From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Linda Ruth Reports — HOT NEWS FLASH: Bo Sacks Admits: “PRINT AIN’T DEAD OR DYING.” The Last Chapter.

BoSacks Mr. Magazine’s friendly rival Bo Sacks, known for his lively defense of digital media, wound up the ACT 6 conference with a message to the media students in the audience: print lives!

While not a wholly surprising statement—Bo Sacks has supported media in all formats, and despite his vigorous debates with Dr. Husni often finds points of agreement as well—it was an encouraging way to end the conference. Sacks summarized some of the conference’s themes:

· Magazines are about immersion

· People read to retreat

· Magazines are personal, surprising, social, actionable, credible, physical

· It’s not about digital or print—it’s about content

· The newsstand is challenged, but not yet moribund

Sacks admitted to being inspired by the honesty expressed and concepts shared in this year’s ACT 6. He ended by carrying the “Reimagine the newsstand” theme a step farther, challenging Husni’s students to reimagine their lives. “I am giving each of you a promotion,” he told Husni’s group. “Each of you is now the president of your own corporation. Remember this when you go out into the workforce. You are the president of Me Inc., and you can create what you choose in your life.”

Click below to watch Bo Sacks’ presentation at the ACT 6 Experience.

Thank you speakers, sponsors, and moderators. Save the date for the ACT 7 Experience, April 25 to 27, 2017 themed Magazines Matter, Print Matters. Stay tuned.

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Linda Ruth Reports — Enthusiast Publications Light Path To Success. Chapter 11.

Joe Berger Joe Berger drew from his experience as a consultant to magazine publishers in telling the assembled ACT 6 group that, not only can downward trends be reversed by committed publishers, but it is still possible to make money on the newsstand. Not only are newsstand sales a direct source of revenue, but they also create indirect revenue streams, through highly-qualified subscription generation and contribution to rate base. Smart publishers won’t turn their backs on newsstand, because it’s still a visible, public way to get magazines seen. Not only will a great editorial product and a well-crafted cover drive sales, it will also generate lots of PR. But as they move into newsstand, consumer magazine publishers need to make sure they ask, and answer, the essential questions: who is going to manage your newsstand sales? How to get on the newsstand? Who will manage the finances? Who are your competitors? What are your costs? When will you launch? When will you evaluate results and plan to go forward? Where do you want to be displayed? Where do you expect to be seen? Unasked questions, Berger reminded the group, can result in legendary disasters.

“And I wish that someone had given me that list of questions when I was starting out,” commented Monique Reidy, publisher of the regional lifestyle magazine Southern California Life.
Her advice to publishers is to ask questions. “Talk to smart people who have accomplished what you are setting out to do,” she said. Learn from them.”

Aaron Day One of the smart people that Ryan Waterfield has learned from is Eleanor Roosevelt. The publisher of another regional lifestyle magazine, Big Life, Waterfield took as her motto Roosevelt’s advice that we do something that scares us, every day. Big Life was born of the resolution to do just that, and from Waterfield’s passion for the mountains and the sky. “Be authentic,” Waterfield advised. “Share your passion. Try something new.”

Waterfield and Reidy were part of a panel of enthusiast publishers, moderated by Aaron Day, the CEO of Trend Offset Printing. In only six years, Trend has grown its business by 120 million dollars. They have done so through adding value to their printing services—value such as workflow solutions, a digital storefront, and mailing and delivery solutions.

In support of Trend’s conviction that print is alive and well, Ron Adams, the Publisher and Founder of Via Corsa, spoke of his publication as the evolution of an idea. The value of magazines, Adams said, goes beyond the 45 minutes it takes to read it. It continues through the weeks, and months, and maybe years in which you keep the publication and refer to it—it refers to their staying power, their collectability. And a publisher who understands the audience adds immeasurably to the collectability of the publication.

Via Corsa’s unique value proposition is its role as a post-purchase companion. Other auto magazines are guides for the purchase. By contrast, the Via Corsa reader has bought that dream car and now wants to get out and drive it. What adventures might there be, what experiences with the car? Via Corsa brings the answers to these questions to life through event sponsorship, co-partnerships, and memorabilia, in addition to the editorial content of the magazine itself. Via Corsa readers already have their cars. The publication encourages them to go out and enjoy them.

Adams was followed by Brandie Gilliam, Founder and Creative Director of Thoughtfully magazine, a publication whose mission is to advocate for a life lived passionately, beautifully, and, yes, thoughtfully. “We see ourselves as creative curators and inspiration enthusiasts,” Gilliam said. “Since we’re here, we might as well do it right.” For Thoughtfully, doing it right grew from a blog, to a site, and then to print, propelled into thought-leader status through the content developed throughout her media. Having created the magazine she wanted to read, Gilliam grew it from a lifestyle into a community, with readers, advertisers, and retailers participating in the experience.

Finding a unique opportunity in an exploding market is what Garrett Rudolph’s Marijuana Venture is all about. While editorial content existed for end users, nothing existed for the business end of the marijuana market. Rudolph saw the opportunity and seized it, launching an eight-page, black-and-white publication and growing it to its current size of 164 pages with 100 advertisers per issue and a distribution of 15,000 copies. It hasn’t always been easy—for example, his bank flagged some checks from his advertisers and peremptorily closed his account—but his unique value proposition, speaking to the business, rather than the consumer, has paid off.

Bauer’s Simple Grace also found an underserved market niche—one that led to a distribution of 300,000 copies across the nation. “What magazine readers have been missing is hope,” explained Carey Ostergard, Deputy Editor. “There is a huge untapped market for it.” Not anger, not judgement, not politics, or church speak, or being right or wrong—just love, and peace, and acceptance for the (mostly) women who have experienced pain and suffering and are turning to their religions for solace. Built around daily devotions, features, and storytelling, Simple Grace speaks to women who are strong, faithful, and devoted to their families. “What’s next? Perhaps branching off the brand, creating a version for girls. Offering something every day that cannot be googled, cannot be found online.” And continuing to offer a loving safe place for people to go—a space you can find on the newsstand. “Newsstand,” said Ostergard, “is still alive. And it’s open to newcomers.”

Click below to watch Joe Berger’s presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

Click below to watch Aaron Day moderates the new magazine launches panel:

Watch this space for the final ACT 6 Experience as reported by Linda Ruth…

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Linda Ruth Reports — Scott Coffman, Lumina Media: Media is Hard–But Worth Pursuing. Chapter 10.

Scott Coffman “We’re not in an easy business,” warned Scott Coffman, Senior VP and General Manager of Lumina Media. “Media is hard.”

He was speaking to the group of students and magazine professionals at MIC’s ACT 6, and went on to say that, despite the difficulty of the landscape, there exist opportunities and potential for publishers speaking for and to passionate and enthusiastic readers. Lumina Media creates product in several categories, including pet, farm, and auto, which reach enthusiast audiences.

As an example of how Lumina addressed today’s media challenges, the publisher re-launched the 50-year-old brands, Cat Fancy and Dog Fancy, in association with the Catster and Dogster websites. The move enabled the publisher to create a print and digital brand that has more history and authority than the parent sites and a more updated, engaging, and immediate voice than the print parent. With a more relaxed style and tone, which evoke a best friend or family member giving pet advice, sales on the newsstand have doubled.

Coffman believes that, like Lumina, other publishers who are rising to meet the current media challenges can counter the downward trends. The challenge is to move confidently and aggressively to grow sales to support the newsstand channel. But our approach needs to be a long term one. We must look past the next two or three years, and think in 30 year terms.

With other ACT 6 speakers, Coffman suggested that publishers find out where their most targeted readers shop and work with those retailers to create partnerships. Get with the retailer to take a look at their marketing plans with an eye for identifying synergies and opportunities. An example he mentioned was Tractor Supplies’ Chick Days, an annual opportunity for publishers and editors to develop content to support retailer plans. Remember, Coffman cautioned, to involve the wholesaler, who has to implement whatever program you agree upon.

Retailers today look for content to support their digital and social sites, so a possible partnership might include a promotion via publisher’s social media to bring customers to partner stores. Retailers are aware (though it never hurts to remind them) that specialty magazines drive sales of other products carried in their stores. They may work with you by providing data to analyze that supports the value of these magazine partnerships for both parties.

