Publishing News You Can Use

  • Mr. Magazine: Preserving the Past, Present, and Future of Magazine Media

    A Rollicking Ride Down Memory Lane
    “How many people will be comparing websites fifty years from now?” Samir asks. “Will they be saying, look what Politico in February of 2022, compared to Slate? It isn’t going to happen.”
    It’s a privilege to meet bi-weekly with my magazine-loving friends, the Pandemic Publishing Roundtable—Joe Berger, Sherin Pierce, Bo Sacks, Gemma Peckham, and, of course, Mr. Magazine himself, Samir Husni. Samir recently retired from teaching after 37 years, but his alter-ego, Mr. Magazine, is thriving, and having none of the “print is dead” punditry.
    “So much of the history of pop culture has been captured in these decades of magazines,” he tells us. “Going through this history—I’m a kid in a candy store. Every time I find something new.”
    Today Samir is going to walk us through some of the highlights of his collection, beginning with Reader’s Digest, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
    Samir: Reader’s Digest officially launched in February 1922. Not many people know what came before that. Dewitt Wallace served, and was injured, in World War 1. While he was recuperating, his friends brought him magazines to pass the time. At that time, New York City alone had 22 newspapers. Wallace thought, people just don’t have the time to keep up with the sheer volume of media. Why don’t I put together the important points, to save people time while getting the most valuable and enduring information.
    He created his preview issue of Reader’s Digest in January 1920. And then he took it to every publisher in New York and every one of them told him, this will never work. So he went home and put the magazine in a drawer.
    A few months later a friend introduced him to Lila Bell Acheson. They married in 1921. It was Lila Bell who said, forget about the publishers. You and I will do this. And they did. Lila Bell borrowed $500 to launch their publication. The first issue was 62 pages. Every article was one page, front and back; every page could be torn and saved as an entire article. And so, Reader’s Digest became the largest magazine in US history, with 80 million copies in circulation.
    Sherin: This was in how many countries?
    Samir: At one point it had 35 editions in 29 languages. Its history is woven into the history of other publications, the history of magazine publishing. Remember Fact magazine? In the mid-1960’w Ralph Ginzberg published Fact magazine, and spent 20 pages ripping Reader’s Digest apart. He called it anti-black, anti-Semitic, a mouthpiece for the John Birch society.
    Joe: Back in the ‘60s, calling someone a John Bircher was a big insult.
    Samir: Fact did the same thing with Time magazine, which will also soon be celebrating its 100th Anniversary. And—you can’t make this up—when Time was launched, as a time-saver for people too busy for media, it was called Facts.
    So back then, there was another magazine, published by Gardner Cowle, named Look. His wife, Fleur—Gardner was her third husband—was working on Look, and in 1949, while she was doing that, she launched another magazine for people in a hurry, and she called it Quick. It was the first pocket-sized news magazine. She got the idea from Daily Word. The format was 4” by 6”.
    Joe: So it would be competing with Time and Newsweek.
    Samir: But it was very different. It only cost 10 cents, and it could fit in your pocket. After one year it was selling 850,000 copies.
    Joe: How did newsweeklies work then—was it printed in various parts of the country?
    Samir: It was printed in Chicago. They partnered with a news program on ABC, they had posters in many stores with a token for a dollar off your subscription. Then they teamed up with NBC and started doing spots on Sunday mornings with Quick editors. And, way back in 1950, they were doing something that to many people was, and is, unheard of—advertising on the cover. There was a cover tag advertising Curtis Candy. Or special Arrow (shirt) edition. Or a cover might say, “Don’t Miss Page One.” And when you turned to page one it would be an ad of a local pharmacy, split out by regional editions.
    Joe (laughing): And then all the copies went to Pittsburgh.
    Samir: In 1952, Fleur decided to add 32 extra pages just for New York with all the TV programs. They promoted it on the cover and went on to break out the TV guide to different regional versions.
    Sherin: Did they have different covers?
    Samir: They all had the same cover advertising the regional listings, exactly like Walter Annenberg would do when he launched TV Guide in April of 1953.
    Sherin: He ripped her off?
    Samir: He bought all the regional TV listings from Cowles Media. Quick closed soon after; June 1, 1953 was the last issue. 1.3 million people bought and read it. But despite its huge readership, the revenues weren’t enough to defray expenses. They merged it into Look.
    Sherin: What did Fleur do then?
    Samir: On June 8 a new magazine came out called Tempo. It was from the staff from Quick. Quick’s last issue was the week before--they didn’t miss a beat! But then, three months later, on Sep 30, 1953, a new issue of Quick was published—with Walter Annenberg as editor and publisher.  
    Sherin: But Quick merged with Look
    Samir: And then they sold the rights to Annenberg. He was able to publish it for 6 months as a picture/news magazine in a larger format. How did Fleur and Annenberg know each other? It’s a mystery I haven’t solved. We do know that Fleur was at the 73rd birthday party of Walter’s wife, Leonore.
    By 1955 we have 72 pocket sized magazines in the country. Five of them were for African Americans. Someone else bought and published Quick from 1955, focusing on content like miracle cures for arthritis and cancer. They folded. And Quick came back AGAIN in 1959.
    Sherin: Looking more like a sophisticate.
    Samir: It folded again, came back again in 1960, as a mix of sophisticate and politics.
    Joe: A precursor to Hustler.
    Samir: They billed it as the original newspaper magazine. It was NEVER a newspaper magazine. All those incarnations—it’s a fun story.
    Sherin: When did Quick finally die?
    Samir: 1965
    Sherin: So from 1949 to 1965 under different formats, different publishers, different editorial focuses. What did Fleur do after Quick?
    Samir: She launched what is one of the most creative, beautiful magazines ever published--Flair magazine. Every issue used the resources of printing and paper with diecuts, different sized paper throughout, colors, and art.
    Sherin: How long did it last?
    Samir: One year. Feb 1950. There’s a preview issue from 1949, 5000 copies were printed, and every copy was numbered. It was a work of art.
    Joe: Why did it only last one year?
    Samir: It was so expensive to produce. Every issue has diecuts, half pages, small tags with their own page numbers. She was using print in all the most creative ways. In the last issue she wrote that she just couldn’t affort to continue, due to the foreign situation, rising costs, and paper shortages. It cost 50 cents on the newsstand. This magazine meant so much to Fleur, she wanted her obituary to be Flair and nothing else. She WAS Flair.
    Joe: Amazing history.
    Samir: There is so much people don’t know about the role magazines play in the history of our country. We need someone to cherish these historical artifacts, someone to preserve it.
    And that is why I will launch Magazine Media Center: preserving the past, present and future of magazine media.
    And I invite the members of the Roundtable to be on the board
    Linda Ruth
    Posted February 03, 2022
    (0) Comments

