. Customers will ALWAYS spend money with vendors that drive their business...regardless of what is happening to their traditional media budgets. I can cite one customer that sustained a 50% budget cut, and left my magazine untouched; we were intimately partnered in far too many shared initiatives that precluded a cut.

Publishers attempt to speak this language, and throw 'partnership' around with abandon; but, in reality, it's business as usual and they've taken no ownership of their customers business. Should they be surprised at the mass exodus of ad dollars? They shouldn't be...

So, where's this leading?

I've foretold the demise of magazines as we know them for the last 4 years. Why? Our business model underpinnings are irreparably broken; there's no fixing it. The 'too bad' part is that consumers still LOVE magazines- they really do- but we as publishers cannot make the candy store work anymore. Cost of reader acquisition is through the roof, ad rates are heavily negotiated, rate increases are tied solely to circulation increases, production costs and distribution costs continually escalate, and when was the last time someone paid for bleed? Add it all up, and we're in the midst of the perfect storm, and publishers have been selling ads.

Now, in the super-heated environment that surrounds us, the burner has really been turned-up, and the the pot has boiled-down and exposed the frailties of the business model. Just selling ads has left them painfully exposed, and now in trouble.

The fix is 1) a philosophical sea-change in how they conduct their business/ad sales, or 2) a shift to digital, and I don't mean a website, as impressions bought at $3.00 cpms is not an acceptable solution for anyone's business. So, I'll give you a hint: in my view, magazines fail for a couple of reasons: escalating costs, and mercurial ad dollar flow. Digital, done innovatively, can field the incremental cost ball and produce meaningful cpms; but why underwrite the business cost structure upfront, and then attempt to sell ads after? Why not take greater ownership of your customer's business and drive sales of goods and services?

Forgive the blatant pitch for investment funds, but there is a better way. Not to be coy, but I have that answer and business model ready to, if I only had the seed capital to make a go of it....

Guess that's what happens when the creativity well is deep, and the pockets are shallow .. .
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Monday, December 1, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: LIFE Magazine and Good Editors

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: LIFE Magazine and Good Editors

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: LIFE Magazine Photo Archive
Yea, it was a damned good magazine.
When it folded in '72, that decided it, off to art school, to hell with photojournalism.
Little did I know I'd be working on the inaugural edition of the 'new' Life as a prod assist for Time Inc. in 1978 at the old RRD Prairie Ave. Dept. EG ('electronic graphics') office, trying to figure out with the rest of the team how to fast close gravure . . .
(Answer: print four colors sans text, rewind, and print a late text cylinder).
Why is that writers are always allowed to be late, but not photographers?
(Submitted by a CIO)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: LIFE Magazine Photo Archive
LIFE magzine was the best magazine ever was.
Iconic, simple, brilliant, moving, intoxicating, and cross generational. What else can be said?
(Submitted by a multi-title Publisher)

Re: Which Consumer Magazines are the Next to Fold?
There is something terribly morbid about guessing the death of magazines.
How about guessing what we media companies will do okay in a down economy?
(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: A Book in Need of a Good Editor
Losing editors also removes much of the pleasure of writing a book. Heaven knows it can be tedium, and there are few things as refreshing as calling your editor, addressing some point, and then just talking for a few minutes as though you were still a member of the human race and not an author locked away, most likely for the greater good.
(Submitted y a Writer)

RE: A Book in Need of a Good Editor
This is especially true today, when books have to compete for their slice of the entertainment pie. If they want to fill that gap in consumer's lives, they need to provide a product worth buying.
(Submitted by an Unknown)

RE: Flexible Displays Closer to Reality, Thanks to U.S. Army
Wonderful, but why must everything start with warfare?
(Submitted by a CEO)

Re: Opinion: Turning the Page
And then there was one! I sure hope that is not the future of our collective businesses. As we all try to reinvent ourselves and the economic bumble bursts once again, we have to believe there will be another trend or idea that we all want to have or be part of good fortune. It's hard to imagine right now what the next opportunity will be with all the bad news in the markets. But some how, some way, we will be lured into another great scheme that will give us hope and allow us to think that this will be the new economic model of good fortune.
The question should be asked, can the magazine become the comeback kid in a down market? I believe that the magazine will make a come back in this economic downturn. Heck, maybe this period of slow growth and raising unemployment will give way to the American people actually cutting back on excessive spending on the must have, but don't really need it products. The consumer might have to find ways to cut spending and take a look at their monthly expenditures. Maybe even electing to cut out cable or their internet service and look for other ways to receive information. Or possibly, they might find reading a magazine more entertaining then surfing the internet or trying to find something to watch on their 60" flat screen TV. Now is the time to promote the value of a magazine in its original format. Separate the high cost of cable or internet from the low cost portability of a magazine. Turn off your electronics and save money on your eclectic bill and reduce your carbon footprint. There are many ways to reinvent ourselves, but we need to all band together and move this very large rock up the hill. Focus on the consumer and market their needs in a changing environment. Heck, maybe the next great thing is right under our nose? As the financial commercial once said, "we make money the old fashion way, we earn it! Now there's a thought!
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: While it is Bad, it is not 2000-2002 for Printers
Bob, In Terry Tevis's account of the "Perfect Storm" that exacerbated the print downturn of 2000-2002, he doesn't mention the seminal events of 9/11/01 as contributors to that storm. Everyone got scared - publishers hunkered down, consumers got more cautious in their buying habits and government focus turned hard toward anti-terrorism with the result that printers felt a direct downward impact.
(Submitted by a Printer)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Newsstands, Editors and Circ

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric."
Bertrand Russell (English Logician and Philosopher 1872-1970)

Re: Bo-Vent - Today, I Only Have Questions
Bob, I have done some work in the UK newsstand market and over 30 years in the North American market. One difference I have always noted, which may be part of the answer to one of your questions; the retailers in the UK care about selling magazines and newspapers. It is their livelihood. If a title is low in stock, they call up and re-order. How many supermarket, drug store, or discount store managers or their employees actually care about the magazine category? How many have any clue about what magazines are selling in their stores and in what quantities? Many category buyers don't even seem to care except when it comes time to place new checkouts and the IPO $$ signs ring in their heads. Yet magazines are always ranked high in profitability among all general merchandise categories. So why is there this disconnect both at the corporate and store levels? Unless this changes, we will never achieve the sames sales levels as our frineds across the pond.
(Submitted by a Single Copy Newsstand Mgr.)

Re: Bo-Vent - Today, I Only Have Questions
While this is only a part of the differences - they do distribute much differently. Most of the magazines distributed in Europe - including the subscription copies - are sent to the newsstand - this is due to the exorbitant EU postage rates.
(Submitted by a Senior Production Consultant)

Re: Bo-Vent - Today, I Only Have Questions
Hey Bo,Don't believe everything or probably anything you read about U.K. circulation. Cant speak for the rest of Europe
At the moment there is not a day goes by without industry closures being announced and staff cutbacks.

Within this economic cycle or credit crunch, call it what you like, the U.K. is probably lagging around 3 months behind the US.
So keep your eyes and ears opened close to the end of the year and see where Europe stands then.

Your paragraph about the business model can be partly explained by the difference in the distribution chain setup, the amount of magazine retailers and of course the amount of available titles. Then honesty creeps into the equation.

