I didnât use the old chestnut âitâs not you, itâs meâ when I broke things off. After all, I was still the same guy I always was, right? She changed, not me. I got used to everything being the way it always was. I was happy. I knew what to expect week after week, month after month.
But then change came and I wasnât interested in continuing the relationship. And this was a relationship that had lasted as long as I can honestly remember, but things just werenât right between us. It was time to bring this decades-long relationship to an unceremonious end.
Yep, I let my subscription to TV Guide run out.
For the first time in my ENTIRE life, I do not receive this weekly staple that was once the largest circulation magazine in the world. TV Guide was one of those things I looked forward to as a kid (yes, I know itâs sad). From the stylish coversâcheesy posed photos or Al Hirschfield caricaturesâto the shamefully easy crossword puzzle in the back (â_____ of Hazardâ? Please!), TV Guide would send me into world that was all about one of my favorite things in the world: television.
Things were going fine until that fateful day back in 2005. No longer would it publish in its familiar digest-sized format; it was as big as People, Us Weekly, Menâs Fitness, etc. But it wasnât the size that bothered me. It was the fact that it was trying to be all things to all people. The new grid for all the show listings was lacking and there were hours of the day that simply werenât covered anymore. Somehow it lost its charm.
Typically familiarity breeds contempt but in this case it bred content and I was no longer content so when my subscription expired, I unceremoniously buried my relationship with a magazine Iâd read all my life. I should also add that my cable company has a function that allows me to get more info about a given show than TV Guide now offered, so the decision was that much easier.
Now, I hardly even think about TV Guide. Sometimes Iâll see it in the grocery store but the feelings are no longer there. Iâve moved on. Does TV Guide miss me? Judging from the number of offers I still receive in the mail, apparently so, but not enough to go back to the way it was before: when I was happy.
The finalists for the National Magazines Awards were announced yesterday. Andâlike every yearâthe list included some surprises (Good), snubs (Esquire) and the requisite head-scratchers (Bloomberg Markets?) that make any awards process fun.
And, also like every year, the list, like a lot of things in the consumer magazine industry, was dominated by a disproportionate number of magazines about or originating in New York.
Of the 128 finalists for this yearâs Ellies, at least 78 are based (or have significant staff) in New York City. Thatâs over 60 percent, for those of you scoring at home. (The New Yorker and New York magazine combined for 21 nominations alone.)
Itâs always been a criticism of the media at-large. It locks its viewfinder on New Yorkâto a lesser extent, L.A.âand nothing else. And the media that covers mediaâparticularly the journalists that cover the magazine and advertising industriesâare especially prone to overstating the importance of New York, or, perhaps more accurately, not expanding the scope beyond Manhattan enough.
I think itâs a valid gripe to have, but an unfair one, too. For starters, what is a journalist covering the magazine industry supposed to do when the American Society of Magazine Editors is not exactly hunting down new nominees (sorry, the Virginia Quarterly Review doesnât count anymore)? And when virtually every major magazine publisher works or has a sales office in New York, itâs tough not to have your view distorted.
While we, at FOLIO:, always talk about representing the entire swath of magazine publishers in such far-flung places as âWashington D.C.â and âChicago,â weâre admittedly part of the machinery that gives New York its big head. (Weâll shoot video and liveblog the Ellies in May, for example, like every other magazine media outletâand we should.)
But who cares what I think. What do you think? Has ASME become too New York-centric? Have the National Magazine Awards become the New York Magazine Awards? Will the MPA ever tire of Adam Moss?
