The FOLIO: 100 is now open for nominations. In case you don't know, the FOLIO: 100 is the magazine and media industry's best-known and most prestigious list of innovators, entrepreneurs and market shaker-uppers.Nominate a colleagueâ€”either at your company or at another oneâ€”that has made a quantifiable impact on a product, group, company or even the industry at large."Quantifiable impact" is important to emphasize. Vague explanations about why a person deserves to be on the list won't cut it. The FOLIO: 100 represents just about everyone on the org chart, but a nomination has to include measurable results.Also, the FOLIO: 100 is equal opportunity. It's not reserved for senior executives. There's plenty of innovation and influence on the front lines, so be sure to give recognition where it's due. The more the merrier.From editors to sales, audience development, design, production and digitalâ€”the FOLIO: 100 intersects consumer, b-to-b, regional, enthusiast and association publishingâ€”big and small. Click here to fill out our easyâ€”and freeâ€”nomination form. Nominations are due August 15.Â And here's last year's FOLIO: 100 to get you in the mood.The list-makers will be featured in the October issue and feted at an awards luncheon at MediaNext on October 21.***Additionally, FOLIO: is also taking nominations for its 30 Under 30 list, our list of some of the brightest individuals under the age of 30 who are executing on some of our industryâ€™s most innovative ideas.The deadline for 30 Under 30 nominations is August 15. Click here to enter your nomination.
Michelle Obama has become a top magazine cover celebrity, arguably the top celebrity in terms of breadth and frequency of appearance. I can't think of anyone else who makes such a stylish splash every time she appears on a cover, and who also appears on so many different types of covers. I'm sure Baby Boomers who still adore Jackie Kennedy will disagree, but for my money Obama is by far the all-time leading First Lady in terms of iconic magazine cover appearances.
The August 2014 cover of Essence features Obama on what is her fifth cover for the magazine. The photograph is by Kwaku Alston, who has shot a number of her covers for various magazines, including the October 2011 issue of Essence, which is one of my favorites of the First Lady. On this cover, designed by Essence creative director Erika Perry, Obama is wearing a dress by the young American designer Azede Jean-Pierre. Alston's experience photographing Obama shows; she is relaxed, engaging and her smile jumps off the cover. Magazines struggle to get the kind of relaxed intimacy from celebrities that Obama consistently exudes in her cover shoots. And this cover exemplifies that.
I was part of a team that photographed her for the cover of Reader's Digest back in 2011. I've talked with a number of art directors who have photographed her for covers, and their experience seems to be universal. You get the option of setting up in a handful of rooms in the White House, including the First Lady's office. There's no advance notice of what she is going to wear, and her personal team handles her styling and makeup. No one gets more than a half hour with her (and often less). In fact, during the Reader's Digest shoot I kept a stopwatch running on my phone that I kept flashing at her assistant every time they tried to wrap up the shoot before our promised half hour. Still, within those parameters she's a gracious, cooperative subject who definitely knows how to work the camera and create brilliant cover images. That's one of the big reasons she's had so many smart and diverse magazine cover shoots. Obama's list of magazine covers in the past five years includes Vogue (twice), People, Reader's Digest, Parade, Parents, Good Housekeeping, AARP, CondĂ© Nast Traveler, More, Glamour, Ladies' Home Journal, Prevention, Ebony and Better Homes and Gardens. The list is nearly endless. She's even been illustrated on the cover of The New Yorker. And she rarely seems to repeat the same clothing designer, which is quite a feat!The most challenging part of the Essence cover is that it was shot in front of a brightly backlit window. The result, as anyone who has worked in this kind of situation knows, is uneven lighting, false colors and shadows in the wrong places. On this cover the photo ends up with an oddly faded-out section on Obama's lower arms and handsâ€“just compare them to the rich color and texture of her upper arms. That said, while the blown-out background does not help Obama, it provides the perfect backdrop for a set of nicely articulated cover lines, all of which work to good effect. The editors and creative director manage to cram in a healthy amount of cover lines without overwhelming the photo. Arguably the very elegant thinness of the type in the "Head to Toe Skin Care Guide!" circle is a little too delicate for its usage here, and I would have avoided the unfortunate collision created where the "Education Special" pink nugget that appears to be poking the First Lady in the back and creating unnecessary visual tension. Still, those are minor quibbles. This is a tight, bold, modern, engaging-looking cover that works well both on newsstand (I bought a copy) and online (where it first grabbed my attention). Like its subject, this cover has an incredible sense of style.
