Let’s all say it together: Thank God 2009 is finally over. I for one am very pleased to see it go. Although circ was not necessarily decimated by the economic downturn, having to shoulder the financial burden of advertising shortfalls and struggling with decreased returns meant that most circulators enjoyed the winter break a little more than usual. Maybe 2010 is the year that our battered industry bounces back. Fingers crossed, folks.
2009 made the “magical science” of winning covers more important than ever. Those who create concepts, write cover lines, and choose images constantly walk a fine line between crass and classy (or maybe some of us are just crass, full stop). Sometimes these are bloody inter-departmental battles, with art, editorial, and marketing all wanting completely separate things.
What goes on the cover can sometimes be the biggest single risk for a mag, and one bad move can create a huge financial hole that mangles cash flow. While a winning cover is not necessarily a make or break issue for smaller circ mags, newsstand numbers rule for big circ. And sometimes a controversial, crass, or even offensive cover can actually spell a big marketing buzz win for a mag.
Take for example the Twitter uproar over Publisher’s Weekly's “Afro Picks!”
cover. From Folio:
“For its December 14 issue cover, the Reed Business Information title used a photo entitled “Pickin’,” shot by photographer Lauren Kelly for a new book by Deborah Willis called, "Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present." …The cover caused a firestorm on Twitter. Publishers Weekly senior editor Calvin Reid, who is African-American, chimed in over the magazine’s feed, claiming he and the magazine’s creative director chose the cover photo and wrote the cover line.”
Only time will tell if the controversial cover will do well on the newsstands, but the bold (bad?) move certainly did reign in the kind of coverage impossible to garner from a standard cover alone. The real question is whether it's worth going that far to sell what's inside.
As for crass covers that I love? This one has got to be my personal recent favourite
Final newsstand circ thought for the week? Momentary controversy as US-bound air travelers can’t bring their own magazines on planes, but can buy them in the airport once they’ve gone through security
. Win? Loss? Totally absurd? Discuss.