Drop your comments below âŠ
In the midst of an economic slowdown, businesses in all industries are battening the hatches and bracing for what looks like an ugly ride. The storm looks even more brutal for publishers given rising postal and paper prices.So what are we and our customers doing in the midst of this besieged economy? Going skiing, of course! In every cloud thereâs a silver lining, and for my company, Storm Mountain Publishing (we publish Freeskier and Snowboard magazines) that silver lining is snow. Lots and lots of snow. The big fluffy kind that makes grown adults forget their financial woes, throw caution to the wind and spend their money on ski gear and ski travel. Ah yes, the power of powder. One huge benefit of our vertical market is that weâre somewhat ârecession-proofâ as it relates to the broader economy. Our business is snow. When the white stuff falls, our industry booms, recession or no recession. Perhaps itâs the needed sense of escapism. Perhaps itâs just the allure of the mountains. Whatever the reason, snow inspires our customers to spend money on skiing and snowboarding. And itâs happening right now: above-averageâeven recordâsnowfall across North America has helped fuel explosive growth in the winter sports category, amidst some of the worst economic conditions our country has seen in decades. So far this season, all snow sports sales channels are reporting growth in unit and dollar sales, underscored by an overall growth of approximately 13 percent over the same period last season. Even better news for Freeskierâs market, the twin tip ski category (skis used in terrain parks, half pipes, etc.) is the hottest selling type of ski on the market. Sales of twin tip skis are up 60% in units and 62% in dollars compared to last season.So, while other businesses are worrying about the subprime mortgage crisis, GDP and the credit crunchâweâre dancing around our office doing everything we can to please the snow god, in hopes that the sky keeps falling.Because snow, above all else, equates to a good season of ad sales and business for us.
Less than a week after its 21st annual media conference wrapped up in Florida, investment firm giant Bear Stearns Co. was sold Monday to rival JP Morgan Chase & Co. for $240 millionâor just $2 per share, a 90 percent loss to what the company was worth a week ago.Although the dramatic news doesn't have a direct impact on the magazine industry (unless Bear Stearns owes your business money, of course), it does have Wall Street traders up in arms again in a credit market that has former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspanâwho some blame for the housing market falloutâcalling the current U.S. economic crisis the "most wrenching since the end of the second world war." Capital markets across all industries, including media investors, are nervous about yesterday's newsâand for good reason. "Every time that we think that we've seen the bottom of the credit market, something like this happens and we see that it can get much, much worse," Veronis Suhler Stevenson managing partner Tom Kemp told me during a phone conversation this morning. "Every time these things happen, the credit approval process becomes more difficult, leverage will be tougher and pricing will be higher."The Bear Stearns acquisition "certainly casts a gloomy outlook over where the markets and economy are headed," DeSilva + Phillips managing partner Reed Phillips says. Kemp and Phillips are right. What's going to come of situations like that with Reed Elsevier announcing plans to divest business sector magazine publisher Reed Business Information? A number of potential suitors have emerged, but is there really a strategic buyer out there willing to pony up $2-2.5 billion now?We'll have to wait and see.
Acido Surtido is a remarkable and lovely poster/magazine published in Argentina by a small editorial team with support from the Ministry of Culture. Printing only 2000 copies, I feel fortunate that I have had the opportunity to review a nearly complete run of the stunning mag. In some ways, AS is similar to Lumpen in that both publications are free, both are lovely because of, and not despite of low production values, and both are the product of a cheerful but competitive collaboration among artists. Contributors at AS, I gather, work separately but meet to assemble the final arrangement of panels that make up the magazine. But, unlike the Chicago pub, Acido Surtido (which roughly translates as "Acid Mix") is almost entirely visually driven. AS is, in essence, an exquisite corpse of a magazineâwhile each issue is based on a theme, how contributors approach the core idea is individualistic, or even idiosyncratic. In fact, a few panels seem included not because they are particularly interesting on their own, but because they make the overall piece stronger by providing white space or a dash of whimsy in an otherwise serious issue.
While AS is both more graphic than literary, and unfurls into a poster (occasionally, one side is devoted to a single image) it is also, in every sense, a magazine. The juxtaposition of various contributorâs work create the deep interactions that the best magazines relish inâbut here it is image and image rather than text and image that work together. As you unfold AS wonderful little moments occur (like the one below) in a carefully orchestrated interactive experience. The reader feels as if he or she is opening a present or untangling a mystery.
Read and see more here ...
Also, below, a link to a whole side of another issue, too large to put on this page and do justice to, based, as it is on the 25âł x 37âł original.
Acido Surtido 14
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Buy Jandos' new book!]
Not my 14-year-old, Jenni, who (with profound apologies to GL magazine) found a way to interact with that publication in a way that is ... well, meaningful for a 14-year-old.
Magazines, and most print media, are more personal because you can hold them in your hands. From here interactivity can take on many forms: physical coupons, tear outs, inserts, pop ups, contest entry forms, and blow ins. There is a physical interactivity that comes from the act flipping pages. There is a lot of interactivity that comes from the more personal physical connection that only print can make ... even for a 14-year-old!
