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May 22, 2017

Publishing News

Wenner Biography to Be Released in October
WWD: "Rolling Stone founding editor and publisher Jann Wenner will finally be the subject of an in-depth biography. “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine,” by journalist Joe Hagan will hit shelves and online shopping carts on October 24, publisher Knopf revealed Monday morning. The in-depth biography draws on Wenner’s archives of correspondence and documents that he made available to Hagan, as well as on-the-record interviews with the kind of rock ‘n’ roll big names that drew Baby Boomers to Palm Springs for last year’s Desert Trip (aka “Coachella for Old People”). The book chronicles 50 years of American pop-cultural history, as well as Wenner’s life and the life of Rolling Stone, from Altamont to 'Fear and Loathing’ to the University of Virginia rape allegation, according to Knopf..."

More on Conde, Hearst Pull Out of Comag U.K.
More on owners Hearst Magazines and Condé Nast pulling out of Comag U.K. (see MBR's 5.17 edition for original citation). Writing in PE, Linda Ruth notes that: "This won’t mean much to those U.S. publishers who don’t have a U.K. distribution; to those who export to the U.K., however, it will probably mean a great deal. The U.K. is one of the largest export markets for U.S. publications; Comag has been the go-to distributor in the U.K. for many (not all) of U.S. publishers. Will the company go down? It’s not a given, although since the two publishers who are bailing own it entirely (Hearst U.K. has 65% and Condé Nast 35%), it does seem, if nothing else, extremely possible. To U.S. publishers (and Hearst and Condé themselves) it will mean finding new sources of distribution in the U.K., and there are other distributors who handle U.S. imports... “We don’t know what’s going to happen, whether anyone will pick up the business,” commented the representative of an US distributor. 'They are in a period of consultancy. For now, it’s business as usual.' However, Comag reps have canceled their annual meetings with a number of U.S. publishers... Several years ago, Hearst and Condé Nast divested themselves of their U.S. distribution business, selling it to the Jim Pattison Group. In 2015, according to, Hearst U.K. suffered a £5.4M loss; most of it was put to Comag’s account. A commenter on the U.K. site attributed the losses to the squeeze that the important U.K. retailers, primarily WH Smith, have put on publishers’ margins. Comag represents 23% of U.K. newsstand sales..."

Veteran Print Magazine Editors Find New, Lucrative Paths
WWD: "As magazine companies consolidate titles, fold or reinvent themselves under new management, there tends to be a common occurrence: Veteran editors are being traded in for their less expensive, more digitally savvy counterparts. With many of the old guard still years away from retirement age, the question is: What does life look like for an editor in chief after print?" The answer is that these talented pros are finding numerous paths for their talents, including consulting; the corporate route (after being let go by Condé Nast, longtime Allure EIC Linda Wells created beauty packages for Hearst, then became chief creative officer of Revlon); book deals; Hollywood gigs like writing and producing; and developing editorial products for brands (former Men's Health EIC Bill Phillips now works for Spartan, the producer of the Spartan race). 

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Retail News

Amazon to Intro Checkout-Free Format in U.K.
Bloomberg: " Inc. is laying the groundwork to bring its checkout-free grocery store Amazon Go to Europe, as the U.S. giant steps up its efforts to crack the $800B global market. The U.K. Intellectual Property Office on Friday approved the Seattle-based company’s application to trademark the slogans 'No Lines. No Checkout. (No, Seriously.)' and 'No Queue. No Checkout. (No, Seriously.)' A corresponding application is being reviewed by the European Union’s equivalent agency. The strap line is used in a promotional video for Amazon Go on YouTube that’s been viewed more than 9M times. The company has opened a futuristic test store under that name in Seattle that has no cashiers or checkouts... Amazon declined to comment. Its desire to crack the grocery industry is a concern for British supermarket operators Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc, which are struggling to retain shoppers amid stiff competition from discounters Aldi and Lidl. Last year Amazon launched its online grocery delivery service Fresh in the U.K. and also partnered with Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc to bolster its product range..."

