I recently worked with a publisher who had, from all indications, an extremely successful, young magazine, in a market prime for tremendous growth. This magazine was absolutely beautiful! They are using the highest quality paper, making full use of the pages for color, exotic cover folds, etc. They are building their reputation on the quality, look and feel of the magazine and are attracting many advertisers as a result. Great, right? For now maybe!
Here are the risks and the potential consequences that you must avoid:
This magazine is currently being printed on a sheet-fed press as the quantity is below 5,000. The publisher expects that circulation could increase to well over 10,000 at maturity. So, in such low quantities, printing on a sheet-fed press is absolutely the most cost-effective means of producing the title. Sheet-fed printing opens up a variety of reasonably cost effective options, like higher-grade paper, heavier weights of paper, exotic folding options, exotic coatings, etc. Now, as this magazine grows and hits circulation of 10M, 15M, 20M copies, suddenly sheet-fed printing is no longer cost effective and there is little choice but to convert to the web printing process or pay exorbitant amounts of money to produce the magazine using the sheet-fed process. The sheet-fed process would also become a very inefficient and time consuming process and would undoubtedly weigh heavily on your production schedule. So, as a result, you decide to convert to the web printing process. Now you have to consider the special things that you have built your magazines reputation on like – higher quality paper, heavier paper, exotic folding, coatings, 5th, 6th & 7th colors, etc. Many of these things, while possible to accomplish on a web press, are absolutely cost prohibitive! Cost prohibitive to the point where continuing on as you have in the past could put you out-of-business! This becomes a huge dilemma as you have built your reputation on your design and changing it could have a significant negative impact on both advertisers and subscribers!
My point is this:
When you start your magazine, think ahead about how your design, paper, folding, colors, etc will impact the magazine when it outgrows the sheet-fed process.
I have seen this happen to publishers numerous times over the course of my career! It’s not a good position to be in! All of the publishers told me that they “had no idea” that it would turn into a problem. Hopefully this information will help you avoid some pretty difficult circumstances down the road.
As usual, if you would like any advice please feel free to contact me.