If I Could, I’d Read it in the Sunday Papers

Editor’s Note: Here’s another post that’s been sitting in my edit que waiting for some buffing and the “publish” button to be pressed. Some recent experiences in the past week in the electronics department brought home the message that it was still relevant.

The phone rang and for a change, I was able to pick it up and plug in the headset before Vonage tossed the call over to voice mail.

“Joe,” my client said breathlessly, “Really bad news.”

“Ruh roh”, I thought. Wait for it….

“What’s going on?” I asked, wishing I had dropped the receiver, plugged the headset into the wrong phone, or simply let the phone answer itself.

“The printer called. The press broke down. We’re going to miss our print date. Maybe by a week or more!”

“They can’t move you to another press? Don’t they have something like twenty five locations around the country?” I asked while mentally figuring out how many wholesalers I needed to call, how many promotional programs I could reschedule without being fined. How this would impact sales four and five issues down the line.

“They’re all booked. We’re stuck.”

Silence. Then…

“I’m kidding. Relax, we just went to the bindery. We’re fine. It looks great.”

Oh, those publishers. They are such kidders.

And I used to be much taller.

Two days later I walked out to the curb to pick up the Sunday paper. The Sunday Trib was also waiting for me on my iPad and there are times when I find myself doing double duty with both the print and digital editions. During election season, I often went to the iPad first, but not for the Tribune. Sometimes I have serious disagreements with the folks on the editorial page. Replacing the iPad would cost some serious money. On the other hand, if I decide to toss those editors into the rubish (or worse), the act is not all that violent and costs me less than a buck.

But this week, there was some serious mis-printing (As you can see below) on my Sunday paper.

Of course this also happens in the magazine world too. Last month one of my clients sent me some sample polybagged copies. My samples came with the front cover placed upside down so the UPC code was hiding behind the black on white headliner on the polybag (Thus hiding the UPC code and preventing it from scanning).

Fortunately, that error seemed to only involve my copies. No wholesalers or retailers were harmed in the shipment of copies. So it was all good.

Which leads me to the following: In the past few weeks, my iPad has occasionally crashed while browsing in Safari. There’s a bounty of helpful forums about what to do on Google and on the Apple site. Fortunately the iPad is not the only way I go on line. Otherwise, we’d have some issues, wouldn’t we?

At the same time, a few settings somehow “changed” either in my anti-virus program or on my firewall on my relatively new and recently upgraded iMac. So getting to Google from my iMac is a challenge until I straighten that out. Maybe something to do with that software “upgrade”.

My Andoird powered smart phone just celebrated it’s 13 month birthday and like the smart phones before it, I am finding it’s software getting decidedly glitchy and the hardware shows signs of age despite the best efforts to be gentle with it. While the reviews of the phone called it “slick’, “durable”, “rugged”, and “well equipped to go the long haul”, well, all of the reviews were written 18 months ago when it first came out. The phone was brand new to the reviewers. What would they think now?

Let’s not even talk about the aging laptop that sits forlornly at the end of my desk. It used to proudly go almost everywhere with me. Now, not so much. The App store just told me that an upgrade wouldn’t work on my dusty old processor. Does it feel embarrassment?

The point is, digital media is still all about the tech. And the tech can be glitchy.

When this happens:


It’s not such a big deal. Because you can deal. Inconvenient, yes. But it’s not a lot of change out of your pocket.

When this happens:

Safari Crash

Well, guess you won’t read that article for awhile huh? Better hope your investment is still under warranty.

Just to reiterate. I’m not a Luddite. I don’t want to go back to the bad old days. Digital is part of the way forward. But we’ve got a long way to go.

Things Placed in Front Of The Magazine Rack: Part 4 of…

For those of you who are paying attention, the correct title for this post should actually be “Things Placed in the Book A Zine Pocket”. But let’s not quibble.

This submission is from Mark White, the head of Specialty Marketing at US News and World Report.

On the plus side, texting and college goes together like chocolate and peanut butter.

Over the years, I’ve come across everything from empty candy wrappers to unopened cans of pop and discarded prepackaged seedless grapes in the mainline pockets. So while not shocking, this find certainly is amusing.

