Magazines rack up a new problem

Magazines on a newsstand in Jerusalem after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: You've heard of the trouble newspapers are having, what with circulation dwindling and ad revenues doing the same thing. Magazine publishers are in the same boat, as readers and advertisers desert them for the Internet.

Now it seems some big names like Vogue and Time might not even make it to the newstands next week. Our New York bureau chief Jill Barshay explains:


JILL BARSHAY: More than half of all magazines end up unsold and destroyed. Retailers used to spend millions of dollars keeping track of and returning the unsold copies.

Jeremy Greenfield is the editor of MinOnline, a trade publication. He says retailers like Wal-Mart have introduced a new scanning system that takes the cost off of their books.

JEREMY GREENFIELD: The wholesaler is being asked to keep those magazines on their books as inventory as they're sitting on the shelves of in say, a Wal-Mart.

Half of the nation's retailers are expected to adopt the new scanning system in the next year. Kristina Joukhadar is managing editor of Circulation Management magazine -- she says the nation's largest wholesaler, Anderson News, wants to push the cost back to the manufacturers of the magazines, the publishers.

KRISTINA JOUKHADAR: This fight is really about who is going to pay for the unsold copies.

Publishers like Time Inc., Conde Nast and Hearst are threatening to stop shipments next week to Anderson, a big supplier to Wal-Mart and Kroeger.

JOURKHADAR: Advertising revenues, they're declining in print. So this is just one more difficulty that publishers have to deal with. It's really not helping at all.

Experts say they expect the publishers to pay up to keep the magazines on the racks. In New York, I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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