Archive for March, 2011

Hearst in £574m deal over Elle rights

March 30, 2011

US group Hearst – owner of NatMags in the UK – is to pay French media group Lagardere €651m for control of its international magazines, including UK arm Hachette Filipacchi, Press Gazette reports.

The agreement includes Elle (in the US, Russia & Ukraine, Italy, Spain, the UK, China, Japan, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Mexico, Taiwan, Canada and Germany) among 102 Lagardère print titles in 15 countries as well as 50 websites and mobile and tablet apps.

Other titles include Woman’s Day, Car & Driver and Cycle World in the US, Red in the UK and Holland.

Lagardère will continue to own the Elle trademark and receive royalties. Before the deal, Lagardère was the largest magazine publisher in the world. Hearst will strengthen its international portfolio against Vogue publisher Conde Nast.

NatMags profile
Hachette Filipacchi profile
Lagardère website
Hearst website
Conde Nast profile


The failure of iPad magazines

March 30, 2011

Amid all the hype, Andrew Losowsky has taken a hard look at magazines on the iPad for the Hospital Club and come up with some very cold water for publishers, such as:

  1. Why should someone pay $47.88 for the Wired app when it costs $10 a year in the USA to receive for the magazine?
  2. There are 15m iPads out there. Sound a lot? (It’s only the population of Beijing.)
  3. There’s a massive amount of competing media on an iPad (250m websites for a start).
  4. Apps are a fad. Remember the CD-Rom publishing revolution? he asks. (I do, I wrote a book on it!)
  5. Maglets (magazines on tablets) are ‘outside the digital conversation’ – you can’t tweet someone a chunk of one.
  6. Most mag apps are ‘irritating applications of over-design by people giddy at the possibilities of new formats’.

Is there any hope? Read the rest of Andrew’s article.

History of digital media


Sword-fighting frogs and Dickens

March 28, 2011
Two stuffed frogs with "human attitudes" battle it out in a work by a Parisian taxidermist, Leyoudec on the National Geographic website

Stuffed frogs with ‘human attitudes’ battle it out in a work by a Parisian taxidermist on the National Geographic website

I’m sitting in a cosy cottage in Hampshire having tea after walking around Hambledon and the Bat and Ball, a mecca for cricket lovers. It’s also Jane Austen country, home to that inveterate baseball player. What do I come across online but the above photograph of sword-fencing stuffed frogs that are on display at Maison Mantin, a house in France that has been shut up since 1911.

Now, on the wall of the cottage is an old print ‘The Empty Chair. 9 June 1870’ by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes. Fildes, one of the great illustrators of his day, made the image as a tribute to Charles Dickens, who had just died, and it appeared in The Graphic shortly after. Here’s a print of ‘The Empty Chair’:


And what is there on the top of the desk to the left – two frogs having a sword fight! Anybody know what that’s all about?


>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

Magazines expand revenue sources

March 17, 2011

In the 1980s, I worked as a sub and reporter for two weekly medical newspapers: Doctor and Hospital Doctor. In each issue of both, there was a spread of reader offers by post: one page for medical equipment, the other for general goods. It was a good source of income and an idea I copied at Redwood Publishing – I was later told the cash income from one offer saved the company from going bust.


One of many spin-offs from Tit-Bits magazine

But the idea of publishers selling goods off the page goes back far longer than that. Tit-Bits, that great Victorian pioneer of marketing and all these magazines, spun off books, puzzles and offers of all kinds. Publishers have always sought new sources of revenue because the margins are often far higher than the main publishing business – the trick is not to upset your advertisers.

And it’s still true today, with Future this week teaming up with the Telegraph to produce computer guides for the newspaper’s readers. Windows: The Official Magazine has developed Confident Computing supplements that will be published on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 March, for the Daily Telegraph’s 1.68m readers and the Sunday Telegraph’s 1.45m readers. That’s a lot of publicity for the magazine, and Future will be hoping that the glossy, 52-page supplements will draw less tech-savvy users into the magazine with sections on email, online shopping, internet security and hardware and troubleshooting tips. Alongside the Saturday supplement will be a subscription deal offering three copies of Windows: The Official Magazine for just £1 each.


Hidden Treasure puzzle from Tit-Bits

Future obviously sees potential growth in the magazine (seems strange, just as PC and laptop sales are being hit by the iPad frenzy) with a series of Official Windows Presents set for April, an example of ‘brand extension’ in today’s jargon. Each of these will focus on how computing can help people ‘get more from life’ in areas such as home entertainment, travel, buying and selling online and healthy living.

This is an area where Future has experience: in the 1990s, the Financial Times bought the publisher to pursue just such activities, but the idea floundered and Future took itself independent again.

Other recent ideas include:

However, the title that’s really made a go of things in this area is Tyler Brule’s Monocle.

  • shops selling its branded goods in London and four other cities;
  • goods made by international brands, from a £20 Monocle notebook to a £370 blanket for sale online;
  • Other products branded with its logo have included: a Comme des Garçons perfume; a bicycle; bags; and a Danish-made table. Its bags costs £155-£270. Media Week reckoned it had sold 2000. At £200 each, that’s an income of 400,000, comparable with the magazine selling 100,000 copies a month at £5 each;
  • sponsored online video interviews, reports and travel guides sponsored by the likes of Maurice Lacroix, Spanish tourism and Bloomberg.

That’s an impressive list. But there’s nothing original about the idea – and more magazines could follow the example.

Hitler in Liverpool

March 13, 2011

The Hitler Mein Kampf partwork post has thrown up a few queries, but I cannot throw any light on Adolf Hitler’s supposed visit to Liverpool. What I can confirm is that Kirklands bakery in Hardman Street did have a sign in the window saying that both Queen Victoria and Hitler’s brother had eaten there.

This makes sense because Hitler’s half brother Alois lived in Upper Stanhope Street, in Toxteth – and the nearby Philharmonic Hotel (opposite the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall) had a chicken curry dish on its menu using a recipe that was claimed to have been invented for Victoria (she visited Liverpool at least twice, in 1851 and 1886).

This was long before Kirklands became a wine bar, with a room above where people such as George Melly sang. It is now the Fly in the Loaf. I occasionally cleaned the windows of several premises in the area, including Kirklands and both the Philharmonic Hall and hotel over a period of about 10 years from the mid 1970s to 1980s.

Future to launch motoring quarterly

March 8, 2011

Future iCar launch cover

At first I thought it was a licensed version of Dennis’s digital car monthly, but that was iMotor, which lasted just a couple of years. It just seems everything has to have ‘i’ in the name this year (it was pod a c0uple of years ago). iCar is being launched by Future as a quarterly on May 18. It aims to address ‘growing consumer interest in more efficient, intelligent and technologically advanced cars’. it’s also described as the company’s first launch of 2011, so there may be more to come.

History of car magazines

Port men’s mag reviewed

March 2, 2011
Port magazine launch issue

Port magazine launch issue

Jeremy Leslie at Magculture has reviewed new men’s mag Port. Like all his posts, it’s well worth reading. Particularly worth noting the reference to typographer and Eagle designer Ruari McLean‘s book – OUP described it as the world’s first book about magazine design when it came out.

This post is being written in Pages on an iPad and pasted into WordPress. Why? Because when I type in WordPress I see nothing! Previews OK though. Weird. Any solutions out there? As a writer I find the iPad frustrating – forever switching between keyboards. And who would have thought the navigation arrows we so important? Wayheyhey – there’s an app for that. Thanks Sarah at the FT!