Inside Time Inc.’s plan to save the newsstand

If print is dying, the newsstand has become something of a retail hospice.

Regular readers are well aware of the quarterly MagNet reports heralding further gloom for the industry’s most troubled distribution channel — with some observers going as far as to blame publishers themselves for hastening the declines — but Drew Wintemberg, recently appointed president of Time Inc. Retail after 15 years as EVP of sales and logistics, believes it doesn’t need to be that way.

Heading up retail sales and marketing for Time Inc.’s titles — as well as for clients like Meredith, Rodale, and National Geographic — Wintemberg is now responsible for a portfolio that accounts for more than one-quarter of the North American newsstand business. He’s also got big shoes to fill; Wintemberg replaces outgoing president Rich Jacobsen, who spent more than three decades at the helm.

Folio: sat down with Wintemberg to discuss the various challenges ahead, what consumers and retailers need from publishers, and why he still believes in the power of print at retail.

Folio: Heading into the new year, what do you see as some of your biggest immediate challenges?

Drew Wintemberg: I really see three major challenges. One, obviously, is changing shopper behavior and the influence of online shopping. The second challenge is that, with the exception of bookazines, coloring books, and a few recent title launches, the core category continues to decline. From my perspective, it doesn’t seem that many publishers are investing to bring the consumers back to retail. Certainly not to the degree we are [at Time Inc.].

At times we see ourselves as competing with one another, but our real competition is from other categories. Whether you’re talking about beverage, candy, snacks, we’re competing with other categories for space. It’s clear that print is not dead, but if we don’t demonstrate a commitment to innovation and new products, it makes it tough for the retailer to not question whether we’re really in this for the long haul.

The third challenge is alignment within the supply chain. For a publisher, the best thing we can do is remain focused on driving consumption. That’s really our focus at Time Inc.

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