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  • Writer's pictureShawn "The Magazine Guy!"

How much would a magazine subscription cost if it had no ads?

Well the short answer is: the subscription cost of a magazine is not predicated upon how many or how few ads it possesses during any given issue. Most magazines take a “hit” when it comes to fulfilling subscriptions for print magazines. When I say “hit,” I mean that most magazines either break even or just make a slight profit from magazine subscribers. While it may be true that paid circulation publications garner most of their revenue from advertisements, subscriptions and off the rack sales, magazine subscriptions, by in large, are only lucrative for magazine publishers insofar as they demonstrate to potential advertisers that the magazine’s concept/content resonates with the publication’s primary demographic and, as a result, greatly facilitates ad revenue procurement.

The magazine subscription rate is usually predicated upon the costs associated with fulfillment. During the offset printing process, additional thousands, commonly abbreviated as “Addl M’s,” will be printed to cover the total number of magazine subscribers. Additional thousands has to do with the number of magazines that is printed over the actual print run. So, if the monthly print run is 100,000 magazines and the magazine has 7,000 subscribers, the publisher can request a quote for 7,000 Addl M’s. Most offset presses also possess fulfillment capabilities, so once the 107,000 magazines are printed, folded, stitched and trimmed, the 7,000 magazines will be separated from the rest and these magazines may go through another process such as the addition of Cheshire labels and/or polybagging.

Cheshire labels are the white labels that are used to print the subscriber’s name and address information so the magazine can be mailed. Polybagging is a process where the magazine is placed into a clear plastic bag. Polybagging can serve many purposes, but it is usually utilized to provide additional protection, as during inclement weather, or when the magazine publisher has a special offer, mini catalog or special brochure/insert that needs to be included inside the magazine.

The application of Cheshire labels and polybagging is an additional expense above the printing and shipping cost and needs to be factored into the overall subscription rate of the magazine. Magazine publishers should also take into account inflation and try to anticipate increased future costs associated with printing, mailing and other processes that may directly or indirectly affect the overall cost of fulfilling a magazine subscription.

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