Watch Scott Coffman’s presentation at the ACT 6 Experience below:

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Linda Ruth Reports — Print Re-asserts Primacy In Content Creation. Chapter 9.

Jim Meyers Great magazine publishing connects readers with their passions and, for content creators, it goes beyond that as well. A strong content creation program establishes thought leadership and brand awareness. At last week’s ACT 6, from Mr. Magazine’s Magazine Innovation Center, James Meyers of iMAGINATION talked about the power of content creation—and the importance of getting it right.

As an example of what a strong content creation program can accomplish, iMAGINATION created Food Fanatics magazine for its client, US Foods. US Foods is a supplier, and its customers are chefs. From what sounds, to an outsider, like a fairly pedestrian start, US Foods positioned itself as an expert in foods, trends, the life of the chef, and the front of the house experience. It accomplished this through a 68-page quarterly magazine, along with focal events and a strong digital component. From its beginning as a magazine, Food Fanatics has grown to a movement, a community, an identification, and a point of pride for US Foods customers.

Publishing, Meyers told the assembled group, is no longer about print versus digital, or, in fact, about any specific channel of content. It’s about creating content that is made available through any channel that’s is most effective in a given situation. And, while that truth has been widely acknowledged, what we need to additionally acknowledge is what it means to the publisher. The corollary is that nothing is standard, nothing the same from day to day.

Print, in this past year, has been re-asserting its primacy, with the print/digital ratio reversing in favor of print. Yet for creators of integrated, omni-channel custom content programs such as iMAGINATION, print and digital are equally important, with the key being the degree to which each can support the other. Print improves brand awareness and demonstrates thought leadership; as a result, 77% of iMagination clients publish in print. According to one study, among U.S. adults, 70% read an average of three print publications in the last 30 days, while 63% said they had not read a digital magazine in the last 30 days. It naturally follows, for many brand publishers, that print becomes a focal point of an omni-platform strategy.

Meyer’s tips for creators of custom content includes:
· Ensure that your business goals drive your content.

· Audiences need you to answer their questions, solve their problems and teach them.

· Content must heighten brand awareness, generate new leads, position the publisher as a subject matter expert, and convert visitors into paying customers.

If you keep these things in mind while creating custom content, you are positioning your product for a win.

Click on the video below to watch Jim Meyres’ presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Linda Ruth Reports — Stories, And The People Who Tell Them. Chapter 8.

The final morning of the Magazine Innovation Center’s Act 6 was devoted to the craft and the power of storytelling.

Liz Vaccariello As a child, Liz Vaccariello expressed a wish to her father that she might, through writing and editing, share stories with others. Decades later, she told that story in her first letter as Editor in Chief of Readers Digest, and the response of her readers was extraordinary. She received 400 letters that week. Since then, she has told a story in every editor’s letter, and her use of storytelling to connect with her readers has become a hallmark of her time at the Reader’s Digest.

Storytelling, Vaccariello told the group of students, faculty, and publishing professionals at Act 6, has made Reader’s Digest first among its competitive set in time spent with the magazine, with readers spending almost a full hour with every issue.

So what is a story? It has a beginning, middle and end; it is designed to interest, arouse, or instruct. But the key to a great story is its power to connect emotionally to the reader. Through that connection, Vaccariello said, stories become a powerful way to change something, to provide meaning, to build connections. And part of the job of a great editor is to find the great stories. That requires reading everything, and in so doing, to ask: do I feel something?

Readers look to Vaccariello’s publication to make them feel understood. To surprise them with a secret, or a laugh, or moment of delight, or an unexpected cause for pride. Even sadness and outrage are emotions that a reader will welcome when a great story elicits them.

Great stories can change lives, Vaccariello told the group. Storytelling in the context of family is a powerful bond from generation to generation. Children who hear stories from their parents and grandparents about how they, over the years, met and overcame adversity, are more resilient.

Sherin Pierce Sherin Pierce, the Publisher of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, North America’s oldest continuously-published vehicle for journalism and storytelling, followed Vaccariello with a story of her own: the story of how the Old Farmer’s Almanac was launched, grew and prospered for “225 years of love, luck and tradition.”

