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April 2, 2020

Publishing News

Ayesha Curry Unveils Name of New Meredith Mag: Sweet July
People: "Ayesha Curry unveiled the title of her new lifestyle magazine with a cute video on Instagram on Wednesday. The quarterly publication, which will be published under Meredith Corporation... will be called Sweet July. The New York Times best-selling cookbook author, restaurateur, chef and television host first announced the new project in January. Each issue will include unique food, family and home tips from Curry’s perspective. Curry, 31, recreated the iconic Miranda Priestly entrance scene from The Devil Wears Prada with her husband, Stephen Curry, and their children, Riley, 7, Ryan, 4, and Canon, 1 to announce the title. “All three of our babies were born in July, we got married in July and it’s the 7th month in the calendar year. It’s the time in my life where I find I have the most joy and excitement,” Curry explained in the caption. “I wanted to carry that through everyday and simply honor and find gratitude in the big and the small moments"... Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Curry hopes her magazine will make this difficult time a little bit more enjoyable. “As we prepare to release the first issue in what could be seen as the most insane time, I’m choosing to see it another way. I think the world needs a little joy right now, and this first issue is dripping with it,” she said on Instagram.The debut issue is set to debut on newsstands nationwide in May 2020 for $9.99."

Update on B&N, BAM Store Closures During Crisis
PW: "Barnes & Noble has now temporarily closed more than 500 stores and furloughed what a spokesperson called “a large number” of employees at its HQ. The furloughs occurred across all departments, the spokesperson explained, “with the aim to maintain all functions, but at a much reduced level.” B&N is continuing to offer healthcare benefits to the furloughed employees. In the 100 or so stores that remain open, B&N is limiting the number of customers who can occupy an outlet at the same time to no more than 10. In places where it legally can, B&N is continuing to offer curbside pickup. The retailer is also making book recommendations through and “staying connected to our communities through social media and virtual author readings and events,” the spokesperson said. Books-A-Million has also closed a large number of its stores, but a more precise number couldn’t be confirmed. Like B&N, BAM is offering curbside pickup at closed stores wherever the law allows. A BAM executive called the chain’s online “robust, particularly in kids’ educational categories, puzzles and toys and faith related items.”"

Penske Launching Digital Sports Platform, Sportico
WWD: Penske Media Corp. -- publisher of WWD, Variety and Rolling Stone -- "is launching Sportico, a digital content platform providing sports industry news, data, information and live media. “We are truly excited about becoming the preeminent information destination for the $500B sports industry,” said PMC chairman/CEO Jay Penske. “Sports enables us to complement our technology, entertainment, art, music, fashion, media and lifestyle properties.” Veteran sports and entertainment executive Dick Glover has been named president/CEO of the venture, which will be based in New York and L.A., while sports business reporter Scott Soshnick will serve as the platform’s editor in chief and head of content. Glover comes from Mandalay Sports Media, where he served as president and CEO. He previously held positions at NASCAR, where he was vice president of broadcasting and new media, and at Walt Disney, where he managed ABC and ESPN’s Internet businesses, including,, and Soshnick spent the past 27 years at Bloomberg News, most recently spearheading Bloomberg’s sports business coverage, as well as cohosting a Business of Sports radio show and self-created podcast"...

Baseball Digest Makes Full Digital Archive Available Free
Release: With live baseball on hold, Baseball Digest has made its complete inventory of more than 800 issues, from 1942 through 2019, available free--with registration--on (or “While we are committed to continuing to publish our print edition just as we have through wars, recessions and other events that have challenged our nation over the last eight decades, Baseball Digest wants to provide this free service to baseball fans as we all work together to overcome the COVID-19 virus,” said Norman Jacobs, Baseball Digest’s publisher since 1969. “Just as Franklin Roosevelt felt it was important to ‘keep baseball going’ during World War II, we feel that continuing to print and making our entire inventory available online may, in some small way, help fill the void until we can all return to the ballpark.” Made possible by its partners eBay and eMagazines, the archive will be free-access through at least July 15.

