Things Placed In Front of The Magazine Rack: The (Post) Valentine’s Day Edition

According to an article that appeared in Business Insider this week, print magazines are dying because people in check out lanes are spending all of their time looking at their smart phones and not looking at all of the magazines, iced tea, pop, candy, cookies and wiffle bats in the check out racks.

I don’t think that any reasonable person who spends time living in the 21st century would argue that many people spend much of their spare time checking things out on their smart phones. And anyone who spends time considering the impact of mobile technology on single copy sales is aware that people waiting in a checkout line may prefer to look at their smart phones rather than at the merchandise they could pick up.

But while it’s nice to speculate that smart phone technology is distracting people from spending money in the checkout, if you’re going to make a grand generalization like that, you may want to back that up with something that is generally called a “study.”

If I were the publisher of a major checkout publication and worried that people weren’t looking at my carefully posed models or beautifully laid out food designs, I’d consider trying out some of the new virtual reality designs on my cover. Entice people with attractive offers and QR codes.

Of course, we can generalize that there may be other reasons that single copy sales were down this year.

Here’s one:

Dear Star and Enquirer, Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Bunny
Dear AMI, Happy Valentine’s Day. Love, Hallmark and the plush toy industry.

There’s bound to be a great backstory to this and as soon as I can get it, I will update here.

Note: Please keep sending your photos. It’s been enormous fun  seeing views from other parts of the country. Of course, if you come across an interesting and creative display that works, I would be more than happy to post and celebrate that. Innovative titles and merchandising are the lifeblood of our business. Pending another round of interesting “Things Placed in Front Of” photos, next week we’ll return to some scheduled discussions of “Disruptive Technology” and editing (Yes, this blog in particular).

And The Runners Up Are: The Completely Biased, Highly Subjective and Unscientific List of the Top 2012 Magazine Covers

So now we’ve released the list  of the top ten covers, managed the comments,  spoken with the  people who liked the list, or really hated the list. I spoke with one person who was pretty sure I was crazy.

Last year we added a “Runner’s Up” list. Not because everyone deserves a participation trophy or because we’re all winners. But simply because there were a great number of choices and so many magazines grabbed my attention this year.

1) Bloomburg Business Week – Week of February 8: As Mr. Magazine, Samir Husni pointed out earlier this year, just because Newsweek is gone from the print world, doesn’t mean that newsweeklies are dead. Bloomburg Business Week has had so many great covers this year. While newsweeklies don’t have the large newsstand presence that they used to, they are still key category leaders in airports and bookstores. This cover resonated strongly and made me laugh out loud when I picked it up earlier this year.

Let's laugh and sell some copies.
Let’s laugh and sell some copies.

2) HGTV Magazine October/November 2012: This magazine completed a successful test last year and was converted into a regular frequency title this year. To say that sales have been great, is an understatement. The colors in this cover as well as the kitchen call out really jumped out and attracted my attention.

A great looking kitchen and a clean house. I'm in!
A great looking kitchen and a clean house. I’m in!

3) Juxtapoz Magazine January 2012: Honestly, when the January issue of Juxtapoz showed up in the office (Editor’s Note: Juxtapoz Magazine is a client.) I was originally not in love. But the longer it sat in my rack, the Audrey Kawaski cover in all of it’s simplicity just grew on me. As a rule, stay away from browns in cover images. Here’s where you can break that rule. I love it’s color palette and simple lines.

Jan12Juxt

4)  Texas Monthly March 2012: This award winning Emmis owned title and arbiter of all things Texas dropped this wonderful cover in March. Two great airline covers in 30 days? Why not award them both?

Who needs land sharks when there are sharks in the air?
Who needs land sharks when there are sharks in the air?

5) Traverse Magazine July 2012: This small city magazine from Northern Michigan makes it’s second appearance in two years. What are one of Michigan’s greatest appeals? The lakes. Who loves dogs? Almost everyone. What’s one of the newest and most promising technologies for magazines? QR codes. What’s on the cover of this magazine? All of the above.

Traverse Mag July

Oh, and I have one more. Let’s call this an “Honorable Mention”. More than twenty years ago, I spent a year working with the original editor and publishing company of Silent Sports Magazine, a title now published by Journal Communications. Our goal was to expand the the newsstand presence of the magazine and for awhile we were able to do just that. But we couldn’t maintain the distribution efficiently and we shut the project down. The design of the title was, at best, early Page Maker and the covers were whatever was available at the last minute. But the editorial was what you want in a magazine. Focused, passionate, dedicated, involved. For many years, the editorial of this title made it one of my favorites and a subscription that was happily renewed (and no one ever offered me a clock, t-shirt or watch).

I don’t remember how or why, but I noticed that Silent Sports  revamped its look this summer and while it’s clear that this is still a small regional title, it’s also clear that they put a lot of thought and effort into what they were doing. And it looks like they succeeded. And it looks like I need to get reacquainted with some great editorial.

A big leap forward in design!
A big leap forward in design.

What covers do you think were overlooked this year?

The Top Ten Magazine Covers of 2012: The Completely Biased, Highly Subjective and Unscientific List

It’s the end of the year and all of the top ten lists are hitting the racks, dropping into email boxes and getting passed around like so much Christmas candy.  There are a lot of ways to look at what the best magazine covers are and from what I’ve seen, many of the lists that are out there are simply based on what the editors of that particular list thought was the best.

Our friends at MagNet published a list last year that was based on actual sales data. That was an excellent idea.

Like last year, the Foredeck’s list is a combination of what newsstand elements seem to work best and what my personal favorites are.