Moving on, text messaging is certainly playing a major part plus all the other distractions that we have provided the youth of today with in the name of progress, don't blame them, look to the future Bo in 10 years someone will have created a translator to turn all your writing over the years into text language so the kids can understand what it was you were on about.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Bo-Vent - Today, I Only Have Questions
The reason subscriptions are more expensive in Europe is that nobody subscribes. People get their magazines from the corner newsagent, shoved through the letter-slot once a week or once a month along with the newspapers; therefore the publishers cannot brag to their advertisers about how many subscribers they have, so there's no reason to sell subs cheaply.
All good newspapers in Europe are national papers, and a lot of papers and magazines have a stronger identity than in this country. The conservative mantra about the press being dominated by liberalism is hogwash; the trouble with most American newspapers is that they don't seem to believe in anything much, while in Britain if you buy the Guardian or the Telegraph you know exactly what you're getting. And looking after a newstand in this country I can tell you that the British mags, even UK editions of USA mags, are aiming higher than armchair pilots who watch too much television.
(Submitted by a Semi-retired writer in Iowa who lived in England for 25 years)

Re: Bo-Vent - Today, I Only Have Questions
OK, now we're up to three. I tell you, these questions are dog whistles for me.
I'd like to point out that there is text messaging in Europe and I recall reading that their wireless systems are more advanced than ours. So maybe it's our educational system or maybe it's the more than 30 years of relentless teacher and higher education bashing by our politicos. wev
Go to B&N or Borders and pick up the English and other foreign magazines. Lay them out next to some of their "sisters" or "brothers" from the big publishers.
There's your answer. Their stuff is good. Good editors. Good writing. Good content.
Our stuff. Looks good, mass produced, designed for the advertiser. Same for our newspapers.
(Submitted by a Vice President, Circulation)

Re: Kohl's, JCPenney Look to Reduce Print Advertising
Bo, while the free standing insert business may be an important revenue source for the struggling newspapers, there is a downside to these inserts as well. I've stopped buying the Providence Journal on Sunday, solely because the volume, weight, and inconvenience of all these extra, and by me unwanted, inserts. If I want something from Best Buy, or Home Depot, my first choice in today's world is via Google, where I have yet to be unable to purchase what I am looking for on line. Last week it was a porch swing; the local garden store had only two models, and was out of stock on the one I wanted. Back home, I found exactly what I wanted for 25% less, and shipping of only $10 from Illinois to the northeast. Why do I need freestanding newspaper inserts, especially when I have to DRIVE to get to the sales these inserts are promoting?
Submitted by a Senior Director of MFG and DST)

Re: Are Editors a Luxury that we can Do Without?
Hey Bo, I got a great idea! Let's get rid of the accountants and MBA's first. They're the ones who started this clusterf*ck in the first place!

And you know what? I've got a really cool 5 point plan to help us implement this new self contained-turnkey strategy that will help us prioritize our markets, increase our margins and make it possible to flip the company in three years while increasing our stock prices 23.267%! Let's meet at 10:00AM in the Grande(tm) Conference room and Charlie will show you the powerpoint.

What's that you say? Crappy content is crappy content? Who cares, we've got a 5 point plan! Each point has 5 sub points! It was written by our new Senior Strategic Coach Advisor! He used to work for Time/Warner but he recently became available to us. He's so cool! And he knows how to contain costs! I'll show you over dinner. We'll charge it to the company.
(Submitted by a VP of Circulation)

Re: Are Editors a Luxury that we can Do Without?
bob, everyone except God needs an editor . . .
(Submitted by a Senior Publisher)

RE: Is this the dumbest generation EVER?
I don't buy into the overly simplistic and self-congratulatory notion of all younger people are idiots compared to ourselves. I have teenagers at home. Some of the classes they and their friends have taken and will take in high school are: calculus; advanced calculus; post modernist literature (including reading maybe five novels in one semester); advanced placement
American history, including the need to marshal extensive outside reading to support daily written compositions; levels of French and Spanish that require semi-fluent levels of conversation during classes; physics, chemistry, and biology; environmental sciences; "advanced" humanities, which is a synthesis of literature, art, sociology, psychology, and a number of other studies; and all that is on top of most of them working *and* playing
sports *and* taking part in other extra curricular activities. They regularly discuss and debate current events and, unlike many of their elders, at least try to do something about them. And this is the generation that people, who find it fashionable to be unable to do something as simple
as following directions to set the time on a VCR or DVD player, dismiss as being intellectually unworthy?
(Submitted by a Writer)

RE: Where Publishers Are Thriving
Fascinating article on German publishing. It reminded me of a comment I heard a few years ago from a senior American publishing executive: "No German magazine publisher has ever successfully expanded into the U.S." As far as I know, he's right. It's a slightly different publishing environment . . . but different enough, apparently.
(Submitted by a Senior Publisher and BoSacks Cub Reporter)

RE: How Can We Cure the Ill's of the Single Copy Sales

It was fascinating in an aggravating sort of way to read Professor Husni's presumptuous thoughts on single copy sales. I have to say: circulation departments deserve a lot more credit than he's giving them, and I'll bet most publishers aren't quite as dumb as the article implies either. Professional circulators analyze reader acquisition costs in excruciating detail, with mountains of real-world data. No one can tell why a publisher picked a price, set a rate base, or chose a sales channel by looking at magazines on a newsstand . . . especially in today's incredibly complex and competitive marketplace. Since publications with good strategies will prosper and magazines with bad strategies won't, Husni's opinions are pretty much beside the point. The market will trump uninformed punditry every time.
(Submitted by a Senior Publisher and BoSacks Cub Reporter)

Re: Discovering Real Magazine Profit in Sustainability
While in substantial agreement with your part of this piece I do have one or two beefs with the EPA precepts, which I found fuzzy and incomplete.

1. environmental protection does not preclude economic development.

A major omission was made in failing to include the qualifier "necessarily," as in "environmental protection does not necessarily preclude economic development." When applied ideologically, religiously (as many greens do), or bureaucratically it can not only preclude development but cause regression in the standard of living.

2. economic development must be ecologically viable now and in the long run.

This makes sense. Of course, the rub is in how "ecologically viable" is defined but that's a much longer story. See point 1 comments for the short version.

The biggest flaw in the EPA precepts is their failure to complete the thought and add:

3. environmental protection must be economically viable now and in the long run.

This is the key to making sustainability work. It is prosperity that enables environmentalism. If people did not understand the story of the Chinese economy before the Olympics, one look at Beijing's air should tell the tale. If you don't have a job and can't feed your family you don't really care if the river is dirty or the air is gray. The needs of people must be met first.
(Submitted by a printer)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Finally Some Uplifting News

I was going to buy a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking, and then I thought: What the hell good would that do?
Ronnie Shakes

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Finally Some Uplifting News
RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
For me, some of the news is a downer because many people do not read between the lines. Because many companies that I work with and for react to the news, instead of trying to understand it and then see what positives they can take out of it.

I see a lot of companies with their heads in the sand. Or, conversely, I see companies that are running around like Chicken Little declaring that the sky is falling.

It's not, but if you don't watch out, you'll trip and fall.

What I am doing today is remarkably different from what I did 5 or 10 or even 15 years ago. That excites the heck out me. I love the research capabilities that are available and I love being able to work the data to reveal proper interpretations. I love the presentation capabilities I have now.

On the other hand, the thing that I miss is the independent thought and engagement I used to have. I used to be able to sell. I used to be able to persuade. I used to be able to call on experienced people who looked at data and made an "educated' decision (sometimes the wrong one). I used to have long standing, long nurtured business relationships. Now I call on educated people who can't or won't make a decision because all of the decision making has been taken out of the process. There is no selling.

However, there are accountants and MBA's, but we've already talked about them.
(Submitted by a Vic e President, Circulation)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
Bo: I agree with your sentiments and as one who "publishes" a news briefing daily, I share your struggles to find positive news about our industry. My focus is on the paper industry, however, I also include news pertaining to the many end users of paper, print and packaging. Our industries will only prosper if the folks earning a living from them make the conscious decisions to be informed and to become part of the solution.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
Bob - you are reporting on the state of our industry and the tangential factors that impact it as well. For any subscriber to perceive your reporting as too much bad news, they are not looking at the information in an intelligent way, nor are they perceiving the value of the news that you report. I find the BoSacks reports to be vital to how I do business today and how I plan for tomorrow. Keep them coming Bob, don't let the "doom viewers" bring you down!!
(Submitted by a Senior Industry Consultant)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
Bob - Since you asked: Ten years ago I was blissfully enjoying being a print publisher. Five years ago I thought I knew how to cross the Web/print divide. Today I'm thrashing around, thinking 'Damn, I used to be good at this stuff. What happened?'

Today I'm finding the biggest challenges are not coming up with creative and interesting ideas for Web properties, but in getting consensus for these ideas among our staff and owners while trying to keep print revenues ahead of print expenses. Yikes.

Two or three years ago, I told you something like, 'At my age, I wish the Web had come along either 10 years earlier or 10 years later.' This is still true. A new Golden Age of publishing may be dawning, but so far it's mostly only from the consumer's perspective.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
Keep preaching it! There has never been more opportunity in publishing than right now, it just won't be the publishing we have ever known, or can even understand at this point.
Thanks for the great stories!
(Submitted an Unknown)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
I don't know, Bob, I haven't heard any uplifting news of late.
In the beginning of this year, people in my industry (PR) were saying that they were knocking on wood because they weren't feeling that the recession was having an effect on their business. The theory was that clients wouldn't put their money in advertising because it was pretty much passé and ineffective, but PR was becoming more and more important, so business was good.

