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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On The Survival of Magazines, Paper And Printing

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On The Survival of Magazines, Paper And Printing

    There was a time when you couldn't pick up a media trade journal and not have almost half the conversation about the paper industry. At the same time magazine manufacturing costs for print titles (there was no other option) were approximately 60% of the cost of doing business.  In today's marketplace there is very little "talk" about paper, the one and only substrate for printed magazines, although we as an industry do have lots of dialog about "what is a magazine" or "how long magazines will be around."   

    As a case in point, I had a very challenging conversation - one of many - while on my trip cross country. My friend who is in our business took the position that magazines won't be around much longer. It is possible, even probable, that he was testing my opinions and was taking a contrary position just for fun. Nonetheless it was an exciting conversation. He showed me charts and graphs about our industry that were steeper in the negative than Mount Everest. I pointed out that those charts are an aggregate of everyone and, although they might be interesting, averages contain both winners and losers. There has always been death and destruction in the magazine business, but there have also always been winners, and I believe we need to focus on the winners. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    Posted July 21, 2016
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report Vs Print

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report Vs Print

    Every year I look forward to Mary Meeker's annual Internet Trends report. I suppose it's just a thing us futurists like to do for fun. For me trend analysis is a key factor in making decisions both large and small, and I'm always looking for the repeating patterns in life and in business. The report is always filled with fascinating data and, of course, trend analysis. One of the prized slides that I have closely tracked is the % of Time Spent with Media Vs the % of Advertising Spending in that particular media. Now as much as I like this report and I think it has important and meaningful data, I am not completely convinced that some of the conclusions in this particular slide are correct. 

    Here is what I mean, print now gets only 4% of time spent with any media.  Mary Meeker's conclusion is that there is/should be an equivalent amount of ad spend to the amount of time spent with that media. There may, in fact, be some sort of correlation between the two data points, but I think the type of media in question should also be considered. The experiences of media to media are in fact very different.  Print is not like radio and radio is not like TV and for sure print is not like digital. 

    This is not the whining observation of a bibliophile, but rather an experienced media professional who has tracked the industry for over 4.5 decades.  It's my conclusion that the amount of attention/time spent doesn't necessarily mean that ad spending should be an identical % number. How does one measure the quality and richness of time spent? Where is that chart?  CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted July 21, 2016
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  • Bosacks Speaks Out: On Newsstand, Rate Base and the Magazine Industry

    Bosacks Speaks Out: On Newsstand, Rate Base and the Magazine Industry

    We are at an interesting crossroads in the magazine industry. Not all business plans are, if you will pardon the expression, on the same page.

    There is a large set of business focused on the of selling of magazines on the newsstand. There are thousands of people and hundreds of businesses dedicated to the shipping, selling, coordinating, and returning of magazines in the retail supply chain. Their salaries depend on the success of the newsstand.

    It is a complex process that thousands have devoted their careers to. In this mix not only are the newsstand organizations, the supply subgroups, but also actual magazines that live and die on the newsstand alone as their main source of revenue.

     Then there is another group.  I affectionately call them the Olympians. The Hearst's, The Conde` Nast's, Time Inc, and the Meredith's. They, too, sell magazines on the newsstand. But their business model is no longer, as it once was, contingent on that part of the industry. They have their own business plans that from the outset weren't about protecting or sustaining the newsstand business. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted July 21, 2016
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On PRIMEX and the Proven Haptic Power of Print

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On PRIMEX and the Proven Haptic Power of Print

    Leo F. Buscaglia (1924 -1998) was a teacher at the University of Southern California in the late 1960s when one of his students committed suicide. This so greatly affected Professor Buscaglia that, in his pursuit for meaning of the sad event, he formed a non-credit class titled Love 1A. As you might expect, there were no grades for Love 1A, because how could you possibly fail someone in this class on that subject?