More here ...
Apparently my last blog postâEditors vs. Art Directorsâreally struck a nerve, judging by the number of responses (22 by my last count). When the attacks got personal (name calling, questioning the legitimacy of my own magazine, etc.) it made me realize that there are some pretty deep-seeded feelings on this issue.The overall point of the last blog was that while the editor and art director are partners, the burden of responsibility always falls onto the editor. Iâve seen a lot more editors than art directors lose their jobs due to a magazineâs poor performance in my career. However, I have routinely seen art directors get the majorityâif not allâof the praise for how great a magazine has turned around while the efforts of the editorial staff go totally unnoticed. That said, many of the art directors whom I sent the blog link to agreed with my comments. Maybe it helped that we worked (or still work) together in some capacity, or that they understood, not only where I was coming from, but my healthy attitude toward art directors.Catherine Neill Juchheim, my art director at Southern Breeze, the REAL magazine I edit, says that it is essentially up to the A.D. to ride herd over the material as well as the editors and sales people. âWhether it is a duel with the editor (no, 1,000 words of copy will NOT fit there!) or a fight with the sales guys over those last minute ads (and money always wins), it is up to the intrepid art director to make it work.âAnthony Picco, who served as my art director for four years at a not-for-profit, completely understood and agreed with my comments because we respected each otherâs profession as well as each other as people. âMy job is to make the information in the magazine attractive, readable, and enjoyable,â Tony says. âI fully understand that there are times that business politics dictate cover choices or lead articles. I have no problem accommodating that. In a healthy working relationship, I am happy to listen to editors' suggestions.âHowever Tony admits that he prefers less specific comments from his editors (âThe cover looks too busy,â or âThis article has to look spectacularâ). He adds that nothing annoys him more than when an editor tries to do HIS job with the âMake that type redâ or âI want the type justified, not flush right.â Or as he puts it: âNothing drives an art director crazier than an editor who is a frustrated art director.â
Another former cohort, Samuel Fontanez, who worked as a staff artist and is now art director of a magazine I used to oversee, took exception to my seemingly iron-fisted management mantra. âWhile I agree itâs the editorâs job to reel in the A.D. into reality when he thinks theyâve gone too far, [the editor] is not the only person on staff privy to the magazineâs audience,â he says. âAny art director who doesnât know the audience or industry he or she is doing layouts for is basically a temp who has overstayed his or her welcome. So I think we deserve a little more credit in that area.âJohn Scott, another former colleague who worked on two monthly publications where I was the managing editor, feels a lot of the issues between editors and their art doyennes are simply due to ego. âI think all editors and art directors have big egos, whether or not they admit it, so naturally there will always be clashes,â John wrote in his response to my initial post. âHowever, it is the ones on both sides that know how to control their ego and not let it get in the way that are the most successful. It is a team effort and there must be mutual respect and a bit of humility.â John adds that if those egos get out of control, the end product will suffer and the work situation will be miserable. âDo you want to be right or do you want to be happy? That's always gotten me through plenty of situations.â Many of the initial blog responders took issue to the âart director is always the wifeâ statement comparing the editor/A.D. relationship to a marriage. Sam was no exception. To wit, he says that if art directors are the wife, âthen I suggest we make Lorena Bobbit our patron saint!â (Anyone who doesnât remember Lorena, Google her. And by the way, Sam âŠ ouch!)Catherine was also not a fan of the husband and wife mentality and stresses equality among the players. âIt's the 21st century now, people; how many wives out there are truly subservient to their husbands?â she ponders. âItâs an equal partnership or else it ends in divorce.âJohn admitted that the âeditor has final say,â but added that doesnât necessarily mean they are always right. I agree with this sentiment whole-heartedly. In one of my blog comments, I talked about how my art director and I were seemingly up against the editor-in-chief (who had been in that specific industry for over 15 years) and a mousey associate editor regarding a particular cover design. Jonathan, the A.D., created a stunning, emotional visual from an idea I had. Instead, the EIC opted for tired stock art that did nothing for the magazine. [PS: The magazine folded five months later and Jonathan and I are the only ones still working in the magazine industry.]Unlike John, Tony acquiesced: âThe editor is always right, in theory,â he says, âbut there are âEditors from Hellâ and I have worked for some of them. What does an art director do when an editor has no taste whatsoeverânot even bad tasteâand yet that editor wants to interfere? What do you do with a micromanager editor who believes you can only do your job properly if your hand is held every step of the way, from concept to completion? Ultimately, I have been fortunateâonly about 70% of the editors I worked for were insane.â
