As I mentioned last time, the traditional definition of
a magazine is a "storehouse of information" that is published
at least four times a year. Technically this may still be
true, but with the changes in our industry over just the last
ten years, we should be careful not to cling too tightly to
this outdated language.
More and more we have seen magazines evolve into new creatures.
From magazines released on a CD to magazines with the majority
of their content held on a DVD, our eyes must see our industry
in a changing light.
While in England a few weeks ago I was inundated by scores
and scores of magazines and saw the exciting ways they use
our medium to target, reach and inform readers. On every newsstand,
I saw three divisions in the British magazine industry: premiums,
newspaper magazine supplements and weeklies.
The most noticeable aspect of the Brit magazine industry was their use of covermounts. Over the past few years there has been a rise in the use of covermounts but this recent explosion is unmatched. Premium titles such as Glamour and Tatler have begun including gifts with almost each newsstand edition. In the early days of covermount use, publishers would include small knickknack items such as stickers; however, these small-time gimmicks have grown into big-time products-the stickers and key chains have been replaced by CDs, handbags, clothing and umbrellas.
These products have given editors and publishers one more way to try to hook readers into their title for the long haul. Titles are seeing their covermounts not just as an eye-catcher or attention-grabber but as collectible items that can bring readers back week after week or month after month. One title in England included parts so that, by buying the title week after week, readers could eventually build an entire model car.
The August edition of Elle came with one of five different bikinis that readers could choose from or collect if they chose. Marie Claire did the same with a two-piece set of different colored travel make-up bags. In addition to their covermounts, both premium titles offered readers the choice between the full-size and travel or handy size of their magazine. (I wondered if the swimsuit in the handy size was smaller than the one in the full-size edition although they claimed one size fits all.)
As I talked about last time, newspapers are the new competition of magazines: while magazines introduced the idea of covermounts to newsstands, newspapers have adopted this marketing strategy with their dailies. But covermounts aren't the only thing newspapers have gleaned from the magazine industry: many Brit newspapers are including magazines as well.