Friday, February 15, 2002

An Open Book?
A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer outs Barnes & Noble as a 50% backer of the periodical Book. "B & N's Readers' Advantage discount program, which includes a year's subscription to Book, is responsible for 80 percent of the periodical's remarkable circulation of 1.3 million," writes Carlin Romano.

Yet Mark Gleason, Book's publisher, insists that the magazine is totally independent and receives no editorial guidance whatsoever from the book store giant. That said, Book's reviews are almost entirely positive, which does give the mag the air of a promotional tool. Gleason says that the positive tone is the result of the magazine's staff wanting to highlight good books -- and not attack people solely for the sake of attack. Instead, the article points out, Book welcomes negative reviews if they're a warning to readers.

Nevertheless, Book's relationship with Barnes & Noble gives it hella clout in a niche that publishers haven't been able to thrive or survive in before. Because of the B&N connection, "Book's circulation zoomed. Better-known bylines showed up," Romano writes. "The magazine will soon expand to 10 issues a year and double office space for its 25 staffers."

Seems like a sweet spot for Book -- but a slippery slope, to be sure.

Thanks to Jim Romenesko's Media News

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