Wednesday, February 29, 2012
MagNet, the U.S.-based data provider, has just released their findings from wholesalers' records both in the U.S. and Canada.

The numbers are sobering, with one quite notable Canadian exception!

Click on the charts to enlarge them!

On the first chart, take note of the incredible results turned in by Rogers Publishing… up 14.4%… a praiseworthy accomplishment amidst a lot of red ink.  

Not only is it one of the few bright spots, it is a huge increase at a time when so many others are posting equally large negatives.

The second chart looks pretty grim, showing sales by retail class of trade, combining U.S. and Canada.

The third chart shows that Canada is doing better than the U.S., although sales are still down.  If your sales are flat, or up, you should feel pretty good, given current market conditions.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
In the U.S., the celebirty category is suffering a slide in newsstand sales. Here in Canada, it looks like our most celebrated stars are selling quite nicely, thank you very much.

The category had so many great covers, it was hard to limit myself to just two choices. You can vote on your fave cover below by clicking here.

The launch of SportsNet magazine was arguably the biggest newsstand story of 2011… a very gutsy move. So we tip our cap to Sportsnet for giving us this cover, which played to our national pride, in repatriating the Jets to Winnipeg.  The cover debuted on October 17, 2011.

The Hockey News published this fabulous Draft Preview Special.  It sold 15 percent better than the prior year’s edition. Plus efficiency improved by 5 pts.

The Hockey News also published the Best Players of All Time Special (see original prediction from Cover of the Week  

This issue is the best-selling SIP ever published by The Hockey News, and outsold last year’s special in this same time slot by 39 percent. Plus, the sell-through improved by 15 pts. An incredible result. Great One indeed.

And while there is no way of knowing how The Year In Sports SIP from SportsNet (it went on sale in December of 2011, at a $9.95 cover price) will pan out, I certainly love the cover treatmeant, and predict that it will score magnificantly as well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
This link provides a rare insight into how covers are developed at Newsweek magazine, by the legendary editor, Tina Brown.  It is both entertaining and enlightening.

As you might expect, the magazine goes to great lengths to come up with cover images that will help sell copies.  Anywhere from 10 to 20 conceptual cover treatments are produced every week, in order to find the one gem that might work.  In addition to the volume of options, what is also curious is just how radically different the options can be, from photos, to illustrations, from type heavy, to positively shocking.

“Every week we produce anywhere from 10-20 different cover ideas until we settle on what works best or as the story develops, so at the end of each week we wind up with a proverbial wastebasket full of scrapped concepts,” creative director Dirk Barnett writes. “The week’s cover, ‘The Politics of Sex,’ is a perfect example to kick this off.”

Here is the cover that they went with:

And here are a few of the more radical ideas that were rejected:

Vote on a cover here

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The December 2011 ABC FasFax report is out, and the statistics don’t look good for U.S. Magazines at the newsstand.

According to an article in Audience Development…

…single copy sales were down 10% compared to the same period last year.  Some of the more notable declines featured in this link include:

  • Oprah…down 32%
  • Taste of Home… down 29%
  • Martha Stewart Living…down 17%
  • Fortune…down 17%
  • Economist…down 13%

A quick scan of the Fas Fax Report also reveals a staggering list of losses for many top U.S. brands (stop reading now if you are easily horrified):

  • American Photo -33%
  • Better Hones & Gardens  -12%
  • Boston -22%
  • Brides -26%
  • Chicago  -19%
  • Cosmoploitan -7%
  • Discover -20%
  • Ebony -18%
  • Elle -18%
  • ESPN -39%
  • Esquire -17%
  • Field & Stream -8%
  • Fine Cooking -14%
  • Fine Gardening -5%
  • Fine Woodworking -17%
  • Fly Fisherman -21%
  • Four Wheeler -7%
  • Glamour -10%
  • Golf Digest -11%
  • Good Housekeeping -15%
  • GQ -14%
  • Harper’s -28%
  • In Style -14%
  • More -18%
  • OK -28%
  • Parenting -19%
  • Parents -18%
  • Philadelphia -15%
  • Redbook -20%
  • Road & Track -16%
  • RollingStone -18%
  • Sail -21%
  • Saling World -19%
  • Scientific American -16%
  • Shape -30%
  • Ski -29%
  • Sky & Telescope  -13%
  • Texas Monthly -12%
  • US Weekly -10%
  • Vanity Fair -20%
  • Wired -31%

Here in Canada, the news is more positive. Overall, single copy sales are down a smidge over 4% on ABC-audited titles…much better than the average 10% loss reported in the U.S.

Notable Canadian brands posting significant gains include:

  • BC Outdoors Sport Fishing +43%
  • Bel Age +30%
  • Best Health +21%
  • Canada’s History +11%
  • Chatelaine +32%
  • Cool +21%
  • Elle Canada +38%
  • Flare +13%
  • Hockey News +4%
  • L’Actualite +47%
  • Lou Lou +15%
  • Maclean’s +77%
  • Our Canada +13%
  • Today’s Parent +6%

On the flip side some notable brands posting declining newsstand sales included:

  • 7 Jours -22%
  • Canadian Art -33%
  • Canadian Business -22%
  • Canadian Gardening -16%
  • Canadian Geographic -27%
  • Chez Soi -38%
  • Clin D’Oeil -37%
  • Fashion -14%
  • Les Idees De Ma Maison -26%
  • Le Lundi -18%
  • Les Affaires -15%
  • Moi & Cie -15%
  • Money Sense -31%
  • More -23%
  • Pacific Yachting -14%
  • Renovation Bricolage -18%
  • Toronto Life -16%

Keep in mind that many magazines, both here and in the U.S., did post gains with SIP’s, which helps offset some of these numbers.  Also, some titles had outstanding sales in the same period of the prior year, which makes it tougher to repeat.

