April 16, 2012

Publishing News

Conde Nast: Domino’s Newsstand Return Fires Up Fans; Brides Gets Revamp 
Boston Herald reports that fans of the original Domino, who were “heartbroken” when the home-design title closed three years ago (it’s been on MIN’s list of “most missed magazines”), are psyched about Domino Quick Fixes, a special newsstand-only edition to hit newsstands nationwide on Tuesday. Cover price: $10.99. A second special is also slated for the fall. Conde announced the specials in February. Separately, as of May issue, Brides magazine, under new publisher and editor-in-chief, will have updated logo, editorial voice; also increasing trim size and adding front-of-book sections like Stylist (which includes an inspiratioal digital pinboard, resembling Pinterest). Revamp being supported by multi-platform marketing campaign spanning TV, Web promos on TLC, outdoor and SnapTag code to enable readers to interact with editorial, advertising (tied to prizes).
Boston Herald (fans psyched re Domino)
Ad Age (Feb. article after Domino specials announcement)
Adweek (Brides revamp)

Hearst’s Town & Country Hires a ‘Mole’
“Mr. Fox”‘s mission is to infiltrate and report on “the luxurious and hallowed haunts of T&C’s aristocratic readers.” First assignment: NYC’s power-lunch venues. Said to be headed to L.A. and other cities, as well. 

Pew: One in Five U.S. Adults Do Not Use the Internet
Internet adoption among U.S. adults increased rapidly from the mid-’90s to about 2005. Since then, number of adult Internet users has remained almost stable at around 75% to 80%. The Pew Internet & American Life Project’s latest survey shows that this trend continued in 2011. Those who are online used the Net more than ever before, but about one in five U.S. adults are not online. Those least likely to have Net access include senior citizens, those showing a preference for responding to the poll in Spanish language, adults with less than high school education, and those in households with less than $30K per year.  

Forbes Sells Townhouse 
The Greenwich Village townhouse that backed Forbes’s Fifth Ave. headquarters has been sold to a condo developer for $7.25M, a 52% discount from its original asking price, reports NY Post. The Forbes HQ building at 60 Fifth Ave., sold to NYU in 2010 for $75M, is leased back to Forbes Media for its use. Forbes Media is 55% family-owned, 45% owned by investment company Elevation Partners (headed by U2′s Bono and Silicon Alley investor Roger McNAmee). 

In London, Club Celebrates Print Mags
A small group of people who love independent and other print magazines (including journalists, designers, students, other enthusiasts) is meeting monthly to share their favorites. Founders say demise of Borders helped spur formation; believe that “digital will succeed in various aspects, and print will continue to succeed in others.” 

Small Book Publisher Cuts Off Amazon
Oklahoma-based Educational Development Corp. announced in February that it is removing all 1,800 of its children’s book titles (all print) from Amazon. EDC, with stock valuation of $18M, to lose $1.5M in sales as result. But Amazon’s’ buying of EDC’s books from distributor and discounting them “to the bone” was hurting other retailers and EDC’s network of independent sales agents. “They were becoming showrooms for Amazon, and we were shooting ourselves in the foot,” says EDC’s CEO. Also in February, Amazon removed 5K e-book titles from small-imprint distributor Independent Publishers Group after IPG balked at terms demands. IPG says that given its expenses, publishing community can’t support the price levels being demanded by Amazon.  

Opinions: NYT Argues Antitrust Action Not in Consumers’ Long-Term Interests
NYT’s David Carr comes down on side of publishers, Apple, agreeing with them that Justice Dept.’s actions will strengthen Amazon’s ability to control e-book industry, pricing and ultimately hurt competition and consumers’ choices. Separately, Time Techland’s Keith Wagstaff argues that large publishers could help the industry moderate the power of both Amazon and Apple by being more flexible about digital rights management issues, to enable smaller booksellers to succeed. Says J.K. Rowling’s dictating of DRM and other terms re Harry Potter e-books, while obviously unusual due to her clout, shows that there’s hope for industry to stand up to Amazon, Apple, work for concessions from them. 
NY Times (Carr on antitrust suit)
Time.com/Techland (small booksellers could help break Amazon/Apple Duopoly)


Retail News

Economy: Consumer Prices Up in March
Consumer price index rose 0.3% in March vs. February (due to gas up 9%); “consumer prices” rose 2.7%, reports WSJ. Over past three months, CPI has risen at annual rate of 3.7%. But Fed’s preferred metric, Commerce Dept.’s expenditure price index, was at 2.3% in February, and lower when energy/food excluded. Fed aims to keep inflation at 2% in long term; projected 1.4% to 1.8% by 2012′s end; will update that in late April. Inflation’s recent return above 2% has reignited a broader debate inside the central bank about whether factors other than short-term bursts of energy costs might be at play.

