Canadian Magazine Industry News
14 July 2010,     TORONTO
Canadian Society of Magazine Editors hosts cover boot camp
Aimed at helping magazines boost the effectiveness of their covers, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors recently hosted a Cover Buster Boot Camp, or Judging a Book by its Cover.

The Toronto event featured Impressa Communications president, Ryerson journalism instructor and Canadian Magazines blog writer D.B. Scott speaking to the editorial crowd on how to improve the key to a magazine being picked up on the newsstand, the cover.

First off no one gets anywhere by playing it safe with covers, said Scott. He noted People magazine’s founding editor Richard Stolley’s laws for covers:

-Young is better than old
-Pretty is better than ugly
-Movies are better than television
-Movies and television are better than music
-Movies, television and music are better than sports
-Anything is better than politics
-Nothing is better than the celebrity dead.

Scott said Stolley added the final rule after not understanding the appeal when Elvis died. He said he did not make the same mistake when John Lennon was murdered, which remained People’s best-selling cover until Princess Diana died.

Other key points stressed to up the ante for your magazine cover included:

-Use contrast: light and dark, big and small
-Use symmetry
-Keep it consistent: readers will recognize style
-Have a strong central image
-Keep it fun, informative and moving
-Use big, bold type
-Use key words
-Use attention grabbing devices: slashes, spots
-Use numbers
-Remember the six-foot rule: if you can’t read the cover lines from six feet away something is wrong
-Covers must evolve: any cover looks dated two to three years after being published

Rules, however were made to be broken noted Scott. Things making for an unsuccessful cover include:

-Being too depressing
-Too clever/subtle
-Too cluttured/confusing/silly

Scott said women’s service magazines are especially guilty of the last point, all using so much on the cover that it is barely possible to tell the difference between any of the titles.

For more information on the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, visit

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