Monday, August 11, 2008

The impact of FSS? Changing the shape of Mail

The New York Times has reported that Rolling Stone, the largest circulation music magazine will be changing its format from a tabloid to a more standard magazine size. While the article focuses on the impact that the new format will have on newsstand sales, clearly Rolling Stone will reap large benefits in postage savings by using an automation compatible format. By changing its binding and paper stock, Rolling Stone will create a more attractive format for advertisers chasing after the young demographic of its readers. In addition, its new format will allow printers to use the same equipment and paper that they use to print other larger-circulation bound periodicals, creating the possibility that the new size may also save printing costs as well. One wonder's whether other shorter-run, tabloid-shaped periodicals and advertisers are now looking at printing and postage in a similar way and are considering changing their format to better fit the FSS and more commonly used printing and binding equipment.

With a circulation of over 1.4 million of which 1.2 million are delivered through the mail Rolling Stone was the largest circulation magazine that did not conform with the FSS automation specifications. Clearly such a major makeover was not a small undertaking and in all likelihood was many months in the making.

The new format no longer fits the rebel image of Rolling Stone that the tabloid format did so Rolling Stone management must have seen significant economic benefits from making the change. Now they have the challenge of selling the change to their readers and advertisers. The article in the New York Times is one of the magazine's forays in talking to advertisers. It's success over the next year may indicate how well the change was accepted.

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