Mag Bag: Commemorative Issues Prove Profitable
Although it may sound a little morbid, magazine publishers need all the help they can get, and some of it comes from dead people. In the summer of 2009, newsweeklies and celebrity titles have received a much-needed economic boost from commemorative issues -- first for Michael Jackson, and now for Senator Ted Kennedy, who died Tuesday night at the age of 77.
Both Time and Newsweek are planning special commemorative issues for Kennedy. The Time coverage includes a respectful overview by Richard Lacayo, highlighting his many achievements, and a nuanced essay by Michael Scherer balancing the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of Kennedy's long political career. Other essayists cover his complicated relationships with his brothers, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, and the clan's formidable patriarch, Joseph Kennedy.
Time is also producing a 112-page book recounting Kennedy's life, describing the volume as "an intimate portrait from his early years to his last days as the Lion of the Senate," including previously unreleased photographs by Ken Regan.
Newsweek's special commemorative issue, available only on newsstands, will include essays by Kennedy's former colleagues in the Senate, Orrin Hatch and Birch Bayh, along with commentary and reflections by other invited authors and Newsweek editors.
Commemorative issues can be big business for magazines. The sale of various special issues and magazine-branded books commemorating Michael Jackson has yielded an extra $55 million in newsstand sales, according to Ad Age, which cited a survey by the Magazine Information Network. That compares to total magazine retail sales of $1.8 billion or more.
New Era Cap Launches Digital Custom Pub
New Era Cap, a lifestyle brand focused on baseball caps and sports apparel, is launching a digital custom publication titled Your Lifestyle. Fitted. Designed by New York-based Narrative, the free quarterly publication -- which will be distributed via email blasts to over 100,000 members of the company's Web site -- features editorial content focused on music, sports and fashion, much of it tailored to the tastes of the urban lifestyle demographic. The digital publication features interactive video content and recurring sections called "Fanatic," profiling a New Era Cap fan, and "Boutique Series," highlighting New Era Cap retail partners.
Reader's Digest Plans New Health Magazine
The Reader's Digest Association is moving ahead with plans to launch a new health magazine targeting women over 40 titled Best You, this coming March, according to WWD. At launch, the magazine will have a rate base of 500,000. RDA is trying to cash in on this demo's particular interest in health, which has inspired a series of new magazine launches over the last couple of years, including two newspaper-distributed magazines -- Spry, from Publishing Group of America, and HealthyStyle, from Parade. The company is also launching "Earn, Save, Thrive: How to Get Ahead in Today's Economy, The Reader's Digest Version," on Kindle Sept. 8.
Vibe Names Hall EIC
Vibe magazine, recently raised from the dead after a brief stint in the grave, has a new editor in chief: Jermaine Hall, previously the editor in chief of the now-defunct King, was named to the post this week by the magazine's new owners. Hall also served as music editor at The Source, another hip-hop music title with a rocky past.
Departures Creates Special Brooks Brothers' Pub
Departures magazine and Brooks Brothers have teamed up to create a special 52-page retrospective of the latter's contributions to men's style, which will be shipped along with the September issue of Departures to 1.1 million readers. The special custom publication will focus on Makers & Merchants labeled products, along with service information on both apparel style and care.
Departures, which is delivered to American Express Platinum Card and Centurion members, will also offer special card-based incentives for readers who buy any items from Brooks Brothers' Fall collection.