Welcome to the new VENDING TIMES: smaller in trim size and different in layout. But in most respects, it remains the same magazine providing in-depth and timely reporting on all aspects of the vending and coin-op industries.
Readers will first notice a standard magazine size and cover art. Our longtime 10-1/4” by 13” tabloid size has changed to a leaner format measuring 8-3/8” wide by 10-3/4” high, a common size among news monthlies.
The new proportions, about 30% smaller compared with the last issue, will give us more control over rising production and mailing costs, and skyrocketing paper prices. Looking at the challenging year ahead, we knew we could have continued printing on the larger size, but felt the time was right to “right size” for an industry readership that is expecting change at many levels.
To save money on paper, the cost of which has doubled in just two years, many magazines and newspapers are printing smaller pages, fewer pages or both. VENDING TIMES, however, plans to run 16 to 24 more pages than we would have designated for our tabloid size. So the overall size of the book, in terms of content, will remain unchanged.
We thought it fitting to launch the new design with a cover story about the latest vending machine innovations. We have a comprehensive report from the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s recent National Expo in St. Louis, where machine manufacturers displayed and demonstrated the strongest equipment lineup seen in the past decade. Multiproduct glassfront merchandisers are today’s dominant machine type. The factories continue to focus on designs that can help operators maximize efficiency and same-location sales.
This first issue also includes articles from regular contributors like financial guru Allan Z. Gilbert, who will pen about six articles for VT in 2009, and OCS pioneer Len Rashkin. We plan to continue running stories by experts from the NAMA camp. Amusement experts and VT regulars, Frank Seninsky and Kevin Williams, will appear in future issues. Our table of contents, which appears on Page 3, provides a handy breakdown of the book’s organization.
Marketers inside the industry, and media executives outside of it, often told us that our readers would not miss the “old-fashioned” tabloid size and design. But nostalgia is a very powerful marketing force. The size and newspaper-style layout, which evokes “scissors and paste pot” journalism, became just as recognizable as the VENDING TIMES name itself. (Remarking on responses that his advertising generated, one of our clients once told me that some callers would simply describe the magazine as “the big one that comes every month” when asked where they saw his ad.)
PHOTO: VT executive editor Nick Montano shows off last traditional tabloid-size issue (December 2008), at left, and mockup of first standard (letter)-size monthly edition, published in January 2009. The move from 10-1/2” x 13” to 8-1/2” x 11” size brings VT into line with contemporary practice, after almost half a century as a tabloid. In an age of ever-increasing paper prices and postal rates, smaller is better, Montano emphasized – and VT is better than ever. This actually is the fourth change in size for the venerable trade book, which began in 1962 as an 11” x 17” newspaper.
While there’s much to be gained from the change, many of us close to the magazine were torn about it. I was among the biggest holdouts and believed that we were losing something that made VENDING TIMES unique. But today’s businesspeople spend just as much time on their computers and handhelds, and in front TVs, as they do reading, and the new design is well matched to today’s VT reader. After reviewing the pages of this issue, I believe the new format will be a catalyst for rethinking how we approach the industry, and will make the publication even more relevant.
The logic of VENDING TIMES remains the same. The new design follows the sequence it has for four decades, leading in with vending coverage, followed by amusements and bulk vending. The vending section still contains distinct areas for reporting on office coffee and food services.
What’s different is the look and feel. More stories stay on a single page, and longer features are placed on successive pages. The headers for the main editorial sections – vending, music and games, and bulk – are not as pronounced, lending more continuity among the various sections, but the pages in each area are well defined. The result is a news magazine that’s easier to read.
We also regard this as a “greener” magazine, and not just in terms of the size and weight reductions bound into the final product. Consider the new VT magazine when you hold it in your hands. It was edited and proofed, meaning printouts (on recycled paper) were marked up and tossed away. Drafts of articles and designs were printed on reams of paper, sometimes picked up at the printer, and other times left ignored. But this issue’s proofing process was done entirely on letter-size paper, half the size of the 11x17 ledger we formerly used.
One of our goals is to become more aware of the magazine’s impact on the environment, and this 50% reduction in waste is a start. We are committed to improving our environmental awareness in the coming year.
When I looked at the final page proofs of the new design, the changes and enhancements were apparent. But when I read through the content, skillfully assembled from section to section, I was pleased that it also was the same VENDING TIMES. It’s still a singular resource for route operators of merchandise vending and coin-op entertainment equipment, and the manufacturers and suppliers that serve them.