Category "Magazines"

D-Day For Tablet Freaks

- - Magazines, The Future

UPDATE: iPad

Picture 2

Everyone in the media industry will be waiting with baited breath as Apple unveils its tablet computer today (live here at 10am PST)

Will the Apple tablet save publishing? No.

It will force them to get off their collective duffs and start investing in defending their brand digitally, but just like the music industry the business model–where you’re forced to buy a bunch of crap to get at the one thing you want–is broken. I’ve long predicted a bright shiny future for people who deal in photography and the tablet is one more device where things shouting for our attention will require creative geniuses to give us arresting imagery.

Designer Joe Zeff has this to say (here):

Watch closely as newspaper and magazine publishers bet their last nickels — not an exaggeration, in some cases — on this new medium. It provides the 50-somethings who run these companies a chance to captivate subscribers and advertisers by returning to their roots — producing and selling the terrific newspapers and magazines that made these brands valuable in the first place. But even better than the original, with up-to-the-minute content that can be individualized for every reader — and advertiser. Happy days are here again, along with the ubiquity, relevance and brand loyalty that has been absent from the publishing world for the past 15 years.

Jason Kincaid over on TechCrunch (here) describes how a tablet will change the way we consume media and a big part of that consumption will be in rich media where text, graphics, audio, video and photography combine to immerse users in a story telling experience.

I for one am looking forward to getting rid of the piles of magazines, browsing an endless newsstand of titles and buying well written, well photographed and well designed stories to read.

I.D.’s Executioners

- - Magazines

“On each occasion, I was politely told that the typical buyer of advertising space lacked the time and intelligence to grasp complicated ideas such as I had just presented. Nor in six years was any notable investment made in a dedicated sales staff, reader research or web development for I.D.”

“Imagine going to a hospital and learning from the person holding the scalpel that he really doesn’t see a difference between your hand and your foot; after all, an appendage is an appendage, and a sock can be pulled over any of them.”

Read more (here) via, Magtastic Blogsplosion

Predictions for 2010

Folio Magazine has their annual Magazine and Media Predictions for 2010 (here) and there are a few choice quotes I’ve highlighted below. I’ve got a few of my own predictions:

Slightly down is the new up.

We will see fire sale buyouts (a la Business Week) of a few big titles rather than shuttering (a la Gourmet).

More photographers will get into the workshop, book writing and teaching side of the photography business. This is proving by all appearances to be super lucrative, but will get very crowded and competitive as people with an impressive oeuvre enter the market.

Photographers who market with ideas and innovation will be snapped up by marketers who need fresh ideas and innovation.

Product photography will heat up as companies realize products online need great photography to convert online shoppers into buyers.

Local markets will go red hot as local online markets get competitive and companies that normally needed no photos for a yellowpage ad now need lots of photography for a nice looking website.

Video goes nuclear, because nothing is commissioned anymore without video and hey, “doesn’t that camera shoot video too.”

Web 2.0 ideas will give way to Web 3.0 which is fundamentally the joining of content with social tools.

–Jim Spanfeller, president and CEO, The Spanfeller Group (formerly CEO of Forbes.com)

Staff sizes will rebound as managers realize that staffs designed for print can’t do print and a whole host of new initiatives on top of that, at least not effectively.

–Tony Silber, general manager, FOLIO: and Audience Development

Only one or two magazines for most major vertical markets will survive.

There will be many changes at the top of editorial mastheads with more e-community management skills supplementing traditional journalistic skills for the winners.

Print will become richer, better paper will be used, graphics will improve, quality of content will improve and distribution/circulation numbers will drop.

–Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence

One hopeful breakthrough: the four color e-reader. It will be really helpful. Some of the big publications will probably get a few hundred thousand digital e-reader subscribers paying anywhere from $10 to $50. This will bring in anywhere from $3 million to $15 million in subscriber revenue. Unfortunately, some of those same magazines have seen their ad revs drop by $100 million. Get the picture.

–Keith Kelly, “Media Ink” columnist, New York Post

Plenty more to see (here).

Men’s Health Caught Recycling Coverlines

- - Magazines

Mediaite picked up a story that Perez Hilton ran about Men’s Health using the same coverlines from 3 years ago (here) on their December issue and they have a quote from Zinczenko defending the practice.