  • Media Carrier Provides Opportunities for Print and Digital Publishers

    Gabrielle Sarmiento is constantly looking for new opportunities for publishers.
    Joe Berger, Samir Husni, Bo Sacks, Sherin Pierce, and I—the ongoing Publishing Pandemic Roundtable, which has been meeting regularly for almost two years—had the privilege of hosting her at a recent Roundtable.
    Gabi, as she is called, is the VP of Sales and Marketing for News Inflight and Media Carrier. Media Carrier GmbH, a Germany-based company, provides customized portfolios of digital publications to the tourism and hospitality industry. Through News Inflight, the company also distributes print magazines to airport lounges.
    Joe: Tell us about your company.
    Gabi: Media Carrier was founded in 2011 and is one of the leading B2B supplier’s of digital publications and through our comprehensive network are represented in all major markets worldwide. We are working with 25 airlines, such as American Airline, the Lufthansa Group, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic to name a few, 5200 high end hotels; plus private airports, cruise ships, trains, and limousine services. Through us, these companies are able to offer to their customers and guests customized selections from 2000 titles, from 59 countries around the world, in 39 languages. And we’re constantly looking to open up new opportunities for publishers; for example, we’re beginning to work with clinics and hospitals.
    Bo: How does Media Carrier connect to the reading product?
    Gabi: Our digital product can be used with any web-enabled device without installing an app, registering, or providing personal data to access the publications and it can easily be integrated into the booking confirmation, app, newsletters, on-board IFE or airport lounges. For example, you are in one of the AA Admiral lounges you can activate your Media Box code, given to you at checking to download any publication you desire onto your own devices for immediate reading or for later use. Each of our clients have their own way to give access to the publications, we design everything around them since it becomes their product to give to their passengers or guests.
    Samir: You work with both print and digital publications. What challenges do you find that are similar? What differences do you see?
    Gabi: In the travel segment, the challenge of one is the opportunity of the other. With the exception of Delta--who want their customers to have everything they want--none of the other carriers are focusing on print anymore. For most of the carriers, the focus has moved wholly to digital. But Delta conducted a survey and found out that more than most enjoy print, so they continue to offer print copies in their Sky Clubs. The program is very successful; there are no leftover copies of any titles that participate.
     Linda: And since both print and digital copies are auditable, I work with publishers to whom the impact on their circulation is welcome.
    Gabi: Yes, and it’s not only the copies for circulation, it’s the locations. You’re being downloaded in all core markets worldwide, Europe, the USA, Russia, the Gulf States and Asia which gives great impact to the circulation. One of our premier client’s is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with all of their 25 properties around the globe, which is very appealing to advertisers.
    Linda: It also can be a source of subscription circulation for the publisher.
    Samir: Because many of the magazines coming on market are circ-driven, they’ll need a way to monetize this service.
    Gabi: We encourage publishers to include life subscription links to drive new digital and print subscribers by placing targeted offers with an automatic click through to their fulfillment houses to create an additional revenue stream. For a creative publisher, there are many opportunities. You can tell the reader what is in the magazine before downloading with a video clip or convey an advertiser’s message, an event, a personal note or a survey--there are all sorts of things you can do to get the attention of the reader and convert that into revenue.
    Joe: What is the cost to the publisher?
    Gabi: We have different plans, but the initial set up comprises a free trial period. The banners, the video clips, and other add-ons are fee-based.
    Joe: There is no charge to the consumer? It’s a free download for that issue?
    Gabi: That’s correct, a free download limited to the specific time and place. And for some airlines, in first and business class, there may be a different mix—a pay factor after several downloads. Our platform is easy to use, you gain access to the Media Box through a code, link etc. and open the library, click on magazines or newspapers, click on the category and look for the publication you want; or you can browse the carousel to discover new titles you haven’t seen before.
    Samir: What titles are in high demand?
    Gabi: Downloads tend to track what is selling on the newsstand; and of course, for this demographic, the high end and business categories are very strong.
    Bo: You mentioned that you use the airlines entertainment system to offer the publications. How does it work when go into the hospitals?
    Gabi: At the hospital you would access the platform through their internet via your digital devices- phone, iPad, etc. You sign into the hospital wifi and it will appear on that link.
    Bo: The hospitals program could work well for everyone. It’s a captive audience.
    Gabi: That’s right. The reader doesn’t have to touch a print magazine that others might have handled; and patients want to do something other than watch tv. We have already introduced this program to fifteen clinics in Germany.
    Joe: What do the analytics show: downloads, time with publication, click-throughs?
    Gabi: Our reports show title, category, client name, country, location, the timestamp, and download amount.
    Joe: To participate, does a publisher provide a pdf?
    Bo: So the same pdf I send to printer I send to you?
    Gabi: Yes, that’s the fantastic part—you don’t need to re-learn anything. We give you a secure ftp site with your login info and you provide us with the pdf and your production schedule. This enables us to follow up, if a publisher forgets to upload an issue, we’ll let them know.
    Linda: Yes, I’ve seen that happen.
    Samir: Have you seen the program where a company provided ipads to hotel rooms for their downloads?
    Gabi: I have, and it doesn’t work well. It’s too much for the hotels to take care of especially now. With our program, travelers use their own devices. The program is tied to the hotel Wifi; the reader can download the publications and read them on their own leisure.
    Samir: Magazines are the only positive medium we have. We’re bombarded with bad news from every other platform out there. But when you pick up a magazine, you can lose yourself.
    Gabi: I don’t think print will ever go away; we all love the feeling of holding a magazine and turning the pages. I am blessed with a granddaughter now and I am buying her kids magazine subscriptions right and left. But we also have to remember that the world is constantly changing and digital provides a quick and easy way of getting our favorite reads and it is eco-friendly!
    Joe: How were you affected by the pandemic?
    Gabi: Everything came to a standstill in March of 2020; to stay sustainable we had to create new ways of content sharing. Some of our clients sent offers to their premiere customers, the first and business class reward members, to download publications at home; this created a great brand loyalty towards our airline clients.
    Bo: That was a smart move. It offers a service to the readers, it keeps the platform fresh in their minds, and it provides a PR benefit to airlines.
    Joe: Let’s look forward. What does 2022 and 2023 look like for your company?
    Gabi: We want to continue to tap into new industries that could benefit from our platform. We know there are health benefits from reading, and that will be a basis for growing into new sectors.
    Linda Ruth
    Posted January 26, 2022
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: I Salute You

    BoSacks Speaks Out: I Salute You
    What an amazing few years we have just been through. Plague be damned, we have all had ups and downs, moments of great stress, and hopefully many moments of beauty and harmony.
    Writer Hamilton Wright Mabie once said, "New Year's Eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights."
    But even though "there is no pause in the march of the universe", this and every yearend brings us a chance to reflect. What did we get right this year? How many formerly impossible things did we actually figure out and do? What do we wish we could do again? And what do we see for ourselves moving into the next year until it's time for reflection yet again as sol returns to its starting place?
    The Holiday season and the New Year is an opportunity to consider the events of the past year and to approach the year ahead with deliberate intent and personal choices. Some goals we keep, and others slowly evaporate away till next year.
    It's hard to grapple with the idea that we are headed into Year 3 of the pandemic, with yet another surge in cases hitting our weary hospital systems and first responders. I'm hoping that the new variant will not lead to lockdowns again. Fortunately, we have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that we and the industry we work in, is resilient and creative in time of need.
    In 2021, we continued to deal with an on-going pandemic, we developed new vaccines, swore in a new president and as a member of the media industry we charged forward with our mission to inform, entertain, and teach the reading public.


