November 9, 2013

Magazine portfolios not too worried about layoffs at Sanoma

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:04 am

Magazine publishing giants Sanoma is laying off 500 Dutch employees and shunting 2,000 freelancers, as well as considering axing or merging some of their less popular publications, some of which used to be big names in the Dutch weekly scene such as Panorama, Nieuwe Revu, Playboy and Marie Claire.

I thought it would be interesting to see what is happening to the leesmaps, magazine portfolios where for the subscription rate of about a single weekly magazine you get a whole bunch of them. The catch being you only get to keep the magazines for a week, then they move on to the next customer who pays a slightly lesser rate, and so on, until the commercial potential of the folder of magazines is exhausted. Hairdressers and doctors love leesmaps for their waiting rooms.

Does such a concept even exist outside the Netherlands? In a 2011 interview with Volkskrant, Audax founder Jacques de Leeuw claimed he invented the concept as a 17-year-old when delivering magazines that his father imported, placing the introduction of leesmaps in 1950. An unlikely story considering that the Lité Leesmap was already advertising in the 1940s in De Leeuw’s home town of Tilburg.

Leesmaps have been in decline for years. At the height of their popularity there were a million leesmap subscribers in the Netherlands, but in 2007 that number dwindled to 300,000. Still it doesn’t seem the Sanoma cutbacks will mean much of a loss to the leesmaps. To the latter, the magazines that get the axe already formed the dead wood. The question is how symbiotic the relation between the unpopular magazines and the leesmaps was. Weeklies like Panorama and Nieuwe Revu may even have been able to extend their death rattle a little longer because they were still ‘popular’ in the leesmaps.

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July 1, 2013

Unofficial Android store to open in Arnhem later this year

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 8:30 pm

A manufacturer of customized Android-based devices is planning to open an Android store in November, writes.

GOCAL, the company behind the initiative, wants the store to become a place where customers can feel and experience Android-based devices from different manufacturers.

The company sees its O-Droid Store, which has not been endorsed by Google, as a mixture between an Apple Store and a Starbucks, meaning coffee will also be served. GOCAL also hopes to be able to offer products through its store that are not yet available in the Netherlands. adds that there are currently two official Android stores in Indonesia with another one planned in New Delhi. According to the site there are no indications that Google is planning Android stores outside of Asia.

(Illustration: Google Android logo)

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February 9, 2011

Bicycles as shop signs

Filed under: Bicycles,General by Branko Collin @ 8:30 pm

On Monday I saw this bicycle sticking out of a wall in the Westerpark neighbourhood of Amsterdam to indicate that the shop below sells and repairs bikes. Later that day I saw that another entrepreneur in De Pijp neighbourhood had come up with more or less the same idea, except in this case to confusingly signal the presence of a hotel.

Granted, it was a bicycle hotel.

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March 24, 2010

Shelf space for rent for vanity press

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 10:33 pm

A small book store in Amsterdam offers self-published authors its limited shelf space—for a price.

Boek ‘n Plank on the Vijzelstraat lets you rent enough shelf space to pile your books up to 20 centimetres high. You pay 25 euro per six months, and a provision per copy sold. The store’s owner, Jolanda Janssen, reserves the right to refuse works she deems morally unacceptable.

The name Boek ‘n Plank is a pun. Literally it means ‘book a shelf,’ but when spoken out loud it sounds the same as boekenplank, book shelf.

(Link: De Pers)

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April 16, 2009

Yellow tulip named after Spongebob Squarepants

Filed under: Nature by Branko Collin @ 9:13 am

Last Wednesday famous cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants got a tulip named after him in the Keukenhof flower garden. Under the watchful of eye of many a young fan and the great big yellow sponge himself, the flower got baptized with perfectly good champagne by Nickelodeon presenter Patrick Martens.

It took grower Jan Ligthart from Breezand 18 years to develop the tulip, writes De Telegraaf (Dutch). Presumably that time was not spent exclusively on this new tulip, as many companies have already paid the man to do the same. Ligthart told the paper it would take four years for the bulbs to arrive in Dutch stores: “The first bulbs are for the US, because they pay better abroad. It’s as simple as that.”

(Photo of a totally unrelated yellow tulip by Hisa Fujimoto, some rights reserved.)

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December 9, 2008

HEMA essential brand, followed by 8 o’clock news

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:06 am

The Dutch cannot part with their HEMA department stores, a recent EURIB study revealed. Some 81% of the population thinks the cheap retailer with a sense for design is indispensable. The number two and three positions are taken up by Blokker (housewares) and Kruidvat (cosmetics). Among men, NOS Journaal—the state-run TV news show—took the top position (77%), among women HEMA leads (91%), with Pickwick (tea) taking second place.

The researchers determined three factors that could explain the indispensability of a brand:

  1. Consumers see a brand as a part of Dutch culture
  2. Consumers can interact with the brand
  3. Consumers are exposed to a brand on at least a weekly basis

I think HEMA’s perceived indispensability is caused by the fact that nearly everybody buys their underwear there. Ipso facto, the Dutch are an underwear wearing people. Free scientific analysis from the 24 Oranges’ towers, there ya go.

The study (Dutch, PDF) can be downloaded at the EURIB website.

See also:

Via Blik op Nieuws (Dutch). Photo by Hans Vandenbogaerde, some rights reserved.

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March 30, 2008

Copycats try to trade up red thumbtack for housing

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 3:27 pm

Between 12 July 2005 and 12 July 2006 Canadian Kyle MacDonald traded up a red paperclip for a house in Saskatchewan in 14 separate trades. Two Dutch high school students are now trying to follow in his footsteps by trying to trade up a red thumbtack for a place to stay in Utrecht because next year they will attend business school there. So far they traded a red thumbtack for a lighter, the lighter for an analog photo camera, the camera for a digital photo camera, the second camera for an MP3 player, the MP3 player for two days worth of canoe rental, and the canoe rental for a key chain that doubles as a photo player.

For those of you unfamiliar with the lack of rooms who are thinking what’s the big deal, you have to understand how unbelievably tough it is to get any kind of housing in the Netherlands, let alone as a poor student who needs a place to sleep and shower. Allow me: 1) Many students continue to live in their rooms after their studies because they cannot find housing, so life is rough for new students. The law also says you can’t throw them out to make way for the new arrivals. 2) There are even stories of universities telling foreign students to go study somewhere else because of a lack of rooms. 3) Emergency living space, which is supposed to be temporary but ends up permanent, is made out of shipping containers. During a severe wind storm a few weeks ago, one of the stacks of containers detached itself from the pier to which it was attached and started floating.

Via Sargasso.

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