New paradigm or lack of knowledge of publishing history?

New paradigm or lack of knowledge of publishing history? I don’t have time to this morning, but before I leave the airwaves today, I will explain once more that people whose knowledge of magazine history is limited to two weeks ago, should never describe something as “a new paradigm.” There is nothing new about All You/WalMart/Big box retailer launch. Nothing. I’ll explain later, but walk into Home Depot and look for a shelf of books from Meredith if you want to begin somewhere.

Update: I almost forgot before unplugging from the grid: I promised to debunk the notion of any “paradigm shifting” related to the launch of All You magazine. I could go a few thousand words on this but I’ll try to do the brief version.

First, a disclosure: I am a shareholder of Time Inc. (purchased some the day it was announced Steve Case was leaving, some more the day Ted Turner cashed out). Some of my favorite magazine people either work at Time Inc. now or have at some point in their careers. And, for over a year, I’ve been on record as saying the Wal-Mart channel/Time Inc. connection is a great idea.That said, I would like to explain that the claim by some folks at Time that the way in which All You is being launched is some sort of paradigm-shifting “new way” of launching a magazine is a ridiculous.

Time Inc. is doing nothing new. How can something that’s already been done and documented by another magazine be anything new?

In addition, every week there are publishers who launch magazines dependent on narrow-channel retail newsstand distribution. That Wal-Mart has grown to be as large as entire channels and that Time Inc. is trying to utlize that channel with a special product is not a new paradigm, merely the repetition of that which is done with every one-off movie tie-in magazine, home-design-planner or hobbiest/enthusiast magazine coming off the press. Walk into Michaels, the big box crafts store and you’ll see a rack of magazines you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Home Depot has had a relationship with Meredith to produce branded media for over a decade. What about magazines that are published independently by technology-industry publishers that are only sold to those who use a specific software or hardware platform?They are independent, but sell through the channel of a branded product.

What’s more, what’s so paradigm shifting about this business deal: Time Inc. assumes all financial risk for a magaize that it names “All You” that is an obvious salute to the Wal-Mart slogan, “Always.” Time Inc. offers the product to Wal-Mart at a price-point Wal-Mart directs them to charge. Time Inc. offers Wal-Mart exclusive distribution of the product. Time Inc. allows (unless they want to clarify this) Wal-Mart the ability to mark up the product for a greater margin than practically any other item in the store. Time Inc. allows (unless they want to clarify this) Wal-Mart the opportunity to return all unsold product for a full refund.

I could go on, but I’m outta here.

  • bhudgins

    When I was a grasshopper reporter, I railed (usually with foot upon a brass rail) against the cluelessness of editors, who had heard a fifth hand version of a story (usually while their own feet were planted upon said brass rail), and the next day conveyed a further garbled version to a reporter to pursue. I think the parlor game version, only slightly less well paid, is called Refrigerator. This sounds suspiciously like the reporter, having sighted a press release, doing a complete sell job on the editor, who is even less knowledgeable and eager for the always new thing. There are very, very few new things, as someone said about 3 millennia ago, no doubt ripping off someone equally ancient. But the media game turns upon the premise that there never has been a story on 7 ways to rip your abs, or drop that extra 10 kilos of cellulite – at least, never since last issue. New sells.


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