    On January 7, 2021, I wrote the following:
    "BoSacks Speaks Out: Friends, I want to take just a minute under these bizarre and horrible moments in U.S. history to applaud the fearless journalism that was on demonstration for the past 24 hours. We, the media, cover our stories wherever they take us – war zones, poverty zones, plague zones, small town halls, and today into the U.S. Capitol under siege. This is what we do. We teach, we entertain, and perhaps most importantly, we follow the news wherever it leads to inform our readers. Today like all days we see journalists running into the fray and the danger and not away from it. That is a noble tradition and a fearless one. I am proud to be a member of the journalism industry."
    I salute you all. To those of us who survived, we are indeed stronger on so many levels. We have reinvented everything that could be analyzed and made more efficient. We learned that we could work remotely and still thrive. It also seems that we have proved that many of our large offices are quaint vestiges of the past and in many cases, irrelevant to a successful media product.
    Perhaps one of the most important things we learned is that readers are willing to pay for quality journalism. I wonder what took us so long to make that conclusion?




    We learned that the traditional methodologies and business plans that were in place were mostly a dream based on a previous interpretation of reality.
    In March of 2020, I couldn't have predicted the speed and grace of the publishing communities' adaptions and redeployments almost overnight and on the fly. The time machine we entered two years ago accelerated whatever was happening before into new possibilities that under pre-covid processes would have taken years to develop.
    Mark Twain said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    I am more bullish on the industry than ever before, as it clearly grows and morphs into something new at an on-going and accelerated rate. More people read, collect, and share distributed media information than ever before. There is more revenue being made in media beyond the wildest dreams of our publishing ancestors. So, "So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor."
    In my professional life as a publisher, I have for over twenty-nine years expressed a yearend message of review, hope, and promise to my readers. I encourage you to "Explore. Dream. Discover."
    History has proven that plagues like Covid come and then they go, that business downturns appear when least expected and retreat just the same, that the winter is cold only to be followed by the beauty and charm of a warm summer's day.
    But the most enduring cycle throughout history is our love of family and friends. Love is more than a word; it is a shared transcendental experience. It imparts an equal measure of mutual vulnerability and great strength. Like superheroes, I believe that love is our secret power, and with it, we sustain ourselves with the love of family and friends.
    The following message was first sent in 1513 A.D. It has become part of my traditional yearend expression of hope and reflection. I have been sharing this poem with my newsletter readership for three decades. Every time I read it, I come away with a little more understanding and hope. The plague has intensified my sense of the poem.



    Like the author, I hope that your paths are clear of shadows and that you have the time and sensibilities to take a few moments to really stop and look around you.
    Most of us work so hard that sometimes we forget the real reasons for our energetic pursuits. In the end, it is our ability to love and share that love that has any real long-lasting meaning.
    That being said, I send you all a big safe hug and the hope that you are surrounded by love, family and continued friendship.
    I wish you all peace, sensibility, and a joyous and healthy new year
    I wish you joy and love at home and, at the very least, stability in the workplace. I send to you the additional hope that all is well wherever you may roam.
    Best wishes and happy holidays to all.
    Bob and Carol Sacks
    There is nothing I can give which you
    have not; but there is much that, while I
    Can not give, you can take.
    No heaven can come to us unless our hearts
    Find rest in it today.
    Take happiness.
    No peace lies in the future, which is not somewhere hidden
    in this present instant.
    Take Peace
    The sometime gloom of the world is but a shadow;
    Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
    Take joy
    And so, at this holiday time, I greet you,
    With the prayer that for you, now and forever
    The days break with peace,
    and all shadows flee from your path.
    Fra Giovanni
    A salutation written to a friend in 1513



    Posted December 23, 2021
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Mag Covers, Tracking, Journalists and More

