Four Runner Ups To Best Cover of The Year. Plus The Most Egregious Cover of 2015!

Last week, I offered up what I personally thought were the ten best magazine covers produced in 2015. The response has been mostly positive and rather enlightening. And to answer one correspondents question:

“There’s no way I could possibly see all of the magazines on the newsstand. But the person who works the receiving dock at a magazine wholesaler probably has seen most of them.”

In the end, the selections are personal.

So why offer a list of Runner Ups? Why offer what is often considered by some to be a participation trophy?

The answer is simple. My desktop folder of 2015 covers is pretty large by my standards. More than 80 different covers were considered. Thirty eight made it into the initial list for the top ten.

Therefore, for your consideration, I’d like to offer these five for you to look at, think about, and ask yourself, “Should they have made it into the top ten?”

Food for thought.

The Runner Up Best Covers of 2015 

Fur-Fish-Game September 2015 90th Anniversary Issue

FFG-Sep15-Cover
Happy Birthday!

This September, Fur-Fish-Game Magazine celebrated it’s 90th consecutive year of publishing. This monthly magazine has always featured an illustrated cover and often the images are striking. This issue perfectly captures the wilderness and the audience that the magazine services.

Entertainment Weekly Special issue honoring Leonard Nimoy

 

leonard-nimoy-entertainment-weekly-2
“Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.” Captain Kirk

The soul of the original cast of the Sci-Fi TV show “Star Trek” was found in Leonard Nimoy’ s portrayal of the logic oriented alien, Mr. Spock. This shot perfectly captures how Nimoy played this part. Not for laughs, not too stiff. But approachable, intelligent, someone to model yourself after. Someone human.

Put A Egg On It  Issue #7

putaeggonit vol9
This cover just makes me smile.

To be completely honest, I have to confess that I have never actually seen a copy of this magazine. Their distribution is tiny and it’s a long ride to the nearest store that may or may not have a copy.

And I really don’t like magazines that use issue numbers rather than cover dates (stale magazines are stale magazines).

But what a fun name! What an interesting logo. And I’m a sucker for food magazines. And I am going to go looking for a copy.

Teen Vogue August 2015

Aug 15 Teen Vogue

Teen Vogue’s August cover got a decent amount of attention for featuring three black models.

Leaving aside the fact that mainstream magazines need to acknowledge the presence and contribution of persons of color to the fashion world, it’s simply a great cover. Cover lines, poses, color. This is a great cover. And a great message.

The Most Egregious Cover of 2015

Interview Magazine December 2015

Kylie Jenner December Interview
Just…no.

Frankly, I really don’t have anything against the Kardashian clan. They figured out a way to access fame and turn their small, tidy fortune into a big sprawling fortune of fame, fashion and reality television. Well played Kris Jenner.

Likewise, while I’m a fan of social justice, I’m not the type who opposes able bodied actors portraying persons with disabilities.

But my issue with this particular part of the shoot was that it was supposedly exploring her image as an “object of vast media scrutiny.”

Sorry Kylie. Before you were 18, you were the subject of your family’s control. Now, as an adult, you are volunteering for the scrutiny. Your fame and fortune does not disable you. You’re only a poseable plaything if you allow that to happen to yourself.

What magazine covers did you see in 2015 that you think deserves mention? Anything out there that you found particularly egregious?

If you want to see what magazine covers made the cut in previous years, click on this link.

The “Top Ten” covers of 2015 can be found by clicking on this link.

 

Local Publisher Solves Distribution Conundrum

Editor’s Note: Periodically, our lucky correspondent, Felix Chartae brings us news from the present, news from the future and news about our favorite publisher, Outside the Groove Media of Eagle, CO.

This week The Foredeck brings you a report about how this plucky publisher solved a newsstand distribution problem plaguing many local magazine publishers.

 

By Felixe Chartae, August 21, 2014

It seemed like a “no brainer” for Outside the Groove Media to purchase the assets of a failing local publisher. “Rocky Mountain Triathlete magazine featured many of the same sporting activities that we covered in our national magazines,” Said Peter Westleigh, CEO of Outside the Groove, “And we bumped up against them repeatedly in sales calls, industry events, even promotional activities. We were  were sure we could fold their editorial and sales teams of all three titles into our office.”

