Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finding Something to Read: The Summer of Double Issues

The Advocate, a gay news and features magazine that switched from semi-monthly frequency to monthly not long ago, has combined its June and July issues into a double issue. It's part of a trend, of course. Playboy is combining its July and August issues (with, reportedly, two centerfolds just to keep up the annual total). My own magazine is combining July and August issues, though without a centerfold. Others have already done so or will in the near term, as advertisers decide whether to return to their pages.

This is all part of the urgent need by publishers to cut costs. Printing and mailing each issue of a magazine is terrifically expensive, so merging two into one can help plug large budget holes, even if the "double issue" has more pages than a normal issue of the magazine. It'll be interesting to find out if newsstand magazines get overall higher per-issue sales figures, because the issue will be on the stands longer. I'm also curious whether all of the magazines that are combining issues and calling them "double issues" will actually have more pages in them than their typical issues. (Yes, my mag will be doing that, and the double Advocate is a satisfying 124 pages, including covers; we'll wait to see about Playboy.) Usually, there are extra pages, but almost never are they double the normal page count. (See a short note on the subject from FAT magazine.) It may not matter; readers don't always understand what a double issue is anyway.

In these days of Kate Moss-thin magazines, I'm looking forward to a few that are thicker than normal and filled with stuff that takes more than 10 minutes to read. But if this recession deepens, maybe we'll see triple issues in the not-too-distant future ...

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