Don’t forget to keep sending in your photos of “Things Placed in Front of The Magazine Rack.” And while you’re at it, please follow this link to printbuyersinternational.com and check out the recap of Mark’s presentation at the Publishing Business Conference and Expo in New York last month where he discussed how US News broke the “11 Unwritten Rules” of Book A Zine publishing. It’s well worth the side trip.

Who knew our industry was so big on oral tradition?

Things Placed In Front of The Magazine Rack: Part 2 of…. (And One More Thing)

If I were a more fair minded person, I’d stop picking on this particular retailer. But this week, I was presented with a trifecta of bad. Perhaps even St. Thomas Aquinas would have had trouble holding back.

Hope you weren't counting on selling anything out of that tower.
Chocolate and magazines surely go together. But is this the best way?
Seriously? A buyer spent corporate money for green colored beach balls? And "they" write snarky editorials about the newsstand business?

I can be fair though. It’s my understanding that certain union rules keep the local wholesaler’s merchandiser from setting up the store. For those of us in the business who would then counter with, “Well, why doesn’t the route manager go in and work with the store merchandiser and manager”? Good question. My guess is that that has happened. Probably a few times.

In keeping with this week’s calendar, there’s only so much even St. Jude can do.

In other news:

I was hopeful last week that we were going to evade the latest round of ABC Audit reports with minimal breathless reporting on the certain demise of newsstand industry. Clearly, I had been spending too much time on the port side of the foredeck admiring the waves.

Audience Development Magazine published a column from former Ziff Davis VP of Circulation, Baird Davis that suggests that “the newsstand is nearing endangered species status”!

Still? Aren’t we dead yet?

Of course, this was picked up and distributed by Bo Sacks.

Davis does point out many disturbing trends in the latest round of ABC numbers. And it is helpful to have that staring at you in black and white. But for those of us who work on the front lines, it’s nothing new. We already knew, and the people we report to already know, and the people we work with in all avenues and all channels of the marketplace are aware.

Which doesn’t mean he shouldn’t or can’t report on what he reports on. It’s just that there’s little here that is new or helpful.

Like many people who have reported on it, Davis suggests that the recent purchase of Comag, the formerly joint national distribution venture of Hearst and Conde Nast by national magazine wholesaler, The News Group could be a positive thing. He and others have suggested that it may bridge the divides in our business and lead to better channel cooperation. Maybe between News Group and Comag. But I have yet to hear a serious explanation of how this will solve our industry problems.

Publisher’s consultant Linda Ruth, also an Audience Development Magazine columnist makes a more interesting and perhaps correct assertion that “on one level we have a massive paradigm shift here, on another it’s business as usual.”

The article wraps up with a call to our industry leaders, especially the largest publishers such as Conde Nast, Hearst, Time/Warner and others, to work together to solve the “dangerously viral” condition of the newsstand industry.

OK. How?

I must confess that I often make this clarion call myself. While I am alone in my office. With the dog out of earshot. And then I come to a “Full Stop”.

How do we get the major circulation directors of the major publishers into a room to decide the fate of a  multi billion dollar industry? Moreover, do they have the right to determine the fate for all of the participants in that industry? Can I be assured that the end result will be fair to the smaller, frequently still profitable players in the business?

“Full Stop”

On the other hand, please remove your chocolate bunny dump bin from Aisle 3. Thank you. Oh, and take those green beach balls with you too.

More Fun on the Mainline: So What is The Best Gift?

This one was completely irresistible:

So what is the best possible high end gift you can give this season? And if you're an aficionado of "High Times" are you really going to be concerned with the time?

Frankly, those are some pretty good covers. And as I’ve pointed out in the past,   the merchandiser at this Barnes & Noble is either a very clever merchandising genius, or the recipient of some remarkable serendipity.

I’ll choose genius.

Ideally you always want to display magazines by the appropriate category. But sometimes I think you also need to have a little fun.

Have you seen a display recently that brought you to a full stop and made you turn around? Send me a picture and I’ll post it for you here.

Now back to work!

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