Essence deserves credit for referencing children so directly on this cover. Cover lines about children are rare on women's magazines. When I was the creative director at Real Simple we had a guiding principle that children were rarely mentioned and pictured, and certainly never on the cover. I think the feeling was that it would take away from the escapist and aspirational aspects of the magazine. I haven't done a scientific survey of contemporary women's magazines on this subject, but my casual surveillance at the newsstand this week corroborates this.
Obama has mastered the art of creating iconic magazine cover images. There's not another person in politics who conveys such a sense of power, style, grace, beauty, intelligence and sex appeal, except of course, her husband Barack. While Barack Obama, as with other Presidents, has aged considerably with the job, Michelle looks even better and more energetic than she did in 2008. I would go so far as to say that I don't see any celebrities of any kind who have been able to create such a powerful set of cover images in such a short period of time.
Obama has dozens of solo magazine covers to her credit, and that doesn't even include the ones she's been on with Barack, or teamed up with other people, including her mother and Jill Biden. Even more impressive is that this unbroken string of successful covers has come during a time of fierce and heated political opposition to the politics of the Obama Administration, and by extension, to Michelle Obama. This cover shows, once again, that no one commands a magazine cover like Michelle Obama.
It used to be in creating promotional work, a company would hire a copywriter and a designer unless they were fortunate enough to have these experts in-house.This changed slightly when computer programs like Quark, In Design, Photoshop etc. became available, but being able to use the software did not turn us all into designers, merely people who could use design software. With the explosion of websites, apps and all things digital, plus the move from managing circulation to developing audiences, even more programs became available to make designing easier. Suddenly promotions were being judged not by the results produced, but by how knowledgeable the keyboard operator was, how quickly they could be deployed and most importantly, in many instances, by the number of people who viewed the promotion.The thing is, just because something looks good or can be deployed quickly or is viewed by a million people, unless you get orders, your promotion has failed.No matter how adept one is at using a computer to design promotions, you still need the knowledge to know whether something will work, and sometimes ugly can be beautiful.I knew of one publisher who produced an 8.5 x 11 letter/order form combo that was green and pinkâ€”to say it was vile is being kind. Covers were scanned in, one green, one pink and universally the promotion was hated, the publisher hated it, the designer hated it, the printer threatened to go on strike if they had to print it, yet it got the best requalifcation response of any promotionâ€”ever. No test ever beat it. It worked year, after year, after year. An advertising agency came in to bid on designing promotions, took one look at the package, said, â€śthat will have to go straight away,â€ť and the publisher threw them out of the office. A knowledge of and experience in using what is considered to be sound direct marketing technique is invaluable and not dependent upon software or the latest technology.Â Â But remember, as time goes by things can change, it used to be deliverability on text emails was better than html, by and large this is no longer the case. Times change, people change and your market may well change. This means what did not work in the past, may now actually work, and what used to work may no longer do so. However, all of this is governed by producing good copy and good design. Simply because you may not like the way copy reads, or how the design looks, does not mean to say it is bad. This is why you test everything, and if a test beats the control, it becomes the new control, and then you try and beat that.
When I was just starting out in publication design, I worked at a small monthly left-wing newspaper in Washington, D.C. We used to joke that we wanted the paper to be the National Enquirer of progressive politics, and even designed a tabloid-style logo. Years later in the early 1990s, when I became art director at The Village Voice, I played those ideas out further, using big screaming headlines, loud primary colors and graphic photo treatments. So it warmed my heart when I saw the July/August cover of Mother Jones, which gives a jagged, shouting tabloid treatment to a story about right-wing bogeymen the Koch Brothers.
The parody, designed by creative director Ivylise Simones, is spot on, with just the right mix of funkiness and visual chaos. The design holds nothing back, right down to the Mother Jones logo, which was redesigned for this issue to reflect a tabloid feel. The result is a cover that is fun, engaging, provocative and viral-ready. It takes a strong partnership between the editors and the visual team to create this kind of high-level, sophisticated cover design and it works brilliantly, crafting a set of images that work on so many levels.
