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September 19, 2019

Publishing News

Americans Prefer Paperbacks to Ebooks
CNBC: "Do you prefer reading an e-book or a physical version? It might be a surprise, but for most people, old school print on paper still wins. Publishers of books in all formats made almost $26B in revenue last year in the U.S., with print making up $22.6B and ebooks taking $2.04B, according to the Association of American Publishers’ annual report 2019. Those figures include trade and educational books, as well as fiction. While digital media has disrupted other industries such as news publishing and the music business, people still love to own physical books, according to Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers’ Association in the U.K. “I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattening off, I think the physical object is very appealing. Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects,” she told CNBC. People love to display what they’ve read, she added. “The book lover loves to have a record of what they’ve read, and it’s about signaling to the rest of the world. It’s about decorating your home, it’s about collecting, I guess, because people are completists aren’t they, they want to have that to indicate about themselves.” Genres that do well in print include nature, cookery and children’s books, while people prefer to read crime, romantic novels and thrillers via e-reader, according to Nielsen Book International. It’s more than a decade since Amazon launched the Kindle, and for Halls, there is also a hunger for information and a desire to escape the screen. “It’s partly the political landscape, people are looking for escape, but they are also looking for information. So, they are coming to print for a whole, quite a complex mess of reasons and I think … it’s harder to have an emotional relationship with what you’re reading if it’s on an e-reader.” While millennials are sometimes blamed for killing industries, it’s actually younger people who appear to be popularizing print. Sixty-three percent of physical book sales in the U.K. are to people under the age of 44, while 52% of e-book sales are to those over 45, according to Nielsen. It’s a similar picture in the U.S., where 75% of people 18 to 29 claimed to have read a physical book in 2017, higher than the average of 67%, according to Pew Research.Not every author is a fan of e-books: “The Catcher in the Rye” author JD Salinger famously resisted digital media and information sharing online, but in August his estate agreed to publish his work as ebooks for the first time. Salinger’s son Matt said a letter from a woman with a hand-related disability who found physical books hard to handle had convinced him to make his books available, according to a report in the Guardian.As for the future of books, all formats will continue to be in demand, according to Jacks Thomas, director of The London Book Fair. “People always need knowledge and people always need stories, so from that point of view, the very core of the book industry I am sure is very strong"...

Publishers Beefing Up Ad Buying Chops to Support Subscription Ambitions
Digiday: "The in-housing trend has come for publishers, too, as they start to think and act more like consumer brands.This year, publishers ranging from The Atlantic to The New York Times to The Daily Beast have hired or begun hunting for growth marketers, media strategists and digital ad buyers to support their growing subscription offerings. The growth spurt is tied to new needs brought on by the pivot to paid, as publishers need to master the kind of growth-marketing chops that’s common at fast-growing direct-to-consumer brands that depended on customer acquisition, particularly through Facebook, Instagram and Google ads. This past month, The New York Times posted several job listings for new roles to support subscriber growth, including a director of marketing and media strategy for its new products, such as Cooking, Crosswords and Parenting, and a marketing-focused manager of audience strategy. These kinds of additions are a natural progression for the Times, which has staked its future on subscription revenue and is far ahead of most competitors in identifying and acquiring subscribers.Hiring for those roles assures that digital marketing budgets are spent more effectively. But they also give publishers, who typically used marketing for different purposes, the expertise necessary to communicate with subscribers off-platform in ways that keep them engaged and retained. And to find them, publishers have been forced to hunt for talent not just at agencies but at DTC brands and their competitors. “We’ve been working on those at the mid-level for a while now, but I think it’s going to scale,” said Mary Gallic, a director at the executive recruiting firm Grace Blue. “I think a few years ago everybody had to go to the agencies because that’s where the talent was. But now they’ve begun poaching from each other.”While many publishers are new to pursuing subscription revenue, some have been working to build up their consumer marketing expertise for a while. The Atlantic, for example, has a media specialist on its expanding growth team, a group responsible for audience development, customer marketing, data science and research, and it plans to hire more, according to a spokesperson. Slate has formed working groups who handle most of the consumer marketing for Slate Plus and Supporting Cast, though it uses third parties to handle media buying; Slate plans to bring more of that capability in-house in 2020"...

New York Mag Revamps App
MediaPost: "New York magazine has unveiled a totally revamped mobile app today. The app offers New York’s 1.8 million readers a new, advanced interface with a seamless in-app experience.The publisher utilized app development content team Maz. The result is a platform allows New York to process, curate, publish and monetize its content through a native mobile application.Teams at New York Media can now directly control and edit the app allowing for faster distribution.“With New York Magazine’s mobile application, we worked to elevate the existing content by displaying it in a sleek and accessible manner that will be easy for their team to update,” stated Shouvik Paul, MAZ Chief Business Officer. The mobile app update was completed in just two months and uses Maz’s content logistics system, saving on budget and expediting the app’s launch. The new app features extend to New York Media’s properties include Vulture, The Cut, Intelligencer, Strategist and Grub Street.“The speed of implementation of each application was something that made a difference for us, given that we work with large media properties,” stated Daniel Hallac, Chief Product Officer at New York Media. “This tool will be a key component to the ongoing mobile extension of New York Media.”Maz has also worked with Bloomberg, USA Today and Fast Company to power their apps and OTT channels."

Food & Wine Opens LA Bureau, Hires New Restaurant Editor
MediaPost: "Food & Wine has hired Khushbu Shah as its next restaurant editor.In her new role, Shah, most recently senior food editor at Thrillist, wants to bring greater inclusivity to the influential role, a mission she will bring to the brand’s chef and restaurant coverage... Shah will be based in Food & Wine’s New York office before moving to Los Angeles in spring of 2020 to open a new West Coast bureau for the brand. Meredith brands Entertainment Weekly and People also have L.A.-based offices.Food & Wine has a third location in Birmingham, Alabama.The Times notes the brand is also hoping Shah can enrich its digital reach as its subscription base continues to grow. In the first six months of 2019, Food & Wine counted 37,952 digital subscribers out of a total 889,492 paid subscriptions"...