I wondered to myself how we were going to get the message out with all the "old media" dying off. We PR people do understand how to engage in two-way dialogues, so we grasp much better than people from the ad world how to work in the world of online social media. Social media are all very well and good, but they are not necessarily the right vehicle for every client. For example, I just don't think a mutual fund client would buy launching a new mutual fund via Facebook and Twitter - the client wants professional journalists to write about the new fund. By the same token, B2B tech clients need their trade magazines (whether online or in print) to get the word out to customers, but the trade media are going through just as tough a time as the consumer media.

I've heard younger PR people complaining that the job market is tightening up, too. It seems that out-of-work journalists are pouring into the PR profession, which they used to treat with the utmost scorn, and flooding PR agencies and headhunters with their resumes! There are many applicants going after the available jobs. At the same time, potential clients are also now hesitating about committing their budgets, and taking a wait-and-see attitude, so agencies aren't hiring the way they were a year ago.

All in all, it's not such a rosy picture as my colleagues were painting at the beginning of the year.
(submitted by a PR Person)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
A friend recently told me that the only way she likes her morning
coffee is with cream, sugar and Bosacks. She's right.

"Today, I Only Have Questions"
"The Unbearable Lightness of Art Supplies"
"Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks?"
Pass the biscuits.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
Bo, It must be an age thing. I am in the production side of the business and I love it. I am having the time of my life envisioning my company's future and great world of communication we are creating, right here, right now. I have 12 years of publishing background and I love the digital directions we are bound for. You are correct what's not to like?
(Submitted by a Production Director)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
I think you're doing fine. I'm not interested in all the subjects you cover, but if people in these industries have their heads in a hole, they'll deserve to lose out. As a lifelong music freak and record collector, I can tell you that that industry is many times bigger than it was when I was a kid . . . . It took until 1947 for the record biz to sell as many units as it had in 1929, then it quadrupled during the 1950s, and now with downloading, digital copying etc it's in another crisis, but a lot of the music could disappear and nobody would miss it. Looking after a newsstand now, I can tell you that there are so many haircut mags, wedding mags, gun mags, car mags etc that there is bound to be a clearout with so much info available online. I am also the author of an A-Z reference book which once earned royalties, and is now on the Internet, the natural place for it. But books and magazines won't disappear. Ever.
(Submitted by a Semi-retired writer in Iowa)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
Hey-it is hard to find articles that are uplifting. I've been in the industry over 20 years and my life and job in production (manufacturing and operations - magazines) has changed DRASTICALLY. A few years ago when my division was sold twice, I started realizing production as I know was not going to take me to retirement. I recently went back to school and got a Masters in Health Administration - looking to leave publishing as soon as I can. But what I tell young people is IF they are interested in production, obviously they need to work for companies that have a big online component - and for people my age looking for that next production job - I ask WHY - how long will you have that job before you are downsized or outsourced? Keep telling it like it is with a dash of uplifting news whenever you can find it . . .
(Submitted by a Production Person)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
Bo, It must be an age thing. I am in the production side of the business and I love it. I am having the time of my life envisioning my company's future and great world of communication we are creating, right here, right now. I have 12 years of publishing background and I love the digital directions we are bound for. You are correct what's not to like?
(Submitted by a Production Director)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
Those that are purposely tuning you out for speaking the truth are no different than my 4 year old who plugs his ears each night when I tell him it's time for bed . He knows its bed time, and that it's inevitable that he put his pajamas on, brush his teeth and read books - but he figures if he tunes me out he can stay up and party a little longer. He's in a state of denial, as are publishers who think they can continue to do business the way they did 10 years ago.
Don't stop the truth. It will set us all free.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Finally Some Uplifting News From BoSacks
I have been in circulation for just over 6 years now, and have seen first hand how difficult it is for magazines. I feel lucky that early in my career I found your newsletter. Whenever I have changed magazines, I've always made sure to update my address with you so that I can be sure to keep the Bosacks coming! Although I have to admit that I don't read every article, every day, I always read the subject lines to see if I can glean something from the articles. BUT I have never skip an email because I thought of them as too negative. It's usually only due to time constraints.
I think you're right on the button with what you are saying here - and I just want to thank you for everything that you do! You're an inspiration to me.
Keep up the good work and don't let the negative naggies get you down. The other thing that I have found in my job is that nobody ever complains that you're doing too good a job and so sometimes these letters get seem out of proportion. I bet you'll get lots of comments similar to mine.
(Submitted by a Circulator)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Magazine Measurement ,

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Magazine Measurement ,
Magazine Profit, Manufacturing Woes
Re: Magazine Measurement: Right Direction, Wrong Speed
Ms. Frank lays out some important truths about the intrinsic value of magazines, truths you and I have discussed and analyzed and beaten to death for years. The problem, as I see it, with putting this truth to work for the mutual benefit of advertisers and publishers (and, not incidentally, printers) remains the same. Media buyers are entry level kids who know only what they know, which amounts to very little. They have grown up planted in front of a screen, being told everything else will pass away but the Internet will not pass away.

This results in media money poorly spent and clients ill served. And the fault lies neither with the inexperienced media buyers nor with magazines. The fault lies with upper management in the ad agency community who are too busy with the sexier, creative aspects of their agencies to rethink what actually helps to sell their clients to consumers. This amounts to nothing less than negligence and perhaps malfeasance.

As a legendary ad man said, "If it doesn't sell, it's not creative." One hopes that someone in agency management will remember this, use it to reinvent the lost art of effective media planning, and perhaps make his own legend in the process
(Submitted by a Printer)

Re: Discovering Real Magazine Profit in Sustainability
The future can't be paper bob, it has to be devices and downloads. 100 per cent sell through means no newsstands. I live in the burbs where optimum on line already delivers 90 per cent of the media that comes into my house via my local distributor cablevision. I am sure they would be happy to set up a digital newsstand for me and add it to my ever growing cable bill and even supply me the hardware to read it on in addition to the various modems and cable boxes they supply and service).
(Submitted by an Industry Supplier)

Re: The Classic Rock Magazine Is Switching to a Smaller, Rack-Friendly Size
That's a mistake. It will get lost on the newsstand. Size matters.
Submitted by an Unknown)

Re: Reading in Public Accounts for 45% of All Magazine Reading
Bob, just how many pages of a magazine does the patient in a Dr's or Dentist office actually get to see or read. Bet it is not more than 25%. Dentist office yoy do not take publication to the chair. Dr's office you might- Eye Dr's office you have to wait, and might see 50% of the full copy. Just do not agree with that survey. Unless someone is very EARLY for appointment your wait is usually under 10 minutes.
Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: PPA warns members against magazine sharing website
Oh, this is beautiful. It isn't enough that our industry is in the crapper. Now we are going to go after people WHO ACTUALLY WANT TO READ! Targeting file sharer's certainly worked for the RIAA and the music companies, didn't it?

Anyone think that file sharing can be a good thing? After all, it's eyeballs on our products. And since most of us are giving away our content on our sites, we should be looking at monetizing the peer to peer process.

Do advertisers care if readers are buying magazines vs downloading them for free versus controlled circ? It's not the method of transmission, it's the message!
Submitted by an Executive Director of Manufacturing)

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit
Bo, I love your newsletter and I also love my Kindle. It doesn't replace reading books, it supplements them; just the way you often describe online reading supplementing newspapers and magazines.

When I have an interest in a subject, I can download sample chapters of several books from that niche for free. Then I can download the entire book I perceived
as the most valuable immediately, most of the time for only $9.99.
O.K., reading the kindle is not the same experience as reading the physical book, but there are many advantages I haven't discussed that make it a great informational tool, and it is now in my briefcase daily right next to my laptop computer.
Submitted by an Unknown)

RE: Facing Today's Woes
Ink? She wants me to get all concerned about ink prices going up? That's 4% of my print bill. (Not sure where you get 8% from Alex, unless you are running a 16-color,16-page form.) Ink could go up 50% and I would still be "unscathed" so bring it on you Printers! Raise my ink prices! Go ahead! Make my day! It's about time the cost of ink increased since the cost of oil has gone up 400% in less than a year. Most Printers have not passed on fuel surcharges, let alone the cost of ink so it's about time. Although some inks are soy based, most inks are still made from oil. (Gee Alex, why do you always make the Printers out to be the sneaky, underhanded, bad guys? Clearly, this ink increase is prompted by the greed of the oil companies and us self-absorbed Americans who can't stop driving our cars. Don't blame the Printers. It ain't their fault.)