Whether or not an editor is always right, Catherine agrees that it is the editorânot the art directorâwho has the first and last word with a magazine. âIt is the editor who writes or assigns the stories that sets the tone for the art director to follow,â she says. âIt is the art directorâs vision that brings those stories to life across the pages, but it is the editor's determination as to whether the art director's vision is in keeping with the spirit of the editorial written.âArt directors lucky enough to have good editors basically have free reign with the look and feel of a magazine, which comes from mutual respect, according to Catherine. âItâs also an open communication atmosphere where the editor and art director freely share ideas and perhaps even cross the lines of responsibility at times. Mark listens to any story ideas that I might have for Southern Breeze and I listen to him when he has an idea for an image to go along with something he has written. We also tell each other pretty candidly when we think something isn't going to work, and why. That way, both parties are invested in all aspects of the magazine, and both are driven to produce the best issue they can, time and time again. That is the only way to a successful magazine.âHowever, an atmosphere where the editor and art director are constantly at odds will only result in a second-rate magazine and a very tense environment. âThere is just no way a publication can succeed if the two âparentsâ are constantly fighting,â Catherine says. âThat will just produce a take-side atmosphere and pretty soon the whole office is in an us-versus-them uproar and nothing good will come from that.âAnd the final word has to go to Catherine: âTo the editor who may consider his or her art director a freak or diva: it takes one to know one. And I think Mark would agree!!âBoy do I!
Kentucky Rep. Tim Couch (R-Hyden) has proposed a bill that would require people who contribute comments or other user-generated content to Web sites to register their real name, address and e-mail address with the host site. If passed, Web sites that violate the requirement would be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
Apparently, Couch proposed the bill to call attention to what he says are unkind and often untrue comments about people being posted online by anonymous Kentuckiansâspecifically high school kids in his district who badmouth each other online.
While this may seem ridiculous on the surface, it raises a good question. How much responsibility does a Web site operator or media company have in regards to monitoring its user-generated content?
As someone pointed outÂ Wednesday at McGraw-Hillâs Media Summit, magazines donât hire anonymous reporters to write their stories, so why should they allow anonymous people to post content to their Web sites?
What do you think? Weigh in by leaving a comment below. (And, yes, anonymous posts are OK with us!)
In the midst of a fascinating 2008 presidential race, Rolling Stone unveiled its endorsement of Barack Obama last week with this cover. Like anything this race seems to touch, the cover was immediately tagged as controversial (with some cable news pundits suggesting the magazine touched up Obama's skin color to make him appear "whiter").Putting that, and Jann Wenner's politics, aside for a moment, FOLIO: asked some of its friends in the design world to weigh in on the cover. Here are some early returns:NAME: Dan TrombettoTITLE: Art director, FOLIO:CRITIQUE: From a design standpoint, the composition and typography are very straight-forward - nothing very interesting going on there. The use of an Obama illustration portraying him as a glowing savior peering off into an unknown future? It seems a bit melodramatic. But Iâm sure it will get some religious folks up in arms and create some controversy, which is probably the desired effect. If nothing else, it sure gives Barack a lot to live up toâespecially since âA New Hopeâ contains no question mark after it.NAME: Marco TurelliTITLE: Art director, Wine EnthusiastCRITIQUE: Doesnât really do much for me. Coverlines donât help sell it to the reader. Barack isnât looking out into the distance nor is he making eye contact, so in effect he isnât creating a sense of âgreater purposeâ nor is he connecting with the viewer. I would expect a more provocative coverline like âAmericaâs Only Hope.â Iâve seen much better from RS in the past when covering political figures. They need to get Woodard back. Hillaryâs Last Stand could have been fun though.NAME: Paola DiMeglio TITLE: Associate art director, Psychiatric Times CRITIQUE: First reaction was that this looked like something from a Jehovah's witness "The Watchtower" cover (those brochures that they pass out for a quarter) ... has this religious feel to it. It's more like he's doing a Superman stance. Maybe they should have put the "S" shirt under his jacket with the cap. That would have gotten the effect, but maybe taken as more of an insult than an endorsement. I don't really care for the fonts but I see it's their standard serif font. It looks more like The New Republic or The Week instead of Rolling Stone.NAME: Randy DunbarTITLE: Freelance designerCRITIQUE: Presumably this an illustration. As illustrations go, it's unremarkable. And Barack appears to have more lines on his face than Georgia O'Keefe. He also appears to be all ear. Personally, I am not inspired by this coverâby design, color, graphics, etc. If this is the "new hope" cover, the future appears to be cloudy ... I did check the cover out at the RS Web site and in a smaller version. It has more impact ... whatever that means ...
