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)

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