Conventional wisdom is that a magazine's logo is sacrosanct, a critical part of the brand that should never be messed with, and I'm sure the Mother Jones logo change will confuse a few readers. Yet, what the magazine gains is a dynamic, comprehensive graphic approach that not only jumps off the page, but is destined to work quite effectively online and across the magazine's multiple platforms. Apparently altering logos to fit stylized covers has become a trend, because it's been done recently to great effect by both Bloomberg Businessweek (who have done it at least three times over the past year) and The New Republic.
For a recent cover story on Jeopardy TV host Alex Trebek, The New Republic designed itself to look like the famous Jeopardy game board, altering its logo to mimic the show's distinctive trademark. In early June, Bloomberg Businessweek published a story on progressive economist-of-the-moment Thomas Piketty designed to look like a teen fan magazine, complete with a bubble gum logo and small photos of both Justin Bieber and Karl Marx. Both covers take complicated, unsexy topics, but with graphic stylization they turned them into dynamic, pulsating covers, and the same is true with this Mother Jones cover. Of course, there's a long history of magazines designing covers to look like LP covers, posters, books, product packaging and more. It's very exciting that magazines that cover topics that are generally not considered flashy and cool (politics and business) are creating some of the liveliest, hip and memorable covers.
Lately there has been a true renaissance of cover design at some of the most notable liberal magazines. In addition to Mother Jones, The New Republic (creative director Dirk Barnett) and The Nation (creative director Robert Best) have all been turning out exceptional covers. Each have their own unique style: Mother Jones is polished and provocative, perfectly designed to be spread around on the internet; The New Republic is thoughtful, stylish, cutting edge, and very contemporary; The Nation, with its limited budget and weekly publishing schedule, has a funky, homemade, gonzo feel like many of the altweekly newspapers. There's a powerful energy and passion that runs through all three designs.
That raises this question: Why do liberal magazine covers look so much better and smarter than their conservative counterparts? While many liberal mags are having a design renaissance, two of the most prominent conservative publications, the National Review and The Weekly Standard, look dated and uninspired. The lefties have enthusiastically embraced a wide array of graphic techniques, modern illustration and typography and just flat out coolness, whereas the conservative magazines tend towards very crude and sophomoric illustrationsâ€“stuff that often looks one step above what you would see in a college newspaper (and sometimes not even that good!). The design of the National Review and The Weekly Standard covers looks straight out of the 1980s. Given that both publications wax nostalgic for the days when Ronald Reagan was President, there's certain logic to their resistance to enter the 21st Century in terms of cover design. The irony is that the National Review created brilliant covers in the 1960s and 70s; smart, edgy, graphic, nicely illustrated and very cool for their time. Also, given the fact that the National Review has a very vibrant, up-to-the-minute website and social media presence, their lack of a modern cover design is even more baffling.
Good cover design does not stem inherently from any particular political ideology, although I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of art directors, illustrators and creative magazine makers in the New York/Washington publishing scene lean to the left. Still, there are several conservative publications (most notably The American Conservative) that have crafted some smart looking covers. (Full disclosure: I helped create the initial design of The American Conservative when it launched in 2002). Political blogger Andrew Sullivan has popularized the concept of epistemic closure to describe the bubble that the right-wing media and many of its supporters operate within, shielded from other opinions and data-based facts that might upset their belief system. What's notable about the Mother Jones tabloid-styled cover is that's it's an attempt to expand the magazine's voice and reach beyond its traditional readership, and also an acknowledgement that there's a place for modern approaches in cover design for political publications.
