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September 20, 2021

Publishing News

CEO: B&N Sales Up 6% YTD Vs. 2019
NY Post: "Thanks to the pandemic, a surprising number of consumers are once again devouring books — in print — and Barnes & Noble is cashing in. The 125-year-old chain, taken private two years ago for $683M by hedge fund Elliott Management, has reported double-digit sales growth in books this year so far compared to 2019, before the coronavirus outbreak. Even more surprising to skeptics who had watched the chain wither in the face of Amazon’s rise, the retailer says teenagers and tweens are helping to fuel the surge. Sales of Manga, or graphic novels, at B&N are up by as much as 500% at some stores, where young adults are crowding in the aisles on Friday and Saturday nights. Industrywide, U.S. sales of books are up 12% YoY through August and up 20% vs the same period in 2019, according NPD Group... B&N CEO James Daunt [tells the Post that] total sales are up around 6% from 2019, Daunt said, and that’s with fewer stores — 605 compared to 628 in 2019. He declined to give an exact dollar amount for revenue or profit... Daunt plans to open as many as 12 new stores in February and March alone, after having opened eight and also closing some stores in 2020 and 2021. Some of the new stores will also be about the quarter of the size of the typical 25,000 sq.-ft. location, Daunt said, adding the chain can now drive the same volume out of a 8,000 sq.-ft. store as a 25,000 sq.-ft. one... A source familiar with the matter says Elliott has been enthusiastic about funding the bookseller’s growth and that the business is profitable. It had gone through a “long period” of decline in both revenues and profits, the source said, but in the last two years under Elliott, the declines have been halted"... Article offers more specifics about how individual B&N stores operate now.

Vogue's Met Gala Livestream Sets New Records
Adweek:'s livestream of the Met Gala last Monday night broke traffic records for scale and time spent for the event, with triple-digit growth vs 2019 numbers. The site generated 8.2M unique views, with time spent sitting at 30.5 minutes on Met content exclusively, according to the publisher, which didn’t share its time-spent average. The Vogue homepage saw 15 times more direct traffic during the Gala than its daily average. On social media, Met content from Vogue generated 32M views on TikTok and 74M impressions on Twitter within 24 hours... Overall, the publisher drew 192.6M views across all social platforms. The Vogue livestream itself garnered 15M views across all platforms, with 54M minutes watched in the first 24 hours. In addition to airing on the Vogue U.S. website, the livestream also appeared on 11 other Vogue sites globally and six separate Condé Nast properties. Vogue said it more than doubled its Met-related advertising revenue compared to 2019, although the publisher declined to provide specific figures"...
Adweek (paywall)

Atlantic Festival Returns as Longer, All-Virtual Event
Deadine: "The Atlantic Festival, the signature event held each fall in Washington D.C. by The Atlantic, is returning next week as once again a virtual gathering, with a varied lineup that includes former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, writer-producer David Chase and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. The event also is running longer this year, from Sept. 22-24 and Sept. 27-30. While this year has seen some return to in-person conferences and conventions, the summer uptick in cases due to the Delta variant has scrambled plans of some organizations... Candace Montgomery, SVP/general manager of AtlanticLIVE, said that last year’s event drew 30,000 online participants, compared to 3,000 who attended in person the year before. They are expecting a bigger online audience this year. Other participants include Dr. Anthony Fauci; filmmaker Ken Burns and Rasheda Ali, talking about Burns’ new documentary on her father, Muhammad Ali; Sen. Ben Sasse; Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control; and actress Rosario Dawson. The full lineup is here. The festival also is partnering with NBCUniversal News Group for the second week of the festival, with coverage on network platforms and some of the NBCU journalists moderating events along with journalists for The Atlantic"...

