pay for carriage in a book magazine

Bit o' Lit distribution news box

A free, semi-monthly book magazine recently launched in the DC area. Called Bit o’ Lit, the magazine has contained five book excerpts averaging about 5.5 pages each. The magazine is being distributed through 50 newspapers boxes placed across the city. At least the first issue was also hand-distributed outside metro stations. Bit o’ Lit states that it places 20,000 copies in circulation.

Bit o’ Lit sells books. It introduces readers to books and provides book news, such as author readings. Bit o’ Lit offers excerpts from both fiction and non-fiction. Showing perhaps some weakness in understanding of advertising economics, the magazine’s website states under the heading “Why Advertise in Bit o’ Lit“:

Diversity of content and entertaining associated features. Bit o’ Lit always includes a variety of titles of interest men, women, and all age groups.

A magazine that sells books has a formal problem. While books have a certain cultural prestige as a form of communication, book advertisers mostly sell satisfying customers’ specific interests and desires through books designed to serve those interests and desires. In other words, books’ form is probably only a small part of persons’ needs and desires that generate demand for books.

Bit o’ Lit charges a book publisher for placing the publisher’s content in the magazine. The charge to book publishers is $150 per page included in Bit o’ Lit. The value proposition evidently is to promote the book and generate more book sales.

Despite getting payments from content owners, the economics of Bit o’ Lit look tenuous. Revenue from book publishers is about $4,125 per magazine issue. The magazine also sells advertising within the magazine. The first two issues have each included two paid advertisements — a back-cover, four-color advertisement and internal, black-and-white full-page advertisement. According to the Bit o’ Lit ad rate sheet, revenue from these two advertisements is $999 and $349, respectively. Bit o’ Lit also offers advertising on its website on the following terms:

Full Site for One Month: $9 Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM); minimum 5,000 impressions. Sizes are 180 max pixels wide by 500 pixels tall.

The website currently shows only Google ads. Current revenue per semi-monthly magazine issue in total appears to be about $5,500. That revenue is probably much less than Bit o’ Lit’s costs.

As many publishers and industry analysts are recognizing, selling content is a difficult business. Bit o’ Lit is an interesting and courageous new venture. Like most new ventures, it probably will fail. But at least it shows some imaginative thinking in packaging and distributing content and in organizing payment for it.

One thought on “pay for carriage in a book magazine”

  1. Your pessimistic outlook for Bit O’ Lit rests on a faulty premise: that the magazine has achieved its maximum advertising capacity. There have only been two issues to date. And there is no reason to think that future issues will not feature more ads. Indeed, I think they will. Given that Bit O’ Lit has already managed to attract some advertisers (without any recognition or reputation), I would fully expect its ad sales to multiply as it establishes itself.

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