“We speak of disruption in publishing,” Pierce told the group. “Think of the disruption in the life of Robert B Thomas, who was born in 1766, and launched the Almanac when he was only 26 years old. He was born on a farm, and before he was grown he saw how a ragtag group of farmers stood up to the might of the British Empire.” That first issue was 46 pages, with a print run of 3000 copies. And there was no RDA, no placement fees…and no returns. With this auspicious start, Thomas tripled the draw the following year.

In 1816, Pierce related, late to meet his press date, the printer called to ask for Thomas’ July weather forecast. Thomas irritably replied, “Call for rain, hail and snow!” And the printer dropped that prediction, which briefly made a laughingstock out of Thomas, into the publication. But that was the year that the eruption, in the Dutch East Indies, of Mount Tambora, brought “The Year Without a Summer”—along with a July snowfall in Boston. It was a disaster for farmers, but it made a lasting name for Robert B. Thomas, and for his Almanac.

While the Old Farmer’s Almanac has changed with the times, many things have remained the same. The cover engravings of seasonal images and portraits of Ben Franklin and Robert B Thomas hark back to 1851, as does the iconic hole in the corner of the cover, useful to hang for year-round reference. The 1858 Almanac was used by the young lawyer Abraham, defending a client accused of a midnight murder. The Almanac’s corroborating proof that the night in question was moonless was key to Lincoln’s client’s acquital.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has long been proud of its trend of continuous publishing. When the US Office of Censorship asked the publisher to cease publication for the duration of World War Two—two German spies had been found in possession of a copy, thought to be helpful in planning forays around weather and tides—the publisher asked for, and was granted, permission to continue, with the agreement to leave out the weather and continue with indications and proverbs for the duration of the war.

In a newsstand-challenged, era, the Old Farmer’s Almanac prints 4 million copies per issue, and sells 40% on the newsstand. And its brand pre-eminence, established the Year Without a Summer, remains as strong today as it was then. “There is only one Old Farmer’s Almanac,” Pierce told the group. “We’ve had that name since 1842. It’s what you think of when you think of an almanac. And rightly so, based on the specificity of its identification. “Farmer’s almanac’ is, after all, a generic term.”

Click on the video below to watch Liz Vaccariello presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

Click on the video below to watch Sherin Pierce presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

Stay tuned to watch the rest of the ACT 6 Experience on this blog…

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Tony Silber Reports*: Mr. Indefatigable — A Reflection On Samir Husni And His Advocacy Of Print Media. Chapter 7.

SamirHusni Media-industry conferences run the gamut. You get the super trendy ones, like SXSW, in equally trendy locations. You get monster events like CES, to which media execs gravitate every January. You get the new-media boutique events, with the hottest digital-media brands represented and the young savants in skinny jeans with all the answers. You also have the more pedestrian ones, the workhorse events, not showhorse conferences.

There are association events, regional events, B2B events, marketing events, social-media events, hosted-buyer events, big-tent events like our own Folio: Show, and small executive forums.

And then you have the ACT Conference, the sixth iteration of which I attended last week in Oxford, Mississippi. (ACT is an acronym that stands for “Amplify, Clarify, Testify.”) ACT is run by Samir Husni, the Ole Miss J-school professor, who over the last 25 years has become one of the best-known people in the magazine industry.

The ACT conference is a different kind of event. It’s small. Only perhaps 100-130 people attend, give or take. Since it’s held at a university, the students also attend. Sometimes Samir pairs them with industry figures, mentee to mentor.

It’s way off the beaten path for the media industry. That’s part of its charm. It’s a different perspective for sometimes-jaded media people.

Each year, Samir attracts several major industry figures as speakers. This year, he brought in most of the participants in the supply chain of that most beleaguered part of the business: the newsstand. Samir hosted a special meeting of wholesalers and publishers. He brought in Hubert Boehle, CEO of Bauer Publishing, the German company that is probably the most successful company on the newsstand in the United States. Interestingly, Boehle said Germany, a country about one-fifth the size of the U.S. and Canada, generates the same revenue from the newsstand as does North America. The “why” of that is a story in itself.