P.S. "Keep your guns in their holsters?" I have purchased printing for 20+ years and I have never found it necessary to wear my holster--let alone bring my guns--for negotiating a printing contract. All my printers wear white hats.
Submitted by a Senior Manager, Production)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Free Textbooks Coming Near You
Bottom line is you can't get something for nothing! Doesn't matter if it's
textbooks, music, magazine, etc. etc. Someone has to create the content!
(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: Magazine People - Arrive to Teach Ink-Stained Wretches a Thing or Two
Bob, This was a great bit. Since no one I know has a working crystal ball, I won't dare profess to know what could really save the newspaper industry. Maybe it just needs to implode, go niche and come back up as something no one has even thought of? Who knows? One thing I do know - as a former Times Mirror person - is that the LA Times has and has had such deep rooted problems, from mega-inflated budgets to a management hierarchy that would make Homeland Security look like a modern marvel of efficiency. Somehow they always pumped out great news despite themselves, but as a business it was a publishing tsunami. So people shouldn't get too bent out of shape about this cute little magazine diversion. In the scheme of things, it is just a bit of seaweed on Otis Chandlers' surfboard.
(Submitted by a Senior Sales person)

RE:IPDA Newsstand Forum.
Bob- Saw you published items from the August issue of IPDA Newsstand Forum. We're always glad to see you pick up and redistribute our articles.

However, as we explained, in this case, one article, "Putting A Rough First Half in Perspective," was not yet finalized when you picked it up from our site (we hadn't yet actually sent the August issue out to our email subscribers). Thanks for offering to publish the link into the Newsstand Forum site, for those who might be interested in reading that full article and other content in our August issue:

RE: The Numbers
Bo, A good one. My answer to all this cutting back of advertising is my wife, Judy and yours truly. We refuse to watch TV because of all the advertising glut. Nightly National Network news is so loaded with advertising, the actual news is incidental to the ads. Likewise, the PGA has allowed so much advertising, that the actual play is incidental to the ads. Exceptions to this are the Masters and British Open, both of which limit the amount of advertising so they are fun to watch because you get to see a lot of great golf.

I historically listened to WBBM radio out of Chicago because they built their reputation as the "all news radio station" Not anymore you cannot dial into that station without hitting an ad 80% of the time. As far as I am concerned they should change their moniker to "the all advertising news radio station". At least we can get the traffic and weather on the 8's, and sports at 15 after and 15 before the hour. what a shame.

The weather channel on cable has gone down the same path, where they used to have interesting topics inserted between weather news, has been replaced by ads. Same situation, the local weather news comes on the 8's. Do not dial in 3 minutes before the 8's because guess what , you are right, ads, sometimes 2 to 3 straight minutes of them.

The last survey we saw was well over 60% of TV viewers complained there are too many ads. Takes a few of the big guys like P&G and Johnson and Johnson to voice there displeasure with a medium and make cuts. Remember, P&G is the Pied Piper in the consumer products industry and the rest of the suppliers to consumers will take notice and follow suit.
(Submitted by a paper Person)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak out: Kindle, News and Magazines

BoSacks Readers Speak out: Kindle, News and Magazines

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit

"He says that paper's immutability means that: "The book you place on your nightstand as you drift off to sleep will be exactly the same book when you wake up in the morning." This comforts us. . . . "Every fifth book that my eyes wander over is not yet read. It is waiting for me to pick it up. Some would think this a terrible waste, but I take comfort in having books at the ready."

OK- perhaps the Kindle is not the perfection of the electronic read. But articles like this make me despair. I confess. I have thousands of books at my home. But I also now have a Kindle.
I look at the copy of the most recent War and Peace translation I purchased last year, and wish I had it on my Kindle instead- I might actually lift it up to read! (but perhaps not the book- although my chiropractor wishes I would!)

These "odes" to print are sounding more and more elitist and detached. Are we to say that those millions of people who can't afford a personal library are somehow diminished irrevocably? Those unfortunates who patronize libraries- where books are shared, not owned?

Come on- can we please get back to the content! Reading trash (not that there's anything wrong with that, if it's your thing) is reading trash, whether it's from dead trees on your nightstand, or anonymously bound into the black "faux-leather" Kindle cover, or on a computer monitor or blackberry. Get people reading, whatever the medium. Help these readers become critical readers. Make people want more, not less, well-written and researched content.
Delivery moves on, intelligence has to be nurtured . . . This is what should demand our attention!
Submitted by a Senior Circulator)

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit

And why does the author not go back to a horse and buggy? In that way he will not "miss the pleasure" of feeding his conveyance real food in lieu of gasoline. Likewise, I would guess he wrote this piece using a computer. What's wrong with "the weight" of a typewriter? Does he bemoan the lack of a ribbon and ink and retyping an entire page simply because one word is incorrect? Come on. . . . there may (or may not) be many reasons not to want a Kindle, but his just seem specious!
Submitted by a Publishing CFO)

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit

Bo,I love your newsletter and I also love my Kindle.
It doesn't replace reading books, it supplements them; just the way you often describe online reading supplementing newspapers and magazines. When I have an interest in a subject, I can download sample chapters of several books from that niche for free. Then I can download the entire book I perceive as the most valuable immediately, most of the time for only $9.99.

O.K., reading the kindle is not the same experience as reading the physical book, but there are many advantages I haven't discussed that make it a great informational tool, and it is now in my briefcase daily right next to my laptop computer.
(Submitted by an Unknown )

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit

Bo: This guy needs to open his mind a little. Not one word of The Great Gatsby, or A Tale of Two Cities, or War and Peace will be different on a Kindle. I thought it was all about the words. Substance, not form. I'm getting my Kindle on Friday. I am looking forward to it for many reasons.

First, of all, it's something new. I'm proud of my middle-aged self for being willing to try it. From what I read, it does all the things that I do when I read books . . . write in margins, look up words in dictionary, etc.
Secondly, as an apartment dweller, I am always forced to get rid of books every so often, for simple lack of shelf space. The Kindle is perfect for that. I can archive a cyberspace library of books that I bought, without their having to be there. If I want to re-read Moby Dick ten years from now, I can, since it's mine already. The paperback Penguin Classics don't turn brown! Need I continue?
I'll let you know how I like it after I play around for a while.
(Submitted by a Senior Director of Manufacturing and former Co-Worker with BoSacks)

RE: I Read the News Today . . . Oh Boy

Eric Alterman is right to be concerned about the role of news and the future of our democracy, but he's got only part of the story. And Vartan Gregorian's "Idea" has been tried. The NY Times, USA Today and various local papers call it the "college readership program." Mainly it dumps newspapers on campuses and gets to count them as paid. But that's another story.

The other part of the story is in the place where the schools and the press used to meet. Once upon a time, each of the three newsweeklies had education programs where they sold classroom sets of magazines to teachers and supplied vast quantities of supplemental curriculum materials to held said teachers 1) bring current news into classrooms; 2) engage students with civic issues and 3) teach about the role of the press. Once upon a time over 700 newspapers in the U.S. had NIE programs (Newspaper in Education) that did the same thing on a local level. Time pulled out of the market three years ago. US News followed a year later. Newsweek folded its 50-year old education program in June. Many newspapers see NIE programs as luxuries they can't afford.

Granted, for the magazines and the newspapers, the programs were designed to boost circulation or support the rate base. But they did something else, too, which is get newspapers and news into kid's HANDS (literally) and helped further the cause of civic education in ways large and small by engaging kids with real issues.

It's now harder every day for teachers to do that. Yes, there are a couple of great online programs (NY Times Learning Network and Newshour Extra), but - and here's the other economically driven rub - civic engagement just isn't on the radar screen when it comes to what we expect of schools these days. That might surprise you, because most literate people have heard something somewhere about the connection between education and democracy, and they probably remember that the main reason for having public schools in this country in the first place was to produce an educated citizenry. No more. Today the sole purpose of education is preparing workers for the global economy. Look closely at No Child Left Behind, dozens of school reform movements or either of the presidential candidates' platforms and you'll have a hard time finding even a reference to social studies, news or civic education. In elementary schools, social studies has been essentially eliminated in favor of reading and math, and I've met many high school history and civics teachers who have been told that "all teachers are reading teachers" these days.

I'd like to think that all teachers are civics teachers, but I'm an old curmudgeon.

So there are two engines of democracy in trouble. Everyone is talking about the press, but no one seems to be talking about the schools in that light.

