Thursday, September 23, 2010
The Oct/Nov 2010 issue of Canada’s History (formally The Beaver) hits newsstands on September 27th.   This will be the fourth issue since the venerable magazine re-branded.

This cover subscribes to the notion that when in doubt, commit to the main cover subject in a radically clear way.  No need to add hooks that will distract the newsstand browser from the main selling proposition.  The sky bar too, which often offers three additional reasons to buy, has been honed down to push just one story.

Rules in play on this issue:

Rule #12:  Use Bold Type
Rule #21: Use Numbers
Rule 24: Always ask:  What are we selling?

This cover demonstrates that we are selling a major milestone in military history in Canada…so why be shy about it?

Look for special POP displays at Chapters/Indigo, HDS and Presse Commerce locations.

The Oct/Nov cover of Canada's History
The Oct/Nov cover of Canada's History

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant business knows how fiercely competitive it is, and how fickle foodies can be with their affections and loyalties.  One day you are the flavour of the month, and the next you are out of business.  Just ask Gourmet.  So it goes with food covers.  Get it right, and the customers hungrily devour you.  Wallets emerge, open and disgorge themselves willingly and with joy.  Fail to impress, and you’ve got a stinking, rotting mess.

(Note:  Edible Manhattan is not ABC Audited)

ASME: Most Delicious
ASME: Most Delicious

Reality Check on Bon Appetit cover:
According to ABC statistics, the average sale for the Jul/Dec 2009 rate base period was 113,500 copies sold.  This nominated cover sold 82,000, or 28% worse than the overall average.  With so many excellent, high selling covers to choose from, leaving this stinker on the menu is perplexing.

Reality Check on Atlanta cover:
City magazines often do exceptionally well with food covers, even though food is not their single-minded editorial focus.  According to ABC statistics, this nominated cover sold 4,950 copies compared to the average of 4,502 for the Jan/Jun 2010 rate base period.  That’s a 10% lift.  Not bad, but not exactly a breath-taking gusher.

Reality Check on Saveur cover:
This really is an American classic.  Everything about this cover works.  White background.  Corner slash.  Great use of the real estate.  Clean and uncluttered.  Strong supporting sell lines.  According to ABC statistics this was the best-selling cover of the Jul/Dec 2009 rate base period.  It sold 48,429 copies compared to the average of 41,420, for a 17% lift.  That’s delicious indeed.

Reality Check on Texas Monthly cover:
Is there any doubt what is on the menu with this cover?  Burgers is as prominent as the logo for the Texas Monthly restaurant.  According to ABC statistics, this cover sold 41,591 copies, compared to the average for the Jul/Dec 2009 rate base period of 34,646.  That’s a 20% lift.  Not only was it the best-selling cover of the period, it was the best selling cover since May of 2008.  Now that is indeed mouth-watering.

Reality Check on Food & Wine cover:
According to ABC statistics, this elegant, refined and perfectly gorgeous cover sold 70,243 copies compared to the 53,911 average sold for the Jan/Jun 2010 period.  That’s a 30% lift in sales.  It was also the best-selling issue of Food & Wine since July of 2008.  The “beautiful science” is irrefutable.  This cover’s scrumptious recipe for success is totally, impossibly, irresistible.

Monday, September 20, 2010
The folks at Maclean’s are on fire.  The September 27th issue, featuring Bill Gates as the Cover Boy, hits stands in what they are calling a first-ever “landscape format.” Maclean’s partnered with General Motors of Canada as the exclusive advertising sponsor of this issue…making the editorial experience an uncluttered and seamless experience for magazine readers.  The ads feature a QR code for mobile device activation, another Canadian first according to Maclean’s press-release.