Samir brought in Andy Clurman, CEO one Active Interest Media, of the most successful enthusiast-media companies in the country; and Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest; Sid Evans, editor in chief of Southern Living; Sherin Pierce, Publisher/VP, The Old Farmer’s Almanac; and Daniel Fuchs, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer, HGTV Magazine, among others.

Samir brings in those people because of his stature in the business—and because of his decades-long advocacy. Samir Husni is an unapologetic believer in the enduring strength of print media, and that’s what his conference is about. No ifs, ands or buts. I gave the conference-opening “State of the Industry” report, and truth be told, I thought about that contextual reality before I made my presentation. LOL.

Samir calls himself “Mr. Magazine.” Last I saw his car, it was even on his license plate. I’ve known him for a long time. In that time, he’s been tireless and persuasive, generous and inclusive. Maybe “Mr. Indefatigable” is just as appropriate.

Because of his advocacy, plus his unrelenting determination to make his case and push his cause, plus his 30-year run of cataloging all the print-magazine launches of the year—and selecting the most important 30 of them—Samir is as well-known and respected as anyone in the business. Now, for the last several years, he’s added a worthwhile media conference to his portfolio—one with a decided point of view.
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* Tony Silber is vice president at Folio: and he published those reflections on the Folio: website here. Reposted with permission.

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Making Money In Print. Chapter 6.

IMG_2869 This is the segment of the ACT 6 Experience that focused on making money in print and what people are doing today to ensure that the revenue streams continue, whether it’s from circulation or advertising. Magazine Power is going to be a combination of the different ways and means by which people can still generate revenue from print, whether it is advertising in established magazines; advertising in new magazines, or bookazines and how those publications are making money.

Making Money in Print and the power of magazines was moderated by Brian F. O’Leary, Principal, Magellan Media Consulting Partners, with the following panelists listed in alphabetical order: Newt Collinson, Chairman and Founder, Collinson Media & Events, Jim Elliott, President, The James G. Elliott Co. Inc., Daniel Fuchs, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer, HGTV magazine, and Fred J. Parry, Publisher, Inside Columbia Magazine.

What follows are the individual presentations of the panelists followed by the panel discussion moderated by Brian F. O’Leary.

Click on the video below to watch Newt Collinson:

Click on the video below to watch Jim Elliott:

Click on the video below to watch Daniel Fuchs:

Click on the video below to watch Fred Parry:

Click on the video below to watch the panel discussion:

And stay tuned as we post more videos from the ACT 6 Experience and more reports from Linda Ruth about the ACT 6 Experience.

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Cover Data Analysis For Editors. Chapter 5.

Cover Testing For Editors Cover Data Analysis For Editors – This riveting panel discussion about how print editorial staffs can learn more about consumers, their likes/dislikes, and how to attract more newsstand buyers in a competitive, distracted world was a big hit at the ACT 6 Experience. The panel of distinguished editors from Reader’s Digest, Southern Living, First for Women, Simple Grace, Success and Hoffman Media discussed and dissected magazine cover lines, cover image types, positioning, and “do’s” and “don’ts” regarding covers, all using smart data modeling.

The Cover Data Analysis For Editors panel took place on Thursday April 21 and was moderated by Joshua Gary from MagNet. Panelists were (in alphabetical order):
Brooke Bell, Director of Editorial Operations, Hoffman Media, Josh Ellis, Editor in Chief, Success magazine, Sid Evans, Editor in Chief, Southern Living magazine, Carey Ostergard, Deputy Editor, First for Women and Simple Grace, and Liz Vaccariello, Editor in Chief, Reader’s Digest magazine.

Click on the video below to watch the entire panel discussion from the ACT 6 Experience.

Stay tuned for more videos from the ACT 6 Experience.

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Professor Naomi S. Baron On Millennials And Print. Chapter 4.

Naomi S. Baron In a keynote address at the ACT 6 Experience, Professor Naomi S. Baron, Executive Director, Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning, and Professor of Linguistics (World Languages & Cultures, CAS), at the American University in Washington, D.C., professor Baron presented her latest research regarding millennials and print.

