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)