We all come up with good ideas for marketing and promotion, but in all honesty good ideas can vary from being very good ideas indeed to not so good.Whenever you have ideas it is always good to run them by the one group of people that usually will be affected, yet often get ignored in the thought processâ€”namely the fulfillment company.The wise circulation professional or audience developer will always include the fulfillment company in initial planning because very often those are the people at the back end who have to make your ideas work. Involving them at the front end will save a great deal of heartache later on.Not so long ago a publisher produced a print magazine on a regular frequency, and that was pretty much that. Now there are digital versions, websites, apps, feeds, white papers, Facebook, Pinterest, tweets, pings, pokes and also audio and video content, newsletters, and anything else that can be thought of to engage people.Some publishers can engage their audience in person by running trade shows or seminars, as well as webinars. All of this takes thought and organization but very often the people who are to process all the information and disseminate materials are not even asked if they can handle the requirements. All too often it is just presumed the fulfillment company can handle whatever crazy ideas we have thought up, but truth be told, by including the fulfillment company from the outset, very often their questions and ideas will solve many a potential problem, and may well save you money in the short and long term.Most fulfillment companies have email capacity, which you can control yourself if required. Many, but not all, have in-house lettershop services to help in sending out items via snail mail. They also have customer service staff. Unlike many publishers, customer service operates with hours that start in the Atlantic time zone and finish when the sun goes down in the Pacific time zone. Like publishers, fulfillment companies have also had to adapt and who is to say you have to use one fulfillment company for everything? The way our world is interconnected provides opportunities that past audience and circulation developers used to dream of.There are very few new ideas today. It may seem like there are, but they are all variations on what marketers have been doing for years with the added advantage of new technology. And, it was ever thus. Now of course â€śnew technologyâ€ť comes more quickly and faster than ever before.Â The way we use things may be continually changing, but in most cases there is still a requirement for fulfillment services to interface with all the things we do, and the savvy professional will not exclude the good folks who end up making our crazy dreams and ideas come true. Though many ideas are new to us, the way they are executed is not.Â As the great lady herself might say â€śfulfillment companiesâ€”theyâ€™re a good thing!â€ť
After several difficult weeks, many of the former Source Interlink retailers have begun to transition their business to Hudson News, to TNG (formerly The News Group). The two big players that remain have begun a rapid and disciplined process of creating distributions for some of the copies that have been languishing on docks and for copies being printed and shipped now. As part of that process, TNG is â€śaskingâ€ť publishers for return of signed copies of what we laughingly call an â€śagreement.â€ť Covering several hot-button issues that have perplexed many of us in the past, such as what a Pay-on-Scan business might look like, this agreement begins to outline how this business will run now that a single wholesaler calls the shots. The choice to the publisher seems to be: Do you want to play? Or do you want to take your bat and your ball and go home?A few publishers are going gentle into that good night, lambs to the slaughter. Others are going kicking and screaming. Some, as they make their choices today, are defaulting to a Niebuhr-esque approach, seeking to parse what is necessary and what is not, taking on the things that might be changed and letting go of the things that canâ€™t. But Catherine Lee, the Founder and CEO of Discovery Girls magazine, is looking to the future.â€śThis is an opportunity for us all,â€ť she said when I made that tough callâ€”the one in which I had to tell her what her options were. â€śWe have endured, as an industry, so much over the past year, two years, five years. Now itâ€™s time to pick up and go forward.â€ťI had called her with the expectation of a very different response. Catherine, like most independent publishers, has been challenged by the increasing demands of the business, the dropping revenue, the slipping efficiencies. Would she, I privately wondered, even want to stay in the game? And if she, and many other publishers, were to choose not to, what then? What happens to the newsstand distribution business? What happens to consumer magazines? What happens to print?â€śWe need to turn this into an opportunity,â€ť Catherine told me. â€śAn opportunity for channel partners to get together and help each other. We need to be successful, and the remaining wholesale groups need to be successful. We need to work with them, and to make the best of this.â€ťWith wholesalers representing over 40 percent of the business exiting within the past nine months, and the rest desperately looking for ways to survive, how could this be viewed, I wondered, as an opportunity?â€śThe forces in the market are bringing us together,â€ť Catherine responded. â€śIt is important for us to stand together to meet the future. We need to get together with TNG, with Hudson News, with everyone still out there, and create a platform for success for all of us.â€ťEvery remaining channel partner, I suggested, was still trying to navigate this transition and keep their heads above water. Would anyone be ready to begin those conversations, to figure out what comes next?â€śOur wholesaler partners need our magazines to sell,â€ť Catherine said. â€śWe need our wholesaler partners to distribute our magazines efficiently. We canâ€™t sink into a black hole. We need to make things better. We need to get together with the players, to start brainstorming, to start creating our future. Weâ€™re going to figure this out. It needs to start somewhere. â€śThis is the first time in a long time that Iâ€™ve been excited about our industryâ€™s prospects,â€ť she concluded. â€śThe first time in a long time I could begin thinking that things are going to change.â€ť
According to some publishers, programmatic is just a way for agencies to commoditize ad inventory and make sales teams irrelevant. The truth is, software has mostly replaced travel agents, and it will replace some ad salespeople and media buyers too. The benefits to advertisers are too compelling for this not to happen. Amex has already announced it is going 100% programmatic, and others will follow.
