The Hunger Games: In Magazine Form

According to the New York Times, the launch of “The Hunger Games” in movie format broke records this weekend. The box office take was a logged in at $155 million. Clearly this is something that will be good for the book business in all of its formats.

If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ll know that I was at the premiere at midnight last Thursday with my faithful sci-fi/fantasy sidekick, “Younger Daughter.” We actually came across the series based on a recommendation from Stephen King in his Entertainment Weekly column. This inspired us to take the audio version of the first book with us on a road trip. From there, it was off to the bookstore for the first of the series and from then on, a waiting game while we traded the subsequent novels back and forth.

So what does the success of “The Hunger Games” mean for the magazine business? We have a long history of companion movie magazines and over the weekend I came across three while browsing a rack in a specialty supermarket near my home:

One example of a movie companion guide.

I found it interesting that the on-offs from the smaller publishers focused on the image of Katniss in her hunting garb and armed with her bow.

Of course, Us Magazine decided to play up the romance angle, just a little bit.

On the plus side, Us Magazine left Gale off of the cover. And while the book notes that after getting stung by a “tracker jacker” Katniss thinks that Peeta looks sparkly, no one in the movie glittered.

Will “The Hunger Games” specials add to the newsstands bottom line this year and help build sales? Good question. As always, it will depend on the quality of the magazines that are out there and what sort of distribution they get. I found these titles in one supermarket and a quick check of a nearby drugstore revealed a few more.

On the other hand, none were to be found at a local Barnes and Noble. Sell out? Or missed distribution opportunity? A good question. For the publishers sake (as well as the B&N newsstand department) let’s hope the former and that a reorder is on the way.

“TMB” (Temporary Magazine Blindness) Considered Untreatable By the CDC

News from the present: By Felix Chartae

Magazine doctors on staff at the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA have determined that the common disease known as “TMB” or Temporary Magazine Blindness has neither a known cause nor cure.

“We pretty much tell staffers to hunker down and deal with it,” said Dr. Tristus Adversus, Dr. Pub., a consultant to the federal disease agency.

“TMB” occurs whenever a magazine publisher walks by a newsstand and fails to see their publication on that rack. This disease is also known to strike magazine advertisers. The magazine is there, but both the publisher and the advertiser not only fail to see the magazine, but they will believe they are seeing large quantities of their competitors magazine on display.

“It’s a very unusual sort of blindness or hysteria that seems to affect only people who work in this industry,” said Dr. Adversus. “We’re not sure of the cause or what we can do to alleviate their suffering.”

It’s the symptoms of “TMB” that have both publishing doctors and the staffs at many magazine publishing companies concerned.

“Oh, the rages that we have seen are quite destructive,” remarked Dr. Adversus as he left a tony midtown Manhattan office where he had just treated several senior magazine executives and their key advertisers. “All of the data, all of the pictures, everything was right there in front of them and they simply could not see it. It made them very upset.”

“All we can really do is help them get through it. I usually prescribe a placebo and a Power Point or two. After awhile, they move onto other things,” he mused. “It’s sort of like chicken soup.”

The CDC has identified other symptoms of “TMB” including but not limited to: Anger, resentment, the firing of staff, the hiring of outsourcing consultants to replace staff. Circulation departments, in particular those now rare and endangered newsstand circulation staffs are reduced to cowering in filing cabinets during an outbreak of “TMB”. The disease can also be transmitted throughout certain portions of magazine staffs.  Dr. Adversus has identified smugness in editorial staffs, extreme smugness in digital staffs, and surprisingly, flatulence and shortness of breath in the production staff.

Perhaps the most extreme case of “TMB” recorded in recent years was reported by this blog when the both the publisher and editor of the Eagle, CO based publishing company, Outside the Groove Media, failed to realize they were publishing print magazines for two years.

“I feel kind of silly about that now,” said Peter Westleigh, the publisher of Outside the Groove Media. “But I’m better, now. I only have a few relapses here and there.”

Peter Westleigh and Wendy Ashburnham of Outside The Groove Media discuss his occasional relapses of “TMB” with this reporter. (Source:

“Yes,” sighed Wendy Ashburnham, Director of Audience Development at Outside the Groove, “He is usually pretty OK with things. But he still can’t seem to find our magazines at his local King Sooper.”

This reporter also contacted the drug manufacturer Astra Zeneca to see if they were working on a drug regime for this disease. The company responded that while they care, they can’t help.

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