Thursday, December 14, 2006

FHM: The end is nigh

As Emap closes FHM in the States, what is there to say except: Wow.

Wonder if Felix Dennis is laughing much. Probably not.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Anyone remember what's-it's-name?

Yet another publisher thinks they can crack the market with a magazine for young boys.

This time it's Egmont , perhaps best known for Thomas & Friends and the mag is called Lazer. But rather than monkeyslum-type under-the-bed-grot, Lazer will be filled with aspirational activities. The first issue will be cover mounted with stickers to signify tasks completed, somewhat like Bob-A-Job.

I can't help thinking that if 100,000 boys wanted this they would be joining the scouts. Mind you, it's better than the 200,000 which was Sorted's print run. To quote the estimable
Sorted - closes
May [2004]. Sorted Communications, Brighton. £2.50. Ed: Piers Townley
After just four issues, the monthly for boys aged 12-16 has closed. The fifth issue, featuring a cover interiew with David Beckham, was at the printers. In a report in the Press Gazette, editor Piers Townley (who had been deputy for the launch issue) blamed the profligacy of the founder and chairman Russell Church, saying a 200,000 print run for the launch had been 'commercial suicide'.

And by the way, just what did Xplode sell in the end?

Essentials turns into She

When She relaunched last year (was it really only last year?) one very noticeable feature was the high number of 'how to' features. Clearly someone at IPC has now noticed this as we are promised a new-look Essentials next year (not long now). Still, when your ABC has slipped by nearly 30% you gotta do summat.

It's getting dark in here.

You know how to whistle, don't you? Just put your lips together and blow.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Magazines and Web 2.0: Could Do Much Better!

Something tells me that Emap haven't quite got this Web2.0 thing yet - Country Walking is going to charge readers to upload mobile UGC to the magazine's site - 50p each way. The charge will be disguised in that it goes on the contributor's mobile bill, which is always a neat way to get round the problem, but I presume it will be made clear in a terms-and-conditions-apply way.

Of course, this could just be the first move in an industry-wide development. IPC's next big online initiative is also likely to involve UGC in some way and publishers have always been able to monetise a community's interests and loyalty (there would be no cover prices otherwise).

Call me an unrealistic sentimental old fool (I won't disgree, after all what IS so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?) but it does seem a shame that the bonanza potential of Web2.0 is being shifted from geeks in garages (or universities) suddenly being swamped with cash to the more mundane, quotidian business of cashflow, profit and loss.

Oh for the Good Old Days.

Consolidating the teen market

Sticker, album and comics specialist Panini (nothing to do with bread rolls) has bought Bliss magazine (ABC=213,466) from Emap. Earlier this year the Tunbridge Wells based publisher bought Mizz (ABC=60,130) from IPC.

It is industry wisdom that the teen market has "collapsed" with the rise of MySpace and similar sites (though some magazines are fighting back). Although that Bliss ABC figure still looks quite healthy, it represents a 22.7% year-on-year fall. However, the deal will put Panini UK in a strong position in whatever is left of that once all-conquering demographic space and there may be signs of hope in the advertising market - though not much if Emap is selling.

Panini UK managing director Mike Riddell is quoted as saying: "Bliss will be a major acquisition for Panini UK which will propel us into the number one position in teenage lifestyle.

"Panini will become the second-largest publisher of teenage and children's magazines in the UK.

"When combined with our collectable portfolio, our publishing programme is now unrivalled in the sector."

As many other publishers have found in the past, what mega-players regard as crumbs from the table can provide a very nourishing meal for those with slightly smaller appetities.

Outsourcing editorial comes closer

The newly revived Press Gazette is promising a story about a news organisation outsourcing (or offshoring) work to India. This is a concept which has been mooted in this blog - following magazine guru David Hepworth's lead - many times.

The colonisation of developing markets (India, China, eastern Europe) by BBC Worldwide, Conde Nast , Emap and others will not - cannot - be a one-way process. Once the offshore personnel are trained to suitable standards the relentless march of cost cutting will see them taking on tasks previously undertaken in the UK. If Radio Times can outsource its listings to PA in Yorkshire, why not anywhere else in the world?

Many overseas editorial staff are already highly trained thanks either to a strong tradition of journalism (as in India) or as a result of taking journalism courses in the UK, USA, Australia or in China itself (as witnessed by the numbers of Chinese students on such programmes). Countries such as the Baltic states already boast large numbers of well educated, creative, communicative young people who speak excellent English: today Howden, tomorrow Riga.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Magazines and Web 2.0: Could Do Better

A report looking at how top selling American magazines use the 'new' web developments has concluded that the form hasn't yet started to take full advantage of the possibilities (thanks to for the lead and bivingsreport for the original survey).

Given that many top selling magazines in the UK have only just got around to launching proper Web 1.0 type sites, and that the companies which publish them have only just got over the shock of 2000 and all that, the findings are not so surprising.

However, there has been a flurry of UK publishers appointing digi-directors and this points to a realisation that Something Must Be Done.

The good news for young magazine journalists and students on journalism courses is that the future is there for invention and they can be at the heart of it.

Further reading: bivingsreport on newspapers and magazines

ADDENDUM: Here's a question, is this Web1.0, Web2.0 or just a way for Conde Nast to absorb people from its less successful ventures?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Press Gazette rides again

Press Gazette is dead, long live Press Gazette!

B2B specialists Wilmington picked up the corpse of our beloved trade paper, shouted "Clear", applied the paddles and the flat-lining publication flickered back to life.

1) I bet they got a real bargain
2) Will Ian Reeves (thank you PMA training) stick with his new gig as MediaGuardian pundit?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Rupert springs another surprise!

Not content with taking a highly strategic stake in ITV, thus depriving poor underprivileged Richard Branson of a potential Virgin TV brand, in a shock and totally unpredictable development, another arm of the empire has moved the contract for SKY magazine from John Brown to News Magazines Ltd.

Whatever next? Let's see – perhaps the contracts for Sky Sports and Sky Movies magazines will be moved from Haymarket and Future respectively to ... News Magazines Ltd.

Unlikely as it seems now, it could happen.

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