Conde's World of Interiors Gets New Editor
Curbed: "Few magazines are as resistant to the winds of change as The World of Interiors, which has had only two editors in its 40-year history. Come January, it will get its third. Rupert Thomas, the 22-year stalwart and protégé of its founding editor, Min Hogg, will step down, and Hamish Bowles, a 25-year veteran of Vogue and a longtime lieutenant of Anna Wintour’s, will step in. (Both Vogue and World of Interiors are owned by Condé Nast, where Wintour, whose home was once featured in WoI, is chief content officer.) Founded in 1981 by Hogg, a wealthy but still raffishly bohemian Londoner... WoI concerned itself with gorgeous but not overly perfected manses... WoI is small — its circulation hovers around 55,000, piddling compared with the more celebrity focused Architectural Digest, the other shelter magazine/global brand owned by Condé Nast — but proud... Whether it will stay, in its new era, a jewel apart is a question no doubt rattling a few chaise lounges in dusty piles from here to the Cotswolds. Not to mention within its offices at Vogue House. “It’s so successful as a business, and so solid, that I’m very wary of pushing them in directions they feel uncomfortable going in,” Albert Read, the managing director of Condé Nast Britain, told the New York Times in 2019. “I mean, if the World of Interiors circulation suddenly jumped to 150,000, I’d almost be worried.” As for its digital future, it already has 698,000 followers on Instagram, which is a start."

Publishers Brace for iOS Changes Impacting Newsletters
Digiday: "Publishers entered the year with big plans for how newsletters would help them continue diversifying their revenues. Big changes to Apple’s operating systems will force those same to reconsider those plans. On Monday, Sept. 20, Apple will roll out the latest versions of its desktop and mobile operating systems. Both contain a bevy of features Apple says are designed to protect user privacy, including Mail Privacy Protection, which allows users to prevent email senders from seeing when those users have opened the emails they receive in Apple Mail, Apple’s native email app. Mail Privacy Protection is expected to scramble many of the ways that marketers use email — one executive called it a “nail in the coffin” for certain kinds of ad selling — and it will also have profound effects on how publishers use email too, not just to engage readers but to attract and retain subscribers to paid newsletters. Publishers hoping just to maintain their current understanding of their audiences will be forced to make some tough choices: Do they shift to engagement as a primary metric, and risk making their newsletters more clickbait-y? Do they gather more information from readers when they sign up — adding friction to that process? Do they lean harder into subscription revenue to make up for potentially lost ad revenue, even though a lack of open rates will make it harder to gauge how engaged their subscribers are at crucial moments? While email opens are not the sole metric available to publishers and their audience development teams, they are an important one on a shortlist. “Email is already pretty limited,” said Tyler Denk, the CEO of newsletter platform Beehiiv. “Clickthrough, open and unsubscribe. if you take away an accurate picture of opens, that’s one of three.” How much less accurate open rates will become is unclear. While many publishers know that around half of their audience reads their content from an Apple device, the percentage that use Apple Mail is smaller. Only about 12% of BDG’s audience uses Apple Mail, even though more than half its audience uses iOS devices, said Wesley Bonner, vp of marketing and audience development at BDG, which owns editorial brands including Gawker, Romper, Mic and Nylon. “It’s important to keep reminding everybody that this is an opt-in option,” Bonner added. “We’re not counting on 100% of those users opting in""...
Digiday (paywall)


Retail News

Walmart, Ford Team to Test Driverless Delivery
Grocery Dive: "Further expanding its autonomous vehicle delivery testing, Walmart has partnered with Ford Motor Company and Argo AI to launch a self-driving vehicle delivery service in Miami, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, the retailer announced on Wednesday. The collaboration will be the retailer's first autonomous delivery effort in multiple U.S. cities.The delivery service, which will cover grocery as well as non-grocery items, will use Ford's self-driving test vehicles and Argo AI's self-driving system to transport Walmart orders to shoppers. To start, the service will only be available to Walmart customers within a defined area, but that will expand over time, the company said.Argo AI and Ford have been testing self-driving technologies in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Palo Alto, California. The two have also been operating in Miami and Washington, D.C. since 2018 and in Austin since 2019, per the announcement"...

