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July 13, 2020

Publishing News

Parents Launches Book Club, "100 Books to Inspire Your Kids" List
MediaPost: "In Parents' August issue, themed “Raise a Reader,” the title will debut a new list called “100 Books to Inspire Your Kids,” as well as a Raising the Future Book Club. The issue includes additional features, such as tips on how to raise a child who loves to read and a cover story with NBC’s “Today” co-host Jenna Bush Hager, who discusses literacy, among other topics. The list of 100 books includes the "Encyclopedia Brown" series by Donald J. Sobol, "Miracle’s Boys" by Jacqueline Woodson, "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson and "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor... "If we want the world to change — and for our children to be the change makers — we must embrace stories from more than one point of view," EIC Julia Edelstein writes in her August issue editor's Letter. The book club, which is a part of Parents’ long-term “Raising the Future” initiative, features Ibram X. Kendi’s "Antiracist Baby" as its first selection. Kendi will lead a discussion about the book on the outlet’s Instagram on August 7. The “Raising the Future” initiative aims to diversify the voices and representation in Parents' coverage and lend support to nurturing the next generation of voices."

Cosmopolitan Introduces Paid Membership Program
MediaPost: "Cosmopolitan has launched its first paid membership program, called Cosmo Unlocked. For $2 a month, readers can get unlimited access to content, exclusive bonus stories and a members-only email newsletter. For $20 a year, readers will get those benefits, as well as an annual subscription to the magazine, discounts on products and early access to insider events, merchandise deals and other perks. Readers without a Cosmo Unlocked membership can read four digital Cosmopolitan stories a month. Readers who already subscribe to Cosmopolitan magazine have the option to upgrade their subscription to join the new VIP offering. Stories on the Cosmo Unlocked hub, accessible only to paying members, feature “Is It Possible to Stop a Mass Shooting Before It Happens?” and “A Dark Secret in Amish Country.” Other articles range from astrology-related content, to stories on the British royal family and true crime. Both annual options are available to U.S. and Canada residents only. However, anyone with a U.S.-currency based credit card (Amex, Visa, Mastercard, Discover) can subscribe to the monthly, digital-only option.

Sports Illustrated's Owner, Publisher at Odds
Daily Beast: "The owner of the Sports Illustrated brand is about to go to war with the controversial tech and media company that has owned the rights to operate the magazine for less than a year. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Daily Beast that Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the brand-management company that owns the intellectual property of Sports Illustrated, is examining The Maven’s rights under the license to operate the Sports Illustrated media business—potentially removing the legendary sports brand entirely from the hands of the controversial Seattle-based media company. A spokesman for ABG told The Daily Beast the company does not comment on their relationships with their “nearly 1,000 valued licensees across the world.” The Maven, meanwhile, said in a statement that “ABG and Maven are currently in discussions about disagreements related to the interpretation of the Sports Illustrated licensing agreement.” On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated staff received a note from The Maven’s general counsel Robert Scott informing them that they are legally required to retain and preserve all documents related to Maven, SI, and ABG. The note alarmed many employees, some of whom were unaware of the dispute between the parent company and the magazine’s operator, which now appears to be an all-out battle. Last year, Sports Illustrated’s previous owner, the Meredith Corporation, sold the iconic outlet to ABG. That brand-management group then turned over the rights to publish Sports Illustrated to The Maven, a relatively new company that hosts and operates a network of digital brands including Maxim. The company’s takeover of the historic sports brand has been tumultuous from day one. Within the first week of The Maven’s operation of SI, it laid off half of the magazine’s staff. Sports Illustrated staffers were infuriated when The Maven blamed the cuts on former owner Meredith, while managers said that the cuts were The Maven’s decision. The Maven’s purchase of Sports Illustrated was almost immediately panned by onlookers as a transparent plan to turn the once-iconic brand into a content mill"...

Print Book Units Up 2.8% in 1st Half
PW: "Unit sales of print books in the first half of 2020 were up 2.8% over the same period in 2019 at outlets the report to NPD BookScan. The number of copies sold was 322.1M, up from 313.5M in 1H 2019. The increase was led by a combination of children’s nonfiction books that are helping parents educate and entertain their children while schools are shut down and books on race relations and social justice, whose sales have surged following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in late May... The juvenile fiction category had a 7.1% rise in unit sales, led by better than 11% increases in the classics and social, situations, family, health subcategories... After posting soft sales for the past several years, the adult fiction category had a 2.9% increase in the first six months, as booksellers reported more people looking for titles that provide an escape from the drumbeat of coronavirus news"...

May Book Publishing Sales Down
PW: "Net sales fell 12.1% in May, compared to May 2019, for the 1,360 publishers who report to AAP’s monthly StatShot program. Similar to the April report, the net sales figure was heavily influenced by a steep drop in returns, which offset a decline in gross sales in the month. (AAP calculates net sales by deducting returns from gross sales.) Total gross sales fell 17.4% in May, but returns dropped 45.2%, leading to the 12.1% decline in net sales... In the trade segments, adult book gross sales fell 17.5%, but a 41.8% decline in returns kept the net sales loss to 11%. The May report did show the first big jump in e-book sales since the pandemic struck: +30.6% vs. May 2019, an increase that helped offset print declines. Downloadable audio sales rose 18.6% in the month... For the first five months of 2020, industry-wide net sales fell 4.5% due to a combination of a 9% decline in gross sales and a 24.8% drop in returns. Net sales of adult books were down 2.2% in the year to date, and children’s/YA sales were up 2.1% compared to the first five months of 2019."

