The Quest for the Perfect Cover
3. Newsstand sales are vital to magazine circulation in Brazil. The problem with selling them in São Paulo is that the pollution sneaks dirt between the pages, and who wants to buy a soiled copy? Therefore, plastic-bagging is essential. But if the issue is bagged and you can’t flip the pages while you’re browsing at the newsstand, how do you know what’s inside? Coverlines—lots and lots of them. Nevermind that your product is stylish and elegant, and the gorgeous cover subject is ruined by all that type. All that type is inescapable, given the outside sales conditions, like it or not.
4. A few years ago, I came across a unique cover problem in Ecuador. All the covers of the local, general-interest weekly newsmagazine bore pictures of partially clad young ladies, though there was one issue on the wall in the editor’s office that showed jungle guerrillas with guns. That had been an experiment and a circulation disaster. The mail system could not be depended on to deliver magazines, and newsstands were few, because they required a lot of investment. Circulation depended on boys who bought a handful of copies to peddle in the streets. The cover with the boy-oriented guerrillas was a failed attempt to appeal to these newsboys. Convinced that they couldn’t sell a magazine that lacked a pretty model on the cover, the newsboys refused to buy any themselves.
No matter what you put on the cover, keep the six functions of covers in mind:
1. Familiar recognition from issue to issue (that’s the brand)
2. Emotionally irresistible (that’s the image’s appeal)
3. Arousing curiosity (that’s to pull the casual glancer in)
4. Intellectually stimulating, interesting (that’s to promise benefits)
5. Efficient, fast, easy to scan (that’s showing off the service)
6. Worth the investment of money and time (that’s the “What’s in it for me?”)
Related story: The 4 Functional Scales of Cover Type