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  • Publishing Pandemic RoundTable with Scott Mortimer - Meredith Vice President & Group Publisher - 5-27-2020

    Publishing Pandemic RoundTable with Scott Mortimer - Meredith Vice President & Group Publisher - 5-27-2020

    The following article has been edited and contains minor corrections from the original release in the Heard on the Web newsletter dated 5-31-2020 

    Scott Mortimer of Meredith Corp. joined Joe Berger, Bo Sacks, Samir Husni, Sherin Pierce, Gemma Peckham, and me for this week’s Publishing Pandemic Roundtable. BY LINDA RUTH

    In the course of the current fiscal year (July through June), Meredith  will have published 320 titles. These include a mix of one-off titles under major brands and also several with publishing partners, including, for example Chip and Joanna Gaines at Magnolia Journal.

    In a down market, Meredith continues to put out new SIPs. How is this model working?

    Scott: Coming into 2020 we were doing very well, on track, in fact, to increase 4-5% over prior year. The pandemic changed that, for us as it has for many; but in the last three weeks we find that sales are approaching pre-covid numbers.

    Samir: I recently saw that Meredith is offering subscriptions to a series of SIPs, wherein you sign up for the series without actually knowing what topics will be covered. Is this a new initiative?

    Scott: Yes, we’re testing it to see how it goes. LIFE had its best bookazine year ever in 2019, so we’ve been aggressive in putting out product under that brand. And you’re right, our subscribers won’t be able to choose the topics, they have to take what comes. We know the LIFE brand has tremendous equity and history, so we’re testing the idea, and will see how it goes.

    Bo: brilliant idea. 

    Linda: A goodie box or grab bag. 

    Joe: where do you see your sales ticking up? 

    Scott: Primarily supermarkets, pharmacy, and big box. We have more pockets at checkout than we’ve ever had. Now it’s our job to put great products in those pockets; then we need the people to go past them. This is where we’re finding cause for optimism; in the last 3 weeks our past SIM buyers store visits were up 8% over the prior. 

    Gemma: What are you doing to support your customers now? 

    Scott: We wanted to focus on content that would support people at home—health and wellness, food, home, a PEOPLE Puzzler, all of these are in the sweet spot of what we do. We tried to be nimble and adjust. But we’re seeing gains across the portfolio. 

    Samir: you said your customers vote with their pocketbook, and overall we’re seeing magazine prices moving up. Do you see a cap on this, or is this the future model? 

    Scott: You’re right about that. At Meredith, most of our special interest content is $10 or higher. I do think as an industry we can charge more for our content, although we have to provide the value to support the prices. We’ll see if the current trends of unemployment slow it down at all. I’m sure there’s a cap but we haven’t seemed to hit it. Even very recently, our Kobe Bryant tribute specials did great at $14.99. 

    Sherin: Although you could argue that Kobe Bryant isn’t representative of the majority of specials. People love dead celebrities. In the current economy people are struggling. One of the first things they are likely to cut spending on is magazines. Have you adjusted your schedule in response to this? 

    Scott: I think you’re right, it may be a slow slog. As incomes become more tight that impulse buy might go by the wayside. Time will tell. 

    Sherin: Also people tend to hold back on spending due to uncertainty in an election year.

    Scott: Over the last 3 weeks we’ve done a lot of scenario planning, and we’ll continue to work on scenarios based on what actually happens. If levels of sale are soft, we might not put as many releases out. Every issue goes through P/L and if it doesn’t work we won’t put it out. 

    Bo: It’s important to acknowledge that there are tiers of readership: the Bauer tier with its pricing and sales levels, along with other tiers with other levels of sale for higher-priced product. When we transform the perspective of the public that these are luxury items we’ll be better off. 

    Samir: Just recently in one of our sessions, Krifka of Barnes and Noble said they do treat this category as a luxury. 

    Scott: We’re fortunate to have content leaders with their fingers on the pulse of what people want. 

    Joe: Even as we transition to higher-priced, higher-value magazines, the underlying distribution framework isn’t set up for healthy or a luxury product. How do we let the public know that we have product for them at higher prices? 

    Scott: Agreed, we’re only as healthy as the channel. Discovery is the biggest challenge. A store might have 15 checkout lanes, of which six might be open, and your product might not be in every lane. How can we be sure people get to see it? Digital outreach is one way of driving awareness, and sending people to the store. At Meredith we have a database we can mine for good. Our partners are great at getting the word out, too.      FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    Linda Ruth
    Posted June 01, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • This Week’s Publishing Pandemic Roundtable With Tom Keeler. and Andie Behling of Morgan Murphy Media.

