MPA Breaks Out Indie Division

Independent publishers don't want to break away from the Magazine Publishers of America, but they do want some services that will meet their specific needs.

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:

  • The MPA will re-cast its annual salary and compensation survey so the results are more applicable to independent publishers, especially those based outside New York City.

  • IMAG will create more events, workshops, seminars, and training courses tailored to meet the needs of independent publishers, and spread the locations around the country, where the independent publishers are located.

  • IMAG will have its own forums, meetings and networking events, where independents can meet to discuss common problems.

    "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."

  • Next story loading loading..