    Re: Why do we still care about magazine covers?
    Perhaps the reason that there is a discussion about what, exactly, a magazine is, is that we've decided that covers don't matter as much as they once did. As a result, we've lost our identity.
    While maybe 50 years ago we wanted the the magazine's cover to stick out on the newsstand, it was back then, and is today, the actual way you identify the magazine to the public.
    It's your, to use the modern term that all the kids use, brand. So why would you not care about it?
    I have a few problems with this article. The first is that it appears that single copy sales have never been a factor in the circulation of New York Magazine. As far back as 2007, single copy sales for New York Magazine were only 5% of the overall circulation (Yes, I have actual receipts for this). As a point of fact, since 2007, overall circulation for the magazine has declined -39% and newsstand circulation (keep in mind, it was only 5%) declined 92%. That sounds astoundingly bad until you realize how small the numbers were as a part of the whole. That doesn't deny the collapse of the newsstand market, but you should show some context or understand what you're talking about before you make grand conclusive statements.
    Does that mean that you don't care about the newsstand cover as much? Well, if you're New York Magazine and your latest audit report shows that newsstand was less than 1% of your overall sales, maybe you don't. If you're another magazine where your newsstand sales are a lot more than that, well, maybe you should. It would kind of depend on your circulation, wouldn't it?
    Either way, the conclusion is that yes, you may no longer be designing a cover solely for newsstand sales (Although I would argue that most publishers haven't been doing that for a very, very long time), but you should be putting your best effort into a cover because it's how you identify your brand.
    PS: I would kind of love it if non-magazine people would maybe try to learn something about the magazine business before they try to write about it.
    (Submitted by Anonymous)
    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Attention, Shoppers: Audio Inventory In Groceries And Drugstores Is Now Addressable
    The question is, when they switch on your location services, did they do it when you downloaded the coupon and did they make sure that you were aware that they were switching on your location services so they could track you on your "out of home inventory" purchasing "experiences"?
    The cynic in me says, "Well of course not!"
    On a personal note, the business speak in this article had me of two minds. On the one hand, I wanted to laugh at it's ridiculousness, on the other, it makes me want to shudder to think that is how modern American business now looks at the people they rely on to be both customers and workers.
    (Submitted by Anonymous)
    RE: Journalists Fear 'Fake News' Harms Their Profession - But Unsure How To Combat
    Journalists, especially younger ones from what I’ve seen, are doing a lot more to harm their profession than “fake news.” Objectivity? It doesn’t exist in an absolute sense. But you can step out of your own views and try to understand different perspectives without the assumption that your own inclinations are, of course, right and should be dominant.
    (Submitted by writer)
    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Covid-19 Skeptics, Publisher Sue Sen. Elizabeth Warren
    Back in TimeWarner Corporate Marketing days we used to operate as a “self-governing body”, and rags like The Enquirer and Star were known to be so over the top unbelievable that it was entertaining. Think The Onion satire, only low-brow, probably conspiracy theory bs. How did that become “news”!?
    I think it all traces back to Ronnie eliminating truth in reporting standards and a pimple like Fox festered and spewed decades worth of lies and misinformation as to desensitize and fog good portions of this Country.
    We need to hold the News to a higher standard NOW.
    (Signed, a concerned citizen)
    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The True Nature Of Magazines...
    I agree with your points as much as I understand his points. I would add that bookazines may be more habit forming than Samir indicates. The Time ones on famous people or science always grab my attention and require will power to walk away. (I tend to habitually spend my discretionary dollars on books by my favorite Sci-Fi & Fantasy authors.)
    ( Submitted by a Sr. Business Analyst.)
    Re: Direct-to-consumer brands are shifting to old-school marketing tactics
    Hey Bob - Below has happened and happening and contributing to the paper shortage. Digital marketing has become more expensive as well, marketers have gone back to print in many cases.
    Problem with that is getting paper or press time. We are in a place in the paper world that has never been seen. It is madness and even that is not an accurate description and getting worse. Q1 2022 will be catastrophic for many customers, worst yet.
    (Submitted by a Paper Salesperson)
    Re: Subscribed Institute, NYC: Key subscription growth takeaways
    First of all, thank you for publishing your newsletter. I look forward to it everyday, and recommend it to anyone in the publishing or media industry that is not aware of it.
    I am normally not one to comment on articles like this, and to be honest, I have been on the sales side of the equation working with and for some very talented Circulation Consultants and executives in the Publishing Industry.
    When I ready this article regarding key subscription growth takeaways, I was life “looking at customer growth and the full lifecycle vs. short term acquisition and churn” is a new idea, I am pretty sure this idea was Circulation 101 30 years ago.
    But heck, what do I know. I just thought it was funny that this Subscribed Institute was presenting this as new news
    (Submitted by a Humble Sales Guy)
    Re: Marketing to Gen Alpha
    This made me snort! The oldest of these kids is *just* 11, and is unlikely to even have a social media account yet. My Gen Alpha baby is purely concerned with yelling at me because I've put her down for a nap, so no idea what these global marketing giants hope to gain by 'socially listening' to her (unless they want earache).
    I think we can forget how quickly things change for these kids. I have no doubt by the time they're old enough to care, memes will be super lame and the world will have moved far past what any of these clever marketers can assert that they're interested in.
    (Submitted by a Publisher)
    Re: COMMENTARY Reflections On The Death Of Hershel Sarbin, Industry Icon, Boss And Mentor
    What a man and what a loss. He was the most intellectually vital human. A brilliant creative leader and a compassionate person that nurtured young talent, created new media models and contributed to the world with energetic charitable endeavors. He was a giant in my life. He was my mentor. My sage . And my good friend. I would talk with him multiple times each year and he would have a new idea always. He lived life to the fullest with his brain his heart and body.  He change the world for the better each day  I will miss him terribly
    (Submitted by a Publisher)
    Re: FTC Commissioner Advocates ‘Data Minimization’ In Advertising
    The phrase that stands out to me is, "nor do they have any bargaining power in the relationship" you either have the choice of saying yes I agree or you don't use the product. My printer for example asks me to agree to the terms of use with every upgrade. If I say no I wouldn't get the upgrade and would likely lose the functionality of being able to print from the printer I own.
    (Submitted by a Sr. Business Analyst.)
    Re: A Night at the Press
    Thanks for posting this! It brought back fond memories when I was a VP at a major publisher and followed the distribution of one of our titles, Pro Football Weekly, an "evaluator" of Sunday's games, each issue provides insight to next week's games. We had a sales problem, we were very inefficient so I wanted to "follow the copies". My day began at the Editorial offices at 2 PM Sunday afternoon where the editorial team watched each game until the last game ending Midnight when edit closed and sent to the printer, a major Chicago daily newspaper. At 4 AM I watched printed copies come off press and ship to magazine wholesalers across the U.S. and Canada. The entire process worked EXCEPT for large wholesalers that were unable to get the magazines into the weekly billing and distribution tie lines. Like small wholesalers the larger agencies picked up or had copies delivered from the airport in the early morning but they were delivered to stores the next Tuesday making the copies useless.Sales were very soft, the "news" was old. Smaller, more flexible wholesalers picked up copies at their local airport and delivered copies the next day. Sales were strong, efficient and profitable. Watching an issue go from editorial to press to delivery was an exhilarating experience, and the failure of some systems was prescient of what was to become the new normal.
    (Submitted by a newsstand Consultant) 
    Posted November 16, 2021
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Reader Speaks Out: An Industry in need of Self-Reflection

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Last week Samir Husni and BoSacks entertained a group of media professionals at a virtual town Hall hosted by The Media & Content Marketing Association (MCMA).
    It was mostly a free-flowing conversation between two publishing mavens who have been having friendly debates with each other for ages on behalf of an interested industry. It was a great hour and it’s always fun to chat with my friend. You know the routine, Samir has a passion for printed magazines, and although I like print, I take a more digital approach to our business and our future.
    I opened the conversation by asking if the publishing community is ascending or descending? Ascending of course. Then I asked if print magazines were ascending or descending? I’ll let you answer that one for yourself.
    Among the many topics, we discussed was my observation that we as an industry who are communication experts are failed communicators when it comes to promoting our own industry. You know what I’m talking about because other industries have succeeded while we fail. “Got Milk” comes to mind or “The Other White Meat”, and a dozen more. On so many levels publishers are on their own island and don’t/won’t cooperate with each other for the betterment of the industry as a whole.
    After the Town Hall, my friend Leslie Laredo sent me her reactions to the discussion. With her permission, I have printed it below. 
    The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
    George Bernard Shaw


    BoSacks Reader Speaks Out: An Industry in need of Self-Reflection
    By Leslie Laredo
    President, Academy of Digital Media, a Laredo Group Company
    I thought I’d share my thoughts from the MCMA Town Hall with Bo Sacks and Samir Husni. I hope a part 2 of this Town Hall gets scheduled as we need more discussions around the efficacy of print media.
    I had several visceral reactions to the comments made, so my written words may not accurately describe the intensity of my feelings. While many say I am a “digital media guru” having considerable experience and success, since founding the first company dedicated to training the buyers and sellers of digital media, I have always advanced the concept that digital is a media channel that works best when bought and sold holistically or part of an integrated or omnichannel media plan. Digital has changed and expanded how we think about creating, delivering, and measuring all media. I would also add that digital has added ways to measure the effectiveness of print, especially proving how print creates a lot of top of funnel activity.
    My reaction to the comments made about the industry not pulling together to save itself was poignant. The issues are embedded on all sides of the media table, including publishers, agencies, and marketers. From what I understand, the MPA’s membership got decimated because of the publisher’s meltdown from ad dollars moving from print to digital. I don’t think the MPA or the NNA (National Newspaper Association) have done enough to support print media in comparison to how the IAB, RAB, TVB, and NAB support their media. To many, magazine media equals print, which is ill-informed and materially wrong. While the MPA’s annual Magazine Handbook contains a lot of information supporting the efficacy of print+digital media, I don’t think this is getting into the right hands at agencies nor elevated to decision-makers at the brands.