Friday, February 10, 2012
The March 2012 cover of Zoomer is a major departure from their more traditional “celebrity” focused formula.

Marisa Latini, circulation director, says, “The subject of our March issue cover is a departure for us, be we think well worth the risk. Since the beginning we have always shown a ‘Zoomer’ on our cover, either a man or woman. For this issue, our 3rd annual money issue, we decided to push our theme in a direct way with this bold cover treatment.  Also new for the issue is the fact that that there are three consecutive covers. Each features a beautful coin from the Royal Canadian Mint.”

I love it when publishers have the courage to test a new approach.  The timing couldn’t be better, with the Fed now floating trial balloons about changes to Old Age Security. 

Sunday, February 05, 2012
The Sep/Oct 2011 issue of MoneySense magazine paid a big dividend at the newsstand.

This issue sold 40% better than the same issue last year, and efficiency improved by over 11pts… double bonus! A clean white background, bold type treatment, strong skybar approach, and a custom gate-fold cover that opened right down the middle are all praiseworthy.

The July 18th 2011 issue of Canadian Business proves that having fun with your cover can pay off too.

This issue sold 34% better than the same issue last year. Again, a bright white cover and strong type treatment are noteworthy. Most importantly, admist all the doom and gloom, Canadian Business opted to provide a fun, positive spin on how to invest and “Retire Happy.”

Click here to vote for your favourite cover below.



Sunday, February 05, 2012
The Apr/May issue of Canadian Woodworking cut through the clutter on newsstands.

This issue was their top seller in 2011, and it outsold the same issue from prior year by 120%.

Great use of the skybar area. Smart use of the left-hand real estate. But most importantly, the subject matter of working in a SMALL SHOP resonated with their audience. Loaded with practical advice, this benefit-oriented “themed” issue is a winner.

The Nov/Dec 2011 issue of SkyNews magazine, while not yet final, is poised to be their best-selling issue ever! And by a wide margin… 50% better than their previous best. The issue is forecast to outsell last year’s Nov/Dec issue by 238%.   See more from Cover of The Week.

Proving that black covers can sell, this issue used bold type to signal to readers “pay attention, something special here.” Offering the FREE Full-Size Astronomy Calendar was a nice bonus too.

Click here to vote for your favourite cover below.



Sunday, February 05, 2012
Inside Fitness magazine’s Jun/Jul 2011 issue was a record breaker.

Sales increased 85% over the same time slot last year. Georges St. Pierre is to Inside Fitness as Johnny Depp is to Esquire. Great use of the left-hand real estate. Their “biggest issue ever!” editorially translated into their biggest sale ever at newsstands!

The Mar/Apr 2011 issue of Canadian Running was the second-best seller ever in its history.

This cover sold 74% over the same time slot from the previous year. Fabulous use of the sky bar area. Bright white cover. Lots of benefit-oriented selling hooks. But most importantly, the Half Marathon subject matter clearly connected with the audience. Packed with service journalisim and expert advice, this issue was a winner.

Click here to vote for your favourite cover below.



Sunday, February 05, 2012
These two covers from Maclean’s stood out for a host of reasons for Great Canadian Covers 2011 (Political).

The May 16th issue was the “biggest news issue ever” in Maclean’s long and storied history covering Canadian politics. The issue arguably forecast  Stephen Harper finally achieiving a majority government, and of the stunning collapse of the Liberal’s under the leadership of Michael Ignatief, and the rise of the NDP to our government in waiting.

The issue featured a $6.95 cover price… a $1 or 17% premium. Sales of this editorial-rich issue were up by 207% from the same time slot from 2010, and with the $1 premium, a 258% lift in newsstand dollars.

The September 12th, 2011 issue of Maclean’s, featuring a triumphant Jack Layton, is a cover that will stand the test of time. Looking at it today, knowing what we now know about Jack Layton’s terminal cancer, the joy in his face is positively heroic and the cover captures the spirit of the man that endures.

The “Special Tribute” issue is elegant, sophisticated, and inspirational.  Sales of this issue were up 65% from the same time slot the previous year.  It too featured a $6.95 cover price, a $1 premium over the normal price, thus lifiting newsstand revenues by 94%.

See additional information on Cover of the Week.

Please Vote for Your Winner Below: click here



Friday, February 03, 2012
Concrete Wave, a skateboard magazine, published in Canada, has come out with a fabulous cover…actually a series of 4 covers…to stoke the interest and imagination of its readers.

Liberated from the rigours of newsstand rules, the publisher is just having fun with covers. And their audience, who shop at exclusive skateboard shops all over North America, appear to be lapping it up. Brooke claims that his skateshops report a 100% pick up rate, and are clamouring for more copies.  Sounds a little like the “problem” that LCBO’s Food & Drink covers enjoy.

Publisher Michael Brooke appears to be having a lot of fun (see YouTube video) as he continues to publish an incredibly successful magazine. Brooke and co-publisher Rick Tetz recently launched trade mag AXS Longboard Retailer.

Concrete Wave’s tag line is one of the best I have seen in quite a long time:  

Search, spark, stoke

Now, check out the covers below...

About Me
Scott Bullock

Scott Bullock is the the creator of Bullock has worked as circulation director for both consumer and B2B magazines including Toronto Life and FASHION.

Note to readers: some of Bullock's posts may refer to his clients.
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