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3.31.2010

Still selling magazines? You are dead!

Personally, I am what magazines in Japan call a "wonderful minority" - I actually subscribe to magazines!

But in my case, in my quest to support local industry, I forgo the annual subscription discounts that the publishers offer in favor of having my local book store deliver them to my home.

So I must admit I have been a bit out of touch with what is happening at book stores' magazine stands for a while.

And I paid a visit to our local book store, Junkudo, and had a huge shock.

Fashion magazines are no longer about selling the publications.
It is about selling the gifts with purchase.

"Sweet," one of Japan's few titles still enjoying circulation and advertising revenue growth, is published by Takarajima.

And recently, an insider admitted that while the CEO of Takarajima does NOT attend editorial meetings, when it comes to meetings deciding what item to bind with the magazine as gifts, not only the CEO but all the executive officers attend the said meeting.

I wonder how fashion journalists feel about this.

Or maybe the term "fashion journalism" is becoming an oxymoron?
Is there any journalism in fashion, or more specifically, is journalism required to sell fashion these days?

One visit to a magazine stand in a Japanese bookstore says No.

This is very sad, but when I asked people outside of the industry (people we refer to as "consumers" for the fashion industry) (a) if they buy fashion magazines and (b) if yes, which ones or how they decided which ones, EVERY SINGLE WOMAN aged 25 or older said:

(a) Yes, I occasionally buy magazines but I prefer to read them at my hair dresser's; and
(b) When I buy then, I decide based on what comes with the magazine. When it is a branded bag or pouch, I usually buy it if I like the title, too.

So, back to my title. If you are a publisher and you are selling magazines, you will be out of circulation within the year. Have you jumped on the bandwagon of gifts? Consider boosting your budget for them and make sure your CEO understands that the most successful publisher applying this strategy has his/her counterpart taking the call on which gifts to use as it determines life and death.

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