    On the other side of the table, most agencies still bucket magazines under print. The planning teams budget in silos. The buying teams have templates that compare performance averages across all digital formats and price benchmarks, resulting in buys with high percentages of fraudulent impressions. While the desire for “integrated” media proposals is often used in RFPs, the framework for evaluating is outdated, and no framework exists to evaluate all the assets magazine media brings to the table in an integrated way.
    Many agencies are at fault for not training buyers and letting their younger buyers get away with “I don’t read magazines, why would I put them on a plan,” which I heard directly from a buying team, and no media supervisor challenged the statement. It is unforgivable that organizations and associations don’t support/invest in training for the skills needed to have more updated and informed decisions and so often allow or tolerate a “focus group of one” approach.
    The national magazines and larger newspapers have always competed with TV for scale and ubiquity. So, when readership slipped because the desired format became digital, most magazines/newspapers did a terrible job selling the value of their print PLUS digital audiences. They had self-defeating advertising programs that allowed and often even promoted digital to be used as a mere value-add to a print sale. Giving away digital minimized, distorted, and obscured digital’s value proposition, and I think it has taken over a decade to begin winning this value back. From the beginning, publishers needed to sell why their media brands exist in different formats and use different assets, including audio, video, and digital, with more diverse audiences (digital was usually younger), and how differently they consumed content. I remember telling magazine publishers they needed to learn how TV was sold if they wanted to sell digital video because TV buyers managed that budget. No one listened, and they lost more ad dollars because print sellers didn’t call on TV buyers.


    I think Samir misses the point about print vs. digital. The Internet changed the expectation of content delivery. The blogosphere dis-mediated the role of the publisher, as everyone with a blog became a publisher. The Internet gave people an easy way to comment on content, and publishers learned that people loved this opportunity, giving new life to “letters to the editor.”
    Connectivity made it really easy for pass-along, expanding reach beyond what circ departments could ever imagine. Digital gave us a whole new slew of metrics to measure if and how ads were seen and interacted with (clicks, CTRs, interaction rates, viewability, completion rates, etc.). I loved the comment that publishers should have made their editors the most important influencers for their brand, just like broadcasters do with their anchors and hosts (e.g., Anderson Cooper for CNN, Lester Holt for NBC, etc.).
    While I admire Samir’s collecting and archiving first issues of every magazine, owning thousands of magazines being stored in hundreds of boxes, he is a “focus group of one.” I don’t know many people who keep back issues of their magazines around to reference. His “bought and owned” perspective and his story about challenging a woman at the grocery store checkout for flipping through a magazine but not buying it made me smile…but he didn’t see me flip through a magazine and then add it to my basket. Magazines are not consumed like a cereal box…words are meant to be shared outside a home; a cereal box is not. I say this is having grown up with three newspapers delivered daily (Rockland County News, New York Times, and WSJ) and experienced my dad and grandfather keeping old issues of National Geographic (now in boxes in my brother’s house), and my mom keeping the annual Thanksgiving issues of Gourmet magazine to reference every holiday. I now have print and digital experiences with NatGeo, which I love, and I don’t have to keep old print issues around because they offer digital archives back to 1888 (I need to tell my brother so he can clean out the boxes). All their content is only available behind the paywall, and I am a loyal customer and would have paid more than their subscription price ($24/year for both digital and print).
    It seems that Samir believes “digital is the bad guy” in the print vs. digital discussion. I have many personal anecdotes of why I gave up some print titles and kept others. My son wouldn’t let me cancel SI for Kids because he loved getting the December issue with “happy birthday Josh” printed on the cover. Most of the magazines that I get in print are because it was just too damn cheap not to subscribe, and those are flipped through but not devoured like The New Yorker ($74.00 print+digital) or The Economist ($225/year print+digital). This topic of subscription deserves its own Town Hall.
    I love how some magazine brands, notably from Hearst and Conde Nast, have evolved to appeal to the omnichannel media consumer, expanded their video assets, and created new subscription and e-commerce platforms. Our discussions should reflect on how digital changed the rules for content, distribution, community, and measurement. Digital does not hurt magazines; it expands the capabilities and experience of ink onto other surfaces.
    Posted November 10, 2021
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  • Lead Gen Programs Can Benefit from Impact of Covid

    Lead Gen Programs Can Benefit from Impact of Covid

    The last 18 months of the COVID‐shaped advertising environment has actually accelerated change that was already taking place in the ad market. For example, according to MediaRadar (MR), the more than 1,400 B2B magazines that they track produced 11% fewer total ad pages in 2019 than they did in 2018. This was long before COVID became a household word.
    Fact is, print advertising has been in decline in the B2B segment for the last half dozen years, some categories longer, and the more recent COVID challenge has simply pushed publications to ad page counts few would have believed possible.
    However, the COVID‐related impact across all areas of marketing have produced some monetary benefit to certain digital products, specifically those related to lead generation. Due to travel and crowd restrictions put in place at the start of the pandemic, companies were forced to turn their sales forces into professional Zoomers and eliminate trade shows altogether from their marketing mix. These two events drove the need for qualified sales leads sky high and publishers who had quality lead gen products have enjoyed a sales boom. One of our clients is a perfect case study on this situation. When we started representing them in 2015, we sold roughly 60 webinars, a number considered at the upper limit of demand and their production capacity at the time. This year—2021—we will have sold over twice as many webinars for that client, a number we now consider the maximum due to response / performance considerations. Also, greatly increased success with white papers, eBooks, and other lead gen products have led to our best revenue year ever with that client.
    We believe there will be a temptation for publishers to consider the 2020‐2021 period as a one‐time‐only situation which will soon evaporate as customers gradually return to pre‐ COVID practices. We disagree with this thinking for three reasons. 
    •         First, marketers have learned, forcibly to be sure, that there are far, far more efficient means to generate leads for a sales force than to create a very expensive, very time‐ consuming year‐long trade show caravan. And increased show expenses apparently await. Just two weeks ago an advertiser bitterly complained to one of our sellers at a trade show that she just received an additional $14,000 shipping upcharge for an exhibit that was sent on a Boston to Philadelphia round trip. And it wasn’t an enormous exhibit.  
    •         Second, trade shows may soon return but trade show attendees may not. We know COVID‐ related concerns still affect how people work and plan. Moreover, we saw that the trade show mentioned above attracted only one‐third the number of visitors it did in the years before COVID. Same show, same city/location, one‐third the visitors. We don’t believe that people will have spent the better part of two years avoiding all physically compromising situations and then suddenly rush out to a trade show to stand shoulder to shoulder with 10,000 or more strangers. In our view, trade show attendance will return very gradually, likely over years. Marketers will have to find those lost attendees elsewhere—through webinars, white papers, and other proven media devices.
    •         Third, corporate learning is slow but so is corporate forgetfulness. No sales manager ever born would have had the nerve to cancel all trade show participation on the unproven belief that there is a better, more efficient way to produce leads for the sales force. But the entire universe of sales managers was forced into that experience. Not just for six months. It will be closer to two years for most and in that time, they discovered and created new strategies and tactics that worked. For example, we produced some webinars this past year that had over 1,200 registrants for a tiny fraction of the time and cost those companies would have spent for similar results at a trade show. That kind of success isn’t easily forgotten.

