Attend The ACT 7 Experience & Come Away With Enough Magazine Know-How To Launch Your Own!


“Magazines Matter, Print Matters”

The ACT 7 Experience

April 25-27, 2017, Oxford, Miss. on the campus of Ole Miss

So, you want to launch a magazine, but you have no idea how to begin. Well, for under $400 you can learn everything you need to know about starting a magazine in just three short days, from people who know what they’re talking about and have a proven track record to back that statement up; the experts themselves, over 35 editors, publishers, marketers, advertising directors, distributors and printers, who all know just what it takes to launch and sustain a successful magazine. And the kicker? They’re all under one roof. It doesn’t get any better than that.

From April 25-27, 2017 the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New media, on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., will have some of the best minds in the magazine business at our disposal. In three days you can know exactly how to get your ink on paper creation from your brain, and out onto newsstands.

The mysteries of magazine-making are unraveled at the ACT 7 Experience as you interact with a group of experts that aren’t likely to be found under one roof again anytime soon. The creative talent will get up close and personal about you and your magazine, sharing their knowledge and know-how, and answering any questions that you might have about launching your magazine. And if you’re not in attendance, the learning opportunity that you’ll miss is unthinkable.

For three days their minds and ideas are ours to learn from and absorb everything we need to know to make magazines great again. The reason, because “Magazines Matter, Print Matters” in this extremely digital world that we live in today. You don’t want to miss an event that is sure to make a difference in the way you create your magazine, or sustain the one that’s already out in the world.

Only 100 seats are available, so register today and be assured that you’re among the first ones seated. The sooner you register, the better the chances are that you will be able to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Click here to register.

The complete list of speakers and the agenda is coming soon.


The ACT 7 Experience Presents: Magazines Matter, Print Matters… Providing Answers To Today’s Major Magazine And Magazine Media Questions…

<strong>The Ins &amp; Outs of Making A Magazine – From Launch To Revenue – From The People Who Actually Do it &amp; Do it Well…</strong>


Can the newsstands be saved? How can you add value to your brand? Do you want to make more money in the magazine business? How can you maintain ink on paper in a digital age? Do you have problems with direct mail? Do you know how to launch your own magazine? From the smallest detail to the most major of decisions you might have to make? How to choose a printer? What about paper? Do you know how to get your magazine distributed? Do you know how to make money with your magazine, real, actual revenue?

And can you find Oxford, Miss.? Because if you can, all of the other questions that Mr. Magazine™ just asked can be answered with a resounding yes, if you attend the ACT 7 Experience at the Magazine Innovation Center on the campus of The University of Mississippi from April 25-27.

We have gathered together industry leaders from each area of magazines and magazine media: editorial, publishing, printing, distribution and brand value; and we’ve brought them under one roof to share their ideas on everything “magazine.” From the launch to the first dollar you actually make on your publication.

So, for less than $400, (and trust me, that’s far less than what it costs to produce a magazine) you can register below and be one of the elite 100 attendees who will hear these industry experts answer each of the questions I asked you in the introduction. Only 100 seats are available, so register today and be assured that you’re among the first ones seated.

The sooner you register, the better the chances are that you will be able to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event.
<a href=””>Click here to register</a>.

“How Do You Add Value to Your Brand Before You Sell It?” Reed Phillips, CEO & Managing Partner, DeSilva+Phillips, Will Tell You At The ACT 7 Experience…

phillips_reed_022_608x633_forwebReed PhillipsThe ACT 7 Experience continues on Wednesday, April 26, with Reed Phillips, CEO & Managing Partner, DeSilva+Phillips. Reed will talk about “How To Add Value to Your Brand Before You Sell It.” A concept that starts a dialogue and a checklist on what you need to know and do before you put your brand out there in the marketplace.

Reed Phillips is co-founder of DeSilva+Phillips, and one of the leading Mergers and Acquisitions advisor to media and marketing industries. DeSilva+Phillips have advised and invested in the industry on more than 250 transactions valued at over $8.5 billion. Reed specializes in magazines, events, marketing services, market research and information services.

