Actual Cover on the Left, True Cover from Page One on the Right
I received my November Photo District News today and was immediately confused. It was underneath some mail in our front entryway. We have a mail slot in our door so all mail falls to the floor. Wiping the mail aside I saw the PDN logo, the date, the magazine’s bar code and the USPS mailing label but it looked to be a Canon ad. Hmmm… must be the back side. I flipped it over. Nope, that’s a Leaf ad on the other side. That’s odd. Maybe it’s a special advertising issue? Open it up, nope again, it’s a regular issue but the cover is not on the cover. The actual cover is an ad; it’s not an insert, a tear-away ad nor on a different paper stock to separate it from the magazine. The cover is an ad. The true cover is on what would be page one. What?
In the scheme of things (two wars, a financial crisis, an election) this is not a big deal but I found it disconcerting. An ad on the cover, better yet, not an ad on the cover but an ad as the cover. It made me wonder what that says about a magazine. Is the magazine sending out a message that its content is secondary to its advertisements? Isn’t the reason people subscribe to magazines for the content? Is it an example of a magazine taking advantage of its subscribers? I’m sure the magazine cannot use this setup on a newsstand so then it would just be using it for its subscribers. To me this is as annoying as when you go to a web site and it presents you with a full-page animated ad and has a “skip this ad” link in the top right corner. Why do I have to go through an ad to get to the cover to get a sense of what the magazine has in store for me when I’m a paid subscriber?