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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November 7, 2010

Crowdfunded book agent wins Accenture Innovation Award

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 1:04 pm

Last Tuesday, a website that letd readers buy shares in upcoming books based on their first ten pages, won the Accenture Innovation jury Award 2010. The audience award was given to Catawiki, the personal-library-manager-meets-ebay. works something like this:

  • A writer writes the first ten pages of their book and posts them to the website.
  • The writer then tries to convince 2,000 people to buy a 5 euro share.
  • A renowned publisher has the option to commit to the book.
  • Once all shares are sold, the author gets 1,000 euro and the publisher 9,000 euro.
  • Presumably at some point, a book is published.

It looks to me like this could go one of two ways. On the one hand, this could finally free authors from some of the iron grip traditional publishers have, and on the other, this could turn into a vanity press scheme on speed. The safeguard against the latter scenario is that the publishers involved so far all have a reputation to live up to and we all know that serious publishers would never throw their good name away.

See also: Public Enemy to produce next album through Sellaband

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February 4, 2009

Eppo comics magazine revived

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 10:05 am

After WWII, Europe was treated to full-colour comic magazines, notably Robbedoes (Spirou) and Kuifje (Tintin), both from Belgium. The Netherlands had Pep en Sjors, which later merged into Eppo, which then became Sjosji, which went tits up in 1999 because kids don’t read comics anymore. A bunch of middle-aged men then got together and declared they refused to live in the present.

Instead, they revived Eppo magazine (Dutch), the first issue of which is now in the stores. A hefty 99 euro will get you 25 issues, a year’s worth. The first issue is surprisingly light on advertisements, 2.3 out of 36 pages. I hope that’s not a bad sign. Eppo is first and foremost an exercise in nostalgia; the editors even brought back De Partners, one of the worst comics ever allowed to roll off a printing press. And the mag opens with space opera Storm, just like it used to. (Now we just have to wait for the letter pages to be filled again with debates between Storm haters and Storm lovers.)

I am not sure whether I should cheer on the re-introduction of a regular, mainstream comics magazine in the Netherlands—not counting Donald Duck magazine which is a phenomenon hors categorie. Reading the mag feels a bit like choosing a coffin—surely I am not yet that old? On the other hand, the big guns of yesteryear have lost nothing of their story telling genius. The new Franka reads like Largo Winch (friendship, betrayal, high finance, Ludlum in comic form really), Martin Lodewijk gets ever better at mixing the old-fashioned and the corny with current events in his hilarious spy parody Agent 327, and there’s even a comic version of Havank’s The Shadow by none other than Daan Jippes.

What the heck: cheer! What magazines like Eppo did was create an advertising platform for comic artists (Dutch), as I am sure this new incarnation will also do. That can only be a good thing.

Illustration: 3 panels from Franka story De witte godin (The White Goddess).

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December 27, 2008

ISBN register made publically accessible

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 3:29 pm

On December 22 Centraal Boekhuis, the distributor for most books in the Netherlands opened up its ISBN register, “after consultation with several stakeholders in the book business.” Let me paraphrase that for them: “people started suing us.”

Centraal Boekhuis has a curious monopoly. It distributes books for the publishers to the stores. But since shelf space is expensive, it regularly pretends the backlist doesn’t exists, says Eamelje. A Stichting Auteursdomein sued them for abusing their monopoly position. The foundation lost on the curious grounds that since it’s pioneering a business model in the Netherlands, its situation is so unique that damages are hard to determine. Stichting Auteursdomein is an on-demand publisher for books from established authors where those books have disappeared from the shelves. The goal of the lawsuit was to have Centraal Boekhuis open up their ISBN database, and that’s what happened in the end.

Via Eamelje (Dutch).

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December 22, 2007

DIY download Christmas CD

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 4:00 pm

The alternative hit parade has published its second download CD selection, this one Christmas themed. Here’s how it works: they select the songs, you download them (perfectly legal in the Netherlands!), they produce a booklet, you print it and burn the CD. Done!

To me these CDs look like the hit parade CDs being sold in backstreet snack bars in Venlo in the 1980s. Those, of course, were illegal under Dutch law.

Via Dagelinks.

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