NAME: Robert SielTITLE: Production director, Sumner Communications CRITIQUE: Very solid cover. I like the painterly touch to the illustration. Nothing really pops out at me about this cover, either great or bad, but it's solid. The stance of Barack and the one touch of color on the red tie seem to symbolize a Superman pose.NAME: Bryan CanniffTITLE: Owner, Bryan Canniff DesignsCRITIQUE: I have several reservations about this cover. If I were a Barack supporter I would not be too happy about his angry expression. The candidate for change seems to be looking forward to hard times ahead instead of "A New Hope". He looks so mad he is literally steaming. The blue color scheme is also not very positive. It makes his skin look even redder in contrast (and angrier). I don't see the need to cover up so much of the logo, unless it is an awkward attempt to say Rollin one. It looks forced since his head is so small and there is no need to show more of his rumpled suit and askew tie. Starting with his pitifully small light yellow name, the typography is very laid back and the layout is too predictable and unexciting.
UPDATE: Tim O'Brien, the illustrator behind the Obama cover, responds ...
What do you think? Drop us a line [dstableford AT red7media DOT com] or drop your own critiques in the comments section below.
Recent data from the Postal Service indicate that Periodicals Class mail only covered 83% of its costs in fiscal year 2007. This news comes on the heels of the "cost based rates" that went into effect last July and were designed to reduce the Postal Service's costs. Many people in the industry are now wondering "What went wrong?" The answer is that "nothing went wrong," once three basic facts are understood:
As a result of these three factors and others, the Postal Service did not reduce its costs in FY 2007. With this as a backdrop, the question now becomes, "Will the new rate structure have a positive impact on Postal Service costs in 2008?" To drive costs from the system, mailers need to make changes. Here are a few changes that are taking place at one mailer and in the printing industry.
Changes at Time Inc.Â
Time Inc. is making a number of changes to its mailing behavior and these adjustments may be of use to other publishers. For starters, each title has been analyzed to determine if all or a portion of its circulation can take advantage of co-binding, co-mailing, and/or co-palletization. Today, six Time Inc. titles participate in co-mail pools and the company will soon begin to co-mail a portion of their large circulation monthly magazines. Most people think that large circulation titles are not good candidates for co-mail because they have little to gain in presort improvement, but that perception may soon change.
Todd Black, Time Inc.'s assistant director of postal operations, working in conjunction with Brown Printing and Time customer service, has developed an innovative plan for Essence magazine and other large circulation monthlies. It begins when Time customer service determines Essence's presort. The label data for the carrier route copies is sent to Brown Printing in its usual fashion and the copies are produced using selective binding. Following production, the carrier route copies are included in Fairrington Transportation's co-palletization pool and drop-shipped. Essence also has a number of copies that do not lend themselves to co-mailing (polywrapped, personalized wraps, etc.) and these copies are also included in the co-palletization/drop-ship pool. The balance of the non-carrier route labels are not presorted and customer service produces a SLIR file that is transmitted to Brown for inclusion in their co-mail pool. After manufacturing (using conventional binding) the copies are co-mailed, entered into the Fairrington pool-shipping program, and drop-shipped to 96 ADCs. As a result of this combination of co-mailing and co-palletization, virtually 100% of Essence is drop-shipped with very few sacks and a significant presort improvement.