Jason Logan put it this way:

“It really was an interactive cover in the sense that you can’t help but pick it up and turn it. It was fun to work sideways while keeping the logo in its classic position.  We had to test to make sure it would stand up,  but I’ve noticed that some newsstands have it on its side which looks nice too. I have been playing with the apostrophe too (normally a maple leaf) in this case its an arrow symbolizing change and directing you to look at the magazine sideways.  Our own Andrew Tolson photographed Bill Gates for the cover.  Ken Whyte did the interview. Once people pick it up, I hope they check out the inside too, it actually feels really nice to read, pictures look great, somehow it just feels like a luxuriant format though its exactly the same size.  Kind of proof that this old industry still has room to play.”

Another fantastic cover from Jason Logan. This is the stuff that makes publishing sexy, fun and exciting. I can’t wait to see the newsstand sales on this fabulous cover.

The Maclean's Rethink issue
The Maclean's Rethink issue

Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Walrus has done a classic portrait cover for their October 2010 issue, and I love it.

The October 2010 issue of The Walrus
The October 2010 issue of The Walrus

The photo of Mordecai was taken by Andrew Stawicki.  The Walrus editor and co-publisher John Macfarlane says,  ”Sometimes the obvious approach is the best approach. An iconic black-and-white photograph of the author of Barney’s Version, Mordecai Richler, to sell the story, written by his son, Noah, about the making of the film. Simple, powerful, and — we hope — a winner at the newsstand.”

Asked what is the best thing about the cover feature, Macfarlane said, “The best thing about the story is the way it weaves Noah’s memories of his father into the narrative about the making of the film—and his observations about the interplay between Dustin Hoffman and the crew on the set.”

While Rule #11 has been broken…Rule #1 is what matters with this cover.

Rule #1:  There are always exceptions to the rules

Rule #11:  Colour over Black & White

My prediction?  This is a Cover that Sells

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I’ve always considered circulation management to be the “beautiful science.”

While the numbers never lie, the science is never pure.  The multi-layered variables of newsstand sales render it mysterious and therefore thrilling.  Like nature itself, covers have the power to generate breath-taking peaks (on a spread sheet) or gaping chasms.

Beautiful covers can do both.

So let’s examine the empirical data on the ASME nominations in the Science, Technology & Nature category.  Mount Everest or Death Valley?

ASME 2010 Best Cover Contest: Science, Technology & Nature
ASME 2010 Best Cover Contest: Science, Technology & Nature

Reality Check on New York cover:

Kiss a pig?  I’d rather not, thanks.  According to ABC statistics, this porker sold 13,319 copies, compared to an average sale for the Jul/Dec rate base period of 17,175…that’s 22% worse.  Of the 43 issues published in 2009, only 5 sold fewer copies, ranking it 38th of 43 that newsstand buyers “voted on” with their wallets.  Sick.

Reality Check on New Yorker cover:

According to ABC statistics, this cover sole 33,500 copies, compared to an average for the Jul/Dec 2009 period of 37,136…that’s 10% worse.  The best-selling cover in the rate base period for the New Yorker sold 55,000 copies…or 64% more.  The beautiful science is ruthlessly simple.  This cover represented a major sacrifice on the alter of art.

Reality Check on Outside cover:

This disturbing image may not be beautiful, but Outside’s audience sure loved it.  According to ABC statistics, it sold 68,066 copies compared to the average of 59,248 for the Jul/Dec 2009 period…that’s a 15% spike.  It’s also a 32% improvement from the same time slot in 2008.  Risk was rewarded.

Reality Check on National Geographic cover:

Not a majestic mountain. Not a verdant valley. This cover depends entirely on subject matter selection, a heavy commitment to bold typography, and a clean, less-is-more approach.  Radically clear.  Boldly executed.   According to ABC statistics this issue sold 204,984 compared to the average of 154,389…that’s a 33% improvement.  It was by far the best-seller of the Jan/Jun 2010 rate base period.   The beautiful science is crystal clear…this cover is a winner.

(Note:  The other two covers are not ABC audited)

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. If you have a great cover to share, please send all submissions to 

Note to readers: some of Bullock's posts may refer to his clients.
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Kelly says:
Any news on how it performed on newsstands?...
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