Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Magazine Shelf . . .

The Source Interlink shutdown left many
magazine racks empty
in the summer of 2014.
The U.S. publishing industry has a strange habit of referring to retail magazine sales as "newsstand," when actual newsstands account for maybe 1% of copies sold.

It often seems that "newsstrand" would be a more accurate name, because so many copies end up getting stranded rather than being placed where consumers can buy them.

The bankruptcy of Source Interlink two years ago left millions of copies stranded in distribution centers and printing plants, while many retailers' magazine shelves sat empty.

But newsstranding occurs in other ways, such as when publishers pay to have copies placed in highly visible racks, only to have the retailer remove the racks or simply fail to implement the promotion. Or when copies are allotted to stores that then downsize or remove their magazine sections.

And some magazines get newsstranded "just because." Whether you call it the newsstand system, the grocery/discount-store/bookstore system, or the newsstrand system, the way magazines get distributed for retail sale is maddeningly inefficient.

This is the tenth installment in our 31-part Publishing Word of the Day series, which includes such sniglets as denialsizing and listicklers.

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