Publishers, These Newsstand Changes Will Hit You Right in the Books

newsstand-walgreensAs the newsstand distribution model continues its shakeout, publishers need to be ready for some pretty big changes.

From the spreadsheet to the shopping basket, the newsstand continues to evolve.

The magazine distribution model continues to work itself through the massive changes we’ve seen over the past two years. The changes continue this year, as noted by Linda Ruth in Publishing Executive.

Two of the issues will hit publishers right in the books.

“Your newsstand accounting will take a temporary, but significant, hit,” Ruth writes. “Off-invoice RDA [retail display allowance], the new norm, means, in practical terms, that your up-front remit will drop noticeably, and the RDA debits applied to final issues will go away.

“This might, in the long term, be a blessing; but for publishers not currently offering universal RDA — and some are still out there — the financial hit could be lasting,” she explains.

Publishers also need to be aware of changes to newsstand reporting as wholesalers shift their systems to work better with scan-based trading, Ruth notes, in which the supplier maintains ownership of the product until it’s scanned at the register.

Along with these financial changes, we can also expect to see publishers, in particular niche and specialty brands, reach and engage smaller audiences in new ways.

“Given the combination of low efficiencies and high expenses in the traditional newsstand distribution channels, publishers with new launches of specialty publications will be unable to afford the costs,” Ruth notes. “You will see, increasingly, new and innovative publications for sale primarily in specialty outlets and stores that can be reached on a direct basis.”

This dovetails with publishers taking a more direct role in negotiations with retailers and wholesalers, as national distributors become less effective.

For consumers, they can expect to see some great new material to peruse, as Ruth predicts print publications become “more gorgeous than ever.”

“These publications will offer the kinds of experience and interaction that are not available online. Examples you will see in 2016 are publications that include worksheets, planners, or a continuation of the adult coloring experience; publications whose experience piece includes community and events; and publications that connect on every front: in print, online, and in real-world goodies, gifts, and events,” she writes. “And yes, we’ve been doing multiplatform for years, but publishers are getting really good at it, and we can expect to see it continue to blossom in the coming year.”