Most magazines recycle coverlines. Maybe there’s a little rewording or maybe they just lift one off an old cover, but it’s not unusual to refer to a cover book for inspiration when writing lines. I’ve heard that Time Inc. has a book where words, colors and cover subjects have sales numbers attached to them (that’s why you see so many Jesus covers on Time) for further insight into how things will perform on the newsstand.

The problem is not the recycled coverlines, it’s the recycled content. There are only a limited number of ways you can say the same thing over and over again and magazines keep reaching for the same high performing content to keep the ship afloat a little bit longer. For a magazine like Men’s Health they actually create content specifically for the newsstand and in many cases it’s fluff so they can write a line that contains the magic words “sex, abs, best body, ultimate….” Rodale is notorious for fluffy coverlines that have very little payoff inside (not to mention fake numbers). I think we’re all very aware by now that magazines are digging their own grave.

mens-health-covers

George Lois Rips Today’s Magazines A New One

In a interview with Blackbook (here) George Lois doesn’t pull any punches on the state of magazine design today. I was at the SPD awards ceremony when he received a lifetime achievement award of sorts and remember getting so charged up after listening to him talk and watching a video Fred Woodward shot. Of course once back to reality, in an office filled with editors who wanted to cram information in every nook and cranny of the magazine that energy soon drained out. I can’t wait for magazines to stop trying to become websites and go back to being magazines again. George agrees:

“Magazine design is almost an oxymoron with most magazines today. It goes for even a great magazine like Vanity Fair. If you get even one inch of white space to breath you’re lucky. Everybody’s just packing in the information. Most magazines you pick up — you choke to death.”

“They say, ‘People buy magazines to read, for information.’ Well, you buy a magazine not only for that but so you can have exciting visual experiences. They try to jam words and pictures on every square-inch of the page like they’re working on a Web site.”

“Look at Vogue. Oh my God. Vogue and Harper’s once were very well designed magazines. I mean they were exciting to look at. You could not give a shit about fashion and be excited by the whole look of the magazine. You look at Vogue now: it’s not even designed. What a difference. You pick up a Vogue back in the days of [Condé Nast’s Alexander] Lieberman and those guys, and you look at it now, and it’s a disgrace.”

“Very few magazines do you look through — and I’m not talking as a designer, I’m talking as a normal person — do you look through something and you open a spread and it takes your breath away a little bit…

“I know, you’re pressured by your editor. If not the editor, the publisher: ‘Look at all this wasted space here.’ Blah, blah, blah. ‘Your readers want information.’

“Well, oh shit. Go fuck yourself.

“Meanwhile you go to a newstand, there’s about 200 magazines that all look the same. They got pictures of somebody — some asshole — I’ll never understand how editors and publishers think — showing just a famous person with blurbs all over their face. I’ll never understand why they think that would be something people would want to buy. I don’t get it.

“It’s a joke. A couple of years all the editors and publishers [at ASME] invited me to come down and kick their asses about covers. I go down. Standing ovation. ‘Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!’ Nothing changed. It’s all bullshit.”

National Geographic Adventure Calls It Quits

- - Magazines

Story here: http://www.theadventurelife.org/

It’s not huge news that a magazine just folded but a big deal in my universe since I worked for Outside and Men’s Journal.

All magazine categories are simply too crowded for the number of readers and advertisers available. Men’s Journal was started when Jann couldn’t buy Outside back from Larry Burke. Jann sold it to him when he moved Rolling Stone to New York because he couldn’t afford to keep both magazines afloat in the change of venues. After selling it, the outdoor category started to heat up. Mostly with companies that wanted to be associated with the rugged lifestyle. The advertising they bought was mostly as positioning. When National Geographic launched Adventure in 1999 the outdoor lifestyle category has peaked and was on its way down. I suspect Adventure was more of a reaction to National Geographic shedding millions of readers during the rise of the MTV generation than anything else. That and the average age of their readers made them think they needed to develop another product to attract new, young readers. So, this is all just the natural progression of it all as the category has 1 and a half magazines in it now because Men’s Journal has gone on to position itself as more of a mainstream men’s magazine with outdoor influences.

Murdoch Buying PDN?

- - Magazines

Financial times is reporting that Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan is closing in on a joint offer for a group of trade magazines owned by Nielsen Business Media (here). There’s no telling if PDN will be a part of the sale but the story goes on to say that Nielson would like to shed the print publications because “investor focus on its exposure to declining print advertising revenues could impede a successful IPO.”

I don’t know how far from the tree this apple fell, but if Lachlan is anything like his father he will be happy to find out PDN still has pay walls in place and still charges a premium for subscriptions. If anyone is poised to weather the storm it’s niche publications like this. Everyone seems to be talking now about jacking up subscription prices and installing pay walls as a way to remain insolvent and magazines like PDN suddenly seem ahead of the curve since they never bothered to chase numbers by dropping those revenue streams and relying purely on advertising. Much to the chagrin of photographers who dislike all the contests aimed at them I do think the business model for magazines includes a healthy revenue stream off your readers. In the last 10 years most magazines have taken a loss in that department in favor of inflated numbers to present to advertisers. Those days are over. My only advice for publications looking to embrace/monetize their readers is to drop the smugness.

Last Days of Gourmet

- - Magazines

Kevin DeMaria, former Art Director at Gourmet Magazine took photographs of his final days at the magazine (here).

lastdaysofgourmet

I almost wrote a piece not too long ago about food magazines because I’d unsubscribed to Gourmet but then discovered that having access to millions of recipes online is really a pain in the ass and what you need is an editor and some beautiful photographs to get your mouth watering so I resubscribed. Too bad Si killed it off. I hope they bring it back someday.

via, Will Steacy Blog

Economist Brings The Newsstand To Your House

- - Magazines

“The Economist has launched a single copy subscription service in the U.K. that allows readers to order just one copy of the magazine for home delivery the next day. Readers can place an order online or via text message for a copy of the latest issue of the weekly publication. The cost of the delivered magazine is the same as the newsstand price.”

via MediaPost.

Seriously, American magazines (Anne Moore!?), wake the-f up. If that’s not enough, subscribers can listen to the latest issue on their ipod (the Economist read out aloud word for word by four or five posh sounding British newscasters). What the hell? I just subscribed to a magazine and was told it would take 4 – 6 weeks for the first issue to arrive.

The Gilded Age of Conde Nast Is Over

- - Magazines

Ah bummer the perks at Condé are over. I used to love a good client lunch or wrap dinner. I suppose the thousand dollar sushi wrap dinner is out the window now.

…It used to be that on Monday mornings, the flower deliverymen would clog the elevators while they brought fresh bouquets for editors’ and publishers’ desks.

…“When a client wanted to go to get Japanese, you used to say, ‘Ooooh! We’ll go to Nobu!’ But it’s so outrageously expensive, now you have to think twice.”

…they would order takeout from Balthazar several times a week. Sandwiches, cheese plates, the works

…“I just found out today that we are on our last batch of Poland Spring,” said the source. “We won’t have any more after this. We have to start drinking tap water.”

via  The New York Observer.

Vibe Magazine To Relaunch

- - Magazines

A group led by the private-equity firm InterMedia Partners and InterMedia’s luxury magazine publisher, Uptown Media, has reached an agreement to acquire Vibe and its Web site. The new owners say they plan to relaunch Vibe.com in the next few weeks.

They intend to bring out the print edition only at the end of the year and then publish it quarterly rather than monthly, possibly increasing the frequency after 2010.

via- WSJ.com.

A Place To Rate, Comment On and Share Magazine Stories

- - Magazines

I think that magazines need to spend more time and effort on the distribution problem. The less time people spend around newsstands and the less there are of them means that they need to seek alternate ways to allow consumers to browse and buy a single copy of a magazine. Also, the inefficiency of shipping magazines all around the country in hopes that someone will pick one up seems like a place where you can save some cash as opposed to say, cutting your contributors fees. Maggwire is a new site where you can view magazine stories (from their websites) by topic and vote, comment on and share them. I like the idea of an aggregator that only deals in magazine content. Looks like a winner to me.

magwire

via, Mr. Magazine.

How Is It That The Economist Is Not Only Surviving, But Thriving?

- - Magazines

The Atlantic has an excellent story (here) on retooling the newsweeklies to compete in the internet economy.

In the digital age, with its overabundance of information, the modern newsweekly is in a particularly poignant position. Designed nearly a century ago to be all things to all people, it Chaplin-esquely tries to straddle thousands of rapidly fragmenting micro-niches, a mainframe in an iTouch world. The audience it was created to serve—middlebrow; curious, but not too curious; engaged, but only to a point—no longer exists. Newsweeklies were intended to be counterprogramming to newspapers, back when we were drowning in newsprint and needed a digest to redact that vast inflow of dead-tree objectivity. Now, in response to accelerating news cycles, the newspapers have effectively become newsweekly-style digests themselves, resorting to muddy “news analysis” now that the actual news has hit us on multiple platforms before we even open our front door in the morning.

