Why Heavier Paper May Be a Brilliant Move for EW

EWEntertainment Weekly saw a 14-15% drop in ad rates the first half of this year. So they are doing what any publisher would do, laying off staff and slashing costs, right?


“Instead of additional layoffs, the weekly Time Inc. title is planning to go to heavier paper stock,” writes Keith J. Kelly in The New York Post.

Crazy or brilliant? According to D. Eadward Tree in Publishing Executive, it’s six different kinds of smart. For starters, according to Tree, advertisers will approve.  The title alienated many of their advertisers when they downgraded their paper to a 29#LWC a few years ago, and they have been paying for it since.

“If the move brings an average of just one more ad page into each issue, that alone should cover the cost of the better paper,” notes Tree, who estimates that the move will cost the publisher upwards of $800,000 in paper, postage and shipping.

Magazines are no longer chasing huge circulation numbers to boost base rate, having found “more efficient ways to find masses of people,” Tree continues, pointing out reason #2 why this is a smart move.

“Print is now a vehicle for reaching valuable target audiences with more memorable and engaging messages than digital media typically can deliver.”

With the per-pound rate at the Post Office going down (reason #3), and lower transport costs on 34# paper west of the Rockies (#4), the company could “virtually eliminate the cost of upgrading its West Coast copies.”

While we aren’t sure if #5 is pure speculation (using lesser quality paper in the off-markets to keep the prices down), advances in paper-making tech (#6) very well could make the cost of the higher grade paper a wash for the publisher.

Quality matters in this business, especially as print magazines are viewed increasingly as affordable luxuries.  Advertisers will like this change, and we know readers will too. When’s the last time you considered a paper upgrade? Maybe it’s time…