BoSacks: No B.S.: The Real Secret to Publishing Success
In any given year, I give about a dozen “talks” about the publishing industry. Sometimes it is to interested companies and sometimes it is to the industry at large during publishing conventions and conferences. Last month I had the privilege to speak at SIPA (Specialized Information Publishers Association). This was a new group for me, and I found it fascinating not only to talk to, but to mix and mingle with this group of publishers. SIPA is an international trade association dedicated to advancing the interests of for-profit subscription newsletter publishers and specialized-information services. Their concerns, problems and triumphs greatly parallel those of the traditional and newly re-forming magazine industry.
At the show, one of the keynote speakers was my friend Roy Reiman, the founder and publisher of Reiman Publications. I am dating myself with this next reference, but Roy sometimes reminds me of Senator Sam Ervin, who liked to call himself a simple country lawyer. Sam was never simple and used his great rural charm and piercing smarts to the greatest advantage in the Senate.
Roy takes great pride in being from a farm in the Midwest, and using his incredible Midwest charm and smarts, he amassed a publishing empire that included 14 national magazines. One of the many magazines was Taste of Home, which attracted over 5.3 million paid subscribers, larger than Sports Illustrated and Time magazine combined. The kicker for me is that none of these magazines contained advertising. They were all solely supported by subscriptions. Eventually the company had 16 million paid subscribers and one out of every eight homes in America got a Reiman title. The company finally sold for somewhere in the range of 700 million dollars. How is that for midwestern farming smarts?
There is a reason I am telling you all this background. I have heard Roy speak a few times, and I have always taken away a few new gems of publishing advice and methodology, but at this conference, something important solidified for me. I was sitting in the audience next to a publisher, and she was audibly impressed with Roy and taking copious notes. At the end of the talk, we chatted and she showed me a word she had written down and underlined several times. The word was engagement.