Saturday, February 13, 2010

What will happen to cover girls when magazines go digital?

Being the cover subject of a magazine is a big deal. It’s a major achievement for models, actors, business people, politicians and others of importance.
But it’s becoming less of a big deal.
As magazines decline in circulation and more people read articles and look at photos online, the future of magazine covers is in doubt.
Getting your face on a magazine cover means widespread exposure. Your photo is seen on newsstands nationwide, perhaps worldwide. It is something you can hold and admire, even frame for posterity.
But declining readership of magazines is a fact. (See Silicon Alley Insider chart “Nobody Wants To Buy Magazines Anymore.”) And publishers now are hoping that they can transition their paper magazines to electronic readers, such as's Kindle and Apple's iPad.
Going from a tangible product that can last for years to digital ones and zeros that can be erased in a microsecond will greatly diminish being on a magazine cover. Add to that the fact that digital magazines aren’t displayed on newsstands in public.
In the past, being the cover girl for Vogue and other fashion magazines meant that a model had made it big. Being the cover girl for men’s magazine Playboy had a different sort of cachet.
CoverGirl is even the name of a popular brand of cosmetics owned by Procter & Gamble.
Last week, Sports Illustrated made a slash about Brooklyn Decker landing the coveted cover of its annual Swimsuit Edition. (Examples: The Huffington Post and New York Post.)
SI is likely to continue to make a big deal about the Swimsuit cover, even as the magazine fades and transitions to digital.
But will it still resonate with the public?
I have my doubts.

This is the latest in a series of articles called “The Failed Promise of Digital Content.”

Photo: Cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2010 Swimsuit Edition featuring Brooklyn Decker.

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