Monday, February 19, 2007

Small titles finding it harder and
harder at Indigo

One of the paradoxes of single copy sales of magazines is that you have to waste magazines to sell them. The average consumer magazine in this country sells less than 40 out of every 100 copies in its "draw", the magazines that are sent through wholesalers to the retail stores. The rest are eventually shredded.

Magazines haven't been able to find a better way to get to miscellaneous individual buyers, though their hope (as evidenced by those annoying blow-in cards) is to convert them to subscribers. The whole setup is particularly difficult for small magazines which wrestle with yet another paradox -- that if you don't put enough copies on the newsstand, you get poorer display and sell even fewer copies. Still, most small magazines (in this country that's any one with <5,000 circulation) do their best.

However, last year the company that controls a large proportion of the newsstands in this country, Chapters/Indigo, announced that it was no longer interested in handling the returns of magazines that sell less than 50% of their draw.

Small publishers have been waiting with some anxiety for the next shoe to drop and it appears it has. Publishers are getting notification that their draws are being cut back. Which is where the paradox really kicks in. If you used to put 500 copies on the racks at Indigo and sold 200 (40%), now you'll be allowed to put something like 375. If you somehow achieved a 'sell-through' of 50%, which would make Indigo happy, you'd only sell 188 copies.

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Anonymous Corinna vanGerwen said...

If most magazines regularly sell less than 50%, even those with large circulations, is Indigo going to hold everyone to the same standards? Can we expect to see magazines like Chatelaine and Maclean's barred from the newsstands at these retailers? Or have their draw cut back so they sell an ever decreasing number of copies?

2:11 pm  

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