Don’t Trade Quality
Saving money while still generating quality edit is a balancing act, says Paul Snyder, procurement/production senior analyst for Rodale Inc. "It’s a judgment call and varies depending on the magazine," he says.
Bill Sibert, senior director of operations at Rodale, says the company’s magazines have five main categories in their edit cost structure, including preprints, art and freelance, salaries or in-house costs, research, and consulting. To balance cost and quality, Rodale’s publications keep a close eye on their ad-to-edit ratio, Snyder says.
Rodale’s best ad-to-edit ratio is 60-40, but it depends on the publication. "For our smaller publications, what’s best for the reader is usually 50-50 or 52-48, somewhere around there," Sibert says.
Snyder and Sibert say monitoring paper and postage is another good way to reduce costs without sacrificing edit. Even with postal reform in the works, Snyder said publishers will still need to monitor costs. About 85 percent of consumer magazines use the postal service to distribute their titles.
"There’s no doubt that there will always be some correlation between postage and magazine publishing and how that affects editorial depends. There are multiple and very different paths," he says. "So we just always try to make sure we’re on the cutting edge." Rodale’s magazine stable includes Men’s Health, Runner’s World and Prevention, as well as Backpacker, Best Life, Bicycling, Mountain Bike, and Organic Gardening. The company’s top-three titles, Men’s Health, Runner’s World and Prevention, earned combined 2005 ad revenue of about $348.8 million, up from approximately $309 million a year earlier, according to the most recent Publishers Information Bureau data.