    He became a cheerleader for Life, and he was most closely associated with the topic of love and human relationships, emphasizing the value of positive human touch, especially hugs. He once said, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

    You might ask, what this has to do with media and especially my review of the PRIMEX Conference held in New York City two weeks ago? Well, it was the professor who came to my mind when my good friend Daniel Dejan, who is the Print & Creative Manager of Sappi Fine Papers, opened the event.  I know a world full of nice and wonderful people, but I'd have to rack my brains to find a man or woman with more glowing love for life and humans and the pure joy of creativity. I know Daniel quite well, so it was no surprise that his presentation that day was "The Haptic Brain/Haptic Brand and the Neuroscience of Touch." And, as Professor Buscaglia said, "... too often we underestimate the power of a touch..." 

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 15, 2016
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Impact on Hearst-Condé Nast Venture to Merge Back-Office Ops

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Impact on Hearst-Condé Nast Venture to Merge Back-Office Ops

    Here is my take on PubWorx LLC, the joint venture to combine circulation, procurement and production functions by Condé Nast and Hearst Magazines. Distilled down to their lowest common denominator production departments are about great efficiency and superior quality, probably in that order, but variable depending on the particular organization. The skills include shrewd procurement and a great proficiency in manufacturing and distribution. On the other hand, circulation is still less a science and more akin to alchemy, but many circulator's will no doubt dispute that concept.  

    The conjoining of the two companies makes perfect efficient sense to me. Again with a probable dispute by some professionals who read this, production departments just make interchangeable widgets. We put ink or pixels in the exact right place and fling them hither and yon around the globe. It doesn't really matter if we are making one widget or a hundred. Our job is to coordinate at the most reasonable price with the best possible quality in that price range, and "ship" on time and with great regularity.

    The production process is agnostic to content. We don't really care what it is and so can combine and ship an unlimited number of disparate titles from unlimited companies.  As Archimedes sort of said, Give me a production staff smart enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 15, 2016
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper

    There is a recent article titled Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper, that came across my info-radar today. Articles like these are always popping up. They are interesting to me, because science must do what science does, question everything. As a geek-at-heart, I am all for the pursuit of knowledge. I sometimes think that all good production people are geeks, but that is a story for another day. 

    There are several things that must be pointed out in this article. The headline is click bait appealing to paper lovers and trying to confirm what they think they already know. However, the data here is not as overwhelming for the paper lovers as the headline suggests. The biggest issue is the supposed edge in the emotional response to paper as opposed to digital.  To me that is much more generational than a universal law of astro-advertising. 

    The main thing to remember here is that in a very meaningful way none of this digital-does-this-and-paper-does-that-science will matter as we proceed further. Why, you wisely ask? Because, we aren't ever going to go back to being a major paper transmitting society. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    Posted October 06, 2015
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  • Dissecting the 1% Prediction of Magazine Sales

    Dissecting the 1% Prediction of Magazine Sales

    We keep reading and hearing about the reading public's love of print. Why then don't they show that love at the newsstand? Every year newsstand drops double digits in sales. If that is love, I'll take something else. We keep hearing how advertisers get better ROI in print. That may be true, but then why does advertising in print diminish every year? We keep hearing of the many new titles each year. Why then do all magazine sales show a steep drop in magazines sold? In the same vein why are print subscriptions dropping as well, (if not as fast as newsstand)? In the end, it doesn't matter how many magazines we print, the only relevant statistic is how many we sell.
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 26, 2015
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  • BoSacks on addictive content and the audience of the future

    Bo Sacks on addictive content and the audience of the future
     
    Legendary publisher and one of the founding fathers of High Times magazine, Bo Sacks, was in London recently to take part in a tweetathon hosted by What's New in Publishing. FIPP caught up with him at the event to get his take on the current developments in digital media, and what's coming next for the industry.

    More competition than ever before (0:06)
    The thing is - in the 70s when I started out - there was only three ways to communicate: there was print, there was radio, and there was television. Each had its place. And each had few competitors in their sphere. The difference now is that there is more competitors than ever before. And it doesn't take a big bank roll to be a competitor. 

    BuzzFeed, Vox, Upworthy (0:41)
    They've come out of nowhere. And they've taken, what used to be called market share, but I prefer to think of it as time spent with media. And that's the new big equation. How much time the public spends with each, individual type of media.  