He has completed transactions with companies such as Bonnier Corp., Condé Nast, Dow Jones, IDG, Infogroup, News Corporation, TPG Growth, The New York Times Company, Rodale, Shamrock Holdings, Time Inc., Televisa and WPP. Reed was the winner of the 2007 Media Deal of the Year presented at ACG’s InterGrowth Conference by Mergers & Acquisitions. Currently, he is Oaklins’ Treasurer.

Earlier in his career, he was founder of Fathers magazine, Associate Publisher of The New Republic, Vice President of The Washington Weekly and Circulation Director of The Washington Monthly. He also serves on the executive board of Oaklins International, the leading middle-market global investment bank, and is treasurer of the Foreign Policy Association.

Owner of magazine media entities who are thinking or considering selling their brand, or just wanting to know how to add financial value to their brand are encouraged to attend. The morning of Wednesday, April 26 will continue to inform, engage and surprise attendees – so plan on joining us for ACT 7! Space is limited, so be sure to register here. We will bill you later.

Stay tuned, more speakers, more programs at the ACT 7 Experience will follow.

ACT 7 Experience Wednesday April 26 Keynote Speaker Daniel Dejan: The Neuroscience of Touch: Haptic Brain/Haptic Brand

Daniel Dejan

Daniel Dejan

ACT 7 Experience will resume on Wednesday morning, April 26, with keynote speaker, Daniel Dejan, who will be open up the ACT 7 Experience with a presentation on The Neuroscience of Touch: Haptic Brain/Haptic Brand, which unites neuroscience and branding to explore the many ways touch impacts how people perceive brands.

An award-winning graphic designer, art/creative director, production manager and print buyer, Daniel Dejan is widely respected in the print communications industry as a graphic arts educator, author and consultant. As North American ETC, (Education, Consulting and Training), Print & Creative Manager for Sappi Fine Paper, Mr. Dejan provides value-added marketing, sales and technical consultation as well as in-house and end-user training and education for the print, paper and creative communities.

Over the past 30 years, Daniel has written for various graphic arts publications. He served as technical consultant and a contributing writer for “The Designer’s Guide to Print Production.” Daniel is a Certified G7 Expert with a proficiency in Color and Color Management. He has shared his expertise, presenting keynote addresses, seminars and workshops for AIGA chapters, the Printing Industries of America, Canadian Printing Industries, IDEAlliance, the IPA, the Spectrum Conference, Print Production Clubs and Art Directors Clubs throughout the US and Canada, National and International print, design and marketing events, conferences and symposiums, as well as in numerous presentations hosted by paper merchants, printers and corporations, all of which keep him on the road in excess of 200 days per year much to the chagrin of his family and pets.

neuro-science-of-touchThe Neuroscience of Touch is Sappi’s groundbreaking book, written in collaboration with renowned neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman, and dives deeper into haptics, the science of touch. It explores why touch is such a crucial part of the sensory experience and how it influences emotion and decision making, establishing this sense as critical to any brand experience.

More than half the human brain is devoted to processing sensory experiences. How things feel drives our thoughts and behaviors, influences comprehension, retention of information, and profoundly shapes our emotional connections.

Daniel will explore haptics—the study of how our sense of touch shapes what we think in his Wednesday morning presentation and discussion. He’ll talk about companies that have built deep emotional connections by integrating touchable media into branded communications and shares guiding principles for all to use as touch points.

It will be a great opening morning for ACT 7 – so plan on joining us there! Space is limited, so be sure to register here. We will bill you later.

Stay tuned, more speakers, more programs at the ACT 7 Experience will follow.

Hoffman Media Executives To Deliver Opening Keynote At The ACT 7 Experience April 25.