Re: The Production Traffic Cop

Bob - this article by Bob Wiemers is EXCELLENT. What a thorough, fair and balanced piece on the state of closing a magazine today. Every magazine, ad agency and client should be forced to read and comprehend the excellent points covered here. I have sent this to my clients for a thorough understanding of why, after 30 years, I am still a Traffic Cop above all else!!
(Submitted by a Senior industry Consultant)

Re: The Production Traffic Cop

"If we change this page on Friday, we'll have to track down all the trucks, buy some more paper, and print the whole thing again-but yes, it can be done."
Bob Wiemers

This story really hit home with me and I just had to share this "real life" experience with you. And yes, Bob Wiemers is correct, it can always be done . . .

I had scheduled my Aunt's move from her second floor, walk-up apartment in the city to a retirement community in the suburbs. One of our monthlies had gone to the Printer 8 days ago so I felt "safe" scheduling her move for this week. After all, the publication would be loaded on trucks today and put in the mail. What could possibly go wrong?

It was a scorching hot day in Chicago, the movers were packing in a flurry, and my Aunt was shuffling around on her walker saying. Wait, I want to look through those books before you pack them. Too late, into the box they went. My cell phone rings. It's my boss. I walk down to the landing between the first and second floors for better reception and she says:

We need to pull the story on page 3 of the issue.
Which issue?
The June issue.
But, we can't," I say. It's mailing today.
No they're not mailing it, she said. I called them and said not to mail it.
But it's printed already. It's too late.

Well isn't there someway that they can just tear out page 3 and put a new one in? (Now, this is my fault because I had done a "rip-and tip" on a book at our Annual Meeting when someone discovered the wrong author name on a Section Opener page. So I got out my glue stick, an exacto and a ruler, cut out the old page, and glued in a new one.)
No, there's no way that can be done. It's saddle stitched. And besides, it's 25,000 copies!
So if we need to pull that story, we'll have to reprint the entire issue?
Yes, that's right, I say. The entire issue will have to be printed again.
How much will that cost?

It will cost the same as if we printed a regular issue.
Well, we'll have to do that then. Find out how soon they can do it. Tell the Printer we need this done ASAP!
Can I ask what the problem is with the story? Why does it have to be pulled? Did we misspell our CEO's name again?

No, we got right this time, but the author's corrections for the story on page 3 did not get back in time. The author is furious! Since he is on the board we have to pull this story. We have no choice.
I don't understand . . . why didn't the writer call the author and say we're going to press, we need the changes today or we can't print the story?

Well he tried but the author never called him back.
And he couldn't have called him again? Don't we have rules about not publishing a story without the author's changes? What's the procedure for this?

You're right, this should have never happened. I know we have issues with this whole process.
But this always happens, I said. Editorial has ALL the time in the world to write this stuff. They have spell check, cycles and cycles of proofreading, and they still don't get it right! So now, when they screw things up, and we don't catch it before it's printed, we're gonna start pulling issues off the truck!

No, we are not making a habit of this. I have an idea, why don't you give this some thought and see what you can come up with.

Me? Give it some thought? I don't even need to think about it! It's real simple.
Number 1: Editorial must establish a process for writing and finalizing copy.
Number 2: Editorial must create an editorial schedule and meet every date on it.
Number 3: Editorial needs to understand that Production cannot fix everything.
Then I hear a crash from upstairs. I hear my Aunt yell, Mary! You'd better get up here.
(Submitted by a Senior Production Manager)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Outsourcing, Printed Words, Google

FW: Outsourcing Circ: "Bad short-term thinking."
Nobody is cracking the real story here Bob. Once upon a time, IDG pushed their head of circ out, presumably to save costs, and replaced her with lower level people already on the team. Ziff Davis did the same thing with Charles Mast. Now both IDG and Ziff have realized those moves were mistakes -- as those heads of circ were amongst the best in the game with long, successful histories at both companies. Now all the buzz is about how two tech publishers decided to outsource their circulation to consultants -- but the real story is that those original moves didn't work out and that circulation veterans still have real value in this market. Without proper succession planning and transition, the stripped down (from defection), leaderless teams at both companies failed. So now both publishers are really going back to their original, veteran stars to get back on track. Albeit with a more effective pricing model. No FTE's on the books, no benefits, no rent/overhead and no need to meddle with how each leader decides to staff up and get the job done. Thoughts?
(Submitted by an anonymous circulator)

RE: Outsourcing Circ:
Hi Bo-Outsourcing affords publishers large and small the opportunity to draw on the experience and talent they can not get in today's market.
This experience brings forth knowledge which is applied to the Publisher's circulation function. In fact, Outsourcing in many cases brings talent in both single copy and subscription sales combined.
Therefore, a cost savings that cannot be duplicated by putting employees in that function.
Publishers will find out that in today's market Outsourcing is the only way to go to apply the talent that is both affordable and smart, and I am surprised this has not been done to their advantage 15 years ago.
(Submitted by a Circulator)

Re: Thanks, old boy, you taught us well
When I was a kid, I thought of Esquire as a sex magazine. We, my friends,
had to sneak a look at the magazine stands. And it was a WOW.
(Submitted by the Father of BoSacks)

Re: Thanks, old boy, you taught us well
What a travesty not to mention Men's Health magazine with the likes of Esquire, GQ, Details, & those others? (are you kidding me---Ebony Man, Men's Vogue].
Sham on you Mr. Burnett.
(Submitted by an Executive Director)

Re: MagCloud: The Future of Magazine Publishing?
Of course all of this keeps going back to editors/publishers who have ideas, yet need more economical, creative ways to publish/print... but no one addresses how to find your readers in a cost-effective way.
(Submitted by a Senior Circulator)

RE: Time Anthology Reaffirms the Printed Word
How quaint, is it available for the Kindle?
(Submitted by a Senior Director of Manufacturing)

Re: Can Consumer Mags Profitably Transition To Digital?
i really liked this one.

magazines are good because they don't have a high margin classified business which has been declining severely in newspapers.

newspapers are drowning in competition from other media, including magazines, who can run cross platform programs while newspapers cannot.

let's go back 20 or so years . . .
newspapers are better than magazines because they can generate content that is more timely than magazines

newspaper organizations are making substantial investments in new technologies like cable, text delivery (remember videotext, folks?) along with continuing investments in broadcast media, unlike magazines

let me see if i understand this . . . .

magazines would not do as well because they did not have the resources or the timeliness of newspapers

now, magazines will do better than newspapers because . . . well . . . . ummmm . . . . because they're not newspapers!

does anyone else get the irony in all of this?

newspapers always acted to protect their supposed core business, and only made half hearted investments in the others (scripps howard is a notable exception). so of course, the got half-hearted results, and most missed the information explosion and instead fought against google and others to protect their legacy turf
(Submitted by an Industry Pundit)

Re: What Mainstream Publishers Don't Want You to Know
Yeah, well, there's *another* reason not to use agents. What a travesty. I figure, if someone
wants to subscribe to my magazine, it's easy enough to find me, so I use NO AGENCY subs. None.
Zilch. In the days before the Internet, this silliness made a modicum of business sense. Not anymore.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Resisting Google
Bob, have you noticed that Google is constantly adding storage capacity and enlarging the personal storage allowances for all their users? For free? I have hundreds of photos, emails not deleted, etc., and gmail says I'm still only using 4% of my allowed (free) storage capacity. A far cry from the $24.95 per month I was paying fifteen years ago for early AOL . . .

As Google continues collecting our electronic data trails to learn everything about all of us, I wonder if they also keep track of our whereabouts? Wouldn't it be easy for them to note the locations from which our Google accounts are activated, via wireless or other web portals that we connect through when travelling? If so, they know exactly where I am, and have been, for virtually every day of the past three years. Now THAT possibility is really frightening.
(Submitted by a Senior VP MFG)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Print Survival, Editorial Church-State Line,Digital Media

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Print Survival, Editorial Church-State Line,Digital Media

Re: Will Print Survive? Find Out at the 3rd Annual Print Buyers Conference in Boston, Sept. 10-12

Yo, Bo, Somehow I think the answer to the subject-line question will be an enthusiastic, unqualified "yes." I find it interesting that a lot of these print-survival and even green initiative conferences and studies are financed or otherwise supported by the paper industry.

A player in the ad-agency recruitment market told me this week that business in that field is steady (for the headhunters) only because money is being poured (read: diverted) into e-marketing; there are more openings than there are qualified production people for that, yet jobs are going down the tubes in more traditional media.