The results of her study may surprise you. Click on the video below to watch her presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

More presentations and reports from Linda Ruth will be posted as they become available. Stay tuned.

From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Linda Ruth Reports– Lessons from Germany, and Responses from the US Wholesaler Channel. Chapter 3, Part 2.

Reimagining the Newsstand Gil Brechtel and Josh Gary from MagNet coordinated the “Reimagining the Newsstand” segment at the ACT 6 Experience. Gil moderated the first panel on “Reimagining the Newsstand.”

The focus was on the newsstand business, its relevancy to publishers, how to stabilize it, as well as the current and future roles of each of the channel members… wholesaler, national distributor, retailer, and publisher, and how we as an industry engage the retailer to promote and increase sales.

Wholesaler participants included David Parry, President & CEO of TNG and Shawn Everson, Chief Commercial Officer of Ingram Content Group. Three CEOs of magazine media companies also joined this segment of the ACT 6 Experience. They are Hubert Boehle, CEO of Bauer Magazine L.P., Andy Clurman, CEO of AIM (Active Interest Media) and Eric Hoffman, CEO of Hoffman Media.

Videos of all the presentations will be posted on this site in addition to Linda Ruth’s reports. Linda, thankfully, accepted the role of the scribe of the ACT 6 Experience. All the videos are at the bottom of this blog.

And now for part 2 from Chapter 3 as reported by Linda Ruth.

Hubert Boehle, CEO of Bauer Media, came to ACT 6 to talk about the German newsstand magazine market, and lessons the US might draw from it.

An American publisher might wonder why we in the US magazine market might want to look to Germany as a model to emulate? As an answer, the example of Bauer Media itself might provide sufficient reason.

Hubert Boehle Bauer Media, a German publishing company, represents the largest seller, in terms of units, of magazines in the United States. On a dollar basis, Bauer is the second-largest media company in the US. Further, in a newsstand-challenged age, newsstand accounts for 90% of the Bauer publications’ sales.

A second reason to look to Germany for inspiration might be found in the nature of the German magazine market itself. Germany has a quarter of the population of the US, but its magazine revenue is equivalent—roughly $2.5 billion in each market. The average consumer in Germany spends about four times as much on magazines as the US consumer. Also, while sales and revenue have declined in both the US and Germany, the declines are not equivalent; Germany’s has been considerably smaller.

Boehle identified several reasons for the differences in the magazine market, focusing on each player in the magazine publishing supply channel; and he suggested initiatives based on these differences. First, looking at the wholesale network, he finds it much more concentrated In Germany , with a much higher level of service. In an area the size of California, he pointed out, there are 54 wholesalers, who, owing to their density, know their customers well and visit them daily. Partly in consequence of this service level, Germany’s average overall magazine sales efficiency stands at 60%. By comparison, the average sell-through in the US is 26%. How, Boehle asks, can we create a better service level in the U.S? How can we support our wholesale partners to enable them to provide this level of service to their retailers?

Part of the answer to that tracks back to the magazine publishers. Because publishing is profitable in Germany, publishers support their newsstand circulation. With higher efficiencies, and the lower costs resulting from fewer unsolds, there is more profit to all supply chain partners. This frees up a higher remit per copy sold to be paid to the publishers. Germany, in fact, remits about 60% of every retail dollar to the publisher, with 100% of sold copies paid a week after off sale. This allows for cover prices that are considerably lower, which in turn leads to multiple purchases by consumers at retail.

The overall health of the newsstand channel is supported by the fact that German subscription prices are not deeply discounted, as they are in the US. The price of each issue of a magazine subscription is roughly the same as the same issue purchased on the newsstand. What similar incentives, Boehle asks, could be created that would encourage US publishers to invest in newsstand?
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While the US market is finding its incremental revenue through up-priced one-shots, specials, and bookazines, Boehle suggests that this approach is, at best, a band-aid to the problem. It takes a regular frequency to addict a customer to a magazine, a frequency that is supported by cover prices that make multiple purchases affordable. Germany’s market provides its readers hundreds of weeklies and bi-weeklies, as compared to the US market which provides only a handful of comparable frequency products.

