1/19/08

Wal-Mart's Purge of 1000 Magazine Titles

When I first read about Wal-Mart's decision to discontinue sales of a huge number of magazines, I wrote about it and promised to update that post with the actual purge list once it was released.

Today, I updated that post with the latest info I could find on the actual magazines that have been culled from Wal-Mart shelves.

Meanwhile, I've been pondering the known titles on the list, such as:

The New Yorker
The Economist
The Robb Report
Town & Country
Ski
Saveur
Forbes
Fortune.

Here's my big question -- at the store that brings us the Four Dollar Prescription Program and the WalMart PrePaid Debit Card "...for the underbanked...," how many of its customers actually BOUGHT these titles anyway?

Thinking About This as a Reader

I admit to wandering into the nearby Wal-Mart occasionally (for one thing, it's the only place that sells bags that fit my garbage compacter). I also know that I would never buy The New Yorker at Wal-Mart, although it's a magazine I've read for years, and I might easily pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble on a Sunday afternoon.

No, I haven't dedicated much time to analyzing why that is ... but I have thought about it long enough to realize that maybe this purge list isn't the big hit to magazine publishers and writers that it's being made out to be.

And, yes, I do wander through the magazine and book section of the store. I have bought a magazine or two, as well -- I clearly remember Wal-Mart was where I first saw Rachael Ray's new magazine debut. Maybe my magazine purchases at Wal-Mart are tied somehow to the store's environment, or my reason for being there (organic foods, compacter bags, a space heater to put under my desk)? It may be telling that I am somewhat surprised that Better Homes & Gardens and Ladies Home Journal have been booted.

What Does the 20% Really Mean to Us?

I recognize that MediaBistro is reporting that Wal-Mart is responsible for more than 20% of retail magazine sales in the United States.

I sure would like to know what magazines make up that twenty percent. And, I'd like to know more about that sales figure -- is this reflecting sales made to Wal-Mart, or sales that Wal-Mart made to magazine readers?

It's as a writer, not as a reader, that this news concerns me

As a reader, and magazine buyer, this purge list isn't causing me concern -- it's only from a writer's perspective that I'm spending any time on this topic.

I'm thinking that maybe Wal-Mart is simply cutting out magazines that were gathering dust on its racks and if that is true, then it's an understandable move.

And, I'm still chuckling that the Robb Report and The Economist were being sold at Wal-Mart in the first place. I mean really.
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