    This Week’s Publishing Pandemic Roundtable With Tom Keeler. and Andie Behling of Morgan Murphy Media.

    By Linda Ruth

    This week’s Publishing Pandemic Roundtable, a weekly group of BoSacks, Joe Berger, Gemma Peckham, Samir Husni, Sherin Pierce, and me, welcomed Tom Keeler. and Andie Behling of Morgan Murphy Media.

    Morgan Murphy, headquartered in Madison, WI, operates TV and radio stations, a print magazine, websites, apps, and a digital marketing agency across its seven locations.

    What effect has Covid-19 had on your companies?

    Tom: Prior to the pandemic, while TV was still our most substantial source of revenue, our print property, Madison Magazine, was growing. In fact we had such a successful first quarter profit that was more than we’ve profited on an annual basis for years. Then Covid-19 hit, and everything changed.

    What accounted for the success of your first quarter?

    Tom: Part of it has to do with the consolidation of our sales efforts. Each sales person represents all our properties to a given account. They sell TV, radio, print, digital. And we cross-promote all properties across platforms, so you’ll see our events mentioned in the magazine, hear about our upcoming issues on TV, and so on.

    Some companies treat their separate business entities as competitive entrepreneurial companies. IDG is an example.

    Tom: Early on, as we acquired companies, we acted more like individual competitive units. Now we collaborate across platforms, with an approach that we’re all part of the same family of companies, and we find that approach works well for us.

    Getting back to Covid-19, how have you responded to the enforced changed?

    Andie: The team had to be nimble and committed. They had to move fast. We created all new content for upcoming issues of Madison Magazine—no easy matter in a business that works 4 months out. For example, our Road Trip Issue’s content had to be completely changed. One of the new features was Tune In to Take Out.

    We updated our subscription messaging: Stay Connected. We encouraged our audience to stay connected to the community, through us, despite being socially distanced. We only have two weeks of data so far, but it’s looking like a successful initiative.

    BoSacks: Sounds like you’ve built a strong foundation with the multiple platforms, and you are rolling with it.

    Tom: That’s right. We’re continuing to broaden our revenue streams. Digital remnant exchange, for example, has become a good source of revenue for us.

    What changes are you implementing that you see continuing after the crisis?

    Andie: We’re moving most of our work to digital. As a result, we’re cutting down paper use and moving toward zero waste. This is how innovation happens: You’re forced to do something, and create a new system, a better system. We’re not going to go back to the way we used to do things, we’re working digitally due to the times and it’s working.

    BoSacks: Covid has placed us in a time machine; it’s accelerated everything. If you were failing, the failure is accelerated. If you were robust before Covid, you are finding new ways of moving into the future.

    Andie: When a competitor went down due to the crisis, we said: Let’s open up our pages to anything they want to publish. They submitted a feature about a local needle exchange program; Madison worked with them to get it seen and read—it was a six-page spread in our June issue, crediting Isthmus.

    Joe: That’s a good model for city and regional publications to follow. As retailers consolidate, with small local chains getting absorbed into larger national ones, we need to present as a city and regional community to retailers. We need to use our combined retail power, which is considerable, to place city and regionals at front end market by market across the country. People might no longer want celebrity weeklies, but they want magazines about their community. This is worth bringing up with CRMA.

     



    Linda Ruth
    Posted May 11, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Presumptions of the New Normal

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Presumptions of the New Normal

    In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs or ideas at the same time. In 1936 F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

    I'm not saying I have a first-rate intelligence, but I do have two thoughts that are rolling around in my head. They are that the publishing industry isn't in peril, but many of its employees may be.  Let me see if I can explain without my head exploding.

    First, the magazine industry was under stress before the rise of COVID-19. Each year advertising was down double digits, and so were magazine newsstand sales. There are, of course, many success stories out there, and that is important to recognize. You may be one of them. But when viewed as a whole, the charts and statistics were not pretty.  I guess you can say there were many individual victories, but the war wasn't going well.

    If you were struggling before February 6th, the day of the first reported death in the United States, there is no reason to think your chances are going to get any better. If you were doing well before, there is no reason you can't figure out a plan in the new developing normal.

    Now is the time I point out that we don't know what normal is, and we haven't had our old normal since 2007. But the traditional methodologies and business plans that were in place in January 2020 are now mostly irrelevant.  It also seems we have proved that our offices are quaint and irrelevant, too.