And with the larger publishers now using their checkout space to rotate their bookazines into, checkout space, which relies on the addictive and frequently-turned weeklies for its vitality, begins to lose its effectiveness. Profitability drops as the checkout titles are unable to provide the needed turns as frequently as needed.

Another way to develop excitement and addiction at checkout is to provide frequent new releases to browse and buy. In the US, all publications go on sale the same day of the week. In Germany, they go on sale every day, incentivizing customers to look for fresh magazines more frequently.

How can the US magazine market learn and benefit from these lessons? Perhaps, Boehle suggests, wholesalers might consider penalizing publishers with low subscription prices. Perhaps checkouts space should be reserved for higher-frequency titles. Publishers might consider reversing the push to higher-cost product and implementing lower cover prices.

In fact, we in the US might re-think the entire checkout system. In Germany, magazines aren’t sold at checkouts—the mainlines are placed so you see them right away, coming into a store. The impulse at the checkout is becoming obsolete, as today people spend their time in the checkout lane looking at their phones. From a publisher’s point of view, each checkout lane has to be treated as a separate retailer, with its own allotment and order regulation, its own placement fee; and from a wholesaler’s point of view, the excess product in the checkout lanes exacerbates the return situation. Might it be possible, Boehle suggest, to rethink the dichotomy between checkout and mainline and, again emulating Germany, work on getting highly-visible mainline displays established in the vicinity of the checkouts,near the front of the stores?

David Parry David Parry, the CEO of TNG, North America’s biggest magazine wholesaler, responded by speaking of TNG’s experience as a wholesaler with enormous fixed costs and declining net profits, in a market very different from Germany’s. Parry cautioned that, in getting publications to retailers throughout the country, in reimagining the newsstand, it is essential that the pressures are alleviated for all channel partners, and that continued viability is ensured all along the supply chain. With weekly delivery to over 70,000 retail locations in the US and Canada, and service provided at more-than-weekly frequency at retail level by over 10,000 TNG merchandisers who provide real-time reporting, a first order of business needs to be to ensure stabilization and survival of this channel, before looking to increase store visits or publisher remits.

With 23 million units delivered weekly, and 1.2 billion annually, across an enormous geographic area, the challenges here are very different from the ones faced in the compact German market. TNG, however, is working to develop new and innovative services far beyond the delivery of magazines.

Parry acknowledged that all channel partners need to constantly innovate. But far from letting go of front end placement, he said, it is critical that we defend that space, as a priority among all channel partners. With beverages and snacks competing in droves for that placement, we are fighting for all the checkout space we can get. It is understood that people are making the lion’s share of their purchases within 100 feet of the front door, and that space is not simply up for grabs. Major consumer goods companies are looking at that same 100 feet, and they are tough competitors.

TNG has experience with retailers that back up this perspective. Parry mentioned Chief Auto Parts, which tried four times with magazines, in four different places in their stores, and nothing worked until they put magazines at the front end. Other retailers, including, as an example, Loblaws, cut back on the placement of magazines at the front end and their customers protested. The chains were forced, by customer demand, to reinstate magazines at the checkout.

Yet, Parry acknowledged, checkout merchandising does drive up costs, and TNG’s merchandisers do need to be in many stores up to three times a week. With the physical wire checkout pockets getting thinner, they need to be restocked more often, and that requires merchandising presence in the stores.

What, from the viewpoint of a major wholesaler group, can be done then, to strengthen the supply channel and build profitability for channel partners?

Parry suggests working collaboratively to re-invent checkout space; focusing on promotions and events calendars to generate excitement at retail, finding new places to display product in stores through outposts, and capitalizing on trends and opportunities. Local interest is big: Texas Monthly can outsell People in some markets. Adult coloring books came out of nowhere to sell over $15 million at retail. Publishers and wholesalers need to get a seat at the table with the retailers to find ways of supporting magazine sales together. Try using beacon technology and instant coupons; participate in mixed displays and cross-merchandising opportunities.

And constantly innovate.

Click below to watch Hubert Boehle’s presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

Click below to watch Shawn Everson’s presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

Click below to watch David Parry’s presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

And click below to enjoy the debate moderated by MagNet’s Gil Brechtel: