Thus the Small Magazine Advisory Council within the MPA has become the Independent Magazines Advisory Group (IMAG), under John P. Lively of The Taunton Press. Lively's own company is an illustration of some of the differences between the MPA at-large and the smaller publishers IMAG serves. Taunton sells magazines, books and CDs to people who are passionate about hobbies such as cooking, gardening, and sewing, from offices in Newtown, Conn., a small upstate town that is closer to Newburgh, NY than New York City.
"If you're a circulation director at Time Warner, you can do the same thing at Hachette or Gruner + Jahr. The same is true for ad sales. If you're at Hearst you can transition to Conde Nast," Lively said.
That's not as true among the independents. Independent publishers also have less capital and smaller staffs where one person handles many jobs. They're more entrepreneurial; most independents are family-owned. Members of Lively's 24-person board who have served at big companies "are most insistent that independent publishing is a different thing," he said.
Another difference is in where they make their money. "Independent publishers derive a higher percentage of revenues from readers than advertisers, on balance. "That means you have to have a different attitude toward publishing. Most publishers at large companies are in charge of the ad sales program. At an independent publisher it's the person in charge of the whole enterprise," Lively said.
Independents' interests don't diverge from conglomerates in things like postage and patents, taxes or trademarks, Lively said, but they could use a different mix of services. IMAG will work to create them:
"Many people who came to our meeting found that just getting together with people faced with similar issues was very beneficial," said Lively. But, "They would prefer to engage in workshops and discussions than spend the time recreationally."