Publishers Throw the Book at You
When it comes to premiums, magazine publishers of late seem to be taking a cue from their newsletter cousins: While the tote bags, T-shirts and electronic gadgets that long have been popular freebies continue to pop up here and there, informational items, such as books and reports, have begun to dominate the sector.
For example, in the third quarter of 2005, books and reports accounted for 52 percent of magazine publisher's premium offerings; in the second quarter, that number hovered around 44 percent. No other premium category was prevalent enough to post even a slight challenge to that top spot; the runner-up gift was tote/messenger bags, which accounted for 9.3 percent of the second and third quarters' premiums.
One mailer new to the premium fray during this time frame was New York magazine, which mailed offers for two free 2005 edition guidesshopping and diningin both August and September (Archive code #206-172010-0509). New York also is one of the few publishers that makes use of the freemium, and this effort marks a slight change in that arena as well, as the mailer altered the design of its long-standing Manhattan subway map freemium; the new design is the same dimensions, but with a smaller image and smaller type, and looks to have been printed digitally.
Also out of the Big Apple, The New York Review of Books is another mailer with a relatively new premium (Archive code #202-172839-0509). September's mail stream marked the second year the Archive has seen the publisher offer a David Levine yearly desk diary; prior to 2004, the Review offered books, usually two of them, on a regular basis for a number of years.
September also marked a new premium for The Atlantic Monthly (Archive code #202-172194-0509). In the past, this mailer has offered premiums such as guidebooks, but this effort brought its "Fiction Issue 2005." Not only is this a new premium, but also a new product in the publisher's repertoire. Interestingly, unlike the other premium offers outlined here, which all are available only with payment, respondents can take advantage of this offer's "bill me" option and receive the premium without payment. While the other efforts do feature a soft option, they are more explicit in their terms; for example, The New York Review of Books' reply device states, "Bill Me. Send my FREE gift when I pay."
On the foodieand long-term premiumfront, the third quarter saw cookbook offerings from Bon Appétit (Archive code #202-171601-0509) and Saveur (Archive code #202-179939-0508). The former has been featuring its "Taste of the World" cookbook off and on since at least 1998; the latter's two-volume "Classics" and "Desserts" premium package has been an Archive staple since 1995. Saveur's effort also includes another premium in the form of a sweepstakes, where respondents with "one of the winning specially colored envelopes [referring to the BRE]" receive a KitchenAid stand mixer. The Archive has been seeing this sweeps program from the publisher since summer 2002. (To wit, each effort we've received has had a yellow BRE.)
And on the food and brand-new premium front came a September effort from Food & Wine (Archive code #202-171642-0509). In the past, most of the acquisition packages we've seen from this publisher have been centered around a sweepstakes and a free trial membership in the magazine's Connoisseur Club. But this mailing features a two-issue trial subscription and a "Food & Wine 2005 Annual Cookbook" premium, with a $2.95 handling charge. Both "freebies" are attached to a 'til forbid offer with automatic renewal.
Aside from the information-packed premiums, it's worth noting that the summer's final month also brought a flurry of premium testing from one publisher: Sports Illustrated had a busy September, trying out such premium offerings as a touch-screen organizer (Archive code #202-171634-0509B), clock radio (Archive code #202-171634-0509D), long-sleeve NFL T-shirt (Archive code #202-171634-0509A), short-sleeve NFL T-shirt (Archive code #202-171634-0509C), and NFL hooded sweatshirt (Archive code #202-171634-0509E).