    Presumptions of the new normal

    To me, it seems apparent that we are in a time machine. A machine that accelerates whatever was happening before. If your business was in decline, that decline is now accelerated. If your business was doing well, the methodologies and the technology you used six weeks ago have taken a fast and technological leap. You have taken the entire process and launched it into the cloud. Sure we all worked in the cloud before, but not like this. Instead of taking years for the jump, you did it in days. One day you worked in an office, and the next day you stayed at home and worked, and you didn’t miss a beat. The cloud is your new best friend. You do everything but eat there. And for many of us, we are getting our food from the cloud.

    Perhaps the toughest part for us to face is pulling the plug on the existing advertising model. It's fair to say that plug may have been removed for you.

    Retraining Our Readers

    We and the time machine we are in are also retraining our readers to get information from the cloud more than ever before.

    One of my sponsors, the company Issuu, has 40 million publishers they work with if you can imagine that. The only way to have that many is for most to be hyper-local, but they have the middle and biggies, too. Issuu has 100 million reads per month. It isn't the only company having platforms like this, but since I have a relationship with them, I am aware of some of the details. Issuu said last week in the Publisher's Pandemic Round Table that readership is up 10-15% and climbing.

    One of Issuu's clients said to me, "Basically we're looking at moving our magazines away from print to digital-only, largely as a result of the enforced lockdown making it harder to print and distribute." Multiply that comment by the thousands. Publishers are in the process of inventing the new normal. 

    Now here is the part when you ask me if printed magazines are dead? No, of course not. There will always be print magazines, and people who love the printed product. Mr. Magazine, Samir Husni, tells me his students prefer print. I believe him.  But the majority of readership is moving to digital and we are diligently training them to do so.  There will be printed magazines, but they will be expensive and extremely high quality.  That is the only formula where print will work in the future.

    Omar Khayyám once wrote:

     "The Moving Finger writes;

     and, having writ,

    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

     Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

    Nor all thy Tears wash out a word of it.

    The world is moving on and our industry with it. People are increasingly reading magazines, newspapers, and books online. It is a fact. The new normal happens when we have a vaccine. Until then, which is probably a year away, we will be working hard and participating in the training of generations young and old to read online.

     


    BoSacks
    Posted April 28, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Reports from the Publishing Pandemic Roundtable 2

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Reports from the Publishing Pandemic Roundtable 2

    BoSacks Speaks Out: My friend and circulation consultant Joe Berger had a great idea a few weeks ago of getting together a team of publishing professionals to have weekly zoom conversations about what is happening to our industry from a ground floor perspective. We have had publishers, professors, consultants, and this week a printer. We didn’t know how our meetings would evolve, but we deemed them a good idea with benefits for all. So far we have had two reports of our conversations captured by Linda Ruth, who is a circulation consultant, and distributed to you in this newsletter.
     
    At a time when most American businesses are struggling to survive during this challenging time, we need to stay alert and flexible with the still-evolving changing economic conditions. Hotels are empty, retail outlets are closed, and restaurants, bars, and eateries are struggling to exist with carryout or delivery orders.
     
    All media is under stress, and advertising, the lifeblood in most media business plans, is evaporating at a precipitous rate. It’s clear that not everyone is going to make it through this crisis untouched. We as an industry will likely create new business plans based on the yet undetermined rebuilt economy. But rest assured that rebuilding media businesses and perhaps an empire or two is exactly what we will do.
     
    The Publishing Pandemic Roundtable will continue to have these meetings, and report to you what is happening with the supply chain of the publishing industry.
     
    The product supply chain, from source material to store,
    is an organizing map for delivering human rights.
    Julia Ormond

    FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Thoughts on publishing in times of a pandemic.

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Thoughts on publishing in times of a pandemic.

    I’m not sure where to begin. As a man in his 60s with asthma, I sit here safely in self-imposed isolation in the center of Charlottesville, Virginia, frustrated and worried about my family and friends, and like everyone else hoping for effective leadership for all us from our governments both large and small.
     
    I can only briefly try to express my sorrow for those lives already lost and for those yet to come in unknown numbers. The loss of life I expect will be so staggering, so overwhelming, so incomprehensible, as to be at first numbing and then painfully dwarfing anything in the experience of all our lives except for military wars. I hope I’m wrong, but I think not.
     
