The New Special Edition

The New Special Edition

Elle Magazine (Hearst Magazines) recently announced that they are changing their magazine subscription model. The September issue of Elle magazine has offered an insight into how publishing brands can monetise off of this large, shifting landscape of the ‘free’, and to put it frankly, it is very clever.

Magazines have been in the up and down over the past couple of years, with advancing on to digital publications and some have ceased their printing efforts. There is no doubt that the magazine industry – and noticeably newspaper too – is changing. With free content zooming from left and right, it’s quite difficult to see which direction magazines will go and how the industry can benefit.

The magazine will be released with four different front covers, all of which play host to influencers within Elle’s target audience; rebellious actress Kristen Stewart, singer and bad-boy Zayn Malik, teen-activist Amadla Stenberg and transgender model Hari Nef.

elle magazine cover

elle magazine cover

elle magazine cover

elle magazine cover

elle magazine cover

The model is clever in that teens and young adults are able to buy the front cover that they prefer as if it were a collector’s edition. Elle are trying to make their reader’s keep and collect their publications, without completely deferring from their original print platform.
Not only does this reduce Elle’s costs from printing but it also puts the magazine into a premium brand bracket. Why it works – it gives readers a sense of control over what they are given, what they can read and who they think is worth following. These magazines will not be available on the newsstand but it may depend on the cover that has been most popular to pre-order – currently Zayn Malik and Kristen Stewart are in the running.

It will be seen whether Hearst decides to implement this model for its other printable magazines, but it could look like a way up for the magazine industry that is having a tough time digitally and on the newsstand.

The publishing industry may need to step-up on their feet to follow experts with the limited edition style. Brands such as Marc Jacobs (2013) and a promotion for the AbFab (2016) movie have collaborated with Coca-Cola. Not only are these beautiful designs but they are only available for a short time and in limited capacity – some are now selling for hundreds of pounds.

Pepsi had the opportunity of a lifetime – and a thirty-year preparation time – in 2015 when they released limited edition Pepsi bottles that were featured in the cult-classic film, Back to the Future. Unfortunately, Pepsi managed to drastically underestimate the demand for this product and failed the fans of the film because so few bottles were available.

Ought magazine publishers follow this limited, special, collector’s edition route, or will Elle’s subscription model be a wasted effort?

Coke bottle designs

—Evelyn Watts, 2016