Phyllis shot holding magazinesAs ACT 7 gears up to begin its seventh year of Amplifying, Clarifying, and Testifying the power of print in a digital age, the esteemed and prestigious leaders in the world of all-things-magazine are also preparing to head to Oxford, Miss. for the event. This year’s opening ceremony will take place at the Inn at Ole Miss on the evening of April 25, and will bring a success story that only happens between the pages of magazines; or at least, because of them.

Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, CEO of Hoffman Media and the recently named hottest magazine publisher of the year by Media Industry Newsletter and Mr. Magazine™, and her two twin sons, Brian Hart Hoffman, Chief Creative Officer, and Eric Hoffman, Chief Operating Officer, who are both the central reason she started all of this over 30 years ago with her sister and two close friends, will all three deliver the ACT 7 Experience keynote opening remarks at the gala dinner event. Suffice it to say, that what began as a Crafting & Needlework Village has become an epic women’s interest empire.

Brian Hart Hoffman Brian Hart HoffmanThe theme for the ACT 7 Experience is Magazines Matter, Print Matters, and the Hoffman’s can certainly attest and address that fact. Phyllis will be mapping the history and passion of Hoffman Media; Eric will speak about the business side of the company and the streams of revenue; and Brian will discuss the creative side and the many titles that manifest the core of Hoffman Media. It will be a rich and robust testament to the power of print, and the passion, creativity and vision of the Hoffman family.Eric Hoffman Eric HoffmanHoffman Media is a company that is built on the foundation of family and creativity. Since 1983 when Phyllis Hoffman DePiano founded the company as Symbol of Excellence Publishers, Inc., and later renamed it Hoffman Media in 1998, the company, which publishes a plethora of women’s titles, has experienced steady and often remarkable growth since its founding.

“My career began as my church’s pianist/organist when I was in high school and college,” Phyllis said on her own self-published site: the ribbon in my journal. “When I finished college, I worked for a national CPA firm where I received my CPA certificate and practiced accounting until my twins were born. While I loved the professional world of accounting, I wanted to stay home with my babies. When my sons were very young, I got an idea for a magazine about counted-cross stitch. I talked it over with friends and family and we decided that it was worth a try. I had no experience in publishing, but after sharing this idea, four of us started the magazine Just CrossStitch. Janice (my sister), Barbara (my friend and experienced journalist), and Juanita (a friend) pioneered our way through a hobby industry of women who loved to stitch—creative women, if you will. Our company was launched and running with the premiere of the magazine. And we could work from our homes or while our children were in school.”

Today, Phyllis is CEO of Hoffman Media, which is the No. 70 largest private firm in Birmingham, Ala. and is No. 4 of the top women-owned businesses, based on total revenue in 2012, according to the Birmingham Business Journal’s List.
So, join us for ACT 7, April 25-27, 2017 at the Magazine Innovation Center, located at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media on the campus of the University of Mississippi. It’s sure to be an exciting time in the world of magazines and magazine media that you won’t want to miss. And keep an eye out for more exciting name-dropping about the who’s-who speaker list here on Mr. Magazine’s™ blog in upcoming weeks as we get closer to ACT 7.

Space is limited to 100 attendees, so the sooner you register the better the chances are that you will be able to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event. Click here to register.

Gearing Up For An Amazing ACT 7 Experience… “Magazines Matter, Print Matters”

Mr. Magazine™ says save the date: April 25-27, 2017

act7_loresAs we await spring and the month of April, we at the Magazine Innovation Center also await the exciting ACT 7 Experience, and 2017’s promises to be the most dynamic one yet. We’ve streamlined the number of speakers to enhance the actual experience in terms of the discussions that are going to take place. Our goal is to come up with solutions as the ACT Experiences are think-and-dos, not merely conferences where one comes to idly listen. ACT lives up to its acronym – Amplify – Clarify – Testify the power of print, and that’s just what we do as problems are met head-on and solutions are sought by brainstorming among some of the finest minds in publishing, printing and distribution.