Wegmans to Enter Washington D.C. Market
SN: "Wegmans Food Markets has agreed to be an anchor tenant of a redevelopment of the iconic Fannie Mae HQ on Wisconsin Street in Washington, D.C., the company said Sunday. The store would be the first in Washington for Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans and will anchor an 'urban village' that will include retail, residential, cultural arts, hospitality and commercial uses, developers Roadside Development and North America Sekisui House, said. The Fannie Mae redevelopment includes the original buildings that were constructed by Equitable Life Company in 1958 and 1962 and nearly 10 acres around it in Northwest Washington. 'We are excited to be a part of the redevelopment of this distinct site,' Ralph Uttaro, SVP of real estate for Wegmans, said in a statement. “The District of Columbia is an ideal market for us and we look forward to serving new customers and offering a unique shopping experience there.” The announcement was made Sunday at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual ReCon show in Las Vegas..."

Wal-Mart Invests Millions in Michigan Store Remodels
MLive: "Twelve Walmart stores in Michigan will get new looks in 2017, part of a multi-million dollar plan to update the chain's U.S. store portfolio. The changes will increase the ways shoppers can use the retail footprint of about 3,950 stores and supercenters as consumers integrate online options into their shopping patterns. The remodeled stores are capitalizing on building connections for shoppers, taking them from traditional in-store shopping to online sales at Walmart's e-commerce site, and finding in-between steps to blend the two. "We're moving faster to combine our digital and physical assets to make shopping easier and more enjoyable for customers," President and CEO Doug McMillon said this week in a recorded statement to investors. To do that, Walmart is making changes like moving in-store pickup areas to the front of the store; testing online grocery ordering with in-store pickup in 3 southeast Michigan markets; creating a relaxing lounge-like area for shoppers picking up online orders; increasing the number of fresh and organic items; expanding the produce, deli, bakery and baby departments; improving navigation, including making aisles wider and angling them; and improving sight-lines, with lower product shelves and more signs..."

Target's New Campaign Hypes Convenience, Value
MD: "Target says it is counting on new marketing--themed 'TargetRun And Done,' which stresses both value and convenience--to bring shoppers back for quick fill-in trips. Target execs detailed hopes for the new campaign during its latest earnings call... The new ads celebrate 'everyday, real-life moments--whether it's guests running out of milk or throwing together a last-minute BBQ,' says Rick Gomez, EVP/CMO... 'It’s all about having some fun with our iconic red Target baskets while making sure our guests know that with one quick Target run, they’ll find everyday low prices on all their everyday essentials.' In the earnings call, CEO Brian Cornell said that the campaign is an attempt to shore up declines in both its essentials and food and beverage businesses. 'In the second quarter and beyond, we will continue to invest in our regular prices and reinforce our everyday positioning,' he said... 'An important part of that work is to adjust our promotional posture on those items and categories so they better support that everyday message'"...

Chinese E-Tailer Developing Heavy-Duty Delivery Drones
WSJ: "Chinese e-commerce provider said today that it is developing heavy-duty drones capable of delivering payloads weighing a ton or more, which it plans to deploy in Shaanxi. China's #2 e-commerce company after Alibaba Group, JD started drone-delivering small packages to remote, rural areas last year; it now has about 30 drones..."
Wall St. Journal (paid sub req.)

Amazon Still Struggling With Fake Reviews
NY Post: "Amazon spent the past couple of years cracking down on fake product reviews, but enterprising tricksters are exploiting a fresh loophole on its site. Many of the same vendors who sold fake positive reviews on Amazon for $5 a pop are now selling so called “list optimization” or “list maintenance” services, in which they enlist hundreds of people to vote a product review as helpful so that it moves up to the top of a product’s page. But the votes can also be used to sabotage a competitor, voting up negative reviews of rival products and tanking demand for goods that previously had been well-received..."


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