March Retail Sales Beat Forecast
Commerce Dept. reports 0.8% gain, almost three times what had been projected, and that gain follows February’s 1% lift. “There is no sign that higher fuel prices have damaged consumer sentiment and spending,” said Jeremy Lawson, a senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York. “This is enough to generate solid economic growth. We’ve seen the job market improve and that’s boosting consumption.”

Scolari’s Closing California Stores
Scolari’s Food & Drug said it will close all four of its stores in California within the next 60 days, citing a difficult economy and operational challenges resulting from the California stores’ long distance from one another and from Scolari’s’ Reno headquarters. Retailer had operated stores on California’s central coast for more than 60 years. 

Moody’s Upgrades Dollar General Rating
Ups retailers’ rating one notch to Ba1, which is one level below investment grade, after KKR & Co. reduced its ownership stake from above 50% to about 44%. Moody’s said the upgrade also acknowledges that Dollar General’s operating performance and credit metrics are expected to remain strong. Separately, South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel reports on dollar chains giving CVS and Walgreens in particular growing competition, through larger health/beauty assortments.
Supermarket News  (Dollar General ratings)
Sun-Sentinel  (dollar chains in So. Florida)

Dole Recalls Bagged Salad for Salmonella Risk
Dole Food Co. is recalling 756 cases of bagged salad because they could be contaminated with salmonella. The bags of Seven Lettuces salad are stamped with a use-by date of April 11, 2012, UPC code 71430 01057 and product codes 0577N089112A and 0577N089112B. The salads were distributed in Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Dole is coordinating with regulators, and no illnesses have been reported. 

Wal-Mart Adds Dreamworks Animation Titles to Video Streaming Service
Dreamworks, maker of movies like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, joins major distributors owned by Viacom, Sony, News Corp., Comcast and Time Warner Inc. in partnering with W-M in its VUDU service. W-M pushing to get consumers to pay to convert purchased videos to digital and upload them/access them through VUDU. 

Tesco’s Challenges, Strategy Options
In advance of Tesco’s financials and strategy presentation on Wednesday, WSJ and U.K.’s Guardian summarize the retailer’s challenges, offer analysts’ views on what strategies are needed to turn the company around. Dominant U.K. operation has suffered from perception of poor customer service, overemphasis on hypermarkets filled with nonfood products. Some say that could take annual investments of up to £1 billion to fix; meanwhile, pressure to turn a profit on U.S. Fresh & Easy venture also intense. Guardian sources say actual implementation of original F&E concept (marry upscale fresh food assortments with discounting) has gone astray. But abandoning U.S. after major investment could be bigger mistake than hanging in and trying to make it work. 

Poultry Industry Benefiting from Demand for Darker Meat
In a major shift in consumer preferences, rising demand for dark-meat poultry parts is helping raise prices and pull the poultry industry out of a slump that led to hundreds of millions in losses and threw some into bankruptcy. Big producer Bell & Evans reports selling more dark than white meat parts to some grocery chains now. Flip side: demand exceeding supply. Dark meat’s flavor, plus rising immigrant populations in U.S. and more exports, driving demand. 

MNB Cites Magazines’ NIM Initiative
Morning News Beat editor Kevin Coupe cites magazine industry’s Next Issue Media initiative, which offers ready way to buy digital subs in packaged deals, as example (at least conceptually) of how retailers and all businesses should be looking for new ways to present and market traditional products. 
Morning News Beat

New 7-Eleven Tech Combats Underage Purchases
Throughout California (1,600 stores), launching new scan technology designed to stop sales of alcohol, tobacco to underage customers. System to scan the 2D code on the back of a customer’s driver’s license or ID card to verify the birth date stored on the card as well as the validity of the ID (will not store any other information about the customer). 

Nielsen to Provide Consumer Data to Academics
Working with Chicago Booth School of Business, Nielsen to offer comprehensive historical perspective on consumer purchases to all U.S.-based academic researchers for first time. Believes alliance will yield research that improves marketers’ abilities to drive growth and profitability in CPG industry.


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