Is There a Glut at the Newsstand?

newsstand2One publisher insists we have too many titles. An industry analyst says that position misses the point entirely.

Around here, we like to celebrate new magazine launches; the more titles the merrier, especially in this age of niche consumerism. It speaks to a healthy and growing industry.

Some folks in the magazine biz, however, don’t like the idea of more, and are actively lobbying for a reduction in the number of titles at the newsstand.

One such person recently spoke at a Periodical and Book Association conference, reports John Morthanos in Publishing Executive. According to Morthanos, this presenter said “There are too many magazines on sale today, forcing many titles to be prematured!”

Is that really true? Are too many titles being pushed off the stands before their off-sale date, in order to make room for more?

Morthanos provided us with a walking tour of several newsstands, of all shapes and sizes, in and around the Greater NYC area. What he found was not a glut of titles, but rather an uninspired use of available space.

“We visited Stop and Shop, where there were only six checkouts, and ACME, which had four checkouts. Each checkout had magazines surrounding a soda display. Many of the titles were the same on each checkout,” he notes.

“Having the same title mix on four or six racks is a disservice to consumers and retailers. In Greenwich for example, equestrian events (show jumping and polo) have a large following. There were no horse titles. Expensive and rare motor cars are another popular interest, but no DuPont Registry or Robb Report was on display,” Morthanos continues.

It’s a valid point. If what we see are the same titles over and over again, maybe the glut isn’t in quantity, but variety. As readers continue to migrate from mass market to niche, retailers need to understand this trend and display accordingly.

Meanwhile, bring on the new titles…we’ll make room.