Magazine and Magazine Media CEOs, Editors, Publishers, Distributors, and Marketers enjoy a cozy lunch during a break at the ACT 6 Experience. April 2016.

Magazine and Magazine Media CEOs, Editors, Publishers, Distributors, and Marketers enjoy a cozy lunch during a break at the ACT 6 Experience. April 2016.

The speakers, attendees and students alike are free to speak their minds and bounce ideas off of each other; it’s a thrilling time for everyone as boundaries are crossed when present leaders and future leaders of publishing meet at the Overby Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media on the campus of the University of Mississippi, where the Magazine Innovation Center resides. The Experience is divided into three main mini themes this year:

Celebration of Magazine Launches (everything you need to know to launch a magazine)

Magazine Reach and Power (the changing and evolving role of advertising and marketing in the magazine and magazine media world)

Magazine Distribution 2020 (the future of the newsstands, direct mail, subscriptions, free distribution, public placement, and every other thing that has to do with distribution)

mic_amplifyAnyone interested in learning about magazine launches should make it a point to be here. We will have panels with panelists and speakers who are going to celebrate their new magazine launches by telling us the story of the launch; the positives and the negatives and the impact of the publication. And we will also have a section for people who want to start a magazine. We will have panels on printing, production, paper; anything related to the print process. During this segment I will take the audience through a memory lane trip showing some amazing magazine launches throughout history. It will be an exhilarating

What follows are testimonials from three speakers from last year’s ACT 6 Experience:

Joe Berger of Joseph Berger Associates of Chicago, Newsstand Sales, Digital and Print Circulation had this to say about the ACT 6 Experience: During the ACT conference, we heard from several publishers who are doing well on the newsstand precisely because they are paying attention to their business. It’s my hope that the discussions that were started at this year’s ACT conference continue. The alternative is a continued drift. At a certain point, we need to stop the drift and chart a new course. That point really is now.

John Harrington partner in Harrington Associates, LLC, which published The New Single Copy and the annual Magazine Retail Sales Experience; he had this to say about ACT 6: In late April, I attended the ACT 6 Conference, sponsored by the Magazine Innovation Center at the journalism school of the University of Mississippi. Samir Husni is the director of MIC. I have attended and spoke at each of these programs and as I have stated often have found them among the most significant and valuable publishing gatherings I have ever participated in, and believe me over nearly 40 years there have been a bunch of them. The unique quality of the ACT conferences is the participation of the students, undergraduate and graduate. Samir has turned the school into a pipeline of talented people into the magazine media world.

Tony Silber, Vice President, Folio: had this to say about ACT 6: 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. Because of his (Samir Husni) 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.

Part of the ACT Experience is a trip to the  Mississippi Delta that ends with food and music at Ground Zero in Clarksdale, MS.

Part of the ACT Experience is a trip to the Mississippi Delta that ends with food and music at Ground Zero in Clarksdale, MS.

An added bonus is one evening of the Experience will be spent in the inimitable Mississippi Delta, where we will sample the rich musical and palate-pleasing heritage that is the magical Mississippi Delta. And of course, have a lot of fun in the process.

To all of my fellow magazine enthusiasts; to all the magazine makers; to all the lovers of the printed word and those passionate about this art form called magazine making; we at the Magazine Innovation Center invite you to join us April 25-27, 2017 for an “Experience” into the world of magazines and magazine making unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

So, if you suddenly feel an urge to head south – “ACT” on it!! The cost to register this year is only $395 that covers the registration to all the events of ACT 7 including the opening gala Tuesday dinner, breakfast, lunch, the trip to the Mississippi Delta and dinner on Wednesday, and breakfast and closing gala lunch on Thursday.

To register for the ACT 7 Experience click here. Note that space is limited to 100 registrants.

Joe Berger: The ACT 6 Conference Addresses the Newsstand.* Epilogue 2.

