It has been a very interesting and active week for publishers everywhere. The news of Source Interlink ceasing operation and the release of 6,000 workers is dramatic and traumatic to say the least. To those that track the industry the news of SID closing is not a surprise, but perhaps the speed of the demise was. Time Inc.'s announcement this week combined with the Bauer Publications' decision about three weeks ago to pull out of SID put the final nail in the coffin.
As reported many times in my newsletter and in the New York Times recently, "In the last five years, the retail magazine business has shrunk 50 percent, to less than $3 billion. And while there were hundreds of magazine wholesalers in the 1990s, the industry has consolidated into just a few major players in recent years: Source Interlink, TNG and Hudson News."
This turmoil has no end in sight. The sales we have lost as an industry in the last five years have little likelihood of returning. What we need to do is somewhere finally reach a sales plateau from which we can work on growth as an industry and as individual titles.
For my part there is ongoing and absurd doggerel from some members of our industry that the newsstand is a small part of the publishing business and its fall has little to do with the health of the magazine business. This thinking is part of a larger identity problem we are having and is patently not true, at least not true for most of the magazine industry.
The big guys -- you know who I mean -- don't really need the newsstand and have the bucks and the infrastructure to create and do as they will, and they will survive nicely, at least for a while. I do think their hugeness and current profits blind them from long term generational thinking. A newsstand presence gives a magazine and an entire industry visibility as an industry with the consumer. And conversely a lack of visibility breeds long term irrelevance. But perhaps that's the plan. The demise of an infrastructure not thought be needed by the current giants.
Jill Davison, a Time Inc. spokeswoman, said recently, "The regional markets that Source Interlink served -- Southern California, Chicago, and the Mid-Atlantic States -- might face shortages of popular Time magazines like People and Sports Illustrated for up to 12 weeks."
Disruption in the newsstand field for 3 months at least is lost sales, the kind that will never come back. Humans are creatures of habit. This disruption will no doubt create new non-newsstand habits in some of our old and trusted readers, thereby hastening an already depressed newsstand. Is there another interpretation that I am missing? CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
Last week, PBS MediaShift ran a piece on how to measure multi-platform success for print magazines, which amounted to three brief interviews with magazine industry insiders. One of them was Samir Husni, well-known as Mr. Magazine and a professor at the University of Mississippi. The article stated:
Husni argues that digital magazines not paired with print publications are worth little, in financial terms. "They have no monetary value. I don't know of a single digital-only magazine since the iPad came out that's making money, that has any source of revenue, if it doesn't have a print counterpart.'"
His statement is so demonstrably false that I quickly tweeted my disagreement, and left it at that.
But I kept thinking about it-and getting angry. Samir Husni is widely considered a thought leader in the magazine industry, and his "counts" of new magazine launches in print or on newsstand are widely reported.
Why do we care about this count in the first place? Who does it matter to, and what does it have to do with the future of the magazine business? Should the health of the magazine industry be evaluated by newsstand or print visibility, in an era of declining newsstand and print sales?
And, ultimately, who thinks it's a good idea to base any aspect of a new magazine's business model on newsstand sales? CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
Leave it to the wordsmiths of the publishing universe to dismiss the great bard's advice and call an old cabbage, a rose with a piquant odor. There is a big debate going on in our industry and under all the fluff and misdirection, it is about lying and deceiving our public.
This pox on our industry is called Native Advertising. What a brilliant use of words, so clean sounding and innocent. It is nothing more or less than the selling out of our souls and our integrity for less than a fleeting buck. An editor should understand advertising and how any publication works, survives and creates revenue. But neither an editor nor a disguised editorial page should ever be advertising in hiding. Such a situation dilutes the whole foundation of our small universe and stains journalism in putrid colors. If one of your articles is suspect, the whole publication is corrupted and suspected to be what it is - a shill for promoting something and anything for a fee. It is the prostitution of an industry suffering from the lack of a spine and the lost business creativity to produce honest revenue.
BoSacks Interview with Gavin Gillas CEO of The Magazine Channel -
Finally the answer to search for the Magazine Media Business - the Pandora for Magazine Content
BoSacks - You are involved in a new format for digital distribution of magazines. What is it and how does it work?
Gavin Gillas - We developed STACKS by starting with the digital-first consumer--the one that whips out her phone while waiting in line, the one who grabs his iPad off the nightstand the first thing in the morning to catch up on the news, the multi-tasker, the person on the go. Our team realized that music, video, and news had all adapted to these consumers, while magazines were still finding their way. STACKS starts that reader out with complete choice over what to read and where to share it. We focused on articles as the core part of the magazine experience. We as consumers buy music by singles, watch movie trailers, listen to soundbites - so our team found an easier way to dive into new magazines. STACKS does a beautiful job of presenting magazine content and recommending related articles and topics. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW
BoSacks Speak Out: Sometimes I just have to put the tequila aside and deliver a sobering report to the industry to offset some irrational exuberance. I do this because I love the magazine media industry, and I don't want anyone to misinterpret the facts and true conditions of our industry.
