As I write this here editorial, I’m just polishing off my second helping of turkey. I know, that may sound odd to you as you’re reading this in the April 2012 issue! OK, so it’s really January—maybe early February—that you’re actually holding the magazine in your hands, which would make sense given the time it takes to produce/distribute each issue (roughly three months). But that sure doesn’t explain why you’re reading a magazine dated nearly an equal amount of time (roughly three months) later, now does it?
This is something I get questioned about all the time, despite the fact that it’s been going on far longer than the two decades I’ve been making these “post-dated” magazines. If you happen to be at a newsstand reading this (shame on you—just pay the kind lady and be on with it!), look around, we’re not the only ones performing the cover-type trickery that’s been common practice for ages.
See ya in December … I mean January … ah, forget it. See y’all next month, whatever it may be! "
From what I’ve surmised (normally, that’d be assumed, but in this instance, I did some research … I asked an elder editorsman who’s been doing this far longer than I!), fast-forwarding of cover dates was initially done as a sales ploy. Exactly when, and more importantly, by whom, I cannot say—but at some point early on in publishing history, someone, somewhere got this bright idea, “Hey, if we put our January issue on the ’stands when everyone else’s Decembers are, people might think their’s are outdated!” Of course then came the retaliation from the others, which eventually led to the situation we have now (April in January). In my mind, it’s only a play on words, semantics if you will—the content is still what it would be if the issue were dated December. The only real exception is the calendar “issue”.
In a real-world world, you’d expect to get next year’s calendar in this year’s December issue, right? Worst case, you’d get it in the January issue. Well, despite what I’ve previously said, we can’t even get our calendar in January—nope, you get it in the February issue … that is, as long as you’re not a subscriber. Mind you, true as that last part may be, it’s not something I believe in, but again, it’s something that’s been a practice now for quite some time. I guess the company’s point of view on that is simply, “Newsstand buyers are paying full pop, whereas subscribers are literally getting the issue for pennies” ($0.82, if my math’s correct). My argument’s always been, why not reward our loyal subscribers by including a free calendar in their February issues as well? Guess loyalty doesn’t go as far as the dollar might, huh?
our January issue is produced when other’s Decembers are … "
So, let’s get back to the whole February calendar issue debacle, shall we? Again, from what I’ve been able to surmise (and again, on top of a wee bit o’ investigating, I also have first-hand knowledge … ’cause I been there when they done that!), the deal with R&C “supposedly” having its calendar out a month late is, in reality, an issue with production cycles. You see, back in the day when there were actual competing publishing powerhouses (i.e. Petersen and McMullen & Whatever), there were actual differentiating production processes. So, whence the two superpowers united and became one—one huge dictatorship of magazine makers—all individual magazine production cycles merged together. In the end, it seems R&C was a little ahead of its now-sister pubs (STREET RODDER, etc.). Long story short, our January issue is produced when other’s Decembers are … or in this case, February/January. So there you have it—in a nutball’s nutshell.
Again, I don’t stand behind the newsstand-only calendar issue, but it is what it is. And speaking of what is as far as newsstand-only is concerned, we’ll indeed be producing another Little Pages annual in 2012. As it appears now (now being late 2011!), this next one will be hitting ’stands the first week of May—but don’t worry, there’s no cover date tomfoolery with annuals! As for exactly where the Little Pages will be on sale, that’s something else I cannot say for sure, at least not at this exact moment. Reports are that we have some sort of GPS genie that can plot just where SIPs (special interest publications) are on sale—but not till they’re actually on sale, so that info won’t be available until then. But when we know, we’ll make what we have available online so curious minds won’t be wasting gas driving all over town … or their entire state!