Declare Your Independence: Why Subscribing is Better than Buying at the Newsstand

We’ve mentioned before how Bitch Media, a nonprofit organization, nets only seven cents on each magazine bought at the newsstand. That number is no exaggeration. After we pay to print the issue, ship boxes of it out to wholesalers, pay brokerage fees, and then, finally, pay AGAIN to ship the issues that don’t sell on the newsstand back to their final destination of death by recycler or waste incinerator—well, those costs add up.

On the other hand, while printing a magazine for a subscriber doesn’t cost less than one we send to the newsstand, we can be absolutely sure that the magazine is going out into the world to someone who will love it. When we print a magazine for the newsstand, there’s no telling whether or not someone is going to buy that issue. Compare those seven cents from the newsstand to the nearly six dollars that Bitch can count on from an issue sold as a subscription and we hope you see where we’re coming from here. (Wondering why we don’t just print fewer magazines? Tuesday’s post explored the nefarious rabbit hole of the publishing industry.)

On top of those wasted magazines, we also pay fees to our distributor to even get the magazines sent to wholesalers, and we pay for the shipping to get them from door to door. Now, you might be wondering why we are paying to ship all these magazines all over the place. Here’s the deal: all of this magazine selling we do is on consignment. Stores tell us how many magazines they want to try to sell. We print those magazines and pay to send them out. Then, over the next thirteen months, those stores are able to return the magazines as they desire with no penalty. We pay to ship the unsold magazines back to the wholesaler or waste processor who charges us for handling each magazine that wasn’t sold and then destroys them. (If this sounds environmentally unsound, it is.)

We know that many of our readers may choose to buy the magazine off the rack at their favorite bookstores in order to throw their dollars behind local, independent retailers. And we have always applauded supporting independent booksellers. That being said, selling a handful of Bitch issues is not how local bookstores are paying the bills, and buying your issue off the newsstand makes it harder and harder for us to pay ours.

“So why is Bitch even on the newsstand anymore if it’s such a crummy system?”

Well, how many of you bought your first issue because the name jumped out at you, the creative cover design caught your eye, or one of the teasers spoke your name from across the magazine aisle? The truth of the matter is that the newsstand is good for one thing: bringing in first-time readers.

But in the end, it’s subscriptions that make the difference in our survival, that help us get up and come to work in the morning. Subscriptions make Bitch Media part of your world.

So, once you’ve picked up an issue (or maybe two) and seen that we publish a magazine that is consistently edgy, relevant, and chock full of exciting content, we hope you’ll go ahead and make the commitment to receive it for a year straight to your door. If you enjoy the content of the web site, but haven’t heard much about the magazine before, maybe it’s time to bounce over to Kelsey’s post about Bitch, The Magazine. This could be the magazine your life is missing! And it’s only $19.96–that’s a deal. And if you aren’t a first time reader, we kindly ask you to subscribe or become a sustainer today—contribute at little as $5 a month and get a free subscription!

by Sara Stroo
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