BoSacks: No B.S.: Sizing up Publishing Success
There is an old expression that says, "It's not the size of the wand, but the magic that it performs." I believe that this sage advice is true with almost everything, including our beloved publishing industry. David showed Goliath what size meant to him and Reader's Digest showed The Saturday Evening Post what size meant to it at 25 percent of the Post's size. Did you know that Reader's Digest was the best-selling consumer magazine in the United States and didn't lose that lofty spot until 2009 to Better Homes and Gardens? International editions of Reader's Digest are distributed to 40 million people in more than 70 countries, with 50 editions in 21 languages. It is the largest paid circulation magazine in the world. Oh yeah, and all that success came in a relatively puny size. The rate base of a full page in 2012 for RD is $185,300. So, size, at least here, is less meaningful than the perceived magical performance.
I am telling you all this because I firmly believe that size doesn't matter as much as the magic and the worth of the content we produce. As we move into the mobile media landscape we must remember the success of the Reader's Digest format.
This brings me to another very important point about paginated media. One of the tricks to our survival as a publishing industry is still paginated media. Yep. That is correct. Regardless of the substrate and regardless of the size we still need to remember paginated media, and I'll tell you why.
Reader's Digest, or the even the smaller TV Guide, showed us that 50 percent less than the size of an iPad doesn't truly matter, but rather the great respect for the concept of the full page is what's important. For me, having successfully sold advertising space, I have always considered that we in the paginated media business are also in the real estate business. We sell the right to view our real estate, because we have massive amounts of vacationers (readers) coming to our valued properties each and every day for the tremendous views. We rent our plots of real estate to advertisers. Now, hold that thought as we move into the next stage of publishing.