So hoping it will just go away if you do nothing is not a healthy option.
If you sell display sponsorships with an effective CPM of $1,500 and agencies aren't pushing you to demonstrate ROI, then go ahead and keep milking it. But start working on a plan B now, because as programmatic expands, you'll have fewer places to hideâ€“whether you choose to participate or not.
Many publishers still equate programmatic with low-quality remnant inventory ad networks notorious for "black box" programs that are rife with fraud. That is not the reality of programmatic now. Amex isn't going to buy crap audiences. They want the most efficient way to reach great audiences. Programmatic is starting to deliver that, and it's getting more efficient as competition and participation grow.
If you're already delivering performance-based campaigns and your audience is valuable and engaged, programmatic could theoretically deliver higher CPMs than you're getting now. Programmatic will almost certainly improve sell-through, meaning fewer unsold impressions every month. Forbes is generating 30 percent of digital revenue from programmatic selling already.
A lot of the fear and confusion comes from the singularity-like speed with which the industry is evolving. That pace will only accelerate. If you are delivering demonstrable value to your advertisers now, it's time to get working on your programmatic strategy.
FOLIO:'s annual Eddie and Ozzie Awards are coming up quicklyâ€”don't let this early summer lull fool you. In fact, the final deadline to enter is Friday, June 27.
So after June 27, that amazing November-issue cover your creative director built, or the blockbuster feature package your editors labored over, officially won't get industry-wide recognition if you miss the deadline.
And this is an industry of fan boys and girls. We're all watching what everyone else is doing. So the Eddie and Ozzie Awards, which feature an army of 300 judges who pour over more than 2,000 entries, is the best and biggest forum to get your hard work recognized and honored.
I can't tell you how many times my team and I have heard the phrase "it's all about quality content" when we're talking to publishers about a new initiative. And it's true. Technology may change, new trends emerge, but at the end of the day, it's the content and its design that matter to the audience.
The Eddie and Ozzie Awards are your chance to let our industry know your brand has one of the best teams behind it.
Good luck and enter here.
Last fall, I commended CondĂ© Nast on its partnership with Amazon, but also suggested that we keep an eye on the retailer and not give them too much power. Now, Hachette is doing just that, as it and Amazon engage in public fisticuffs over royalty payments.You're familiar with it now, but Iâ€™ll recap: Amazon and Hachette are in a fight over royalties. Hachette refused to cave to Amazon's allegedly crappy deal (the talks are happening behind closed doors). As a result, Amazon has discouraged customers from buying Hachette titles, including saddling them with up to month-long delivery times, offering alternative lower-priced titles, and, bizarrely, encouraging people to purchase Hachette titles from its competitors. As Jack Shafer at Reuters wrote, â€śBy essentially banishing many Hachette titles from its stock, Amazon, which ordinarily puts its customers first, has put them last.â€ť Hard to argue that it's being customer-centric. Way to let your freak flag fly, Bezos.All I can say is: Go for it, Hachette. I'm into it. It's one thing to partner with a giant company that is well-liked by customers and quite another to be asked to submit to a monolith while they squeeze out the competition. In fact, it has the look and feel of an anti-trust lawsuit waiting to happen.On some level, customers are complicit. The notoriously pro-consumer company is acting to the contrary. And customers need to demand a better business for all involved, if for nothing other than to enhance their experience. Pressure from one of the big five book publishers will help. Weâ€™re not talking about customers losing access to Susie Down the Blockâ€™s chapbook or someoneâ€™s published grad school thesis; Amazon customers are going to lose access to writers like James Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell and Americaâ€™s golden child: GMAâ€™s Robin Roberts.Tim Worstall, a blogger for Forbes, suggests that we just let them fight it out themselves. I understand why other publishers are loathe to get involved, and to instead wait it out on the sidelines, hoping for Hachette's triumph, particularly since Amazon has proven to be a no-holds-barred negotiator. As Jonathan Mahler wrote in his piece for the Times: â€ś[Other publishers] have their own relationships with Amazon to protect, and they do not want anything they say to be construed as antagonistic, all the more so now that Amazon has demonstrated its willingness to punish booksellers when negotiations become contentious.â€ť Publishers are wary, and rightfully so, but where is the FTC on this? Some judge has got to be dying to write the definitive opinion on Amazon v. Hachette.As companies consider the odds, I'm hoping more get involved, not less. Do I want my company to throw down? I'm not sure. As a struggling independent publisher that relies on Amazon for a source of revenue, I'm not certain I can make it up on our own, particularly because Amazon owns the customer, not me. Amazon customers appear beholden to Amazon, but this past month has proven that even Amazon has a breaking point.Then again, isn't a bar fight much more fun when every drunk joins the fray? Sure, the whole place is gonna get thrashed, but it's probably time to gut the thing anyway.