Joe Berger In 2009 I was excited to hear that Dr. Samir Husni (aka Mr. Magazine) had launched the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. I thought it was past time that the conventional wisdom was challenged. Yes, the world of information is changing. Yes, digital is the future. But did that mean that digital was the only future? While we embrace digital, revise how we look at media and magazines and journalism do we have to dance so happily on the grave of printed magazines?

One of the missions of the MIC is to host conferences that discuss the business of publishing in an open and free ranging forum. The conferences are called ACT (ACT is the acronym for “Amplify, Clarify and Testify.”) At the first ACT conference I was thrilled to see speakers beyond the usual batch of insiders who spoke at most magazine conventions. Better yet, we got to hear from a wide range of Samir’s publishing acquaintances from overseas and learned how they were addressing the changes in the magazine world. And even better than that, the auditorium in Overby Hall was filled with journalism students, undergraduates and graduates who were there to learn about magazine publishing and what the future may hold for them.

This year, the ACT conference was in the Spring (April 20 – 22) instead of the Fall. After five conferences that focused on a wide variety of topics, this years’ ACT featured several panels on the struggles of the newsstand side of the business.

Day One of the ACT conference kicked off with an industry overview from Tony Silber of Folio Magazine. It was followed by a very lively and informative address from Sid Evans of Southern Living Magazine.

Day Two took on a whole different form.

The conference kicked off with an historical overview of the makeup of the newsstand distribution industry from John Harrington, a consultant and editor of the New Single Copy newsletter and former head of the industry trade group, The Council for Periodical Distributors of America (CPDA). John is a long time industry veteran and he was able to lay out for many conference participants how the newsstand was organized, how it had worked for many years. Finally he explained why the industry experienced such rapid consolidation and had arrived at such a precarious position in the second decade of the 21st century.

But for any newsstand veteran, the surprise was the next panel, “Reimagining The Newsstand”. This was a remarkably open and frank discussion between several publishers, a major magazine wholesaler, and the major supplier of books and magazines to Barnes & Noble. The panel was moderated by Gil Brechtel, a former magazine wholesaler and current CEO of MagNet, a data service that provides publishers with store level information on their newsstand sales. The members of the panel were: Shawn Everson of Ingram Content, David Parry of TNG, Hubert Boehle of Bauer Media, Andy Clurman of AIM Publishing and Eric Hoffman of Hoffman Media.

While it was not that remarkable to have wholesalers and publishers on a panel discussion, this panel was more lively and open (Perhaps because we were nowhere near either coast?). Before the panel opened, each participant was given the opportunity to give a short presentation on their side of the business. This was incredibly informative. I could understand, fully for a change, the incredible pressures that TNG operates under (High fixed costs, pressures from retail customers, competitors for space within those retail customers, pressure from magazine suppliers). I could see why a publisher from another country (Hubert Boehle of Bauer) would view the American newsstand with a skeptical and quizzical eye (Germany has similar sales volume as the US, yet a higher sell through and lower remittance to the retailer). It was fascinating to hear about the transformation of Ingram from a strictly magazine and bookstore reship operation into a multi-channel company that also profited from digital production and distribution was impressive and remarkable.

Did the panel fix the newsstand?

Of course not. The challenges that face the newsstand distribution business can’t be fixed in one morning. But to my mind, this was the first of what should be many open, frank, and engaging discussions. We should continue this conversation. You can watch the presentation below:

This panel was followed up with another MagNet sponsored panel titled “Cover Data Analysis for Editors”. This was led by Joshua Gary of MagNet and included Brooke Belle of Hoffman Media, Josh Ellis of Success Magazine, Liz Vaccariello of Readers Digest and Sid Evans of Southern Living. From my perspective, this was another successful panel. It was refreshing to hear from editors who understand that newsstand copies are the public front door to their magazine. That something designed to appeal to a potential reader could make that part time fan of the magazine a full time paying subscriber.