Time Inc.'s weekly titles have also been reviewed and improvements have been made. Since these weekly magazines have large circulations and carrier route percentages in the 75% to 85% range, there is little opportunity for co-mailing and drop-ship improvement. However, certain editions of the magazines do quality for co-palletization. The best example of this is an edition of People magazine that is produced in one plant for a national distribution. Prior to the implementation of the new rate structure, this edition was placed in sacks and entered into the postal mail stream at the printing plant. Today, these copies are included in the Fairrington co-palletization pool and drop-shipped. As a result, these copies have shifted from "100% sacks and zero drop-shipping" to "nearly zero sacks and 100% drop-shipping."
In addition to the co-palletization, Time magazine co-binds its Life and Style supplement along with its regular issue four times per year. Entertainment Weekly will co-bind a special issue along with one of its regular issues in May.
When the changes have been completed on the Time Inc. magazines, Black estimates that 23 Time Inc. titles will be using co-mail or co-palletization for all or a portion of their print order. Black states that, "There are cost savings out there for everyone, regardless of your size or vendor. My advice to other mail owners is to dig deep into each mailing to find what portions you can better presort and drop ship right now. For the portions that can't, ask why and keep asking why until each mailing is optimized."
In addition to the changes being made by the Time Inc. titles, the printing/logistics industry is opening new co-mail facilities and adding new machines to handle a wide variety of products. Black recently
visited the new R.R. Donnelley & Sons co-mail facility in York, Pennsylvania. In response to increases in customer demand, Donnelley already has expansion plans for this new facility. York complements Donnelley's existing facility in Bolingbrook, Illinois.
In March, Black
will visit the ALG Worldwide Logistics facility also located in Bolingbrook. ALG is a logistics firm that provides co-mailing and drop shipping for the print industry.
Quad/Graphics has developed a multifaceted program that now includes: Multi-Mail (co-mail); Multi-Wrap (offline for poly wrapped Periodicals); Multi-Bind (co-binding); and Multi-Blend (inline combination of previously bound Periodicals with magazines that are being bound). These options provide a great deal of mail-piece design and production schedule flexibility for their clients while still creating volume that maximizes presort and drop ship efficiencies. Quebecor World Logistics continues to invest in solutions that will enable them to co-mail a greater range of product (specifically thin and poly wrapped mail pieces). By the end of 2008 they will double their capacity with new state of the art co-mailers.
Fry Communications in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania is now offering its customers onsite co-mailing, selective binding, blended mail at the mail table level, and co-production (co-binding). Fry reports that they are seeing substantial growth in the number of copies co-mailed and increasing interest from clients who previously were not interested in taking advantage of the reduced distribution costs. In addition, Fry now has customers who use them as a co-mailer but not as a printer. As Fry's pool size increases, the opportunity for savings increases as more copies move from a 3-digit sort level all the way to carrier route presort.
If the changes
at Time Inc. and the printing/logistics industry are representative of more global Periodical Class change, we will most likely see a significant reduction in Postal Service costs and a corresponding improvement in cost coverage throughout 2008. Such changes will go a long way toward keeping Periodicals Class mail well within the CPI rate cap in future years.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: If your company has a co-mailing or co-palletization success story that you'd like to share, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Time magazineâhome to such modern self-marketing marvels as the Person of the Year franchiseâhas put together a self-deprecatingly fun interactive slideshow. Tapping its 85-year archive of covers, the magazine is enlisting a reader vote on the worst Time cover of all-time.
Some of them, like the one on the right, I actually like.
And while it's not going to make any ex-art directors too happy, the feature is, as they say on the Internet, "sticky."
A full day after the New York Times' shocking revelation about Eliot Spitzer's involvment in a prostitution ring, the New York governor still, somehow, remains in office. UPDATE: Not anymore.
It took less time for Glamour magazine to fire a blogger after, as they say, a majority of readers wanted to "pulverize" him. Here's our story. And here's the note:
Our ultimate goal here is to open a productive conversation about men, sex, love and dating; clearly, that can't happen when the majority of readers would like to pulverize the blogger.
Glamour's hands were clearly tied. (Need to kill some time? Peruse the 200-plus comments posted here, here and here.) But did he deserve to be fired for, as he told Radar, being a "single guy with some issues and a lot to learn. So be it. I kind of thought that's what made my blog interesting"?
By the way, Glamour says it will name its new "Man Needs a Date" man soon. I can think of one candidate ...