The Magazine Publishers of America has released the 2004 edition of its annual "Magazine Handbook" and if you're involved in print planning, the 52-page report, available at Magazine.org, is worth checking out.
Here are some of the many interesting, useful, and in some cases, bizarre nuggets:
* Based on the MPA's criteria for measuring and monitoring magazines, the number of total magazines was down in 2003 versus the previous year--from 17,321 to 17,254. However, the number of consumer magazines was up by nearly a thousand titles, going from 5,340 to 6,234--an increase of 17 percent.
* The industry saw 440 new launches last year, with 45 falling within the Crafts/Games/Hobbies/Models category (and mysteriously, just one in the Mystery/Science Fiction category).
* As an indication of the deep thinking and serious nature of a nation preoccupied by a war and an upcoming presidential election, the leading editorial subject covered by magazines was "Entertainment/Celebrity," with more than 18.2 million pages representing more than 12 percent of all pages. Apparel/Accessories was the second-highest editorial category, with more than 10 percent of all pages. Lucky for that.
* The percentage of advertising (versus editorial) pages is up from one year ago--from 46.6 percent to 47.9 percent--although it is still lower than 1996, when advertising represented more than half of magazine pages.
* According to an intriguing analysis of GRPs (gross rating points) for both media, the top 25 magazines out-deliver the top 25 prime-time TV shows for several adult and teen demos.
To help planners make the case for more magazine spending, several pages are dedicated to providing documentation of various studies that seek to prove magazines' ROI effectiveness. Measuring magazines' 'wantedness' also receives a fair amount of attention.
The MPA plans to feature different questions every week for the foreseeable future. Currently, they are asking: "What company was the magazine industry's top advertiser in 2003? The answer can be found on page 30.
The National Geographic Society, which changed the title of its kid-aimed National Geographic World to National Geographic Kids two years ago, is on an international roll. New versions of the kids title are launching in Latin America, South Africa, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, and the Netherlands in 2004, bringing to 11 the number of international editions of its children's publications that have launched in the last year.
This expansion coincides with the global expansion of the famous yellow-bordered National Geographic magazine, now available in 25 non-English languages, according to Terry Adamson, executive vice president of the National Geographic Society.
"Part of [the growth of the kid's title] has been the success of the National Geographic magazine in other countries in the last few years," he said. As interest and demand grew in the non-English version of the famous book, most of which launched over the last five years, demand for the kids title rose.
However, the simple renaming of the children's edition in the United States was what really caused the entire concept to take off.
"Suddenly, there has been this huge interest in the kids publication," Adamson said. "People knew what it was for."
Content for these new international titles is derived mostly from the U.S. magazine, which boasts a circulation of 1.2 million, and from other Society publications, including the classroom-designed National Geographic Explorer!.
The new magazines also include local content created by their publishers.
No Limits For Kids
Speaking of kids' titles, Sports Illustrated For Kids will hit the road for the third consecutive year with its No Limits Road Trip 2004 Tour, a traveling action sports show that will feature live performances and interactive clinics with some of the best athletes on the BMX bike and skateboard circuit.
The event begins next week at Wet 'n Wild in Las Vegas June 22 and 23, Reaching 12 major amusement parks throughout the summer.
Last year, the Colorado resort Copper Mountain approached Cooking Light about creating a travel event for the magazine's readers in exchange for several ad pages.
Based on its success, Cooking Light is running its own version of last year's successful event in creating its Food & Fitness Getaway, to be held this August in Vail, Colo. Cooking Light promoted $667 per-person travel packages to its readers who wished to attend the three-day event, while this time signing on advertisers for in-book and on-site sponsorships. So far, winemaker Woodbridge and upscale appliance manufacturer Jenn-Air are on board.
Kate Darden, Cooking Light's marketing director, believes it is important for the magazine to have such "signature" events on a yearly or twice-a-year basis, to excite both readers and advertisers. "More and more, our readers want to come out and participate," she said. "It's also a way for advertisers to reach out and touch these people."
The Vail event fits in with Cooking Light's editorial focus on a healthy and active lifestyle. Those traveling to Vail will get to be as active as they'd like, while also attending yoga classes and spas, plus meal sessions with firsthand instruction on healthy preparation.
Air & Space magazine, the magazine of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, had undergone a cover redesign starting with the current June/July issue in an effort to boost newsstand sales... Bridal Guide is helping contribute to national security. The book has recently named its "Bride/Groom of the Year," who are getting married this month. Each member of the couple is an agent for the secret service... Former women's tennis star Zina Garrison, she of 14 singles titles, will be on hand at next week's Tennis Magazine Wimbledon Experience, which is sponsored by British Airways and Rolex. The event, held June 22-24, will turn Vanderbilt Hall, within New York City's Grand Central Terminal, into a mock All England Club featuring royal guards, ivy walls, and simulated grass playing surfaces to coincide with Wimbledon.