    Posted September 15, 2021
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  • Publishing Pandemic Roundtable- Printers: The Unsung Heroes

    Publishing Pandemic Roundtable- Printers: The Unsung Heroes

    Now more than ever, printers who can work with publishers to overcome the challenges posed by rising prices and shortages of paper, labor, and time are proving to be the unsung heroes of the publishing business. Linda Thewes, sales executive with Fry Communications, joined the Publishing Pandemic Roundtable—Sherin Pierce, Joe Berger, Gemma Peckham, Bo Sacks, Samir Husni, and me—to talk about how it’s done.
    Linda, who studied printing as an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon, has been with Fry for thirty years; prior to that, she spent five years with another printer.  Printing, as we remarked, has changed quite a bit over the intervening years; a sentiment to which Linda wholeheartedly agreed.
    Linda (laughing): Oh boy has it. I remember stripping, light tables—
    Sherin: Exacto-knife, cut and paste--
    Joe: Compared to those days, what do you see impacting printing today?
    Linda: It’s a stressful time to be in printing, and there are a lot of contributing factors: rapidly escalating paper costs, paper shortages, other material costs increasing. And of course postage continues to rise. Co-mailing has helped offset rising costs, with more changes coming; we’re going to have to quickly figure out the impact of these changes, and how to continue to offset them; until we do so, our clients will likely experience some financial hits. Capacity is another challenge—the fall is always busy, as publishers are releasing catalogs and other marketing materials for the fourth quarter, and this year is particularly challenging, due to the labor shortage.
    Bo: The entire supply chain is under duress, every piece, every industry.
    Joe: What is causing the paper shortages?
    Linda: We have many supply chain issues, including transporting, pulp shortage, and labor issues. A lot of capacity was taken out of the market by mills to convert to products more profitable than paper stock.
    Sherin: Corrugate, for example.
    Me: Would you say these changes are temporary, or is this a new trend?
    Linda: I wish I could say.
    Sherin: I think it’s here to stay.
    Bo: Containerized freight last year cost $4000; this year it shot up to $20,000. How can a business absorb that kind of change? Shippers are re-routing to more profitable markets.
    Sherin: Other products can adjust more easily and absorb the change through changing their pricing. It isn’t so easy for publishers, although we’re going to have to sit down and revisit all our prices.
    Bo:  Everything is going to be more expensive, and we’re going to have to get in front of that. Meanwhile, the whole country is looking for truckers. How is Fry managing?
    Linda: We’re admittedly paying more for trucks, but we have good relationships with our truckers, and we’re thinking outside the box to circumvent the shortage. We’ve been able to transport mail by rail freight, for example, which has been a help.
    Joe: What is causing the labor shortage?
    Linda: I have some theories. Thanks to COVID, people who have worked their whole lives in manufacturing have seen that people can work from home, and want to make similar shifts. But that doesn’t work for us; you need a body present to run machinery. It’s hard to hire younger people into manufacturing, because they perceive there’s less flexibility.  
    Me: Are there more jobs in manufacturing to fill due to the former administration’s push to bring back manufacturing?
    Linda: The trend seems to pre-date that.
    Sherin: You can’t bring an industry back when they disassemble an entire plant. You have to bring back the equipment. But you’ve always had labor shortages in printing.
    Me: Have COVID deaths impacted the labor force?
    Linda: Well, COVID has forced people to rethink priorities and how and where they want to apply their resources. Can I live working fewer hours, making less money? Can our family survive on one income, rather than two? I don’t think it’s specifically deaths that have affected the labor force, at least not at Fry, thank God!
    Joe: Bo made a statement that I come back to daily: the pandemic has advanced everything in publishing and printing by 5-6 years. What do you see?
    Linda: There have been changes. With higher prices, we were always looking for ways to save costs. But even pre-COVID, the newsstand was heading in the direction of higher price, better quality products. And those exercises to cut quality to trim cost just aren’t happening now.
    Not only in newsstand—medical books and trade publications, for example, are also maintaining higher quality product over lower pricing. If you are going to print, it is for a reason. You want the experience of the product. Run lengths are shorter, we have better data, and we only put the product in the hands of those it makes sense for. I used to get a Pottery Barn catalog every week. Now I do four times a year, which is plenty. Last time there was a giant jump in postage, catalogs disappeared—along with their sales. They’ve come back in a more sensible way. With this postage increase, publishers are looking to cut their mailing in smart ways. Some can’t do it right away, but we’re going to see these trends impact 2022 planning.
    Joe: Tech-wise, what big changes have you seen?
    Linda: The changes here, like everywhere, have been in terms of giving people the ability to work from home.  On the floor of the plant, there haven’t been major tech changes in the last year or year and a half. We don’t have the ability to turn on a dime, it takes time to change equipment on that scale. That could be a problem if something major changes suddenly in terms of production formats.
    Joe: Will your office staff come back to the plant or will they continue to work from home?
    Linda: That’s a work in progress. They’ve proven they can work from home, but there are also advantages to having bodies present. As with many companies, we’ll likely end up with some kind of hybrid solution.
    Bo: A big part of the equation that’s missing since COVID is customer interaction. I used to visit my printing plants two or three times a year. I used to bring three dozen New York bagels every time. While every plant will do its best, the personal relationship adds a little extra.
    Linda: Agreed, there’s a great benefit to in-person meetings. It is a favorite day of mine when I can take a publisher on a visit to a facility. With the current Delta variant surge, however, we’re currently postponing most visits for the safety of our staff and to avoid jeopardizing print schedules due to mandatory quarantines after exposure to the virus.
    Joe: People who don’t know how things are done can’t understand the challenges.
    Sherin: As Bo says, the printers are the unsung heroes
    Linda Ruth
    Posted September 08, 2021
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  • A Good Time for Magazines, A Great Time for Books