    I expect we may all know someone who will have lost a loved one or two. We are in a very difficult war—a war with an invisible enemy. Our enemy has no honor, no conscience, no thoughtful methodology, no underlying principles. It is a living, microscopic breeding warrior that needs to infect us so that it can live and infect another day.
     
    There are several moments in history when you can draw a historic boundary line and say, “Today, the universe changed.” This pandemic is one of those days and one of those moments.
     
    On a more positive note, it is in times like these that I’m most proud to belong to the publishing community. It is our job to communicate, inform, counsel, and inject cautious sobriety into the body politic. And that is something we are dammed good at. We will all adapt our work methodologies, our business plans, and, in so doing, protect the people by distributing knowledge to the best of our abilities. That is a responsibility we have always willingly accepted.
     
    My heart goes out to you all. I do not know how we fight an invisible enemy that has no fear and no understandable agenda except by following the advice of our scientific leaders. They are good at what they do, and we are good at distributing and explaining the science to our readers.
     
    I would love to wish you peace and serenity, but I do not think we will have it for some time to come. But we still have love and hope. There is no war in history that has ever diminished love and hope. I love my family and friends and people I have never met. I continue to hope that someday, humanity will achieve a state of global peace and contentment. After all, isn’t that what we all seek? A roof over everybody’s head and a chicken in every pot and our families safe and sound and without fear.
     
    I hope you are all safe and that tonight you get a chance to hug your family and mentally embrace your friends from a safe distance.
     
    Bob Sacks
    -30-

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Reader's Speak Out: On Dot Com Bubble, Journalism Crises, LSC and more

    BoSacks Reader's Speak Out: On Dot Com Bubble, Journalism Crises, LSC and more


    This is a good one, Bob. It's ironic that the measurable nature of digital advertising can allow you to prove that it works or it doesn't, depending on whether you are willing to test with an open mind or not.
     
    I think the authors go too far when they question whether any form of advertising has any impact on consumers. We've all seen marketers stop advertising altogether and then their sales have declined.  
     
    For me, the takeaway from this article is the pitfalls of targeting. Marketers still need to cast a wide net when they are looking for new customers. 
    (Submitted by a Publisher)
     
    Brilliant - and the longest thing I’ve read on a phone for a long time, which says a lot.
    (Submitted by a Director)
     
    Wow, This article is so important on so many levels, especially today in our viscose, ugly stew of politics. It's hard to learn if you don't want to. Or if learning will adversely affect your own employment or success at whatever it is you do.
    (Submitted by a CFO)
     
    Very well thought out and very well written piece. It’s kinda the truth that nobody wants to know! Supports the argument that the idea (the creative) is now more important than ever
    (Submitted by a Exec Director)
     
    Excellent article. In essence, what he is saying is that the more information you have on someone the more likely you are to find and target those already about to buy your widgit (the selection effect) and therefore the more likely you are to be wasting your money. Or digital marketing is increasingly a snake eating its own tail...
     
    What it also says is that there is still no better way to convert a potential customer into a buyer than through the 'magic' of good persuasive brand advertising.
    Strategy Director
     
    Brilliant - and the longest thing I’ve read on a phone for a long time, which says a lot.
     
    In fact, this research from last year suggests that in fact the.. lets call it.. “group effect” is the most pervasive of all.
     
    In this context; if I think all of my friends like Adidas then I build a subconscious and involuntary tendency towards that brand too... 
     
    Doesn’t conflict with Sinek, imho - “Why = I buy Apple because what I think it says about me”... which is tied up in association with others and what it says about them.
     
    What’s interesting about Stewart et al’s research is the inference that it’s more about quantity than quality. “I don’t notice who in my social circle likes Adidas, I just feel part of enough of my group to know I prefer them to Nike”
     
    In short - people are primordially tribal. Who knew!
    (Submitted by a Strategy Director)

     FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising

    The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Many thanks to my friend Leslie Laredo who forwarded this article to me. It asks and, in many cases, answers one of the most important business questions in today’s digital world –  What do we really know about the effectiveness of digital advertising?

    My long-time readers will know that I have repeatedly posed the question of digital effectiveness for years but could never find the data or the experts to answer the question to my satisfaction. I’m sure some readers will have specialists in their offices willing to deflect or dispute the conclusions written here, and perhaps there is another side to the story. But, as always, color me skeptical.

    This article is a must-read for anyone in our industry to digest. Please write your thoughts and analysis to me, so I can share them with our readers. Lastly, this a longer read than usual at about 10 minutes, but worth every second.

