Monday, August 11, 2008

Rolling Stone: Smaller than before

The large, floppy Rolling Stone is to be no more: From mid-October, it's swapping from its classic format into something a bit more normal magazine sized.

It's basically given in to the rules of economics: it's easier for advertisers if they don't have to resize their ads for one magazine; it'll fit on the racks alongside other magazines; and, of course, smaller pages are easier and cheaper to make and distribute.

The new Rolling Stone is going to be glued, which means that the title will have a spine. Something it's lacked for a good couple of decades now.

They're hoping it will increase sales:

Gary Armstrong, chief marketing officer for Wenner Media, pointed to Vanity Fair, which has lower overall circulation than Rolling Stone, but nearly three times the single-copy sales. With a standard format, he said, it should be possible to raise newsstand sales significantly.

“The consumer we want to reach watches ‘Lost’ on a big TV screen, on a computer screen and on an iPhone,” he said. “They’re agnostic on format.”

Yes. A smaller magazine is like watching Lost on an iPhone in, erm, some way.

The assumption, of course, is that people don't buy RS on an impulse because they don't find it with the others when they're looking for magazines. The risk, though, has to be that its sales are currently higher because it tends to get racked on its own, away from its competitors, and thus stands out.