But nothing could prepare Westleigh or his circulation team for the onslaught they were about to face shortly after the first issues of their new acquisitions hit the stands.

“It was almost as if the entire state had contracted TMB,” said Wendy Ashburnham, the Audience Development Director for Outside The Groove.

As reported earlier, TMB, or Temporary Magazine Blindness is a disease that the CDC in Atlanta, GA has described as “The unusual condition when magazine advertisers, sales representatives or publishers and employees of magazine publishers walk up to a newsstand and fail to see their magazine on display for sale on the newsstand even though the magazine is, in fact, on the said newsstand.”

Ashburnham, a long time veteran of magazine circulation, admitted to having little interaction with the newsstand world prior to the acquisition of these three titles. “We have a distributor who talks to the wholesalers and frankly, I could never figure out what language they were speaking. So I got a consultant and told him to handle it and not bug us too much.”

That seemed to work well for the publisher. “Occasionally,” continued Ashburnham, “Peter would call me about not seeing our national titles in his King Sooper, but I could usually get that fixed. Usually I just dropped off a copy or two on my way home.”

“Once we put those locals on sale, Holy Hannah, Katie bar the door!” said CEO Westleigh.

Westleigh and Ashburnham reported that their office was inundated with calls from outraged advertisers who claimed they never saw one single issue of Rocky Mountain Life, Triathlete or Outdoors magazines. These were followed up with panicked emails from sales representatives who claimed the same thing and began to offer “make goods” to the irritated advertisers.

Whenever Westleigh went out to the newsstand, he too could never find any of his new titles.

“It was certainly a worrisome transition,” said Wendy Ashburnham.

The troubled circulator called in her consultant, Laki Patrika to see if he had any ideas.

“I never know what to do in these situations,” admitted Patrika. “Mostly because there are so many possibilities. Sometimes, the advertisers and sales reps are spot on. The magazine is not there.”

“But,” continued the consultant, “Usually it’s because it’s the end of the sales cycle and what hasn’t sold was returned and the new issue isn’t in yet. Or sometimes, the magazine is not authorized for that store, or sometimes it’s authorized for the chain, but not that sized rack in that store. Or sometimes the magazine went on sale late, or early. Or it’s a merchandising problem and we have no real control over that. Or sometimes the magazine was in that store, but nothing sold and eventually it was removed from the distribution,” he said.

“And this is weird,” Patrika continued with his monologue, “Sometimes they just don’t see it, even though it’s right there on the front lip.”

Patrika did not know about the CDC’s “TMB” diagnosis.

“Huh,” said Patrika when this correspondent informed him, “That explains it.”

The solution that Ashburnham and Patrika came up with is both ingenious, probably not helpful to the local wholesalers, but has seemed to solve the problem of irate advertisers.

Peter Westleigh,  Wendy Ashburnham and Laki Patrika of Outside The Groove Media discuss their innovative solution to solving their latest newsstand conundrum. Source: in-this-economy.com)
Peter Westleigh, Wendy Ashburnham and Laki Patrika of Outside The Groove Media discuss their innovative solution to solving their latest newsstand conundrum. Source: in-this-economy.com)

Outside the Groove hired their own merchandisers to follow the local wholesaler merchandisers on the days that the three new magazines go on sale. As soon as the merchandisers put up the magazine, the Outside the Groove merchandisers move the magazines to the front of the rack, then superglue the magazine to the base of the rack so the copies can not be removed. This insures that the copies stay front and center for the life of the on-sale period.

“Of course it kind of stinks on the sales side,” said Patrika, “And then there’s the clean up at the end of the sales cycle.”

This was solved by using a box cutter to slice the magazines out of the rack and get them into the returns bin.

“But the level of complaints from advertisers and sales staff has declined to almost zero,” said Ashburnham, “And that means we can deal with other issues.”

At this point, our interview was interrupted when CEO Westleigh walked in and asked, “Hey Wendy, how come this month’s issue of Rock mag isn’t in my King Sooper.”

“Like that,” said Ashburnham.