Consider the potential streams of revenue open to magazine publishers today: Events, e-commerce, newsletters, blogs, video, subscriptions. Ask yourself, why wouldn’t you put your best foot forward with every single issue that hits the newsstand? Why wouldn’t every newsstand cover be a piece of art instead of the very last thing you think of?

I don’t know. Any art directors or editors want to chime in?

In a March editorial, Tony Silber, the VP of Folio Magazine stated that the fate of the newsstand is not the same fate of print magazines. Tony correctly points out how the channel no longer generates much, if any profit. That racks are “truncated”. That many editorial pursuits have moved online. His address at the opening of the ACT conference was inspiring. But on this point I’d have to disagree. What has happened to the newsstand could very well be the fate of the printed word if publishers do not pay attention to all aspects their business. If all they do is react.

The fate of the newsstand is the fate of any business if the participants pay no attention the rumblings of their customers or suppliers. If you don’t watch and respond to trends, the fate of the newsstand is waiting for you.

If we want readers to buy newsstand copies, we have to give them a reason to do so. If we want the newsstand channel to be profitable, then the participants in the channel have to cooperate and on the same page about who, how, when and how much they will get paid.

Recently a supplier contacted one of my customers and rather (Rudely I thought) informed them that they were not profitable, that they would have to switch to another form of discount and that they would have to agree to this right now this very minute or else they would be dropped. A quick review of this distributors sales showed that their sales losses were significantly higher than anything else this title had ever experienced. Moreover the discount structure that the title was currently declared “unprofitable” had been imposed by the distributor in an earlier “either/or” declaration. In other words, the losses this distributor incurred were self inflicted. Why? Because they took their eye off the ball and didn’t think long term.

When will sales stop declining? When we give readers a compelling reason to buy. When the producers of the content, the publishers decide that it is a channel of sales that they should pay attention to. In fact, during the ACT conference, we heard from several publishers who are doing well on the newsstand precisely because they are paying attention to their business.

It’s my hope that the discussions that were started at this years ACT conference continue. The alternative is a continued drift. At a certain point, we need to stop the drift and chart a new course. That point really is now.
* Reposted with permission.

John Harrington: ACT 6 Experience — What I Think I Meant. An Epilogue

John Harrington wrote the following To former readers of THE·NEW·SINGLE·COPY:*

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 5.01.58 PM In late April, I attended the ACT 6 Conference, sponsored by the Magazine Innovation Center at the journalism school of the University of Mississippi. Samir Husni is the director of MIC. I have attended and spoke at each of these programs and as I have stated often have found them among the most significant and valuable publishing gatherings I have ever participated in, and believe me over nearly 40 years there have been a bunch of them. The unique quality of the ACT conferences is the participation of the students, undergraduate and graduate. Samir has turned the school into a pipeline of talented people into the magazine media world.

The 2016 program celebrated print and the central role it plays in the broader realm of magazine media. And while troubling issues, particularly the newsstand, were examined, the atmosphere was encouraging, well actually it was exhilarating. The program has been extensively reported on via Samir’s website,, by Linda Ruth. However, I would still like to provide my own interpretation of my contribution to ACT 6, which was in fact the opening presentation and the lead-in the panel, “Reimagining the Newsstand,” assembled and led by Gil Brechtel, president of MagNet.

What I Think I Meant

A Short History of the Long Story of the Magazine Distribution Channel

There is bit of presumption in contending that a report about a presentation you made did not fully capture the essence of what you intended. The fact is you just might not have been all that clear; however, it is also distinctly challenging for an observer to translate the interior meaning of a presentation spread across a score of slides and accompanied by some rather digressive accompanying comments. Therefore, while I can point out that a video of my presentation is available on You Tube (Click on the video below), I have also chosen to provide this summary of what I entitled “A Short History of the Long Story of the Magazine Distribution Channel.”

The old magazine channel, that which existed prior to 1995, characterized by more than 300 wholesalers (of varying sizes and representing around 200 ownerships), operating in defined and dense market areas and with little competition, in its last full year, sold more than 2.1 billion units, worth more that $3.9 billion, and at a retail sell-through of better than 40%.