    The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising

    Jesse FREDERIK and Maurits MARTIJN - https://thecorrespondent.com/ - https://bit.ly/2SUWS9Y

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • Bosacks Speaks Out: Quad Graphics, Magazine Literacy and Meaningful Industrial Kindness

    Bosacks Speaks Out: Quad Graphics, Magazine Literacy and Meaningful Industrial Kindness

    Special people and special companies deserve a shout out of thanks and gratitude from time to time. In this case, I want to bring to your attention the tireless work of John Mennell of MagazineLiteracy.org and Joel Quadracci of Quad Graphics. In my book they are unsung heroes performing necessary acts of kindness valiantly even though behind the scenes.
     
    MagazineLiteracy.org supplies recycled printed products, new magazines, and comics to literacy programs around the country. From their web site comes the following statement: “Why are magazines and comics so special for literacy, you might ask? Promoting literacy establishes a lifelong reading habit. Studies show that holding reading materials in your hands increases learning. Magazines and comic books become familiar and not intimidating. They educate and inspire. Magazines and comic books in hands and homes foster ownership and build self-esteem.”
     
    One of their mottoes is “Literacy ends poverty” -- a noble venture, to say the least.
     
    MagazineLiteracy.org has grassroots distribution capabilities, but they don’t have any logistics capability on a large scale. One of last year’s problems was 200,000 donated Cricket Media magazines sitting in a warehouse down in Des Moines and recently three pallets of NWF Zoobie magazines sitting in a warehouse in Peru, IL. 
     
    John told me that Joel Quadracci and the Quad logistics team have picked up magazine pallets and then either delivered them directly to MagazineLiteracy team locations or placed them in Quad warehouses while MagazineLiteracy lined up the receiving end of the literacy programs, and then made deliveries over vast distances.
     
    As an example of 200,000 Cricket Media magazines they delivered 10 pallets to the Greater Chicago Food Depository food bank; 3 pallets to Milwaukee;, 7 pallets the the Fox Cities United Way; 5 or so pallets to Green Bay; a pallet to Toronto, Canada, where they operate a literacy newsstand in a food pantry; and pallets to a Columbus Ohio food pantry network. 
     
    John said that by the time MagazineLiteracy.org gets the call, they need a rapid response. He said, “it’s like the perishable food rescued from restaurants that go to food pantries. The opportunities are so valuable to our literacy programs, we have to act quickly to retrieve them.”
     
    John went on to say, “With these and other Quad supported efforts, we’ve moved over a million magazines." John pointed out that "Joel and his team have been so generous, and never flinching, allowing us to have an enormous impact and showing us what’s possible as we reach for meeting our full promise.”
     
    Well, doesn’t that story make you feel good? My thanks to Joel and John for doing this meaningful and impactful philanthropy and for promoting genuine kindness on such a profound human scale. Magazines can help those in need, and perhaps literacy can help to end poverty.
    Click here to contact Magazine Literacy
    Recycle your magazines and comic books for literacy. 
     
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
    Margaret Mead

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On a day when we read that digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time, it boggles the mind how much known fraud there is in anything digital. Why does the advertising community "trust" what is obviously a global confidence game?

    Fake humans, click fraud, fake ad placement, paying for ads never seen, fake web sites that look real but aren't grabbing an obvious overabundance of loot. Not to mention the theft of our very selves. Our whole lives and families' interests bundled for sale not to the highest bidder, but to any bidder.

    The online advertising ecosystem is impossible to understand much less control under the current conditions we find ourselves in. Despite what we hear from the lofty P&G, there is no competent leadership anywhere, and I'm compelled to add the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is nothing but a joke.

    Where is the industry leadership? I used to think the US government could be the answer to regulate this problem. Forget that pipe dream. Too many senators have demonstrated clear stupidity about the Internet. It's ridiculous, but the lawmakers who have the power to regulate technology have absolutely no idea how technology works.

    Do you remember when Sen. Orrin Hatch asked Mark Zuckerberg how Facebook is able to sustain a business model while running as a free service. I'm sure Zuck stifled an internal chuckle and was barely able to keep a straight face when he responded, "Senator, we run ads." "I see, that's great," Hatch replied. No, there will be no shining knight from the Capitol to save the day.

