Magazine distribution was the absolute worst part of publishing Morbid Curiosity. Basically, distribution is a Ponzi scheme, where they pay you for issue #1 six months after issue #2 hits the stands. In my case, that was 18 months between publication and payment -- if payment came on schedule. Often, I had to beg and beg to get the money owed me. In the cases of Small Press Distribution, Desert Moon Distribution, and Tower, the money dried up and blew away before it came to me.
Often distributors charged a flat fee to handle a magazine title in the first place. Many distributors demand publishers give them discounts up to 70% off the cover price. The publisher is responsible for shipping costs to the distributors' central warehouse. In some cases, the publisher is also charged shipping within the distributor's system from one warehouse to another (i.e., Ingram). It was common, in the days of paper, to charge the publisher to create a flyer for the magazine at hand, charge the publisher to duplicate that flyer, and charge the publisher to distribute that flyer to booksellers.
It was not uncommon for a publisher to run a negative balance at a distributor, even if that distributor was selling thousands of magazines.
Now, in a story that seems surprisingly absent from major news media, the magazine stands are nearly empty. Apparently in February, Anderson News and Source Interlink (the first and/or second largest magazine distributors in the U.S., depending on your sources, accounting for 50% of the magazine distribution in the U.S.) wanted to extort another 7 cents per copy of each magazine distributed (not sold!) from publishers. When publishers said no, Anderson laid off its staff and closed its doors. In consequence, nearly every large monthly magazine you can think of (Vogue, Real Simple, Sports Illustrated) is absent from the magazine racks.
Big magazines make their money on advertisements. If they can't guarantee those advertisements are going to fall under a certain number of eyes in a month (that is, if they can't deliver those advertisements to newsstands), advertisers will keep their money. And a whole lot more writers are going to be out of work.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports