Yesterday we touched on the demise of giant magazine wholesaler SID and the probable shortage of magazines at the newsstand we can expect this summer. While the immediate crisis will be solved one way or the other — publishers will, somehow, get their titles to the newsstand — the long term implications of the radical change in the magazine wholesale business leaves us wondering just what exactly is going on.
To recap, we quote BoSacks in his recent article “Making Sense of the Nonsensical Newsstand” in Publishing Executive.
“The second largest magazine wholesaler in the U.S. shut down suddenly last week, and publishers are frantically looking for another way to get their titles to your local newsstand,” writes BoSacks. He goes on to explain that the final straw for SID came when Time Inc. announced they would stop doing business through them.
With the distribution players whittled down to relatively few, how will magazine publishers get to market, and when will we see this all sort out?
Not yet, according to BoSacks, who asserts that the industry still has a way to go before the industry lands at its new sales plateau.
He also claims that certain voices in the industry who claim the newsstand is of little value to the overall industry are actually part of the problem. While for the big guys this might be true, it certainly isn’t for smaller publications.
“The big guys — you know who I mean — don’t really need the newsstand and have the bucks and the infrastructure to create and do as they will, and they will survive nicely, at least for a while,” BoSacks asserts. He cautions that their “we can do this ourselves” attitude may well backfire in the long run.
“A newsstand presence gives a magazine and an entire industry visibility as an industry with the consumer. And conversely a lack of visibility breeds long term irrelevance. But perhaps that’s the plan. The demise of an infrastructure not thought [to] be needed by the current giants.”
If the publishing giants let this demise ultimately happen, they may see a short-term gain in their own sales compared to their competition, especially in digital. But the loss of the newsstand will be bad for all magazines, not just the indies and small-runs that need that exposure.
“Disruption in the newsstand field for 3 months at least is lost sales, the kind that will never come back. Humans are creatures of habit. This disruption will no doubt create new non-newsstand habits in some of our old and trusted readers, thereby hastening an already depressed newsstand,” BoSacks continues.
It’s time — well past time — for publishers to take a cooperative stance on magazine distribution and the viability of the newsstand, and stop treating wholesalers like the enemy.