 

 

 

 

 

Things Placed in Front of, On and Instead of The Magazine Rack

A few weeks back the family and I traveled east to New England to attend a family function. It was incredibly fun seeing friends and relatives and visting the old ‘hood’ where I grew up. On Friday night, we stopped at a local Walgreens (that used to be an indy drugstore) to pick up a few things we left at home and of course, I wandered over to the magazine rack. This is what I saw:

Someone's got a merchandising issue...
Someone’s got a merchandising issue…

Did the merchandiser just give up in the middle of the job and walk away?

Walgreens Springfield MA 2

As you can see from the DVD speed table in front of the rack, there’s already a decent amount of merchandise a customer has to traverse to get to the rack. So it’s unfortunate that for whatever reason, the totes where left out.

The following week, I was finally able to spend some time checking out the new Fresh Thyme Supermarket that recently opened in town. It’s very exciting to see a new company take off and even more exciting when they decide to open on of their first stores in your own town. Even better, they carry magazines!

Well that could slow sales...
Well that could slow sales…

So it was a little disappointing to see that the retailer had decided to jam up their sales potential by hanging coupon circulars on the checkout rack. You can almost see the buyer sitting in her office scanning the POS reports and saying “Hmmm, magazines aren’t performing so well. Maybe we should…..”

Further up the street, our local Walgreens was caught up in the Source bankruptcy. For a few weeks the rack was incredibly stale. Then it was empty, and then these signs and just a little fresh product popped up:

Walgreens 1

Walgreens2

Yesterday the pre-weekend deliveries finally started to catch up and about half of the rack was filled with fresh new product:

We're getting there....
We’re getting there….

But the other half of the rack is still filled with Skinny Pop (which is tasty). It’s on sale for $2.99 a bag.

A magazine and a bag of Skinny Pop. Less than $10 bucks and a few hours of excellent down time...
A magazine and a bag of Skinny Pop. Less than $10 bucks and a few hours of excellent down time…

In a conference call the other day a client pointed out that it is sometimes difficult for the sales people she works with to grasp the intricacies that the technical people in her company have to work with. It’s easy to say that the e-blast should be laid out just so and these fifteen links should be live and line up just there and it should all be done and ready to shoot into the ether in the next twenty-four hours.

The reality, of course, is quite different. In spite of all of the advertising about how quick and easy all the technology is, it’s not that easy.

I should have taken that moment to point out how difficult it is to re-negotiate service contracts, realign print orders, create new routes, hire new merchandisers and service new retailers. The last two pictures illustrate that point very well. It’s hard, but it can be done. And I should add that it’s being done pretty well.

On the other hand, the first two pictures illustrate some of the issues our industry continues to deal with: effective merchandising and the teaching of our retail partners.

We have to do a better job of merchandising. And we have to do a better job of educating our retailers on why the don’t want to put things in front of, on or in place of, the magazine rack.

 

 

 

The Saddest Little Magazine Rack

This just in from a West Coast correspondent:

There's no way to prettify that....
There’s no way to prettify that….

This rack is located in a store in Northern California and despite its small size, if it looks this bare now, perhaps it sold a decent amount of product when it was serviced.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found it easy to be caught up in the moment. After all we’re busy with all of this. The bigger retailers are signing up with the remaining wholesalers at a fast pace. Service seems to be getting restored quickly to the major chains. It looks like over 70% of Source’s retailer base is now signed with a new wholesaler. I’ve seen some excellent work from my national distributors when it comes to figuring out how to get the distributions and copies transferred accurately. But let’s not kid ourselves. Accounts were not serviced. For several weeks. If you don’t refresh your product, it gets stale. The formula is very simple:

No fresh product=No sales=no revenue

Selling magazines is not like selling a eight-pack of brand name bath tissue. It’s more like selling fresh endive. People have to see it, want it, justify that want, then pick it up. You need toilet paper. You may need fresh vegetables, but you have to want endive. Leave it on the rack too long, it’s not going to be pretty. The people in our industry have performed some great work over the past few weeks under some very difficult circumstances. Anyone who has witnessed this should be impressed. But let’s not forget why our colleagues have had to work so hard in the first place.

And let’s get some fresh magazines onto that sad little rack.

 

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