The Spring 2014 cover of Lucky Peach magazine is a tasty, illustrated concoction that highlights its "All You Can Eat" issue. It's a very unusual and very creative cover with a 3D illustration by Jordan Speer that looks straight out of an old Gumby claymation cartoon. I think this is a brilliant cover, very different and unique compared to most other food magazines. And it's simply one of the most fun covers I've seen this year. Not only did this delightful cover illustration convince me to buy the magazine, but everyone who has seen my copy has grabbed it away and started reading.
"I was a chef for 10 years," says Caysey Welton, associate editor at Folio:. "So I'm bored by a lot of food covers these days. But this one is fresh and cool." He is spot on with his analysis. At my local Whole Foods, this cover jumped out at me, amidst a wall of food and health magazines, all of them featuring beautiful, sensual, refined photographs, very sophisticated and well-polished in their design and styling. By comparison, Lucky Peach looks like a funky homemade dish that cares less about being perfect and pristine in its presentation, but with a much greater sense of passion, delight and soul.Lucky Peach is the quarterly food and eating magazine brainchild of Momofuku restaurant owner and chef David Chang. Originally published in partnership with McSweeney's, Lucky Peach ended the relationship late last year; this is the second issue published as a completely independent operation.
This cover, art directed by Walter Green, is a big departure from Lucky Peach's first few independent issues. Those covers were raw, punky, graphic and somewhat off-putting, with photographs of big slabs of raw meat, knives, and burly tattooed arms and hands. The typography and headlines were aggressive, and the overall feel was very masculine and almost fatally hip. Honestly, I didn't like it and thought it was the wrong approach, although it was certainly effective in getting attention.
After six or seven issues, the Lucky Peach cover direction changed dramatically. Recent covers have boasted colorful, playful illustrations, like something you'd see in a children's book. Headlines have been minimized and, the original hand-drawn logo remains, which in the context of the lighter illustrations looks charming and homespun. The covers are now accurate reflections of the inside pages of the magazine, which are a lush, visual treat. It's a rich, diverse, multi-textured look, with very little of the "food porn" photography that fills most epicurean magazines these days.
Fun is really the key to this cover, and that's what makes it so unique. It's rare to see a magazine cover that looks like it was actually fun to make, while also keeping it representative of the richness and quality of the material inside. For a sense of what Lucky Peach looks like, visit their Tumblr page, which is an explosion of exciting graphics and visual inspiration.
Lucky Peach is somewhat of a throwback to the illustrated Gourmet magazine covers of the 1940s and 50s. Those covers were artful but zany and quirky. Often illustrated by Henry Stahlhut, the illustrated Gourmet covers were the total opposite of the perfectly styled plates of food and gourmet dishes on magazine covers today. The "All You Can Eat" cover reminds me of Bloomberg Businessweek, with its pure disregard for any of the standard operating techniques of its genre.
I took my daughter to the Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village of New York City over the past weekend to celebrate her 14th birthday. She's a big fan of the Momofuku Milk Bar on the Upper West Side, where she favors strawberry milkshakes and pork buns. At the Noodle Bar she ordered Momofuku Ramen, while I gave up my meatless diet for a bowl of Spicy Miso Ramen (with chicken and pork broth). The food was hearty and delicious, and sitting in the restaurant at one of the long communal tables, I was reminded why the Lucky Peach cover is so perfect. It's a lot like the Momofuku restaurants: funky, uncompromising, hip (but not hipster), downhome and totally delightful and tasty. Like any great cover, it engages the readers in a visual conversation and invites them inside to discover a world of wonders, while at the same time maintaining the essence of its brand.