Bertelsmann Now Owns 100% of PRH
PW: "Bertelsmann has completed the acquisition of Pearson's remaining 25% stake in Penguin Random House, making it the sole owner of the world's largest trade publisher. The sale, which was announced last December, is valued at approximately $675M. The acquisition marks the end of nearly a half-century in which Pearson has been involved with the company, first as owner of Penguin and later as co-stakeholder in PRH... With the completion of the acquisition, German-language publishing group Verlagsgruppe Random House will be integrated into Penguin Random House. The Munich-based publishing group will add 45 imprints to Penguin Random House's slate of 320, which span six continents. While these have already been fully owned by Bertelsmann, and previously reported to Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, they are now fully merged with the publisher; their “publishing independence,” the company said, "remains unaffected.""

NewBeauty Relaunches Print Mag For 15th Anniversary
MediaPost: "This year, NewBeauty celebrates its 15th anniversary. With that, the brand is relaunching its print magazine and revamping its website, NewBeauty is also celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its annual NewBeauty Awards; this year, it will introduce a new seal and timely categories like CBD, Clean and Cult-Classic. “As we approached our 15-year anniversary, we started to analyze what the brand was built on. We talked to our readers, our partners and those in the beauty industry and realized we had to go back to our roots a bit,” NewBeauty’s Chief Brand Officer Steffanie Attenberg said. The revived magazine comes as NewBeauty reports double-digit growth year-over-year.The spring 2020 issue of the magazine is slated to be the brand’s biggest — at 300+ pages — and counts brands like Moroccanoil, Klorane, dr. brandt, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, Eminence Organics and Grande Cosmetics among its advertisers"...

More on Conde Lifts Digital Paywalls
In MediaPost, Rob Williams writes: Condé Nast "has undertaken a global effort to reach online audiences as the coronavirus pandemic keeps billions of people stuck at home, looking for news and entertainment.The publishing giant's efforts include free access to its websites, special digital issues, email newsletters and articles that help to provide comfort and inspiration as people struggle through the worst crisis since World War II. Gannett, McClatchy, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal also have removed their paywalls on stories about the pandemic. Condé Nast's campaigns in several countries aim to raise awareness of COVID-19 prevention measures, as hashtags like #stayhome and #staysafe trend on social media, according to information provided to Publishing Insider.Condé Nast Italy responded quickly after the outbreak slammed into Milan, the country's commercial hub, which has close ties to manufacturing centers in China. It offered free access to its digital titles for three months.Vanity Fair Italia has published two special editions, including one dedicated to Milan that was distributed for free throughout the city and the surround Lombardy region. The magazine dedicated the second special edition to people working on the front line in the fight against COVID-19, donating profits from the issue to a local hospital. In Germany, the publishing giant launched a free download campaign for Vogue, GQ and Architectural Digest (AD), and plans a push campaign offering digital upgrades. Vogue also will have a mailing campaign with "thank you" gifts for readers who answer a survey, according to information provided to Publishing Insider.Condé Nast India last week launched a newsletter titled “Condé Nast Quarantimes” with more information about COVID-19, and emailed it to readers of Vogue, GQ, CNT and AD. The publisher's #stayathome campaign offered a one-month free subscription to digital issues and its archive. In Mexico, Russia, France, Spain and the United Kingdom, Condé Nast is running promotions that include a mix of free access to its websites for a limited time. Its U.S. brands removed paywalls from all coronavirus content as part of an effort to fight misinformation about the illness, while Wired launched a newsletter dedicated to COVID-19 news and updates. Self has practical guidance about reducing anxiety, while Bon Appetit is highlighting recipes for comfort food made with common pantry items.The publishing industry has seen a surge in digital traffic from housebound readers, though it's difficult to monetize as advertisers cut media spending. However, lifting paywalls, publishing special editions and creating email newsletters provide a chance for magazine brands to engage audiences that want to connect with the outside world. Those efforts help to lay the groundwork for future growth when the pandemic subsides."

