Australian Newsagency Blog

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Unplug magazine from Bauer Media reflects a problem with the magazine supply model

Mark Fletcher
March 13th, 2018 · 9 Comments

Unplug magazine was released in late January. We received 17 copies. We have sold two copies. This makes the title unprofitable for us. It is not even paying for the space necessary to store the seventeen, thick, copies.

There is no evidence in our data to justify being sent 17 copies of a launch issue in the crossword / puzzle space.

I am over magazine pub fishers using small business newsagency channels as their bank and business partner in the launch of new titles. Rather than testing and topping up if a title sells well, they load us, make us responsible and apply onto our businesses costs that see us carrying a financial burden that is unreasonable.

I would have preferred to receive no more than five copies of this launch issue. Given the transparency back to the publisher of sales, replenishing supply is easy. Instead, they load us and add to our costs of their launch.

On the magazine itself, I look at it and ask why was this even launched. We have been flooded with similar titles. Unplug looks like a copy of Breathe and others in this mindfulness puzzle segment. As a retailer looking at efficient assortment, I don’t see a need for the title. If I was a buyer in control of what I buy to stock in my business, given what I already have, I would not buy this title.

Unplug is not a bad magazine. However, it has entered a crowded segment, late. This is why I have no interest in stocking it.

We do not have the luxury of choosing the magazines to stock. This makes us weak. It positions us as victims. Okay I accept we get new titles. What frustrates me is the volume. The seventeen copies of Unplug is too many. It is an abuse of my business. Shame on the magazine model that allows it to happen.

It is 2018 people. More of this and more newsagents will cut back magazine space as doing this is the key step we can take to control what we receive.

Other magazine publishers need to take note.


Category: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amanda // Mar 13, 2018 at 7:54 AM

    In regards to the oversupply, after 30 years in the industry and being forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars on POS software, hardware, etc etc ….the industry still cannot get accurate supply based on actual sales figures.

    Mark, as head of one of those companies, its really up to you to go to task on supply issues. You have the data, you see the facts. It really is up to Tower Systems and POS solutions as the two major software companies whom have benefited most from the newsagency industry to represent the industry on this one.


  • 2 Mark Fletcher // Mar 13, 2018 at 8:15 AM

    Amanda, I am on the record here, with the ACCC and elsewhere working hard for newsagents on this, in the front foot. Representing 1,750 newsagents with the Tower software.

    The thing is, magazine publishers and distributors behave the way they do because no newsagent has ever legally challenged them. My advice on this has been consistent for many years.

    Until a newsagent agitates on this behaviour in a legal forum it will continue.

    Tower Systems has no legal standing to act in a legal forum. You should know that.


  • 3 Colin, Malvern SA // Mar 13, 2018 at 8:58 AM

    I take a more cynical view. The distributors and publishers send extra copies because it is profitable for them to do so. The absence of audited sales figures has resulted in a rort that cannot be sustained.

    I did think magazines would whither. But the longer the rort continues, the greater the chance of a publisher failing. Chances of a sudden collapse of this edifice increase as the players fail to agree on, plan and execute a transformation to a sustainable model.


  • 4 Mark R // Mar 13, 2018 at 9:58 AM

    Mark you are also a newsagent , so you could make a legal case , why don’t you do as you say ??


  • 5 Mark Fletcher // Mar 13, 2018 at 10:02 AM

    Mark I have invested thousands of dollars of my own money on this issue on behalf of newsagents. Its is time for newsagents to demonstrate if they want change, by acting themselves.

    There are plenty in this channel ready to tell others what to do for newsagents but few put their hand in their pocket to spend money doing it.


  • 6 Mark Fletcher // Mar 13, 2018 at 11:12 AM

    Mediaweek has covered this blog post, putting it in front of many in magazine publishing:


  • 7 Amanda // Mar 14, 2018 at 9:13 PM

    I disagree totally Mark.

    No one newsagent can challenge such big organisations. Even if you are right, you can’t win. If a court decision was ruled in your favour, they would challenge / appeal that ruling and send it to a higher court and send a single newsagent broke.

    To challenge these companies requires strength either in financial backing or in numbers taking them on.


  • 8 Mark Fletcher // Mar 14, 2018 at 9:46 PM

    And there it is Amanda … you like many newsagents are keen to tell others what to do but not act yourself. That is why the distribution model will not change and why the only real mechanism available to newsagents, reducing space, will happen more.

    A CTTT, QCAT or VCAT matter can get up for a few hundred dollars.


  • 9 Kelly // Oct 16, 2018 at 6:03 PM

    Hi, does anyone have a launch issue of unplug magazine (issue 1) that they are willing to sell?

    Thank you!


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