But truthfully,  most of what I looked at when I put this list together was what grabbed my attention as I was browsing the mainline rack. Consequently, some of the titles featured here will actually contradict the “Best Practices for Newsstand Covers” document you will find on this blog. Some teenagers and young adults that I know refer to that practice as “hypocrisy”. That is correct.

Earlier this year, the Foredeck strayed way off course and published what we thought were the “Best Illustrated Covers of the Year (So Far)”. Why? Mostly because I think that illustrated magazine covers deserved to be looked at differently from photographic covers and needed some of their own press.

So it is time for the Foredeck to once and for all proclaim the winners of “The Completely Biased, Highly Subjective and Unscientific List” of the Best Covers of 2012.

1) Vogue Magazine February 2012 featuring Taylor Swift: No, I am not on the payroll for Vogue (Although that would be very cool) and, yes, this is the second year in a row that Vogue has placed first. But it could be because this cover, like last year’s stood out so well. Great color, photograph, catchy cover lines.

Still haven't downloaded her music, but I did stop in the mainline aisle to note the cover.
Still haven’t downloaded her music, but I did stop in the mainline aisle to note the cover.

2) Geek Magazine Volume 1 Premiere Issue: If I were handing out awards for notable launches, Source Interlink’s entre would certainly place in the top five. Aside from being a great read, the cover image is guaranteed to attract it’s target demographic. I mean what sci-fi, comic book, fantasy fan doesn’t love Spider Man? Here’s hoping this title has a very successful sophomore year, and beyond.

Spidey kicks a successful new launch!
Spidey kicks a successful new launch!

3) Bullet Magazine Summer 2012: Here’s another entre that earned a top top position in last year’s list. And once again, the cover violates many “Don’t Do This!” rules that are often associated with newsstand covers. But it doesn’t matter because the image along with the stark white background pulled me to a stop and made me browse the magazine and that section of the mainline. I’m not a fan of Blake Lively’s, but I am a fan of the image. And for a second year, a big fan of Bullett Magazine.

Another winner from Bullet Media.
Another winner from Bullet Media.

4) Glamour Magazine December 2012: Actually it was my younger daughter who called my attention to this issue. As a rule I don’t love red backgrounds or large quantities of cover lines. But Glamour get’s a pass to the lifeboat with a great image, a shade of red that will burn your eyeballs, and some clever cover lines and use of the skyline. This must be the year for rule breaking.

Gomez for the win.
Gomez for the win.

5) Fur Fish Game November 2012: In our July “Illustrated Cover” feature, this small Ohio based publisher had it’s February cover place in the top 10. I thought it was one of the best covers this publisher had ever produced (Editor’s Note: Fur Fish Game is a long standing publishing client.). They wound up producing two really great covers this year and this one checks in at number five. With illustrated covers, your success is often dependent on how good the image is. In this case, it’s a good one, and backed up with great line placements.

Good dog!
Good dog!

6) Runner’s World July 2012: I can’t remember the last time an issue of Runner’s World stopped me. This time, however,  it was most likely because since May of this year I’ve been back to training in earnest.  The “Summer Training Special” in the skyline stopped me. The rest of the lines and the image also helped. I stopped, picked up the magazine. Then I opened it…Oh wait, isn’t that how this is supposed to work?

RW asks if you can run a PR at age 46? If you take a running jump from the Foredeck, you can do it when you’re older too.

7) Smithsonian March 2012: While I like the mid year redesign of this venerable magazine, the March issue literally leaped off the rack into my hands when I walked by. OK, the image is obvious when considering the name and background to this blog. But that is one heck of a great image. One great use of the skyline. And kudos to the art team for not cluttering the image with a lot of cover lines. They weren’t necessary.

As you can see, you can get off quicker if you're on the foredeck.
As you can see, you can get off quicker if you’re on the foredeck.

8) Boston Magazine February 2012: Does every city magazine feature a few food covers? Yes, they are ubiquitous, easily dismissible, often forgettable, frequently abused. But I think Boston Magazine nailed it last winter. Along with a very attractive cover image, we also get some great cover lines in the sky line and a large, simple, hard to pass by call out to the magazine’s main content.

Just don't eat out in Bean Town with any raging narcissists, OK?
Just don’t eat out in Bean Town with any raging narcissists, OK?

9) Mother Jones September 2012. This years crop of election oriented covers were catchy and clever. But Mother Jones squeaks by with a win with a clever take on the Statue of Liberty. Love the red boxing gloves. Love the snarky sonogram reference in the skyline.

Don't mess with Lady Liberty!
Don’t mess with Lady Liberty!

10) Mollie Makes Issue 19: The crafts section of many mainline racks are chock full of magazines that I, admittedly, pay little attention to. That’s a habit I need to break. This British import from Future places high in B&N’s ranking reports and in a recent trip to a local store, this one dropped into my hands. An unusual color, an interesting issue, a cover cut that grabbed my attention, it’s time an import made the list.

A good image and a cover cut makes the final cut for this import.
A good image and a cover cut makes the final cut for this import.

The cover image folder on my desktop is overflowing with display photos and captured cover grabs so later this week I will be publishing my list of the five “Runner Up” cover images for the year. Stay tuned to your Marconi for further details.

What are your choices for this years best covers?

Will Selena Gomez’ December Glamour Magazine Cover Be The Number One Cover of The Year?

Glamour Magazine finished up it’s run this year with a bright red cover featuring singer-actress Selena Gomez.

Was it worthy of making the top ten list for the Foredeck’s “Completely Biased, Highly Subjective and Unscientific List” of the  top ten magazine covers of 2012?

Come back on Wednesday and you’ll see.

Don't make the Beiber mad!
Don’t make the Beiber mad!
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