    Is it harder or easier to start a publishing company in the digital age? (1:02)
    No it's easy to get in, and it's actually easy for some to make money. The thing is - and it's not unlike print many years ago - not everybody makes it. Some do, some don't. Those that do make the addictive content will survive just great, won't be a problem.   

    There's no relationship between success and the format that you choose (1:35)
    Could be television, could be print, could be digital. If you have addictive content, you'll probably do very well. 

    Soon for all we know, we're going to project on the air (1:46)
    There'll be new formats. Right now we have cell phones as a format. We have desktops and laptops as a format. Soon for all we know we're gonna project, on the air, and we won't have a sub-straight at all. And we'll project words, and visuals - that's a different kind of sub-straight for a different kind of reader/viewer, and maybe we'll call them something else? 

    Not the Holy Grail (2:12)
    Video has a place in the media sphere, but it is not the Holy Grail. It is another way to communicate and absorb information. And the information you need is system specific: video is great for learning how to cook... learning how to play golf...maybe even learning how to do brain surgery. But along with the video has to come words, long form words. 

    And finally, what advice would you give to an aspiring publisher about what content the audience needs to see? (2:50)
    How we define content, is important to your question. And how we monetise that content is also important. I'm increasingly believing that just supplying content is not enough, you need alternative revenue streams besides your content.
     
    Jamie Gavin
    Posted September 26, 2015
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  • With A Strong Brand, A Magazine Can Be Anything

    With A Strong Brand, A Magazine Can Be Anything

    Active Interest Media serves as role model for extending magazine brands and businesses.

    As we all know, the magazine industry is transforming from a print-focused concept to a broader, more media-diverse, "branded" approach to content distribution. In the new approach there are many extensions of the branded experience that lead to revenue success, and in many cases better, broader, and more stable empires than in the past. Active Interest Media (AIM) is a perfect example of brand extensions and off-the-page thinking.

    AIM has five distinct publishing groups and publishes some of the country's leading consumer enthusiast magazines, such as Yoga Journal,BackpackerVegetarian TimesYachts InternationalBlack BeltAmerican CowboyPractical HorsemanLog Home Living, and many more. I think the key phrase here is "consumer enthusiast" magazines. Look at the diversity of this publishing house and the broad reach they have. No single-topic concentration in this publisher's large enterprise, but rather five main categories each with a broad range of brands that satisfy passionate readers and their very particular interests.

     

    A few months ago I had a conversation with AIM's president and CEO Andrew Clurman. Andy said, "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."

    What Andy is saying here and what all publishers large or small must be considering is the revenue extension possibilities of your readers/consumer's passions.

    CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE

     

     
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 01, 2015
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  • The Mystery of Magazine Numbers Revealed

    The Mystery of Magazine Numbers Revealed

    BoSacks Speaks Out:  My friend Samir Husni has penned a short essay and complaint about "numbers" used in our industry for purposes of industry review and analysis (See below). He bemoans the way some media reporters publish stats on the number of new titles in each quarter, and he wishes that they reached out to him for his extensive collected number of new launches. I suggest that his collection of data is very large, unique and probably the most definitive.

     

    It is true that the numbers we read in the trade press are varied and terribly inconsistent. From my perspective as an industry insider, it has always been fun to see the numbers and the constant surplus of new titles. That being said, I am using Samir's essay to launch my own observations about data in our industry in a week of many numbers which, although interesting to read, are for the most part irrelevant and misleading.

     

    Let's start with the number of new titles in each quarter. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the number of new titles has nothing to do with the vibrancy of our industry. (See chart.)  

    Skyrocketing number of magazines in red and plummeting total circ in yellow. (Thanks to Dr. Joe Webb for the chart) 


    In fact, the number of new magazines we make is a red herring to our actual vibrancy. The only stat that matters is how many magazines we sell, and those numbers have been dropping since 2007 to a loss of over 50% in newsstand sales and, depending upon who you talk to, 18% in subs. 

    FOR THE FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted July 05, 2015
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