28 June 2004

Untruthfulness in Publishing? Who'd Have Thought That?

In an article that is startlingly unsurprising to anyone who knows much of anything about publishers' sales statistics (whether at book length or otherwise), the NYT announced that some periodical publishers have been lying about their circulation in an effort to boost advertising revenue. <SARCASM> Hmm. I wonder which set of numbers was used in establishing the appropriate payment rate for freelancers? But nobody in American business would ever keep two sets of books. That would be… well, cheating. </SARCASM>

The sad irony is that circulation figures are almost meaningless in determining the actual effectiveness of advertising anyway. Consider Super Bowl ads: With few exceptions, they're not cost-effective, despite the large audience, because they do not (and arguably cannot) focus on potential buyers. Unless, that is, one is selling malfunctioning clothing. (Not just Janet's—have you noticed how unbearably ugly most of the halftime entertainers' costumes have been in the last decade?)