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Press&Publishing » Tips & Facts, Best Practice | 01.09.2015

Subscription and mailing versus newsstands


If you publish or run a magazine or journal, one of the biggest challenges you face is magazine distribution. How can you make sure that the right number of magazines reach the right people while keeping your distribution costs reasonably low? One answer is to utilise subscriptions and magazine mailing. Any system in which your customers subscribe directly to your publication offers enormous advantages for both you and them.

The main alternative to subscription-based distribution is to retail your publication at newsstands. The advantages of subscriptions and magazine mailing are therefore easiest to see when contrasted against this alternative distribution method.

The most obvious benefit, of course, is that subscription-based distribution cuts out the middle man. If you sell your magazine or journal on newsstands, then the newsstands' owners and operators have to earn money from each sale as well, and this means that your publication will have to cost the end consumer more at the point of retail. This increased price can make your magazine less attractive to potential buyers and decrease its long-term viability. In contrast, a system of distribution based on subscription and mailing keeps costs low; each magazine only has to be priced to cover your own production and mailing costs, and your desired profit margin.

Newsstand distribution also requires either you or the stand's operator to accurately estimate how many magazines each stand will need. A mistake in this estimation can be fatal: if you provide too few magazines, you'll miss out on potential profits. In contrast, if you provide too many magazines and the newsstand operator can't sell all of them, they may be reluctant to distribute your publication again. This unpredictability makes newsstand distribution a risky proposition. Subscription-based distribution, on the other hand, allows you to see exactly how many magazines you need to print and distribute: one for each subscriber.

In summary, getting your customers to subscribe to your magazine so you can mail each issue to them keeps your overheads suitably lower, reduces the price of your publication for the end buyer and makes calculating the number of copies you need per distribution far easier. A subscription and mailing-based system is more efficient, more affordable and easier to use for practically any publisher.