Last year, 2015, the “modern” channel, with two traditional wholesalers and one direct distributor, sold only 453 million copies (less than 25% of the 1994 figure), whose retail values was only $2.5 billion (down 40% and less than half of the number for 2007, the last good year). On top of that, the sales efficiency was down to 26%.

What Happened? Well, in short there were three channel explosions, in 1995, 2009, and in 2014, which severely altered the system; and there were two external factors that changed the environment for selling magazines: the Great Recession of 2008 and the warp speed technology developments which created a wealth of new platforms for delivering information and entertainment to consumers.

The Great Disruption:

In 1995, what had once been regional retail chains and had expanded their markets into mega-regions and even national, forced changes in the contractual relationships they had existed for more than 40 years with wholesalers. They forced wholesalers into providing delivery and supply far beyond the traditional geographies. It also ushered in a period of virulent competition among wholesalers, shattering the nearly universal discount structures that had existed, which were essentially established and maintained by publishers. Not only were gross profit levels distressed, merchandising costs escalated and signing bonuses, a new phenomenon for the business, were introduced. The result was a unprecedented level of consolidation and concentration in the channel. Within 18 months, there were only about 60 wholesaler ownerships, compared to 200 in early 1995. By 1999, four wholesaler management groups represented more than 90% of all retail sales. Despite their large size, all of them were widely acknowledged to be unprofitable.

However, magazine sales levels were maintained and in some years managed to grow, dollars peaking in 2007 at nearly $5 billion. At the same time, magazine advertising, which of course drives the economics of publishing, was strong. The result was that, despite some general recognition of the distribution channel’s fragile finances, senior publishing management was generally content with its performance, even if it was wobbling a bit.

However, the Great Recession of 2008 had an immediate disruptive effect on both the channel and the economics of publishing. Retail unit sales tumbled by more than 10% that year, the worst decline in history. The damage for advertising was even more destructive, estimated to be a shrinkage of as much as 26%. Almost simultaneously, magazine publishing was beginning to be noticeably impacted by digital developments. Mobile phones became much more than just telephony, moving into sources of information and entertainment. Not far behind them came the entry of tablets, notably the iPad, offering platforms for publishers to compete with their own printed editions. Publishing management appeared solely focused on how to expand their valuable magazine brands into digital formats, and not on repairing their damaged print circulation sources.

2009 – The Anderson News Exit:

Early in 2009, when it was clear that magazine retail sales were not going to recover the losses of 2008, but in fact that the decline would continue, Anderson News, then the second largest wholesaler with a market share of about 25%, took a controversial and risky step. Having complained of financial losses extending back over a decade, they made two serious demands – a seven cents per copy distributed handling fee and for publishers to cover Anderson’s cost of instituting scan-based-trading. After it was clear that their demands would not be met, and some suppliers cut off supplies, Anderson ceased operations. For a short period nearly 50% of retailers did not receive magazines (Source Interlink Distribution had briefly made similar demands, but quickly backed down). It was as much as three months before most former Anderson-supplied retailers were being delivered by the three remaining large wholesalers. Thousands of small retailers never sold magazines again.

2014 – The Source Distribution Collapse:

After a court-ordered injunction restored publisher supply, Source Interlink, with a market share of an estimated 30%, survived the events of 2009. However it went through a structured bankruptcy soon after, later emerging as a private company. Yet, as retail sales continued to crater, the company’s financial situation became increasingly perilous. In an effort to get publishers to accept their proposals for different terms, the company reportedly began delaying payments. The strategy backfired, and the largest publisher-national distributor, Time Inc., stopped supplying Source in late spring of 2014. Source immediately declared bankruptcy and ceased all operations. Because they were virtually the only wholesaler in some broad geographies, magazine product was virtually non-existent in large swathes of the country. Even after the two traditional wholesalers and the surviving direct distributor took over delivery to much of the abandoned markets, like after the Anderson exit, a number of small retailers were out of the magazine business.