The answer for individuals who want to remain employed is retrain, retrain, retrain. But few will be offered the opportunity within to do that. Evidence: the headhunters, who are getting the listings from the agencies, can't find enough qualified new-media production people to work in the same agencies laying off print production specialists and managers. The agencies apparently feel it's a better bet to pay for layoff packages plus big recruitment fees than to retrain current employees.

Once again, shortsighted executives doing shortsighted things. To those who say it's mostly the workers' fault, I ask which came first, company disloyalty to employees (the chicken) or employee disloyalty to companies (the egg)?
I'm just sayin',
(Submitted by A Nonnimus)

Re: Digital Media Comes of Age
"Business is business and not a place for the sentimental, even those sentimental about old brands."
This was a great article...reminding us all that no matter how a print product resonates for us (readers and print professionals) we have to develop the ability to step back and see how these brands are really performing, and for whom.And admit that the stars (print products) of own own youth are not necessarily geared to be the stars of the digital world --- that hurts!
Probably why it's easier to be creative in a digital startup, with no print umbilical cord, than to be challenged with the idea of taking a print product and reinventing it for the web.
(Submitted by a senior Circulator)

Re: Buyers Putting Heat on Publishers to Cross Church-State Line
BoSacks, Just reading the intro to this piece, I have to say that working in B2Bmagazines, I'm seeing this more (I hope) then most. Our sales girls are included in our editorial meetings and have a direct say on our editorial calendar. We ALWAYS have a advertiser on the cover. If an advertiser with enough clout raises it's vicious head, we write a piece special just about them. Granted, this is a B2B company, so we don't make any revenue from subscriptions, and all income comes from ad sales, but it's still enough to worry me - how much is this occurring on the other side of the publishing line? When will magazines stop being about the reader, and blend with catalogs until the two are one and the same?
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Buyers Putting Heat on Publishers to Cross Church-State Line
This was one of the funniest articles I've read in a long, long time. The idea that there ever has been any kind of church-state integrity at fashion magazines is hilarious. Harper's Bazaar? Life and Style? These pillars of journalistic ethics are under siege? Jeez, I hope the stalwart defenders of editorial independence at Marie Claire can hold out!
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Buyers Putting Heat on Publishers to Cross Church-State Line
It is despicable that advertisers attempt- and do- disguise their pitches as editorial, but then again, in the rest of nature, subterfuge and ambush is often the key to survival of some species. As always, buyer, and reader, beware.
(Submitted by a Senior Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Resisting Google
Hi, Bob Talk of Deja vu`. I guess it was about a year ago I sent a note your way, expressing similar thoughts about a company with search and compilation tools so powerful, and storage so expansive, that all you write, or search can be sifted by unmanned algorithims (as happens now), and categorized as to content or intent and responded to, (as happens now) that could be (and probably has been) approached by one or more government agencies (as was the case with wiretapping) to determine who is naughty or nice. It continues to be one of the more scary daydream/nightmares I can have.

Last year, when I queried Google about their use of Spyware, the response was sphinx-like. One of my mentors once advised that all private affairs be conducted as though they would be in tomorrow's newspaper front page. That should be include the privacy of one's keyboard.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Circ
bob, as i've said since 1972, the single copy system is antediluvian and idiotic . . . the sword that will cut the Gordian knot is firm sale . . . why are magazines still sold on consignment?
all the lamentations and tweaks to the "system" are futile . . . .the system is the problem . . . we need revolution, not evolution . . .
(Submitted by a Senior Publisher)

Re: Will Print Die? Not Today PART 2
Liked your response.
Trees will be used to make paper for years to come, just not as many as in the past. For the tree huggers who read your stuff, let them know there are 40% more trees in the USA than there were in 1930.
(Submitted by a paper person)

Re: Will Print Die? Not Today PART 2
Someone might explain to "paper person" the difference between soft wood grown in rows for harvesting and hard wood forests.
(Submitted by a Circ Person)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

BoSacks readers Speak Out

BoSacks readers Speak Out:

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Who Should We Put On The Cover?
My only advice as you await the return of thoughtful, subtle, clever, insightful covers lines is this: Don't hold your breath. We do not live in a thoughtful, subtle, clever, insightful culture. We live in an amoral, irrational, anti-intellectual, emotion driven, Six O'clock New "If it bleeds it leads" culture. Cover lines are merely one minor symptom of the general decline of Western Civilization in general and American culture in particular. We have created a society where life is disposable, the sanctity of the bedroom has become a spectator sport, the care of the soul is replaced by an obsession with the body, and the insights of maturity scrapped in favor of our worship of the follies of youth. Cover lines on the newsstand merely confirm what we should already know: that the road ahead follows the same, steep, downward slope. As the World's Foremost Authority - Professor Irwin Corey - aptly summed it up, "If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going."(Submitted by a Printer and life-long friend of BoSacks)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Who Should We Put On The Cover?
I think the dumbing down comes from the editorial side - that is, many editors are bringing less intelligence to the job and assuming that they are talking to people who know even less than they, when that may not be so. How many times have you seen editors set off on a topic or story angle that assumed the worst of their readers, or that wanted to prove a theory of theirs, no matter how much evidence suggested that they were wrong? Maybe if we want better copy that will really attract readers, the industry needs to stop low-balling salaries of everyone other than the EIC so they don't have to focus so much on the next jump of their career, because they aren't having to live out in NJ on $28,000 with 4 roommates. Perhaps magazines could attract some people who not only love the work, but are smart and willing to consider things from the readers' vantage. And maybe have more of those editors actually talk with a lot more readers. What a concept, talking to your customers.(Submitted by a Writer)

RE: Internet Is Making Us Dumb, Author Says
A couple of observations on this odd article: 1. Witness the voter registration statistics for the DNC and now the Obama campaign. The under 30 crowd is storming into politics and thus current events. 2. ". . . . the intellectual wherewithal to create advertising that is more than a collection of juvenile punch lines?" Some of us might argue that the ad business has always been about juvenile punch lines. What's the ultimate goal of any ad campaign but to provide a memorable punch line that connects a consumer with a product? He acts like once upon a time advertisers were intellectuals :) So for fun, here's a few tag lines from ads placed in a wonderful book from 1950 called The Iron Gate of Jack Charles "21", as in the 21 Club. Got this treasure as a hand-me-down from my father, an old time PR guy. (The associated pictures and art work of course are priceless)> Martins Scotch. A two headed bartender is talking to himself. "Did he say Scotch?" the first head asks. The 2nd head says "No, he said Martin's VVO Scotch". > Lucky Strike cigarettes. A cowgirl with a cigarette in one hand and a hammer in another putting up a poster which the punch line "Be happy, Go Lucky". > Pontiac Cars "Dollar for Dollar, you can't beat a Pontiac" > Watches. "America runs on Bulova Time" > Marlboro cigarettes. This one is incredible. A picture of a sad faced Baby with a party hat on in front of a pack of Marlboros with a headline saying "Before you scold me, Mom... maybe you'd better light up a Marlboro". My point is that advertising is often goofy, sometimes clever, but always about the punch line. His other odd statement is "First, the ad industry is obsessed with the Internet." The fact that there is yet again another new generation socializing in new ways is as old as consumerism itself. Ad agencies are always obsessed with the newest trends. The examples above were print ads, but could've been web banner ads. And what happened in the 1950's with the under 30 crowd that horrified the older generation? TV and talking non-stop on the phone. TV was the demise of our generation yet I am happy to report I still read books, magazines and newspapers, as do most of my non-industry friends. Ad agencies jumped on TV like a . . . . pick a metaphor . . . . ? It's only a matter of time before micro-messaging from services like Twitter start preceding communications with one word ad slogans because the user message itself is only one sentence long. 100 years from now we won't be able to read a Webster's Dictionary do to changes in the language. I often find myself being nostalgic for things from my past or even before my time but the fact is that change is life, and new generations create new methods of communication and entertainment. This is how it has always been and how it will always be for as long as we live in a democracy. So the writer needs to lighten up and figure out the new audience, not try to stop the clock.(Submitted by a Publisher)