    A Good Time for Magazines, A Great Time for Books

    The Pandemic Roundtable Talks with Barnes and Nobles Krifka Steffey
    Few retailers are more important to specialty magazine publishers than Barnes and Noble. The Publishing Pandemic Roundtable (Joe Berger, Bo Sacks, Samir Husni, Gemma Peckham, Sherin Pierce, and me) met with Krifka Steffey, the Director of Merchandise for Newsstand and Media, to talk about the chain’s recovery in 2021, and the fresh, innovative product she’d like to see.
    Since we last spoke, Barnes and Noble has closed two of their New York offices, the one on 6th Avenue and the 5th Avenue office where magazine publishers have been accustomed to go for their meetings.
    The majority of the Barnes and Noble personnel will have their offices in the location above Union Square, along with new office space in Clifton NJ.  While Krifka expects to be in the office many days, others she will work remote or from one of the stores.
    She’s taken advantage of this time to visit the stores. While the chain was already moving in the direction of refreshing and customizing their stores by location, that change was accelerated by the temporary closings and shorter hours of the COVID lockdown. One of biggest changes Krifka finds is that the cookie-cutter approach of former years is now gone. Each of the individual stores in the chain are molding themselves into unique bookstores. The look and feel of the stores, the books set out front, the hand selling, the books recommended—all are now individualized.
    Bo: I think the direction you’re taking is one hundred percent fabulous.
    Krifka: It’s a work in progress, changing a direction that had been set for years.
    Joe: What difference do these changes make in the product buying?
    Krifka: For magazines, we’re still doing it the same; but, for example, with trade books, headquarters will do the initial distribution, and then there are district-level replenishment buyers and store managers who will make local decisions. When something is regionally focused, an author from an area, you’ll see it reflected. It’s a big shift to more local control.
    Sherin: Where each store is operating almost as an independent bookstore.
    Krifka: Right. On our newsstand, the way we’ve always bought has been individualized. Our work with magazines is highly curated. It’s nice that the book side is starting to mirror that.
    Joe: Is store traffic increasing?
    Krifka: Yes, overall. New York City has shown a slower recovery than elsewhere. But everywhere we’re seeing positive year-over-year growth week after week. We’re also comparing to two years ago and seeing positive trends even against pre-COVID sales levels.
    Sherin: It’s the same with our products. The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Guide has grown dramatically. Comparing to 2019, we’re through the roof.
    Krifka: Yes, we’re seeing nice growth in Home and Garden. And we’re seeing a switch from digital back to physical. Our customer likes the experience of print copies.
    Bo: Are you seeing an influence from Book Tok?
    Krifka: Anything that does well on Book Tok sells like crazy in our stores.
    Bo: It’s at almost ten billion views.
    Krifka: And they’re the right age group, young adults turning into loyal customers. Manga, for example, is huge, and we’ve got a great assortment. Outrageous food trends are big.
    Joe: How are things developing in the magazine world?
    Krifka: We’re not seeing a lot of surprises. Customers are following their former patterns, buying what we’d expect them to buy. There aren’t many new launches or big things pending. I’m seeing some missed opportunities. We should have seen some publications on outer space, that could have been big. Post-COVID, they’ll be a lot of people struggling to get back into new routines; where’s the product for that?
    Publishers need to dig in, to ask, what are people going to need from us, what are they going to use? People are moving back into schedules. Hotel bookings are up, people are moving around more; we need to see those publications for drives, for traveling. There are holes in our assortments, and we need fresh, new, relevant product. I can get the customers back into the store, I can get the magazines out on the shelves, but if I don’t have exciting new product sales are not going to improve.
    Sherin: This summer Yankee magazine is publishing 31 great things to do in New England.
    Krifka: That’s great, Sherin! Talk to Yankee about drives in the region with local stops; also haunted anything is blowing up; also murder mystery stuff. Those are all topics that tie so nicely into regionality. I think some of these trends are going to keep going. People are planning travel.
    Gemma: we just had our best issue ever of Road Life.
    Krifka: Rolling Stone has had some fantastic issues; we’ve sold about a million dollars of Harry Styles product; music and entertainment is going to be huge with concerts, music festivals opening up. A release, a concert, an artist—all offer a bright spot on the newsstand.
    Joe: On the flip side, what categories are struggling?
    Krifka: Mostly ones that were already in decline. The men’s category is almost gone. Science spikes with specials but the category isn’t supportive of regular frequency publications.
    Linda: How about the business category?
    Krifka: We need more content focusing on entrepreneurial matters, how to run a business, how to start a business, how to turn a hobby into a business, how to do taxes for a business. Inc and Fast Company used to do that kind of thing a lot; it seems those publishers focused on digital and it’s driven the category down. We need good and trustworthy guides, maybe even in workbook format.
    Bo: 80% of the public trust magazines.
    Joe: I’ve been in some of your new, smaller-format stores.
    Krifka: Each new store has a completely different layout. Each store is its own unique location. We have one that just opened in Connecticut in an old Restoration Hardware store. We’re looking at restaurants that have closed down as possible locations. It’s a lot more management for us in the small stores as we shrink from 2500 titles to 1000 or even 500. Square footage varies drastically, some are as small as 4000-6000 sq ft. Some won’t have a newsstand at all. We’ll be opening 10-15 new stores per year, and closing some of the larger format stores as leases expire.
    Bo: How’s supply chain?
    Krifka: Improving. We’ve had some issues with broken boxes but no crazy mis-ships.  Publishers are now notifying us that paper supplies are becoming a huge problem. There are special issues that will not go to print because of this lack of supply. Additionally, I do expect to have delays and issues for the holiday season as the amount of packages in the system increases.
    Bo: Our industry is having a problem with slow shipping and lack of drivers.
    Sherin: The Old Farmer’s Almanac is in the middle of it, shipping now. We’re finding that the market is really tight, we have to make all of our deadlines perfectly. There’s not a lot of leeway.
    Krifka: We’ve had some delays with imports but nothing catastrophic.
    Sherin: Everything is later, everything is slower. There are paper shortages, labor shortages; despite paying good wages and bonuses the printers can’t get enough people to fill the jobs.
    Krifka: That seems to be true across all businesses. We’re seeing it in retail. But it’s an exciting time. We’re finally inviting people back into the stores; we’re offering specials, I’ve announced a Buy One Get One for the newsstand. I’ve been hearing that the fall publishing schedule for books is astounding. We’ll see two plus seasons of publishing all crammed in together. And any time there’s big news in books, it’s fantastic for the newsstand.
    Linda Ruth
    Posted August 31, 2021
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Publishing Trends and Successes Worth Thinking About

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Publishing Trends and Successes Worth Thinking About

    Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” I did not know old Fredrich was a prognosticator for the publishing industry, but he was correct. We have reached a stage in the magazine media business that there is no right way; there is only your way. Of course, I am referring to publishing business models of which there are no two alike.
    As a publishing community we basically do two things. We gather disparate niches or groups of the public and make containers of thought for them. We make and sell boxes of content that are constructed with either material atoms or digital ether. We do this for a profit. 
    I want to try to examine where we are and where we are going as an industry. I’ll throw in some specifics, but it is actually the general trends and new business models I am more interested in for todays’ exercise.
    The top obvious move here in the redeployment of our industry is the shift towards revenue diversification, moving on and away from a traditional advertising-heavy funding model.
    Alfred Heintze, COO, Burda International said this spring, “We must make ourselves independent from advertising revenues. That’s the lesson we’ve been learning since the 80s and 90s. All of our business models should be based on consumer happiness.”
    I like that sentiment, business models based on consumer happiness. If nothing else, it is a noble idea. Profit from happiness.
    Magazines now have in no particular order e-commerce, paid and free podcasts, paid and free newsletters, events, wine clubs, and travel clubs in addition to ink-on-paper publications. Also special Interest publications and an emphasis on paid subscriptions, sometimes now called memberships by many titles. The New York Times, which believes it has a potential addressable market of at least 100 million people willing to pay for English-language journalism, and the Wall Street Journal come to mind, but there are many others as well.
    Speaking of the New York Times, did you know that they have about 50 newsletters which are read by 15 million people weekly?
    Vogue is changing its revenue model too. Vogue has a global collective reach of 270 million people. Historically mainly funded by advertising, Vogue is now in the midst of a global transformation, propelled by its parent company Condé Nast, that includes membership tiers and a range of highly successful e-commerce offerings.
    On top of revenue changes, we are also developing new skillsets with data literacy and useful real time metrics for our editorial teams. We now have ways of gathering information about our audiences, whether it’s clicks and opens, time spent, or where people came from and how they got here. And also how loyal they are. We’ve arguably never had more ways to measure things.
    I think it is fair to say we have been in a burn-the-ships moment for a decade or more.  This is, of course, a reference to Cortez. When he reached the shores of the Yucatan, Cortez turned to his men and said, “Burn the boats.” Cortez refused to let turning back be an option. For the sake of his mission, it would be all or nothing. Those of us who are still here successfully have burned the boats and adapted new world strategies.
    I guess it is fair to say that effective transformation requires a change of mindset. To adopt a modern mindset, a publisher needs people who understand the need for constant never-ending innovation.
    Bauer is a good example of innovation and making a bet on making print a major part of the e-commerce funnel. Bauer is betting on the advancement of image recognition technology to close that gap between print and digital. They are set to incorporate new scannable images – without the need for QR codes or watermarks. These images, once scanned, will then take readers directly to a storefront for more information and purchase options.
    And speaking of the innovation and data literacy mentioned above, Meredith Corporation has a new slate of premium video and podcasting programming driven by real-time insights and predictive intelligence capabilities.
    Meredith’s Digital Chief Content Officer Amanda Dameron said, ““Podcasting is immediate and intimate. It creates a unique space for an authentic, unguarded exchange of ideas and is perfectly suited for our brands.” Again a traditional publisher leaning into redeployment and shifting towards revenue diversification.
    In the past 18 months, we have reinvented everything that could be analyzed and made more efficient.
    We learned that readers are willing to pay for quality journalism.
    We learned that the traditional methodologies and business plans that were in place in January 2020 were mostly a dream based on a previous unsustainable reality.
    Perhaps the toughest thing we learned was pulling the plug on the existing advertising model. In a further review that plug was removed for us.
    I think we can conclude that with a strong brand a magazine can be anything, 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.
    Now the world has moved on and our industry with it. We are doing exciting things with our properties.
    We have reengineered the event business and have started to make virtual conferences work and be profitable.
    We have learned that there are various new methods to drive subscriptions such as podcasts, texting and, of course, beloved newsletters, not to mention – and most importantly – damned good content worth paying for.
    We have created new opportunities for consumers to form new habits, enabling publishers to establish more direct consumer relationships.
    I expect that what we have learned, the new revenue pathways, and the new processes will profit us in the near and the long term.
    Looking back, we have done an excellent job adapting to the conditions presented to us. I’m most proud to belong to such a fascinating and industrious publishing community

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted August 22, 2021
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  • Bosacks Speaks Out: Thoughts, Stats and an Exploration of TikTok

    Bosacks Speaks Out: Thoughts, Stats and an Exploration of TikTok

    Here are a few stats about TikTok to ponder and to help you see if you can in some way incorporate what is happening into your business model. Will it work for everyone? No! Could it work for you? Maybe. The wild numbers to me mandate and exploration.
    Here are just a few items about TikTok:
    Monthly Active Users – TikTok has about 1 billion monthly active users.
    Total App Downloads – The TikTok app has been downloaded over 2.6 billion times worldwide, as reported by Sensor Tower in December, 2020.
    Monthly Active Users in the United States – TikTok now has over 130 million active users in the U.S
    The percentage of U.S.-based TikTok users by age:
    10-19 – 32.5%,
    20-29 – 29.5%,
    30-39 – 16.4%,
    40-49 – 13.9%,
    50+ – 7.1%. All data via Comscore.
    Average Minutes Per User – TikTok users love the app. They spend an average of 52 minutes per day in the platform
    Opens – A user opens the TikTok app 8 times per day.
    U.S. Audience –TikTok has about 80 million monthly active users in the United States. 60% are female, 40% are male. 60% are between the ages of 16-24. 26% are between the ages 25-44. 80% are between the ages 16-34. This data comes straight from TikTok.
    I have been exploring TikTok for about a month just trying to understand the successful phenomenon. What I see on my phone is an unusual conglomerate of very different and many times very unusual subjects, some of them entertaining and occasionally some of them just stupid and meanspirited.
    I see bits of interesting perhaps real history, but I don’t know its accuracy. Even though it might be fake tidbits of history, I’m still interested. I just don’t take them as the gospel. I see a lot of cooking tips and tricks, again some very cool and some just weird.
    There are nostalgic 15 second bursts from past movies and television shows. When there was flooding in Europe and China there were videos quicker than the newscasts. The California fires, too.
    And then there are the pranks, lots of pranks. Some are funny and some are not. I’ll date myself here, but many of the short funny videos remind me of the British comedian Benny Hill.
    Oh yes, let’s not forget the cat videos, lot of cats, and dogs and other animals, too. I saw a woman who has a 75-pound tortoise that she takes for a walk each morning. I kid you not. There are celebrities there, I guess to push their brands and their movies. There are influencers wearing and selling products from legitimate companies.
    There are influencers sometimes in skimpy outfits just to gain a large audience of followers.
    TikTok has recently created a $1 Billion Creator Fund. This money will be paid by TikTok directly to its creators in an effort to further solidify its relationships with influencers. TikTok influencers with 2.5 million followers or more will be given around $600-1000 per post, compared to $100-$200 for every 10,000-20,000 followers on Instagram.
    Which brings me to another tok trend. An article from MSN called What is BookTok: the TikTok trend sending decades-old books up bestseller lists says:
    TikTok has created almost every bizarre trend imaginable. The platform is credited with popularizing everything from reciting sea shanties to cottagecore, and who can forget chanting along to a musical version of the Pixar film Ratatouille.”
    “Now, another trend has emerged but this time with an educational twist. Introducing: BookTok. Novels - old and new - have been going viral thanks to a new wave of book-loving influencers discussing their young adult literary picks.”
    “TikTok doesn’t seem like an obvious destination for book buzz but that hasn’t stopped it from booming. The #BookTok hashtag has racked up over 5.8 billion views, and some authors have seen a tenfold increase in book sales for works that are often decades old.”
    “Even bookstores are jumping on the trend. The Barnes & Noble website now has a “BookTok” page dedicated to the most popular books on TikTok and its American stores have introduced allocated sections displaying titles that have gone viral on the platform.”
    So, there you have it publishing community. If your company wants to reach out to a new audience between 19 and 49, this is where they spend 52 minutes a day, every day. I say again, it may not for everyone. But depending on your brand your content, and your creativity, this is where the action is today. 

    Posted August 08, 2021
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