Feb. 10, 2012

Publishing News

RDA Sells My Weekly Reader
To Scholastic Inc., for price estimated at under $5 million (with Scholastic said to be assuming subscription etc. liabilities). Reader’s Digest Association CEO Robert Guth wrote in deal announcement memo to employees: “As you have seen, we are very deliberately moving forward with our transformation plans for RDA.”
NY Post

SI Shot Some of This Year’s Swimsuit Issue In Florida
At least one spread, and possibly the cover, shot in Apalachicola, Fla. First time for shoot on Gulf Coast, and none in Florida since 2008. Motivation was helping the region by showcasing it, says the issue’s editor. Issue hitting newsstands on Tuesday; expected to have total circulation of 60 million.

Site Users Sue Publishers, Alleging Privacy Law Breaches
11 consumers have filed separate suits against nearly a dozen companies, including Rodale, Conde Nast, Time Inc. and Hearst, alleging that some sites (Runnersworld.com and Wired.com are cited in the article) violated a California privacy law requiring that companies that sell customer lists provide state residents with opt out or ability to learn (via privacy policy, contact info on site) who is purchasing their names/data. Rodale quoted as saying it believes it is in compliance with law, and will defend against suits. Potential class action, but courts in past (including Facebook cases) have ruled that users must show they were injured before such cases can proceed.  

New York Cottages & Gardens to Launch in March
Latest regional from luxury design publisher Cottages & Gardens will target upper-income areas of the city, Westchester Country, Long Island and Hudson Valley, publish 5X per year (2 in spring, 3 in fall). Content focuses on décor, design, real estate, gardening and decoration. Hamptons Cottages & Gardens editor-in-chief Kendell Cronstrom will also be new title’s EIC.   

Hearst Raises Stake in Fitch
Hearst Corp. will raise its stake in Fitch Ratings to 50% after agreeing to buy an additional 10% stake in the company from French investment holding company F. Marc de Lacharriere Fimalac SA, for $177 million. Hearst said upped investment reflects its confidence in Fitch’s team and outlook for development of its activities. 
More Bad USPS News
USPS lost $3.3 billion during quarter ended December; ninth straight quarter showing losses. PMG: “We may become a long-term burden to taxpayers if we are not able to make [proposed operational changes to cut $20 billion per year by 2015] quickly.” 

Opinion: Forbes Tries a Half-HuffPo
Forbes.com has boosted its digital, social engagement metrics via content generated by some 900 contributors, payment/incentives policies. Potential downside, opines Digiday’s Josh Sternberg, is risk of content/brand dilution, as brand’s authority drives the decision-maker engagement that in turn drives site’s premium CPMs.  

Report: iPad 3 Coming in March
Unnamed sources say Apple will unveil successor to iPad 2 during event scheduled for first week of March in San Francisco. 

Bertelsmann Reports Rapid Growth in Ebook Sales
Preliminary 2011 results report: Random House’s “rapidly growing” ebook sales key in offsetting losses from platform start-up costs, printing business weakness. Sales up slightly (to €15.3 billion vs. 2010′s €15.1 billion), but operating EBIT fell to €1.7 billion, from €1.8 billion.  


Time Hires Technologizer Site Founder Harry McCracken as Editor-at-Large

Retail News

Economy: Mortgage Deal Lifts Hopes for Housing
Agreement between federal government, five big banks on $25 billion settlement re alleged foreclosure abuses to provide relief for estimated one million at-risk borrowers, helping critical housing market, economy. 

Analyst Forecasts 5.7% Retail Sales Gain for 2012
Current growth sustainable because it’s driven by income, rather than credit/debt, boding well for this year and beyond, according to Customer Growth Partners forecast. 

Spartan’s Comp Sales Slow
Spartan Stores saw net sales gain 1.9% in FY Q3, but excluding fuel/fuel inflation, comp sales down 1.2%. Warm winter and still-cautious consumers cited as contributors. 

Northern California UFCW Fighting Walmart Neighborhood Markets
UFCW Local 5 members opposing openings of Neighborhood Markets in the region, saying the 30,000-40,000-sq. foot stores would compete directly with unionized companies including Safeway, Lucky.  

Sobeys’ CEO McEwan to Retire
Bill McEwan, CEO since 2000, retiring due to health issue. Staying on through succession transition/end of fiscal in early May. Successor not yet named. 

Fresh & Easy to Open First Stores in Sacramento
Two units to open March 7; three more on March 14. 

Apple Stores Coming to Sam’s Club?
Wal-Mart chain reportedly in talks with Apple to put Apple stores within 47 Sam’s Club locations.
Grocers Drop Paper Product at WWF’s Urging 
Bi-Lo, Brookshire Grocery Co., Delhaize Group, Harris Teeter, Kmart, Kroger, Supervalu, IGA and Weis Markets have stopped carrying tissue products made with fiber from Asia Pulp & Paper due to its link to destruction of Indonesian rainforests and tiger habitats, reports World Wildlife Fund. 

Walgreens Tweeting Promotions to Mobile Check-In Shoppers
When shoppers check in on Foursquare, Yelp etc. at any of chain’s 8,000 stores, retailer replies with promotions for specific products. First retailer to use LocalResponse tool to promote packaged goods, and will be only drug chain to use this feature for at least a year. 

Boomers Most Comfortable With Buying CPGs Online
Those aged 45-49 buying more food, beverage products online than any other age group (29%), and 52% of those 50-54 are buying health/beauty products online, per latest data in ongoing behavioral study by The Integer Group, M/A/R/C Research.

Opinion: Clever Moves All Around in the B&N, Amazon Chess Game
Mike Shatzkin, CEO of The Idea Logical Company, says decision of B&N and other bookstores not to carry Amazon print titles is sound strategy; lays out logical self-interest behind both booksellers’ and Amazon’s moves since 2010.  


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