Manhattanites Save Magazine Shop
The New Yorker: When NYC police closed Casa Magazines in May, saying it was in violation of the city's closure of "non-essential" retailers, the West Village's beloved longtime magazine and newspaper shop, the neighborhood created a GoFundeMe page... "small donations began to roll in. Many were accompanied with messages describing the store as if it were a cherished friend. “Casa Magazines is the heart and soul of the West Village,” one read. “Yes, it’s the wonderful newspapers and magazines they sell, some of which you will never get anywhere else in NYC, but it’s the humor and warmth and wisdom of Mohammed and Ali that make it indispensable"... The page soon raised more than $24,000 toward Casa’s rent and utilities and supplier costs, with the rest covering [the salaries of owner Mohammed Ahmed, and his employee, Ali Wasim]... [The shop has now reopened...] "The sudden go-ahead from the city was the result of some frantic maneuvering by two West Village residents, James Reginato, a writer-at-large for Vanity Fair, and George Capsis, the C.E.O. of the neighborhood’s monthly paper, WestView News, who lobbied Corey Johnson, the speaker of the New York City Council, and Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s press secretary, for help"... The article's author, Nathan Taylor Pemberton, writes that "A shop like Casa doesn’t sell fantasy, or truth, in print form. Instead, it’s selling intricately designed and artfully produced excuses for people to step out of their lives and into a real community. In many ways, Casa is a living exercise in building the culture packaged in its magazines." Pemberton also notes that when he asked Wasim "if he had ever considered a life beyond the store should things take a turn for the worse," Wasim "considered it only for a moment. Casa would survive, he said, adding that he’d like to sell magazines until the day he died""...


Retail News

Americans Report Major Changes in Grocery Behavior, Including Less Time In Store, Impulse Buying
PG: "Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe that the traditional grocery store run will be a thing of the past due to COVID-19. A new OnePoll study, conducted on behalf of HelloFresh, asked 2,000 Americans about their views on grocery shopping and how they've changed during the pandemic... 40% said they try to plan out what they want to buy ahead of time to minimize possible germ exposure. The last time respondents said that they visited a grocery store was three weeks ago, on average. They have also cut the length of their typical grocery trip by nearly 10 minutes... In a survey fielded in February 2020, respondents said they spent an average of 32 minutes grocery shopping, but in the new May survey, they reported 23 minutes... More than six in 10 said they don’t have the budget to stock up on necessities to limit how frequently they have to leave their homes. Top ways COVID has changed grocery behavior: Often encounter product shortages, 44%; worry about the cleanliness of products/store, 42%; plan out what they want to buy ahead of time to minimize time in store, 40%; try to spend as little time as possible in store, 39%; make fewer impulse purchases, 37%; more aware of how much food they waste: 29%; often have anxiety when they have to go to the grocery store, 28%. Top ways American are buying food: At grocery store as normal, 68%; order groceries for home delivery, 64%; order delivery from local restaurant: 61%; order groceries online to pick up in store, 58%; use a meal-kit delivery service, 55%."

Costco's Sales Growth Accelerates in June
SN: "Net and comparable sales growth topped 11% at Costco Wholesale in June, fueled in part by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. For the five weeks ended July 5, net sales came in at $16.18B, up 11.1% from $14.57B a year earlier... YTD sales, covering 44 weeks, have climbed 8.1% to $136.37B from $126.13B in the prior-year period. Overall comp sales for June rose 11.5% YoY, reflecting gains of 11% in the U.S., 8.4% in Canada and 18% internationally. Excluding the impact of changes in fuel pricing and foreign exchange, total comp sales were up 14.4%, with increases of 13.6% in the U.S., 12.2% in Canada and 22.1% internationally. Ecommerce sales soared 85.8% in June vs. a year ago and were up 86.7% excluding the effect of foreign exchange. In May, Costco reported growth of 7.5% in net sales and 5.4% in comp sales (9.7% excluding fuel and forex). U.S. comps rose 5.5% (9.2% excluding fuel and forex). Companywide, May ecommerce sales surged 106.2% (108.1% excluding forex). “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our sales and comp traffic. Merchandise sales were very strong in June, while ancillary businesses continued underperform relative to the core [categories], primarily due to softness in gas, food court and photo,” David Sherwood, assistant vice president of finance and investor relations at Costco, said"...