The Other Factors:

Although the national economy was generally recognized as moving out of the Great Recession by late 2009, magazine newsstand sales continued to tank at a catastrophic 10%-annual pace. Two factors. The recession had changed consumer shopping habits in a radical way. Shoppers, who had cut out much discretionary spending during the worst of times, realized there were some things they didn’t need as much as they once thought they did. They were now sticking to their shopping lists, which affected, most deeply, impulse items, a major source of magazine retail sales. The lingering effect of the recession is often referred to as the recession hangover.

Still, the biggest driver of the collapse of magazine sales was and still is the increase in social media, most notably through mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Take a look at the plight of the celebrity weeklies. Their growth drove the magazine distribution channel through the last good year, 2007. Since then, their sales, including those of the unquestioned category leader, People, are off by more than 50%, and there is no recovery in sight. An audience interested in that milieu, thanks to mobile platforms, has access to whatever it wants on a 24/7 basis. No need to wait a week.

Could the events of 1995, 2009, and 2014 have been prevented?

It may be stretching the narrative to claim that these implosions, contractions, call them what you will, were avoidable, but none of them occurred without warning. Each of these staggering events were preceded by some levels of warning signs, which for various reasons, at all levels of the channel, were to varying degrees either ignored or discounted.

In the immediate years leading up to 1995, retailers were increasingly frustrated with the lack of choice they had of magazine suppliers, at the same time as their geographical markets were expanding. In terms of the power of the magazine category, while unit and dollar sales were still significant, the impact of individual titles was waning. TV Guide, which had once sold more than 12 million copies each, was down to less than five million, and its new ownership, in place since 1989, was not as prepared to face down retailer demands. The number of wholesalers had been contracting for years, but in a gradual fashion, and in a manner that maintained the market density that was key to maintaining it as a profitable and enviable business. Yet, there were discussions taking place among some of the larger players about forming regional alliances that might better resist the increasing strengths of retail chains. Furthermore, publishers were generally comfortable with these discussions. However, the urgency was not there and retailers broke down the traditional structure before any cooperative efforts became realities. The most surprising element of the events of 1995 was not the fact that retailers took control, but the speed with which the shape of the channel changed. Virtually overnight, the dynamics of the business were no longer those which had been maintained it for 40 years.

When 2009 dawned, the channel was widely acknowledged to have been financially broken for well over a decade. Yet the economic changes that had occurred were literally applying band-aids when surgery was required. If significant restructuring was to have taken place, it was up to the major publishers to take the initiative. Yet, until only the year before, advertising was generally strong. and at senior levels the attitude of publishing management appeared to be that there may have problems in the retail distribution channel, but it had staggered along for nearly 15 years, so why shouldn’t it continue to do so. Obviously, they were wrong.

2014 was in many ways a replay of 2009. As a senior printing executive said in effect at a conference not long after Source collapsed, we saw all the warning signs in each of these catastrophes, but we did nothing to avoid them. Will we do anything now?

For the most part, the response of publishers appears to be a possibly inevitable disenchantment with newsstand sales, and a determination to maintain print rate bases through aggressive subscription marketing and expanding their brands into digital media formats. One problem with that is it does nothing to stem the erosion at retail, which could fade away to the point of irrelevance.

At numerous opportunities, I have asked publisher, national distributor, and wholesaler executives, “Where is the bottom?” Without fail, the answer is “I don’t know.”

In The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot wrote:

“This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang, but a whimper.”

Is that will happen to that American icon, the newsstand?

Yet, it still has a role, even in a period of diminished expectations, for publishers. It is central to the launch of new titles and remains important to the maintenance of a publication’s brand. Yet, it is only the largest publishers who can take the steps needed to save the channel. To date, it has not been demonstrated that the willingness is there.
*Reposted with permission.

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…