The Last Newsstand Issue

Posted March 2006

All decisions contain a moral component. And that goes for business decisions, too.

So, we are taking a stand based on an industry-wide “blind eye” to the waste in the magazine and periodicals business. LensWork #75 is the last issue we will distribute via magazine newsstands. (This change affects newsstand buyers only. There will be no change for subscribers. You will still find LensWork in camera stores.)

Why the newsstand change? Quite simply, we can no longer in good conscience participate in a distribution paradigm that creates such inherent waste of our precious natural resources.

Reducing Environmental Impact

You may not be aware how the magazine business works — there is no reason as a consumer that you would — so here is a quick explanation. It is fairly typical in the magazine business for 70% (!) or so of the magazines to remain unsold and eventually destroyed. That means that 70% of the trees that are harvested, 70% of the paper that is produced, 70% of the ink that is consumed, 70% of the binding, labor, fuel for transportation to and from the printer — 70% of all these resources are wasted, and for a silly reason. As you know, magazines are chock-full of advertising and the rates the publishers charge their advertisers is based on distribution numbers. Therefore, magazines are highly motivated to distribute as many copies as they can. Whether or not they sell is of secondary concern.

Fortunately, LensWork has always been at the very high end of the industry statistics for newsstand “sell-through.” We have always tried to reduce this “waste factor” by limiting the number of copies we allow on the newsstands. Our “waste factor” has always been far below the industry norms. Nonetheless, we’ve always been uncomfortable with the inherent waste in this distribution game. With the increasing concern for natural resources, we simply cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this waste as so many in the periodicals industry do.

Subscribers — No Changes

So, we are at odds with our industry yet again. As you also know, we do not accept outside advertising — which has always amazed our distributors and competitors. We’ve always felt that we would rather produce a publication of the highest possible quality which our readers would value for its content, rather than rely on income from advertisers — who, understandably, can then so heavily influence that content. We’ve never been shy about challenging the status quo, and we are going to do so again. We have decided to withdraw future issues from the magazine newsstands and will make LensWork available only to subscribers and direct purchasers.

For 75 issues in a row, the number of subscribers to LensWork has increased — a fifteen-year unbroken string of record sales! (Thanks!) LensWork will continue in its present form to our subscribers, without interruption, without change. Our decision only affects the distribution via the magazine newsstands. We will continue to provide our subscribers and direct-purchase customers with the highest quality content — but print only what our customers have ordered without wasting resources.

For those of you who have enjoyed LensWork off the newsstand, we’ve appreciated your business and are glad you’ve enjoyed our publication. We hope you will agree with our decision to do our part for the environment and we ask you to consider subscribing to LensWork directly.

Single Issues

If you prefer to purchase individual issues one at a time, you will still have the ability to do so via our pre-publication “Virtual Newsstand.” We will continue to offer (as we have done for years) individual issues at the cover price. These may be ordered prior to publication via our online store or by calling our offices. Orders for single issues received before the pre-publication deadline will be mailed along with the subscribers.

If you do decide to subscribe, you will save 50% off the cover price. Clearly, even if you only buy three individual issues a year, you’ll save money by subscribing.

LensWork Continues to Grow

It remains our objective, philosophy, and goal to provide our readers with the best content on photography and creative process in LensWork, LensWork Extended, our website, and other publications — and now our with new LensWork Special Editions Folios!

With our new workshops and upcoming publications, 2008 promises to be an amazing and exciting year — our 16th year of bringing you the best in photography!

— The Editors