Bauer Closes New Zealand Magazine Operations, Permanently
NZHerald: "New Zealand's biggest newsstand magazines have folded, as Bauer Media NZ abruptly closed its doors permanently." Bauer blamed the Covid-19 crisis. "The New Zealand wing of the German-owned company publishes a range of New Zealand magazines including Woman's Day, New Zealand Woman's Weekly, The Australian Women's Weekly, the Listener, North & South, Next, Metro, Kia Ora, Home NZ and Your Home & Garden. The closure brings to an end many decades of publishing in New Zealand, with about 300 staff out of jobs. A staffer spoken to by the Herald said they were "devastated" and "didn't see it coming... It's a big blow for magazines in New Zealand as they hold a special place in our country. Magazines have been in New Zealand for generations, they are a trusted friend and give comfort to many households." The staffer said that even though magazines were deemed non-essential by the Government, staff had still been working at home preparing to put out their next publication... She said the finer details such as redundancy payouts had yet to be confirmed. "There are a lot of journalists out there who are really good at their job ... We are going to have to ride this crisis through and hope and wait for an economic upturn and wait for things to get back to normal."

VF's Pompeo: Pandemic Will Change the Media Forever
Vanity Fair media blogger Joe Pompeo writes in part: "TV is not the only medium where the means of production have swiftly evolved. Newspapers and magazines are being produced 100% remotely. Entire newsrooms are working outside the office. Authors are scrambling to put together virtual events to promote their books. Late-night hosts are delivering zingers from the safety of their homes. Measures like these are meant to be Band-Aids, temporary solutions until the world stops spiraling out of control, whether that’s 18 weeks from now or 18 months. At the same time it’s worth considering whether any of these Band-Aids will stick. The New York Times, for instance, is considered, in journalism, the most conservative and traditional of institutions, but the current crisis is opening eyes to other modes. “Long after other industries had moved to more flexible work arrangements, I think newsrooms really hung on to a notion that the cross-pollination of ideas, trading approaches and thoughts and story concepts, was really an in-person function,” said Carolyn Ryan, an assistant managing editor at the Times who oversees recruitment. “Something we have learned, because we are subject to the same somewhat nostalgic impulses that others in the industry are, is that ideas can be shared, and stories can be worked out, and edits can occur, and big, ambitious journalism can all be done remotely. Newsrooms have always had this sense about themselves that there is something special about a newsroom, and I still feel that, and there’s a way in which we’re really attached to that. But ideas can flow on just about any kind of platform, and good ideas can rise sometimes even faster remotely.” Ryan believes that the business realities that afflict much of the industry will tend toward making the current situation permanent for some. “You’ll see more newsrooms, maybe those that are financially strapped, relying more on remote journalists,” she said, “and I think traditionalists will not have the fear or wariness that they had in the past.”Magazine editors I spoke with expressed similar sentiments. “I’m so sick of the way magazines have always done things,” said one, “and if we make a virtue out of this situation, I think we can actually build something new and possibly better.” The disruption is especially pronounced for celebrity-driven, long-lead monthly magazines with high production value—like Vanity Fair—where the usual way of doing things has been upended by social distancing. With widespread restrictions on travel and human interaction, how do publications like these make it work when they can’t do photo shoots, or intimate profiles, or really any stories that would require being around people IRL? Indeed, the near-religious belief in face-to-face sit-downs and ride-alongs is also, of necessity, being tested. (Such beliefs, once discarded, can be hard to recover.)As another editor at a major magazine suggested, it’s all about leaning into the situation, co-opting the technologies that celebrities use in their daily lives or for their Instagram accounts. Think FaceTime interviews, iPhone selfie shoots, etc. But it’s definitely a double-edged sword, and it accelerates a dynamic that social media has already set in rapid motion. “Celebs seem to want to do selfies,” the editor told me. “The problem is that it’s cute once, but will it lead to future cover stories being only phone and selfies? That said, I think a lot of people are home with time on their hands, so people do seem willing to have fun in new ways. A lot of talent seems available for interesting ideas when they’re presented.” The [book] publishing world is working through its own COVID conundrums. Take Don Winslow, the best-selling crime author, who has a new book coming out on April 7. His 20-city promotional tour was all booked and ready to go. Then came the coronavirus pandemic. Now Winslow, like other authors, is hustling to take his entire book tour virtual via Zoom and other videoconferencing applications. “This is the next best thing,” he said. “We’re lucky this technology exists now.” In the future, Winslow continued, “I don’t think I’d like to replace the in-person appearances with these, but if you could enhance them, if it made it possible to be in more places, then yeah.” Another potential upside: “This might also make promotion more available to authors who maybe don’t have the same marketing outreach that I do. It might make the public more available to authors who are, as yet, lesser known""...


