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)