Why do the newsstands get National Geographic before I do?

Just a minor thing, perhaps more MPSIMS worthy, but would presumably have a factual answer. I’ve been anxious to read the newest issue since it discusses extraterrestrial life and the search for same, but, even tho it’s been on the stands since Monday at least, last time I checked my mail yesterday it still hadn’t come. I thought subscribers were given preferential treatment (I know Time gets delivered to my boss Monday sharp usually, on the stands by Thursday). Just curious…

Every magazine I’ve ever subscribed to, far as I’ve noticed, hits the newsstands before it hits my mailbox. I always thought that was bass-ackwards.

Is this the December issue with the “Are We Alone?” cover? I’ve had that one for a couple of weeks now. Maybe the timeliness of circulation is different in different areas? (I’m in northwestern Washington.)

Newsstands don’t get them via the mail, do they? Don’t they get stuff via UPS/FedEx?

Right. Subscribers get magazines through a special rate from the USPS. This is not the highest priority for them. Express mail and first class mail are higher priorities.

What ever gave you the idea that subscribers would or should get priority? Have you looked at your per issue cost as a subscriber compared to what people pay at a newsstand? It doesn’t really matter when you get your issue through the mail but the people selling them want the freshest newest issues the soonest and everybody has high incentive to comply.

As a former magazine business manager, I can say that subscribers require renewal requests and change their addresses without telling anyone and bounce their checks and complain if a magazine gets wrinkled. Subscribers. Bah, humbug.

And without subscribers, your ad rates would be very much lower wouldn’t they?

Not necessarily. Some magazines have far more subscribers than newsstand buyers, but some magazines have few subscribers and get almost all their sales from newsstands. A few magazines have models that fall outside of these modes. My subscribers were a small minority.

In addition, many magazines have been practically giving subscriptions away just to try to keep up the circulation base that they guarantee advertisers. Advertisers know this, and also know that the turnover in subscriptions among magazines that do this is fantastically high and cheap subscribers are often from a lower income demographic than the one they’re interested in, so the sheer numbers don’t translate into good long term ad rates.

The business is far trickier than most people understand, because so little of it gets any public attention.

No, they get their deliveries from distributors that usually abide by a pre-set on-sale date. The distributors have the copies in their distribution centers before that date so they can get them to the retailers on that date.

The magazine publisher will put their subscription copies into the USPS system with the intent of having them arrive in the subscribers mailbox on the same date. Of course, that doesn’t always happen. The USPS will get them to you when it is convenient for them. That being said, the USPS actually does a pretty good job.