RE: Internet Is Making Us Dumb, Author Says
Are today's young people as we were or are they dumb? Yes. In a lot of ways, we were pretty smart at that age but we were still dumb. It is the innate condition of youth and that will never change. As my Grandma used to say, "You can't put an old head on young shoulders." There are some key differences, however. When we were young and dumb no one much cared about our opinions. We lived in an adult culture. Today's culture worships youth, listens to youth, and actually thinks youth has something to contribute to the life of the mind beyond energy and enthusiasm. Big mistake! The other key cultural difference is the general dumbing down that has occurred. Unbounded tolerance and unfounded self esteem have replaced education, and feelings have trumped reason. But don't blame the dumb kids for that. And don't blame the Internet. Each of us should look in the mirror and blame the person who looks back. We made this world. The dumb kids will inherit it.(Submitted by a printer) RE: Internet Is Making Us Dumb, Author SaysMaybe he should talk to some older people. I'm not convinced they know howto reason either. Look at presidents elected, companies that tanked, warsstarted, and the many other examples of human irrationality.(Submitted by a Writer)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Is It Goodbye Printed Page?
No Not Yet!Bob, Everyone seems to agree that the preferred format for a book is the printed thing with the covers the world has known for 500 years. Everyone also seems to agree that format is unsustainable. As long as there's a demand for the printed version, it will survive, but probably at a much higher cost to the consumer. It makes me wonder if this would be a good time to start hoarding used books, which can be bought for cents on the dollar. Ten years from now, when new hardcover books go for $75, for how much could I sell the copy of The Great Gatsby my son just received as a graduation present?(Submitted by a Multi-title Publisher)

RE: Striving for Zero Returns on the Newsstand Re:Future of paper:
I've been predicting to paper producers for some time that paper would cease to be a disposable commodity. With oil at $130 a barrel, and the cost of producing paper (remember - paper is all about energy and water removal) skyrocketing, will people buy People, read it in 15 minutes, and throw it away? I've tried to articulate that I feel coated paper will become something of more permanence and value. The article below does it better than I ever could. Re: Magazine "If it seems too good to be true" Scam: Everyone asks "How do they supply 12, perfect bound, glossy, high quality issues for just $12?!" I now know how they do it - they don't. After buying Vanity Fair on the newsstand every month for years, I decided to get 12 issues for $12 through a subscription service. I got my 12 issues - 8 were back issues that I had already read (print over runs or newsstand returns that I'm sure they keep in reserve). My husband used the same service at the same time to subscribe to a small, niche technology title - and he's gotten 12 current issues. So, I have to wonder if it's a Conde' Nast policy to rip off' subscribers. Either way, I will NOT renew, and this tactic has caused me to reassess my feelings about the magazine and the publisher in general. Re: New Magazine Launches: One relationship that I think would be interesting to study would be the cost of paper (specifically sheet fed offset or web offset - the grades that most new launches are printed on) versus new PRINT title launches, as well as DIGITAL launches (or conversions from print to digital). If I wasn't so consumed with raising my prices, I'd do the work myself . . . (Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Bits, Bands and BooksHi,
Bob: I thought of you while reading this Krugman Op-Ed piece the other day. So, the question is: We now know you read Krugman, but does Krugman read Sacks; or is it mutual?(Submitted by a Publisher)

Friday, May 16, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Brands, Trends, and Truth

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Brands, Trends, and Truth

Re: "The New Next: Brands That Bond"
Bob, I can't imagine being able to describe my magazine outside of the context of its brand image.

I would expect my magazine to be leading or at least facilitating as many important conversations as possible in the particular niche we cover. In fact, because we are not offering a product to our readers that is, similar to that of our advertisers and other industry suppliers, it is even more central to brand identity for a magazine to be out in front of people, talking and listening and prodding everyone involved or interested in the niche to do the same. Doing this also dredges up tons of fodder for future articles we can present to the entire readership, not just the in-person crowd you get.

And besides offering copies of recent issues for people who do not subscribe to or purchase it, we can also hand out items or products from partnering firms--products that help the readers do whatever it is they do that prods them to read the magazine. We can put our logo in a subtle spot as well.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Youth Speaks: If u dk what this is, gl
This would be more impactful if the writer knew that "LOL" meant "laugh out loud" and not "lots of laughs". I just uttered the same groan not used since my dad said "hep cat" in front of my friends many years ago.
(Submitted by an Industry Provider)

RE: 5 Key Future Magazine Trends and 8 Ways to Prepare for Them
Bob, You are RIGHT ON!
There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel, I can see it.
(Submitted by a Director of Mfg and Dst)

RE: 5 Key Future Magazine Trends and 8 Ways to Prepare for Them
FYI, your editorial "Printed Magazines Will Follow the Path of the Plastic Record" is hanging on my home office wall. Some guys have girlie calendars, I have Bo Sacks.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: What is Happening in our Industry?
What inspiring words Bob, especially after reading the doom and gloom stories of another QuebecorWorld plant closing/layoffs and other industry layoffs. I still love what I do and I am still kept busy with my client's print and digital needs. I've reinvented myself to some extent, but it is still ink on paper or bytes on a cd and getting it into readers hands on time. Thanks for the great words Bob.
(Submitted By a senior Publishing Consultant)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: What is Happening in our Industry?
Bo that was amazing. Really uplifting stuff. The best part of your newsletter is the unexpected. You have always told it like it is. That would be the good news, the bad news and technology we need to know of to stay employed. You are my hero. I've been reading you since my first job in the industry . . . some fifteen years ago. The job seemed less stressful and easier then. Thanks.
(Submitted by a Production Manager)

RE: Retouching

Hey Bo, I know this is a little late but . . .
As you know covers of EVERY mag are retouched . . . aside from making models look perfect, in the "Home" category we also add sky to images retouch out cords, electrical sockets, make winter shots into summer by removing snow and adding bushes, landscaping etc . . . All shots of a the same room are made to look the same no matter what time of day the various shots was taken.
When I used to do allot of work for the Conde Nast mags thru AGT (remember them), the covers were worked for hours to get rid of lines, wrinkles, facial hair etc. We did a spread on Linda Evans that was shot very soft to help with her wrinkles, then we had to take them down even more . . . I can't imagine a room full of "Art Directors" that would ever agree to giving up retouching and letting the images stand on their own . . .
(Submitted by a printer)

Re: Hanley Wood Moving Toward Becoming a 'Web-First Company'
A sad day for us all! Soon there will be one mill, one printer and one magazine. And tons of crap on the web that can never find an audience that it knows or really understands.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Important Truth Behind the IDG Story
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Oscar Wilde
Wrong on both counts. The first because truth is pure by definition. The second because of the common tendency to confuse something simple with something easy. Because something is simple does not mean it is easy. Truth is simple. It is rarely easy.
(Submitted by a Printer)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Mag Subs, Circ and other Publishing Lore

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Mag Subs, Circ and other Publishing Lore

RE: Want to read those magazines? Read the fine print first
"Newsub Magazine Services, a Salt Lake City firm" . . . is a subsidiary of Synapse Group, located in Stamford, CT . . . which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of (drumroll)
TIME, Inc.

Once upon a time, long-long ago, in the la-la-land galaxy known as SW Connecticut . . . . there was an idealistic young Jedi newly enlisted into the SynapseArmy. She was swayed, mesmerized, enthralled by the pronouncements and musings of the Fearless Leader.

Fearless told his assembled throng "Together we will change the world, starting by changing the way magazines are marketed and sold. Behind my curtain lies a patented consumer-friendly subscription model. EVERYBODY WINS! Yaaay for us! But especially for me 'cause I'm gonna get rich!"

Soon the recruits learned what was really behind the curtain at Synapse. Every month the offers became a little less lucrative, and a little more misleading. 'Disclosure' was painstakingly worded to fake-out more consumers yet pass muster with the beleaguered staff attorney. All this was served up with a free lunch to make it go down easier.

Seems the Ivy Leaguers and Ivy-wannabees in charge had succumbed to the same disease that afflicts their classmates on Wall Street . . . GREED! The bank 'marketers' and publisher 'partners'? All cheering them on!

The consumer? Screwed.

After a failed IPO, a sellout by Fearless to the Evil Empire was the only thing left to do. They got Time guys running the joint now, but the website still drips with mental superiority. Yeeeccch.

As Steve Miller once said "go on, take the money and
run". And that's what they did.
(Submitted as requested by a Publishing "Nobody")

Re: Want to read those magazines? Read the fine print first
We have a simple rule: we don't use agencies, agents, or allow our magazines to be used as promotional kickers. In fact, we don't even do "buy 1 get 1" holiday gifts anymore, the people who responded to the cheapie offers turned out to be more trouble than they were worth. The sort of garbage discussed in the article debases the entire industry.
(Submitted by a Multi-Title Publisher)

Re: Newsweeklies Under Constant Pressure
Oh please, this again?
Haven't we been talking about the demise of the newsweeklies since the '80's?
Also interesting that the article does not talk about The Economist. I believe that their last ABC report showed single copy sales up around 10%. And their sales are double what they were in 1999.