CVS to Hire 25,000
Hartford Courant: "CVS Health Corp. announced Monday it’s hiring 25,000 clinical and retail workers to respond to demand for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing and an expected spike in the flu this fall and winter. About 470 hires are expected in Connecticut. Most of the available jobs are for full-time, part-time and temporary licensed pharmacists, trained pharmacy technicians and nurses at CVS Pharmacy locations. The jobs will be filled as soon as possible, CVS said. A national career fair is scheduled for Friday. Other jobs include retail store employees who work with customers and manage inventory. The nationwide hiring represents the latest drive by CVS... to attract workers in a labor market characterized by too-few job candidates. CVS announced last month it will raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 starting July 2022, with incremental increases to the company’s competitive hourly rates that have already been hiked. About two-thirds of employees earning hourly wages are paid more than $15 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and in Connecticut, it’s $13"...

Kroger Co Joins Initiative Against Retail Crime
SN: "Kroger Co. has become a member of the Buy Safe America Coalition, an interindustry group that supports initiatives to prevent organized retail crime and the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods. In announcing its new member yesterday, Washington, D.C.-based Buy Safe America said Kroger has been “at the forefront” of efforts to thwart organized retail crime and fields a dedicated crime unit to investigate illicit activity. Kroger has initiated more than 2,000 ORC cases, according to Buy Safe America, whose partners include retailers, consumer groups, manufacturers and law enforcement. The Cincinnati-based grocery retailer also trains hundreds of thousands of its associates to better understand and identify organized retail crime, the coalition said"...

Albertsons First Grocer to Pilot DoorDash
PG: "Albertsons will pilot DoorDash’s DoubleDash service, which enables consumers to tack on an order from a local restaurant and retailer to their Albertsons orders, with no added delivery fees or new order minimums. They can now also order hot and prepared meals from any Albertsons portfolio banner Deli Marketplace. First launched in August with such retailers as 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Wawa and QuickCheck, DoubleDash is an extension of DoorDash’s Drive offering, a white-label fulfillment service providing direct delivery for grocery chains. One DoorDash delivery person receives both orders and will deliver them together; shoppers subscribed to DoorDash’s DashPass membership program will also receive fee delivery on grocery orders over $25. Two new regional grocers are also joining the DoorDash platform and marketplace app: Ontario, Calif.-based Cardenas Markets, a West Coast Hispanic grocery chain that will service California, Arizona and Nevada consumers on the DoorDash app, and Weis Markets, a chain with 173 locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia and Delaware"...

U.S. HelloFresh Workers Seek to Unionize
Grocery Dive: "HelloFresh workers in the United States are seeking to unionize in an effort to improve the safety and sustainability of their jobs, according to an online petition posted by Unite Here, the union the workers are working with. The effort involves about 1,300 workers the German meal kit company employs at two facilities in Colorado and California, Vice reported. HelloFresh workers are organizing as the company sees rising demand for its products in the United States and other countries where it operates"...

Childcare Workers Are Quitting, In Bad Omen for Economy
Washington Post: "Hiring and retaining good workers has been tough in the child-care industry for years, but it is escalating into a crisis. Pandemic-fueled staffing challenges threaten to hold back the recovery, as the staffing problems at day cares have a ripple effect across the economy. Without enough employees, day cares are turning away children, leaving parents — especially mothers — unable to return to work. Nearly 1.6M moms of children under 17 are still missing from the labor force. They dropped out during the pandemic to care for children and have not been able to return to work as the school and day care situation remains chaotic, especially for unvaccinated children under the age of 12. Day care workers typically make about $12 an hour for a demanding job year-round. Public schools and other employers, which are also scrambling to hire workers, are poaching child-care staffers by offering thousands of dollars more a year and better benefits." Even QSRs often pay better.


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