If you spend any time at a newsstand you have undoubtedly seen a “Bookazine”, or a “Mook” although you may not have actually realized it. They sit on the newsstand and seem to call out “pick me up and read me” by way of their beautiful front cover produced with full, bright, heavy ink coverage and heavy, high quality, cover and interior stocks. The cover usually sports a single loud and clear subject matter or brand. When you heed its call and pick it up you quickly notice a lack of any advertising inside. As you further peruse the publication you clearly note that there is an abundance of highly useful material on the subject matter at hand, or the brand it is meant to pique interest in. The amount of material and information contained inside actually rivals that of what you might find in a book written on the same subject matter. The layout and design, however, seem way too “exciting”, "fun" and “pleasing” to be a book – in fact, it looks and feels more like a very high quality magazine. Plus by the shear nature of the fact that it’s on the newsstand, it can’t be a book! And, again, where is the advertising?
Regardless of your confusion you are now really starting to like what you are seeing. If the subject matter is of interest to you, you assume its probably a great deal because its on the magazine rack and, magazines just aren’t that expensive – at least when compared to a hard cover book. And then you note the price and it’s anywhere from $12.95 - $19.95. Wow! That is actually quite expensive – at least as magazines typically go. But in the end, it becomes clear that the value of the information contained inside is well worth the price, especially when combined with the exciting design and lack of advertising. And, its still actually relatively cheap when compared to an actual book! And this, you decide, would be much more pleasurable to read than a book!
So what is this thing?
You have actually found a Bookazine! Or as is commonly known in Japan – a “Mook”. While a "Bookazine" has a much longer shelf life than a magazine as typically the material contained within is not dated material, in contrast, it has a much shorter shelf life than a book! So where books are difficult to keep up-to-date, “bookazines” don’t have this same challenge. In more basic terms, a “Bookazine” combines the most positive attributes of both a book and a magazine.
“Bookazines” are usually presented and sold as supplements or specials that are not a part of a magazines normal frequency and the material contained in a “bookazine” is typically recycled from past issues so the costs associated with editorial are basically zero. Its basically repurposing information and presenting it in an alternative format.
So are “Bookazines” good or bad for magazine publishers?
I have found that publishers seem to lack much, if any, knowledge of this highly popular and upcoming product. The ones that do, in most cases, are just learning about them and their interest is almost immediately piqued to the point where I get a phone call inquiring about costs to produce them. From a manufacturing prospective, the production process is really no different than that of a magazine. “Bookazines”, however, are typically printed on heavier, higher quality paper and, again, resemble a very high quality magazine in terms of layout and design. And many “Bookazines” utilize out-of-the-ordinary trim sizes meant to catch the newsstand browser’s attention.
Are they worthwhile to a publishing operation?
Maybe. While magazine newsstand sales are down to the tune of 10-12% in the area of dollars, “bookazines” continue to grow. In fact, since approximately 2007, “bookazines” have almost doubled in sales volume on the newsstands. This would indicate that people are still willing to pay for printed material that bears high value to them and/or are more exciting to read than traditional type book.
The real proof is in their growth and the success publishers are having with them. At minimum, explore them as an option.