Could it be that Time, Newsweek and US News are having trouble because they aren't relevant? Could the relativity issue be more to the fact that those three magazines aren't well designed for today's market? Could it be that Time and Newsweek can't make up their minds if they are celebrity rags or news mags and US News can't reach a page count where the purchase of the magazine at the newsstand would justify the expense?

Could it be that The Economist is doing well because it is well written, has thoughtful articles, has a bite, an edge, a point of view, and is thick enought to justify the cash you have to lay out to buy it?

Isn't Rule #1 of magazine publishing would be to create something that your readers want?
(Submitted by an Unknown Professional)

Re: Are Always-Connected Consumers Really Virtual Crackheads?
I don't mean to sound like one of those homeless people who go around muttering all the time, but the source of your history trivia seems to be a little off-base.

People of all classes, not just the upper classes, read American magazines throughout the 19th century. In the second half of the century, magazines targeting the modestly-educated had much larger circulations than magazines targeting the better-educated. And as for "looking toward Europe," many of the country's best magazines, like The Atlantic Monthly, The Dial, and the North American Review were dedicated to promoting American literature.

Press capacity was never much of a limiting factor in 19th-century magazine publishing. In 1849, Hoe introduced a press capable of 20,000 single-sided impressions per hour. By 1879 Bullock was selling a perfecting press yielding 28,000 folded 8-page signatures per hour. Well before 1880, some magazine publishers were producing press runs in the hundreds of thousands every week. . . . and some newspapers produced larger runs every day.

The Postal Act of 19879 was definitely a landmark event, but the Post Office had been carrying magazines unlimited distances at declining rates for decades prior. The evolution of 2nd class mail began long before 1879, and besides, single copy sales represented a significant portion of total magazine distribution in the 19th century.

The revolutionary price decreases of McClure's and Munsey's came in 1893, not 1883, and credit should also go to J. B. Walker, who priced Cosmopolitan at 12.5 cents. What made the decreases significant was that advertising sales made up for losses in production and circulation. This business model has been copied by other media so many times since that it's become commonplace. But the model wouldn't have succeeded if it weren't for the growing need of newly-emerging brand advertisers to reach a large national audience. The emergence of national brands (made possible by advances in mass production) and of middle-class magazines with large circulations (driven by the price decreases) coincided to mutual benefit. You can date the rise of brand-oriented American popular culture to 1893.

Finally, I'm no expert on Horatio Alger, but I'm pretty sure that Street and Smith, not Munsey, published the vast majority of his stories.

Because I'm a full-blown crank and not some garden-variety amateur, I'll be happy to send the full details on this stuff if you like. The factors that enabled the growth of magazine publishing in the 19th century are fascinating, and (naturally) hold lessons for publishers today. I'll also stop chewing your ear on all this if you tell me to shut up.

PS. The obituary that William Allen White wrote for Munsey is too good not to repeat:

"Frank Munsey contributed to the journalism of his day the talent of a meat packer, the morals of a money-changer and the manners of an undertaker. He and his kind have about succeeded in transforming a once-noble profession into an 8 per cent security. May he rest in trust."
(Submitted by a Publisher and official BoSacks Cub Reporter)

Monday, May 5, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Printing as a Premium Format

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Printing as a Premium Format

Re: It's Web 3.0, and Someone Else's Content Is King
Um, Bo, pardon me if I am getting this wrong, but it sounds very much like a dog chasing its own tail. Who is actually going to be writing the stories everyone is aggregating?

In my market, there's dozens of "free" sites, rife with bad grammar, egregious spelling, and obvious errors of fact. Not to mention copy that would never, EVER grace my titles. Yes, I've seen some ads migrate over there, but, just like paid search, I expect to see them back again as the channels clog with trolls, moles, and wannabe writers that don't know their head from an ampersand. Call me arrogant, or simply follow the money: free content almost always sucks. How many "cute kitty" pictures can we actually stomach?
How long before the masses move on to the next circus?

Me, I'm looking forward to being able to deliver my content electronically via an open-source reader that doesn't greedily demand 85% of the retail price. (Amazon Kindle, anyone?) Until then, I'll stay paid, small-but-profitable, and happy.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: Magazines Face Curbs to Photo Airbrushing
Hey Bo, Maybe it's a little late for a comment on this but- Retouching has been going on for as long as I have been in the business (over 30 years) before it was done in the sink or the darkroom (dot etching for the kids at home), then Cromacom CEPS systems & now we use photoshop. All of the models were (and still are) retouched to smooth wrinkles, blemishes, whiten eyes & teeth, re-style hair, enhance eye color, reduce unsightly bulges, facial hair yada, yada yada. This also goes for interiors (and exteriors) of houses in the " home " mags. Curtains are fixed, outlets removed, walls squared up, houses under construction finished etc.
If the general public thinks that these models actually look anything like their printed counterparts, I've got some swamp land in Florida that they may be interested in . . .
PS Keep up the good work
(Submitted by a printer)

RE: The State of Digital Magazine Delivery, 2008
I'm amazed that so many digital magazine companies are still competing in this market space. With the exception of some double digit paid circ at US News & World Report, Playboy and Seventeen the impact of digital magazine facsimiles on consumers is near zero. While suppliers claim 2,700 digital titles I have yet to have a conversation with a person outside of magazine publishing who has ever subscribed to or even looked at a digital edition. If 2,700 trees fall in the forest and no one hears them fall do they make a sound? I can't speak to B2B success with digital versions (and I know there has been some) but after many tests with digital facsimiles my company primarily sees their value as a tactical tool for sampling or displaying archived content. That isn't to say that the idea of digital magazines is bad one. There are some highly interactive digital magazines designed for the screen that are attracting consumers and advertisers. These editions have merit but so does the web. Perhaps the digital magazine of the future is, in fact, a website.
(Submitted by a Senior Magazine Manager)

RE: The State of Digital Magazine Delivery, 2008
Bo, I see this as a great work in progress. The subscribers to my digital editions are small by percentages but growing everyday. I think in just a few short years, the tide will turn and the bulk of my business will be web/digital editions. The market forces are driving my company that way, and I see no other alternative. Do I expect paper and postage to suddenly go back to the 1990s. No! What I do expect is constant manufacturing and distribution increases. For those of my readership that still want paper and are willing to pay for it, I'm sure I will still have those editions. But for the other readership, there is another more frugal course of action.
(Submitted by a publisher)

Re: Want to read those magazines? Read the fine print first
We have a simple rule: we don't use agencies, agents, or allow our magazines to be used as promotional kickers. In fact, we don't even do "buy 1 get 1" holiday gifts anymore, the people who responded to the cheapie offers turned out to be more trouble than they were worth. The sort of garbage discussed in the article debases the entire industry.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Finally something for you magazine people out there to think about.
Posted BY Michael Turro
From the BLOG

While I hate to sound like chicken little - and though the print is dead meme is way overplayed - I had to post this quote from Steve Frye. In a sidebar in the current issue of Publishing Executive titled The State of the Printing Industry Frye drops this bomb:

I think we need to change our philosophy of what a magazine is. We are no longer a cheap means of dispensing information, and that's what we were until the Internet came along. Now we are an inefficient and expensive means of distributing information. . . . We need to reinvent ourselves as a luxury item that people want and are willing to pay for. And until we change our own image of who we are, we're going to find out that our vendors are gong to change it for us. Because, right now, postage is a premium. Paper is a premium. Soon printing will be a premium. How long can we buy at a premium and sell at a discount? We can't.

Damn straight. I've been singing this song for a while now and it's refreshing to finally see these kinds of blunt words in the pages of an old school cheerleader like Publishing Executive (I couldn't find them on the PubExec site that's why there is no link for the quote - had to transcribe it myself).

Hopefully this marks a turning point in the direction of not only Publishing Executive's reporting, but in the reporting of all the media that cover the magazine and printing industry. Hopefully they'll awaken from the coma that has produced little more than a sleepy rhetoric of change management and stir the pot a bit. They need to give publishers a sense of urgency. They need to stop rewriting and regurgitating vendor press releases and start doing some hard, studied thinking.

Ultimately - when you get right down to it - the road ahead is uncharted and there isn't a vendor alive today that has anything close to a solution for the kinds of questions we face. To answer those questions we need journalists, not marketing contacts.