We are stunned, we are blindsided, or we saw this coming all along. We are scrambling for distribution, we are crying for attention, we are vying for our places in the lifeboat. Messages in my inbox and voices on my phone reflect fear, concern, survivorsâ€™ guilt, schadenfreude.But most of all, in the scramble to find our feet, to ride this out, to get our copies out of the printers and off the docks and into the retail outlets, weâ€”or at least Iâ€”feel grief. Old-fashioned, honest-to-God grief, like the kind you might feel when you lose a human friend.As one of Sourceâ€™s executives wrote me: â€śThis is such a sad day as you note for not only Source, but for the industry as a whole. We did our best to keep it afloat but, in the end, the model is just broken and it has to be fixed. One can just hope that in the midst of disruption that something positive can evolve. As you can imagine, my priority has been trying to work through the human aspect of this, as it affects so many good people who dedicated years and years of their lives to Source.â€ťAmong the first people I ever met in this business were Bill Jech and Dave Buescher, founders of IPD, later sold to Source Interlink as the basis of their distribution business. I watched as the direct distribution model was scaled up to national, merged back into mainstream, broken out in tielines and pick and packs; I watched as warehouses were set up and taken down, and information evolved and was reworked, as people came and went and systems improved or were replaced. And in the course of those years, I met smart, hard-working people doing their best to find a way to keep their business afloat. People who worked to improve merchandising, to improve customer service, to improve warehousing, to improve efficiency. People who helped me, and my clients, solve difficult problems.Practically, there are lots of questions that are not yet answered. Who will pick up all that retail business, and what portion of it will go away? Which publications will survive this upheavalâ€”and which will not? What will happen to our industry when only two large wholesale groups, both of which share ownership of one major national distributor, control virtually all the distribution? Is there still a role for a national distributor when what you have is essentially a national wholesaler? And if no one has been making money until now, how will this change enable them to start doing so?Those questions wonâ€™t be answered today, or tomorrow, or this month. We will revisit those questions, again and again. But for today, I can only think about the 6,000 Source Interlink people who are out of their jobs, and the company executives I have known for years, and the magazine business without a Source Interlink to turn to.Goodbye, Source Interlink. We will miss you.
Usually I try and offer helpful ideas and hints on items relating to various aspects of publishing. Therefore, it may seem that I am going off on a tangent in this post, but please bear with me.It is not very often Europe has better ideas than America but it happens occasionallyâ€”Champagne and cheddar cheese chief among themâ€”but recently the European community sort of demanded that people be allowed to clean up, indeed remove, data from search engines and I think we should do that here.I have never ever submitted any data about me to any search engine, yet if you Google me you will get over 5,000 returnsâ€”not as many compared to Googling â€śchampagneâ€ť with 71,200,000 returned or â€ścheddar cheeseâ€ť with 3,250,000. A great deal of the information online about me is out of date. There is also information about me that I regard as personal, rather than business related, and there is information about me that is just untrue. At no point did I actively ask for my information to be added and I am not really aware of ever having been asked about it. Sometimes you are asked to agree to â€śconditionsâ€ť and I expect this is how my data get added, but if search engines are making money out of my data, or websites, or telemarketing companies, why is it only Europeans that get to clean their data up? Why canâ€™t I? Supposedly, if you do not want telemarketing companies calling you, you can get on the â€śdo not callâ€ť list. There is a â€śdo not mailâ€ť list as well. The trouble with these two lists is that disreputable companies do not subscribe to them, so â€śRachel from Card Member Servicesâ€ť feels free to call at any time. Much of this information is collected from the Internet, so why should we not all be allowed to clean up data about us, and remove it if we want?Back in the 1980s the United Kingdom passed the Data Protection Act, which basically says you have to opt in to get information rather then opt out. The direct mail industry recognized this was a good idea because the people opting out would not buy anything anyway. List costs dropped because there was less to rent, postage costs dropped because you mailed less, and response measured as a percentage increased making promotions more cost effective. In other words, by making the data more accurate, we got better results. The Internet has a few good usesâ€”listening to any radio station online, downloading music, getting the news, and so on. Another good use of the Internet is obtaining information and it makes sense to ensure that information is as accurate and up-to-date as possible, so why canâ€™t we delete information that is wrong, irrelevant or just plain embarrassing? Often it is said that once â€śit is on the Internet, it is there for goodâ€ťâ€¦ but why canâ€™t it be got rid of? It does not take that long for information to appear on the Internet, intentional or otherwise, so getting rid of it should be just as easy.