Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Magaward best cover winner said to be "divorced from reality" of the newsstand

Scott Bullock is well-known as a magazine newsstand expert and a guy with strong opinions about what works and what doesn't in driving single copy sales. I defer to his expertise (almost) completely on such matters.
But I have to disagree with his recent post on his CoversSell blog (mirrored on Masthead) about this year's winner in the cover category at the National Magazine Awards.
Bullock felt that the selection of Feathertale Review as best magazine cover flew in the face of commercial realities.Aside from the fact that judges judge the covers which are entered and that he seems not to have noticed the New Yorker parody,  he suggest that circulation and commercial success should somehow be a factor in deciding what the "best cover" should be. (That's what I thought the Canadian Newsstand Awards were about.) Anyway, here's what he said, in part:
I suspect that a very small percentage of the magazine junkies in attendance at the Carlu had ever heard of these titles, let alone ever purchased a copy.   I suspect an even smaller percentage of Canadians have either.   Yet these are the titles held up as the very best examples of what a great cover should look like?  I suppose if this were a fashion show, it would be the equivalent of couture vs. ready to wear.  On the one hand, creative and edgy, on the other, completely divorced from the reality of what it takes to sell single copies or subscriptions.
With a very few exceptions, the magazine awards are, and have always been, based on what is on the page, honouring the work of creators. Not marketers. Not distributors. Not even readers. And how many copies are distributed is irrelevant. Again, you enter, you're judged against all other entries and you win, or not. I have no inside information on how the judges decided, but I have absolutely no problem with Feathertale being the winner.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

In either case, for the love of God—can everyone stop doing parodies the New Yorker cover? It's a nice cover but the idea is incredibly unoriginal at this point.

2:02 pm  
Blogger Anicka said...

I'd have to respectfully disagree with D.B. It's not the best illustration or the best photograph category - it's the best cover award for a magazine (and the cover's role is to make the reader want to read the magazine - to open it up and dive in).
I think the category should be rewarding art directors who successfully manage to design a gorgeous cover despite all that's thrown at them - incorporating those brilliantly worded [ :)] coverlines while still making an arresting image, arresting.

8:16 pm  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

Fair comment, though I wonder why the Feathertale cover doesn't do just what you say, make its readers open it up and dive in. And therefore meets the criteria you set.

My disagreement was with the suggestion that, because the magazine is small and few people read it, it is somehow inappropriate to pick it as the best cover. As far as I know, the best cover category definition says nothing about circulation or sell-through or size of audience. I would resist such criteria. As I say, we have the Canadian Newsstand Awards which do that.

12:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People like Scott Bullock are the problem with the NMAs...If he had his way Chatelaine, Toronto Life and Hockey News would win cover of the year each year. Someone should let him know that he should keeps his comments to himself, unless he is talking about the Newsstand Awards.

9:30 am  

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