Friday, February 13, 2009

Publishers in U.S. seen weighing benefits of their association

Just when you'd think that magazine publishers would ramp up their cooperation and pull together in the face of hard times, the decision by Hachette Filippachi (publishers of Elle and Car & Driver among others) to pull out of the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) has caused talk. Tony Silber at Folio: predicted that Hachette would not be the last big publisher to become a dropout.

The reason, according to AdAge, may have been to save the dues money, with Hachette deciding the annual cost wasn't commensurate with the annual benefits, though there may be more to it.

Jeff Bercovici of Portfolio reported that Hachette was saving $1 million a year. He also published a back-of-the-envelope calculation that Time Inc. pays nearly $3.25 million, Condé Nast (which publishes Portfolio) $2.75 million and Hearst $2 million. The MPA responded that dues are based on circulation and ad revenues and that the numbers cited were "highly overstated".
[Bercovici published a correction:
Since I published the initial version of this item, it has become clear to me that the $1 million figure cited by my source as Hachette's annual MPA dues was substantially exaggerated. The other figures were all extrapolated, via back-of-the-envelope calculation, from my source's figure; thus, they all represent inflated estimates as well.]

There is no indication that similar defections are being seen in Canada at the MPA's counterpart, Magazines Canada. Large publishers tend to see having a national lobbying organization to speak with one voice on postal and funding issues as a vital cost of doing business; smaller members agree, but tend to find that the services such as MagsCan's distribution business, make membership worth the price.

[Disclosure: I sometimes do contract work for Magazines Canada and it is an advertiser on this blog.]

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