Retail News

Unemployment Applications Hit Records
Crain's NY Business: "The number of Americans applying for benefits surged for a second week, reaching about 10M over the last two weeks. In Illinois, the figure topped 178,000, an unprecedented 1,833% increase over the same week a year ago, and up from 114,114 the previous week. A record 6.65M people nationwide filed jobless claims in the week ended March 28, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday, as many stores and restaurants were forced to close across the nation to mitigate the outbreak. The prior week’s level was also revised up slightly to 3.31M. “I never thought I’d see such a print in my lifetime as economist,” said Thomas Costerg at Pictet Wealth Management, who had the highest forecast in the Bloomberg survey, at 6.5 million. Claims are likely to stay elevated as more states announce stay-at-home orders, and it would be “not unthinkable” to see a 20% unemployment rate, more than double the high that followed the last recession, he said"...

Major Grocers Closing Stores on Easter Sunday
PG: "As part of a $1M investment in its associates, which includes April bonuses for frontline associates and accelerated scheduled quarterly bonuses for store and department managers, Rouses Markets is one of several grocers that will close its stores on Easter Sunday, April 12, to give its 7,000 employees an additional paid holiday — and a well-deserved break.Other retailers that will be closed on Easter Sunday include Costco, Target, Publix, Aldi, Sam's Club and Trader Joe's"...

DoorDash Launches Grocery Delivery From C Stores
PG: "The largest restaurant delivery app in the U.S. by share of sales is teaming up with major convenience store operators to deliver groceries. DoorDash is partnering with more than 1,800 store locations nationwide, including 7-Eleven, CircleK, Wawa and Casey’s General Store, to deliver household essentials such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies and over-the-counter medicine, as well as prepared hot and cold foods, energy drinks, and ice cream pints. "We began piloting this offering earlier this year, and given the changes and challenges so many are facing in this moment, we accelerated the launch of our convenience category to offer critical supplies during a time when delivery and pickup are vital to consumers’ well-being and to the health of our local communities," said Mike Goldblatt, head of grocery partnerships at San Francisco-based DoorDash. "Local businesses have been forced to change how they operate, and through this effort we hope to support and empower franchise owners and local convenience stores to reach customers through the DoorDash platform." DoorDash and its subsidiaries earned 39% of U.S. consumers’ meal delivery sales in February, while Grubhub and its subsidiaries, which include Seamless and Eat24, took in 30%... [The] surge as Americans sheltered in place the past few weeks has [challenged all grocery-delivery services to keep up with demand], caused order volume at Instacart to increase more than 150% and prompted the company to announce it was looking for 300,000 shoppers to join its platform. DoorDash also recently rolled out a nationwide program involving more than 2,000 stores, to deliver groceries to seniors at no charge during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Amazon to Deploy Masks, Temperature Checks for Workers
Reuters: Amazon "plans to roll out temperature checks and face masks for staff at all its U.S. and European warehouses plus Whole Foods stores by early next week, a huge deployment for workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. The company, which has reported virus cases among warehouse staff and faced several demonstrations, said it would start testing hundreds of thousands of employees a day for fevers. It told Reuters it would use no-contact forehead thermometers at site entrances and send anyone registering more than 100.4 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) home.All locations will have surgical masks available by early next week, after millions were ordered weeks ago, according to Amazon. Particle-blocking N95 masks it has ordered will instead be donated to medical workers or sold at cost to government and healthcare organizations, it said. The company will also use machine-learning software to monitor building cameras and determine whether employees are staying at safe distances during their shifts, or whether they are often huddled too close together"...

