Now that the recent bruhaha over our controversial New Year's Blog has died down (except for the anonymous commentator who feels that we're also racist towards Swedes), we've all been working hard trying to get the new issue finished. Something happened today that made me stop and reflect on the recent trends in magazine publishing. (Let's see how many people I offend with this post!)
While touching up an article this morning, the phone rang. The number came up anonymous, so I figured it was some type of telemarketing thing.
"Hello?" I asked, as best I could. I had a triple root canal done the other day and my jaw is still swollen almost completely shut. I've not been a happy camper the last few days.
"HELLO," I growled. There was nothing but silence on the other end of the line, and then all of the sudden it sounded like someone had dropped their phone in a strip club. Loud, obnoxious carnival music filled my ear and a flurry of angry sounding background voices hummed and buzzed. Then a new voice took the line, drowning out all of the background commotion.
"Yes, Mr. Hurlburld," the voice said. "Mr. Hurlburld." More carnival music.
"This is Mr. Hubbard." Silence again.
"Mr. Hurlburld, this is James sir, how are you today in?" The voice reminded me of this Indian guy named Prakish that I used to buy my cigarettes from.
"Not too good," I answered.
"Very good sir," ‘James’ shot back. "I am calling you today about your magazine. What is it?"
"Was that a question?" I honestly didn't know.
"Yes, what sir is your magazine?" James asked.
"The Snuff Taker's Ephemeris". No answer for about ten seconds.
"Oh very good. Well sir I am calling you today because I represent a firm that represents all of the top women's magazines in your nation with an offer that is guaranteed to increase your revenue 100%. Do you wish to hear more?"
"Yeah, I'd love to hear how to increase the revenue of my women's magazine 100%," I told him.
"Great then sir. Are you familiar with... with..." he struggled to remember the word. "With photographs?"
"Photographs... hmmm. No, I've never heard of him. Who is photographs?" I smiled a little even though it made my jaw hurt.
"Well sir my firm is for photographs, and we supply all the top magazines like Glamour, Time, People, and Good Housekeeping with photographs for magazines."
Ah-ha! Finally got to the point. A stock photo agency that wants me to buy some of their crappy public domain photos to use in my magazine.
On and on ‘James’ went about how great and exclusive his firm's photos were. And how reasonable their rates were. And how many hundreds of magazine covers they supplied.
"Which ones?" I asked.
"Which what?" he asked.
"Which award-winning cover photographs have come from your firm?"
"Oh, Lady Gaga."
"Sir, yes, Lady Gaga."
"Which Lady Gaga cover was yours?" I asked. I didn't hear anything for about ten seconds. Then he answered me:
"Yes. Lady Gaga."
"So... all of the Lady Gaga covers came from you?"
".... sir, yes. And they are best seller."
"Well dang. That's exciting." It really was. I thought all those Lady Gaga covers came from different photographers. Turns out that they're all the work of a stock photo agency. (James was right about one thing: apparently 2010's best selling magazines all featured Lady Gaga on the cover. The worst selling titles all featured Taylor Swift on the cover. Go figure.)
After telling James that I appreciated his time and effort, I just wasn't interested in paying for stock photos. He seemed really upset about the whole thing. He pleaded with me to hear about his other special offers, but I just couldn't bring myself to say "yes" to any of them. I finally had to tell James to stop talking and to never contact me again for anything.
As pointless as that little anecdote may seem to you, it did give me the inspiration to create a cover for the next issue of the Ephemeris that may be more in line with what contemporary readers wish to see from us.