    Part and parcel with the fraud, how is it that we all ignore the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of people? Not their rights, our rights. Facebook's lies, duplicity and personal intrusion by hidden surveillance systems all go unchecked. Do you know that Facebook tracks you through third parties whether or not you are logged into Facebook? As Bob Hoffman pointed out a few weeks ago "And the pièce de résistance -- Facebook's new data policy asserts that they track you even if you don't have a Facebook account."

    This is not a rant about Facebook. They are just a single example of the on-going digital depravity.

    It's an old stat, but did you know that for every $3 spent on digital ads, fraud takes $1 (Adage.com, 2015)

    Did you know that US brands would lose $6.5 billion to ad fraud in 2017. (Marketing Week, 2017)

    Here is a 2018 stat - How much have you spent on fraudulent ads today? How much have your fellow advertisers? Try $51 million. Research estimated that digital advertisers wasted $51 million on ad fraud every single day in 2018. That's a massive $19 billion over the year.
     
    There is an abundance of data that shows that magazines are more trusted than any other delivery vehicle. It is rated and respected by readers for top quality and accuracy in reporting.

    Yet, in review, print which is trusted by all parties loses market share every year, while obviously fraudulent digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time.

    Advertising is the Big Brother we were warned about. Its mission is nothing short of surveillance for a profit. The information on us is stored, sorted and turned against us as an algorithm. And if the algorithm is good, we will march to it.

    Now is the time where I should make some sort of demand or plea for us band together and transform the system. Nope, that isn't going to happen. There is too much greed and too much money for this to change any time soon. How does this rectify? Is there hope in this digital morass?

    I have hope, but no ideas.

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 27, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: How Canon enables personalized print publishing

    BoSacks Speaks Out: How Canon enables personalized print publishing

    Digital press manufacturers have been for many years in a constant hunt to entice magazine publishers to print their magazines as a digital product and not an offset product. It is a fascinating and flexible technology, and I have seen copies that rival offset in quality. It works wonderfully for catalogs and direct mail. But magazines are a different breed.

    Most magazines are already specialized niche products. I would postulate most magazines don't have enough edit to make personalizing printed magazines to each reader possible or profitable. I would also suggest that most magazines don't have a detailed database of their readers, although that is rapidly changing with the growth of surveillance capitalism.

    There are circumstances and some companies where digitally printing a magazine could work quite well, but on the whole offset is still less expensive. And with the creative binding processes that are available, variable editorial based on reader interest has been obtainable for almost 50 years.

    My favorite example is Farm Journal. They have used what is called a Selectronic binder, which is, of course, computer driven binding from a database. It has been around since the 1980s. It works like this - If you are a farmer and you grow corn and wheat and also have some chickens, you will get printed signatures with those editorial pages and ads that match your farm's profile. If your farm grows soy and alfalfa and you have cows, you too would get a different set of signatures and a different personalized magazine. Pretty cool right? This is accomplished while binding the entire magazines press run in one pass. I saw this process in the last century, and I have always loved the creative solutions to the manufacturing process.

    Sadly, the magazine industry neither trained nor compensated their sales forces to learn the technology, thereby diminishing a pretty cool and advanced process to a mostly underutilized "could have been" in the annals of publishing missed opportunities.

    There are always exceptions, but unless you have a strong database on your readers as Farm Journal does and the vast editorial will to produce multiple stories for each issue, a digital press, however wonderful, is at this point a technological exuberance for most printed magazines.

    That doesn't say we shouldn't keep our eyes on the progress of digital printing. There may come a time soon when it is priced at or near offset. At that point why not go digital even if you use the process sparingly? I'm sure every publishing house can and will come up with creative uses for the process in both advertising and in edit. Who knows, perhaps Yoga Journal for the Left Handed reader is in the works as I write this?

    Lastly, I implore any and all digital press manufacturers and publishers to start a dialog here in these pages. Consider it an opportunity to reach out to the perfect publishing audience.

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 27, 2020
    (0) Comments

Publishing Executive E-Media

Folio

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    June 01, 2020 Read More

Adage Digital

Unbound Media

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    June 01, 2020 Read More


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It is purely a very "personal" and slanted collection of news gathered daily over the Internet, which to me seems relevant and useful about the publishing industry.  I do this as a labor of love and to keep myself as up to date as is possible with the ever changing and advancing "Information Distribution Industry" formerly known as "Publishing".

And how much does it cost?

The price for this service is nothing. It is Free.  It is just as easy for me to copy three or four of my industry friends as it is to carbon copy the current list of 16,500 publishing professionals.


 

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