You’re kidding, right? Magazine ad sales increase?

Ad pages in the monthly magazines’ January through September issues had fallen 7.4% from 2007, according to Media Industry Newsletter. The first nine months of 2007, by comparison, slipped only 1% from 2006. Before that, we’d seen a few years of gains.

Okay, so maybe it is not all bad.

The Economist… presented a crisp example of excellence in editorial, ad sales, circulation and marketing. Women’s Health continued its ascent…. Every Day With Rachael Ray even reversed the newsstand decline of first-half 2007.

Some Bright Spots in a Gloomy Year for Magazines

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Love ’em/hate ’em — poetry book cover designs

Gary Sullivan on poetry book cover designs:

“Stephen Paul Miller’s Skinny Eighth Avenue… has enough design problems to send me quickly in the other direction…. screams not just DESKTOP PUBLISHING but PRINT ON DEMAND.

“In the 60s and 70s, amateurish often meant a simple type on a white cover with a hand-drawn black & white image. These items often have a kind of funky charm, and sometimes even elegance, to them…. With the rise of desktop publishing in the 80s, things began heading south. Link

Avoid scaring off potential readers with “desktop publishing/print on demand” covers and hire me a professional graphic designer.

Targeting your book’s demographic? Or manufacturing your book’s audience?

Positioning one’s book in an already cluttered publishing arena is essential. Niching-down is another way of targeting a reader audience. Consider horror novels with all the sub genres: macabre, goth, post-apocalyptic, mystery, Victorian, etc. Authors and agents understand that before a manuscript is finished it needs to fit a market. Genre-defying books tend to be a challenge to position and are often avoided by major publishers. Is it a mystery or romance or high literature?

Cory Doctorow appears to either be a happy capitalist or a guerrilla marketeer by taking advantage of his online prominence (secure, soft market) and publishing leverage (200-copy give-aways are not cheap if one considers obscene postal rates) to penetrate a teen reader market.

“Since this book is intended for high-school-age kids, my publisher has agreed to send 200 advance review copies of the book to school newspaper reviewers, along with the same press-kit… (actually, the school kit has even more stuff — it also includes a signed personal letter explaining why I wrote this book and why I hope kids will read it).” (via Boing Boing) Link

Strategically this is a smart move—even for smaller, independent publishers. The best marketing device is the actual product. However, I wonder if offering a free downloadable preview—or entire book—would be more effective. Why bother with book reviewers? The actually end-user, the reader, is the one who will purchase the product—not the high school book reviewer.