Walgreens: Sales Surged, Then Dropped Off
CNBC: "Walgreens’ same-store sales were up 26% in the first 21 days of March as people stocked up on prescriptions and other items, Global CFO James Kehoe said. Then, he said, they took a turn and in the last week of the month, they were down by the mid-teens. He said the sales declines could offset the company’s initial gains, particularly as there’s less foot traffic and fewer sales of discretionary items like beauty products.The company said it can’t provide a reliable outlook for investors about the effects of COVID-19. Walgreens beat Wall Street expectations for the fiscal second quarter, which ended before the number of COVID-19 cases rose significantly in the U.S."

Kroger Institutes ‘Hero Bonus’ for Frontline Associates
PG: "The Kroger Co. has revealed that it will give all hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates what it has dubbed a “Hero Bonus” – that is, a $2 premium above their standard base rate of pay, applied to hours worked March 29-April 18. The premium will be distributed weekly to ensure that employees can access additional cash. This is in addition to the one-time bonus Kroger implemented March 21 for frontline associates, who will receive the payment April 3. The company has also rolled out such safety measures as social distancing signage and plexiglass shields at checkout"...

What U.S. Grocers Can Learn from European Grocers About COVID-19
In PG, Olivier Delangre and Laura Hoste of Amoobi, an in-store customer behavior specialist, write in part: "We’ve collected and analyzed millions of in-store shopper tracks across Europe and the United States, and witnessed a clear change in behavior – we’ve all seen shoppers overwhelming supermarkets, fighting over the last roll of toilet paper. While today’s European shopper typically prefers multiple smaller grocery trips and becoming inspired, we see the opposite happening these past weeks: People avoid going in stores unless it’s absolutely necessary, and they stock up enough supplies for the week(s) to come. It might be an exceptional situation now, but it will be key to follow the trend as time goes by and to measure how this plays out in the long term. As North America is a few weeks behind Europe on the crisis timeline, there are some key customer behavior trends that have emerged in Europe and can be a lesson for North American retailers, in preparation for what’s to come." Their key points: Spend per minute jumps 49%: "Usually right before and after [a] government addresses its country, traffic spikes by up to 200%. Mornings are prime shopping time, while afternoons and evenings are calm -- perfect times for replenishment or extra cleaning. Aside from that, shoppers are more efficient on their trips: While they spend the same amount of time (or more) in store, they make additional stops, resulting in an increased spend per minute by 49%. To keep today’s customers satisfied and loyal, an efficient in-store experience will be crucial. Product innovations and promotions might also be seeing the consequences of this behavior. While shoppers spend more time in store, they’re rushing. These super-efficient shopping trips don’t seem to leave any space for discovery, promotions or impulse. Many customers stick with the products they know. That’s why creating the right adjacencies, and finding a way to regain interest for innovations, will be key. This stockpiling affects different categories, in phases. First, we saw people flocking toward nonperishables (pasta, rice, toilet paper) and baby care, and then they moved toward frozen products and hygiene. There might be a ripple effect in the future, when everyone has run out of stock, but we may also see a lasting effect, where people get used to having a well-filled pantry at home. If people continue to shop for groceries less frequently, it will become even more necessary to make the best of the time spent in store. Some “pleasure” products, like beer, have gotten more footfall recently (up 27%) and seem to be benefiting from this situation. As the pandemic goes on, we expect a steady growth of pleasure purchases. However, the way this materializes could depend heavily on the segment of the population. Customers who are currently losing a lot of income may turn to low-cost pleasure purchases, which might mean an increased demand for lower-end products. Others, who are financially less affected, could be looking to discover new products that are out of the ordinary. That might be an opportunity, in some categories, for innovation or differentiation of the assortment." Second: Don't overestimate the effects of ecommerce on physical stores. "While the ecommerce business is quite developed in Europe, we still noticed a rapid saturation, with many supply chain issues. In some cases, wait times for grocery delivery are more than a week, as there’s just not enough capacity to handle the number of online orders. This emphasizes two things: There’s still a long road ahead until grocers are ready for a big shift to ecommerce, and while some shoppers will stick to their online orders, it’s very likely that many will go back in store after the crisis. Ecommerce isn’t ready to erase brick-and-mortar, which will remain prevalent in grocery."


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