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Many of you will just skip this post, but here goes anyway.

Speaking as someone who spent 40 years in the magazine business, the cover dates of monthly and bi-monthly magazines are advanced because it takes roughly a month or more to get a nationally circulated, newstand magazine written, proofed, laid out, and printed. This means that an issue put together in December, and labeled "December," would appear to be one month old by the time it reached the newstand in January. Therefore, everyone sets an advance date on the cover, which really gets confusing when you are working on 'em. I've never worked on one, but I suspect bi-monthlies such as GR, use the second month (i.e. February) rather than the first (January) to give ther magazine some additional shelf life. I guess the way to get around all of this is to just label each issue, "Number 1, number 2, " etc, but if you were just a casual reader who happened to pick up, say GR, for the first time, how would you know when it came out?

Kapish?! :)
 

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C.T.

Dang it, now you're making me work harder than I wanted. OK, the process I explained relates to Road & Track, a car magazine where I worked for 30 years before semi-retiring. Although there are some evergreen items (stories that are not time sensitive) most of what we report on are new cars, products, and racing news. You can't plan an issue when the car hasn't been released yet. Nor can you say, in February, how so-and-so won the Indy 500, which was to take place three months later. We try to review new models as soon as we get our hands on them, but the process of putting the whole package together--with a relatively small staff--takes time.

One other factor which I didn't mention: most major magazines such as Road & Track and probably GR, are printed at a plant that's generally not near the homes of subscribers (unless you happen to live there). For example, R&T is printed Tennesse and the magazine is distributed from there to the rest of the country. This explains why some folks get their copy before others.

Newpapers are essentially printed right in their own back yard. The Long Beach Press Telegram, where my wife was managing editor, was once printed right below the newsroom, but since they were bought out by Media News a few years ago, all of the printing for the P/T and Media News other LA area papers is done in Valencia (where Magic Mountain is located). Presses roll probably around midnight, and the papers are then trucked to Long Beach where the carriers deliver them to your door. The process is pretty direct and immediate: news happens, story gets written (ASAP) typeset (kinda), printed and delivered. Distance from printing plant to the average subscriber's home is up to 60 miles.

Weekly news magazines like Time and Newsweek with huge a circulation base and deep pockets, print issues in several major cities (LA, New York, etc), so getting the publication into the readers' hands quickly is not a huge problem. Unfortunately, R&T and GR don't have those luxuries.

As for the date that's on the cover, I guess you could put anything on there. But when I guy wandering through O'Hare or Borders is looking for magazines, he/she wants to know that he is buying the latest issue.

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