Publishers are Realizing that Vacuums Suck

bsAs print and digital newsstands continue to disappoint, publishers are bypassing the traditional newsstand system more and more.

In his usual succinct style, D. Eadward Tree sums up why publishers are taking the newsstand mess into their own hands.

“Nature and publishers abhor a vacuum because vacuums suck,” he notes in a recent article in Publishing Executive.

“The steady drip-drip-drip decline in the traditional newsstand system and the meteoric fall of Apple’s Newsstand project have created a vacuum in publishers’ efforts to sell their magazines and to get them discovered by new readers,” Tree writes.

“Just last month, Time Inc. shuttered newsstand-dependent ‘All You; and reported that retail sales of its magazines have dropped 12% in just a year.”

In the face of this challenge, Tree sees publishers getting creative.

“Anecdotal reports indicate that an increasing number of publishers — especially in the growing regional genre — are bypassing the traditional newsstand system and selling directly to retailers,” he notes, citing industry consultant Joe Berger.

Others are going “old school” and developing their own sales channels, like the Old Farmer’s Almanac, which Tree notes is “on sale in many bookstores, web sites, and other retail outlets that don’t even carry magazines. And the paperback is selling nearly 200 copies a day on Amazon alone, judging by its recent #524 book ranking on the big ecommerce site.”

Other strategies include using reading apps like Texture, offering free copies at large events, and working with retailers on instore promos.

It’s great to see publishers tackling this issue head on.  Cleary the traditional newsstand model and its digital counterpart are still important to many, but publishers can’t afford to be beholden to a distribution system that fails to deliver.