First, we are not dead, dying or otherwise crippled into irrelevance. Print will be around for generations to come and be loved and cherished by many. That being said, whatever you read elsewhere, we are still and continue to be in a position of readjustment and weight loss. We are no longer the dominant player we once were. Sure there are more magazines than ever before, but that notation is irrelevant when you consider the fact that we continue to sell fewer and fewer magazines year in and year out. And revenue, despite many singular and quite excellent print successes, continues to decline in the industry. The pinnacle for magazines based on quantity is long gone and a decade in the past. Click Here for the full Article
BoSacks: Watching our industry in the throes of on-going disruption and observing how some companies react and adapt while others remain static and decline is an invaluable exercise. In defining a roadmap for successful publishing, what are some key attributes you are using as successful information distributor in the 21st century?
Andrew Clurman: Today's operative words at AIM are diversification and proliferation. We are continually finding seams within the verticals we're in of unfilled audience interests and needs. With more ways than ever before at our disposal to serve those interests in the form of print, multi-media, live events, education, and services, the opportunities seem limitless. Building real businesses in areas that may be unfamiliar though adjacent to what we've traditionally done takes a commitment to taking risks and redefining ourselves constantly. Magazine publisher, film producer, email marketer, digital merchandiser, community leader, insurance salesman, adjunct professor, tow truck driver, audience developer, revenue arbitrager, and dock worker, are just a few of the hundreds of job descriptions we have at AIM - few of which existed in our company when we started 10 years ago.
BoSacks: What are some of the new revenue opportunities you hope to take hold of over the next several years?
The fastest growing part of our business has been our events business
that now drives over 50% of AIM's contribution. We are introducing new
events in untapped markets such as the first ever boat show in Panama
City, Panama this summer as well as a number of new Yoga events
throughout North America. Additionally, we also think we can grow our
existing events by enhancing them with digital extensions to allow
greater participation. For example, we conduct fifteen "Log Home
Universities" around the country where couples spend a day learning all
there is to know about designing and building their log home. We've
limited the cities we go to only because our teaching staff can only
travel so many weekends. By creating a distance learning version of
these events we think we can dramatically expand their reach. The
appetite of our audience for in-depth information on horses, boats,
homes, healthy living, and outdoor skills and destinations gives us many
ways to grow. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
In September, New York Times media columnist David Carr will convene his first class at the College of Communication, where he is the inauguralAndrew R. Lack Professor, a post dedicated to the exploration of new business models that might support serious journalism in the years ahead. Carr is well-suited for the position, which was created last year by gifts from Bloomberg Media Group chairman Andrew Lack (CFA'68) and from the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation. Carr's weekly "Media Equation" column routinely reports on the technologies and business models that are transforming journalism.
BU Today asked Carr and Lack, whose responsibilities have included the pursuit of business models that would sustain Bloomberg Media without support from other business units, to share their thoughts about the future of journalism. Their discussion is moderated by Thomas Fiedler (COM'71), dean of COM and former executive editor of the Miami Herald. The three experts got together in early February in a newsroom at Bloomberg Media. The dialogue below has been excerpted from their conversation. It is not a verbatim transcript. The discussion is available in full in the video above. CLICK HERE FOR THIS AMAZING ARTICLE
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: PULP FICTION? The Candid Conversation about Rate Base
Bob: I have worried for years that if everyone got a handle on their rate base and printed magazines closer to the actual sell through, that us "paper guys" would be out of business even faster than we are seeing. I hope, from my side of the fence, that they continue to do the stupid things they have been doing.
(Submitted by a paper salesperson)
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: PULP FICTION? The Candid Conversation about Rate Base
Bob, nobody else in the industry could have written that article. Bravo to you for saying out loud what everybody else whispers. We need a better system of accountability without the inherent fraud. Numbers do matter, and we need them, but not the numbers worked out from a time of plenty and no competition. The earth and publishing is no longer flat. We need better systems.
(Submitted by a Print advertising sales person)
Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: PULP FICTION? The Candid Conversation about Rate Base
Bo, I agree completely with your comments and the consensus of industry leaders on rate bases. I think the reason there is so much resistance to moving away from them is that most senior magazine publishing executives with decision making power have grown up with circulation guarantees, rate bases and advertising driven business models. Change is tough, especially when there is risk associated with it.
Maybe publishers can find a way to group together (without collusion) to gradually move to a different business model with less risk. I'm sure that most consumer marketers would be very comfortable and could improve their bottom lines if relieved of the rate base restriction.
(Submitted by an Industry Consultant)CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE
What must the successful business model contain for today and tomorrow?
Is there room here for a Parallel Universe? (Print and electrons)
In a word: compelling content. Okay, that's two words, but you get my point. In the past, as publishers we tended to think in duals: editorial and advertising, print and digital.
However, there is only one mandatory asset for a successful publishing model: content that people want to read (or look at, or watch, or listen to). And for it to be a successful business model, it also must be compelling in a way that brings you back for the next installment.
As for a Parallel Universe, I think there are actually dozens of parallel universes. If we think only in terms of print vs. digital, we're missing the point.
Content is essentially the experience of the consumer. The delivery system can both alter and enhance that experience.
At August Home, we push content through a delivery sieve to get dozens of streams. Magazines, SIP's, books, (the print we're accustomed to) as well as web sites, email, blogs, apps, videos, live events, webcasts, TV shows.
The domain of publishing is vast - because there is not just one big group of consumers. There are many. Hence, many ways to reach them in a way they want to be reached.
At August Home we call it "surrounding our customers with service." It's not one customer, or one group of customers. There are many groups. Our job is to provide content the way each group of customers wants to receive it (each group's preferred delivery system).CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW
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