Meijer Opens 5 New Supercenters
SN: Last Thursday, Meijer opened five supercenters in four midwestern states. "The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer said Thursday that 159,000-square-foot stores opened their doors in Manitowoc, Wis.; Sycamore, Ill.; Bad Axe, Mich.; and Brimfield and Lorain, Ohio. Grocery offerings at the new supercenters include more than 600 varieties of produce, 150 USD-certified organic items and a full-service meat department... the locations also house a pharmacy and carry general merchandise items typically found in specialty stores, ranging from on-trend women’s apparel and beauty care to expansive baby and pet departments, with the latter offering 200 pet toys, 500 varieties of dog and cat treats, and premium pet foods. Other store services include digital shopping options, such as Shop & Scan, which enables shoppers to scan barcodes via a mobile app and bag their items as they shop, as well as Meijer Home Delivery and Pickup for online grocery and other orders"...

Amazon Leads in Online Grocery Satisfaction
SN: "Amazon leads in customer satisfaction among online grocery shoppers, while traditional supermarkets have seen the biggest gain in online shopping use versus a year ago, according to the 2020 U.S. Online & In-Store Grocery Shopping Study from Retail Feedback Group (RFG).On a scale of 1 to 5, Amazon scored 4.47 in online grocery customer satisfaction, putting the e-tail giant just ahead of Walmart at 4.38, reported RFG, which polled 2,000 grocery shoppers (split evenly between online and in-store visitors) in late April to early May. Supermarkets and food stores rated at 4.33 for their online shopping experience, below the overall satisfaction score of 4.38. Instacart-fulfilled service earned a score of 4.35. Though still high, this year’s online grocery satisfaction ratings are down from RFG’s 2019 study, when the overall customer rating was 4.48, with scores of 4.60 for Amazon, 4.45 for Walmart, 4.43 for supermarkets/food stores and 4.48 for Instacart. In-stock conditions and order turnaround were chief concerns of online grocery shoppers, especially in the wake of COVID. 51% said their online retailer/service had everything in stock that they wanted... For those encountering out-of-stocks, only 17% were able to purchase acceptable substitutions for all unavailable items... 45% reported not receiving all items ordered online, with supermarkets having the highest percentage not getting everything (52%), followed by Walmart (45%) and Amazon (31%). Last year, pre-COVID supply chain disruptions, just 5% of online grocery shoppers didn’t receive all items ordered, with those percentages at 8% for supermarkets, 5% for Walmart and 3% for Amazon... Amazon achieved the highest score in virtually areas of online grocery customer satisfaction, which also included easy navigation to desired products, smooth website/app performance and checkout process, and easy-to-find and -apply discounts. Walmart led in its online grocery service being a good value for the money, with a score of 4.34 versus 4.2 for Amazon, 4.09 for Instacart and 4.05 for supermarkets. Overall, survey respondents rated their online grocery experience at 4.20 in terms of being a good value for the money"...

How Location-Based Software Will Transform Grocery
In PG, Coby Berman, co-founder/COO of location-based SaaS company Radar, argues that "For many customers, the introduction of e-commerce options will turn into a permanent preference. Individual reasoning for this will range from health and safety considerations to convenience, but the fact remains that what was once seen as a luxury service will become more commonplace. To navigate the immediate need and long-lasting change in customer behavior, grocers urgently need to develop mobile and web applications that will allow them to own their customers’ data and, ultimately, have better control over the consumer relationship. While difficult to engineer, location-based features are especially important for delivering the most impactful customer experiences. Well-built apps heightened by location can provide customers with detailed timing for pickups and deliveries, accurate lists of what’s in stock at specific store locations, and personalized discounts and promotions — all considerations that will be important to consumers as they adjust to a new reality"...

More on Kroger's New Marketing, Media Sales Partnerships
SN: "Two new advertising partnerships by The Kroger Co. bring the supermarket giant its first integrated media agency of record and “custom radio stations” that will broadcast targeted messages inside its stores. Kroger chose Dentsu Aegis Network as its integrated media agency, which will form a dedicated team to serve Kroger, called fresh@dentsu, to handle media planning and buying for Kroger and its family of brands across all media channels, including TV, radio, print, OOH, search, social, display, online video and streaming audio. The team also will help assess Kroger's sponsorships. Fresh@dentsu will be led out of full-service media and creative agency 360i, along with experts from Amplifi, M8, Merkle, MKTG and Posterscope. Kroger and Dentsu Aegis said. Kroger said its Fresh for Everyone branding provides a unifying framework for its communications, changing culture and omnichannel shopping experience, which offers customers in-store, pickup, delivery and ship options for their purchases... "Powered by Dentsu’s M1 platform, we look forward to helping Kroger deliver people-based media across all channels and connected to business outcomes that drive growth across its entire footprint,” said Doug Rozen, chief media officer for 360i... Kroger has also singed a multi-year deal with Vibenomics "to deploy a custom audio advertising network in more than 2,300 stores. The location-based “audio out-of-home” advertising and experience company said it plans to expand its Audio OOH Advertising Marketplace across Kroger Co.’s store base and automate the audio ad-buying process to current programmatic standards, enabling users to target customers at the right time depending on weather, local events and other variables. That, in turn, will allow Kroger to enhance its customer experience and give brands another way to connect with shoppers at the point of purchase, Vibenomics said"...


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