Inc. Becomes 1st Biz Mag to Put 'Visibly Pregnant' CEO on Cover
In a news item that seems like it should have appeared 30 years ago, USA Today reports that Inc. magazine has become the first photo of a "visibly pregnant" CEO on a business magazine e. (No indication as to whether one or more consumer magazines have done this.) "It's 2019, and we're still having a year of firsts," writes the newspaper. "The Wing CEO Audrey Gelman proudly displayed her baby bump on the cover of Inc. Magazine for its October issue, becoming the first "visibly pregnant CEO" on a cover of a business magazine, she shared on social media. A writer for the publication tweeted the history-making cover, too. "It’s a huge day for @Inc as we debut the cover of our October issue, featuring the first pregnant CEO on the cover!" tweeted Inc's Christine Lagorio-Chafkin. "It was fascinating and an honor to profile @audreygelman of @the_wing as it reaches fast growth internationally""...

Entrepreneur Media Sees Big ROI Gain Using Permutive Platform
MediaPost: "Entrepreneur was able to increase its ROI 11x (or 1094%), two months after adopting Permutive as its data management platform and improving its audience targeting.Entrepreneur found it could not target about 60% of its 14M unique users. The DMP it was using could not target users in real-time, so it was missing “passer-by” users, or those that came to the site briefly or infrequently, usually from search.The publisher could not see or activate this audience for its own promotion and marketing, or provide audience-targeted media packages for advertisers. Entrepreneur was also struggling to effectively target its audience on browsers that block third-party cookies, like Safari and Firefox. The publisher says this led to the loss of an additional proportion of their audience — up to nearly 30%.Permutive does not rely on third-party cookies, but is built around publishers’ first-party data.“You are artificially capping your revenue at 20% if you can only target 20% of your audience,” Kristy Schafer, Permutive's vice president of Americas, said in a webinar.During a trial with Permutive, Entrepreneur found it could increase its targetable inventory 7.6x over its previous DMP. For example, one campaign that had been pacing behind at 50% on its old DMP rose to 80%.Entrepreneur says it can now target 100% of its audience using the new DMP."

Under Threat Google, Facebook Cozy Up to Publishers
WSJ: "Alphabet Inc. ’s Google and Facebook Inc. are making concessions long sought by news publishers whose business has been hurt by the platforms’ dominance, moves that some in the media industry see as an effort to pre-empt potential regulatory backlash.Google last week announced changes to how it ranks stories on its news page to better promote original content, addressing publishers’ long-running complaints that their scoops were often overshadowed by quick rewrites by other outlets. Facebook, meanwhile, is negotiating with media outlets to pay them for the rights to publish their stories in a special news feed on the social media platform, and will rely on humans to determine which stories to feature, The Wall Street Journal reported last month"....
Wall St. Journal (paid sub req.)


Retail News

Amazon to Intro Cash-Based Online Payment Option to U.S.
TechCrunch: "Amazon is making it easier for customers to pay with cash for their online purchases. The retailer today announced the U.S. arrival of Amazon PayCode, a new checkout option that will allow online shoppers to pay for purchases at one of 15,000 Western Union locations. Separately from this, Amazon said that its Amazon Cash service, which lets you load cash into an Amazon account, is now offered at more than 100,000 cash-loading locations across the U.S.Prior to today, PayCode was available in 19 countries around the world, including emerging markets where paying with cash is more common and bank account penetration is lower than in the U.S. or Europe.The service itself launched earlier this year in partnership with Western Union, and was initially available in 10 markets: Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. It has since expanded to Barbados, Costa Rica, Federated States of Micronesia, Kazakhstan, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Palau, Kenya, Tanzania and Uruguay.Instead of using a bank card to pay for online purchases, shoppers can instead choose the PayCode option at checkout on They then receive a QR code they take to a Western Union to pay for the items they want to buy.At launch, Amazon said PayCode customers had 48 hours to make that payment. With its U.S. launch, that time frame narrows to 24 hours. This change is due to shorter delivery windows for U.S. customers versus cross-border customers, Amazon says, and the impact to the company’s delivery promises.While the U.S. is a more developed market and less in need of supporting cash-based payments, cash still has a big foothold here. Amazon, citing data from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, noted that 39% of in-person payments continue to be made using cash, for example."

Albertsons Cos., ExxonMobil Expand Fuel Rewards to 15 Sttes
SN: "Albertsons Cos. and ExxonMobil are extending their fuel rewards partnership to the East Coast.The companies said yesterday that shoppers participating in the Gas Rewards program at Safeway, Acme, Shaw’s and Star Market supermarkets can now earn points from eligible grocery, pharmacy and gift card purchases and redeem rewards at about 1,500 Exxon and Mobil stations in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The move expands the number of states where Albertsons Cos. stores offer ExxonMobil fuel rewards from three to 15. ExxonMobil and Albertsons launched their Gas Rewards program in 2018 for customers in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming"...

Farmstead, Alex Lee Team to Enter New Markets
SN: "A new partnership between San Francisco Bay Area online grocer Farmstead and food distributor and retailer Alex Lee Inc. promises to extend their geographic reach.The companies said yesterday that Farmstead plans to open multiple “microhubs” in the Carolinas to fulfill online grocery orders. Alex Lee, which owns grocery wholesaler Merchants Distributors (MDI) and supermarket chain Lowes Foods, will serve as the primary supplier for the e-commerce hubs"...


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