Bottom line here is that advertising used to be sold on a “hits” basis, but now that hits are practically worthless (blame the ease at which juvenile humor, celebrities drinking starbucks and vitriol can produce millions of hits) it’s engagement and finding or slashing circulation down to an audience that is passionate about the product you produce. This also means they can start discarding all the junk they put in the magazines that caters to a more general interest crowd. Sounds good to me.

Writers And Editors Battle It Out Online

- - Magazines

Did you know that writer Dan Baum once turned down $90,000 to write a 30,000 word story for Rolling Stone to instead take a contract with The New Yorker where he wrote 30,000 words a year for that same $90,000. The contract was up each year and after 3 short years Editor David Remnick called to say it would not be renewed. Dan thinks this has less to do with his skills as a writer and more to do with good old fashioned office politics. Dan didn’t work in the New Yorker office, where he discovered they whisper all the time in his several times a year office visits from his home in Boulder, CO, but he failed to integrate himself into the culture that is the New Yorker and blames his demise on that sad reality of magazine life.

You can read the fascinating “inside baseball” account of writing for the New Yorker (here). It was first published as a series of tweets over a week ago and seems to break some kind of code of silence that surrounds the publication. They don’t publish a masthead after all.

Even more interesting and certainly educational for photographers will be his list of successful story pitches (here). Photographers have great stories all the time but I’ve rarely seen a passable pitch from one, so most of the time if I really wanted to get something made I would write the pitch myself. As a side note it’s even worse when photographers take their excellent ideas and give it to a writer who’s not qualified to write for the publication.

Wired, another Condé magazine was written up Sunday in the NYTimes (here), because they have the dubious of being both award winning and advertising losing. I was pointed to this discussion over on Boing Boing Gadgets (here) by Scott Bauer where a former wired.com editor uses that story to take a few digs at the print magazine and then a whole bunch of writers chime in on the comments. EIC Chris Anderson even drops a couple comments one in particular where he attributes the problems between online and print at wired to Condé HQ decisions. More “inside baseball” but interesting nonetheless.

SPD Photography Award Nominees Online Now

- - Magazines

I love seeing incredible photography in a well designed page. In the end the design can make or break the impact of the photography. There’s some great designers out there but it usually comes down to whether or not the editor will let them do their thing.

You can see some of the photography nominees for the SPD awards on their grids blog and I think they will put a few more up next week so check back:

Service Feature, Story

Section, Series of Pages

Section, Single Page or Spread

Trade/Corporate

Educational/Institutional

Service Feature, Single or Spread

Photo-Illustration

Redesign

kratochvil

spin

Esquire’s Innovate or Die Covers

- - Magazines, Multimedia

Esquire editor David Granger must have an innovate or die policy with his cover creation. Awhile back they started stuffing the coverlines behind the subject to give it a 3-d effect (which I think is brilliant), but now they’ve gone on and done flashing E-Ink, cover flap mini mag advertisement, perforated/tearable and now shot one with the new RedONE high def video camera. The cover of Megan Fox was shot by Greg Williams and you can see on his website he’s the multi-talented photographer/director these cameras exist for (here).

This is what Esquire has to say about the shoot (from their site here):

Greg Williams recorded ten minutes of loosely scripted footage with Fox — getting out of bed, rolling around on a pool chair, inexplicably lighting a barbecue.

“It allowed her to act,” Williams says. “She could run scenes without being reminded by the sound of a shutter every four seconds that I was taking a picture. As in still photography, a lot of it is capturing unexpected moments. This takes that one step further.” He then went back and pulled out the best images, which you can see in Esquire’s June issue, on sale May 10. Plus, there’s a fantastic by-product: Even though we made the film to get the stills, we were left with ten bewitching minutes of footage of a beautiful woman. We edited it down to a mini movie, which will be available at esquire.com/megan on May 4.

megan1megan2megan2halfmegan3

I think it’s working. The covers are creating buzz and along the way they will inevitably stumble upon something innovative for magazine covers. The RedONE may be it but not because I think people want to watch a 10 min. video of someone posing for a cover. Something interesting will come out of this, maybe they can create cool animated cover badges from all the frames around the shot to spread around the web or maybe it just changes the way subjects and photographers work together for cover shoots. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’d rather see them try something and fail than endlessly plodding along with “57 fat burning secrets.”

Saw it on Gizmodo, forwarded to me by Peter.