How do barbershops get free magazine subscriptions?
April 13, 2007 7:37 PM   Subscribe

Every time I go to a classic barbershop, I have noticed that they receive every magazine and newspaper under-the-sun. I recently asked my barber how he affords all of them, and he says that they just show up. Does anyone know how this happens? I assume the publishers have programs that identify and send free subscriptions to places where people "wait?" Does anyone know more about formal services that facilitate this?
posted by tdabbott to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
At the barber shops I frequent, the owner subscribes to a couple magazines himself and the rest are left there by customers.
posted by ardgedee at 7:40 PM on April 13, 2007

Yeah did you notice if the magazines are current? I have a dentist's office and a bus station that I go too that both have a ton of magazines but they're all from other people who must drop them off on semi-regular visits there and they're a month or two out of date.
posted by jessamyn at 7:43 PM on April 13, 2007

I can't speak for barbershops, but I work for a company that publishes parenting mags. We'll give away subsrcriptions to doctors' offices because they're the single best place to hit people in our target demographic. I wouldn't be suprised if Playboy and Guns & Ammo have similar programs in barbershops, since it seems like I can't walk into one without seeing a stack of both publications.
posted by sonofslim at 7:49 PM on April 13, 2007

It looks like a niche service.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:50 PM on April 13, 2007

And in addition, there are mailing list providers for practically any imaginable demographic, so I'm sure they have lists for offices of barbers/doctors that the publishers use to send complimentary subscriptions.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:53 PM on April 13, 2007

The magazine publishers get much more money from advertising than from sales, so they give away subscriptions to places like these to help their circulation figures. It's also good advertising for them (well, if anyone ever reads the magazines) and they can target their demographics pretty well with certain types of shop - I bet places like barbershops are very good for this purpose. I'm not sure if there are formal services that do this, though.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 8:05 PM on April 13, 2007 Enter your details and you'll be able to choose all kinds of magazines. We've gotten Rolling Stone, Glamour, Jane, Spike, Utne Reader, Wine Enthusiast, Sports Illustrated, Sail, and a bunch of others, all free.
posted by Floydd at 8:07 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yep, there are companies that do this. Magazine ads are sold on readership, and research shows that the readers per copy are higher for "public place" copies. In theory, a magazine with a high reader per copy can command higher ad rates than another mag with the same circulation but lower readers per copy... I think. I haven't worked in publishing in a while, and I forget stuff.

The lists I've seen are for doctors' and dentists' offices.
posted by girlpublisher at 8:07 PM on April 13, 2007

When I was in school, our fraternity received several dozen copies of Maxim, Stuff and Playboy every month.. So yea they do target their target audiences somehow.
posted by WetherMan at 8:20 PM on April 13, 2007

Magazines would give their products out for free if they could. They make a lot more money from ads then they get from subscriptions. The problem is, if they just gave out subscriptions advertisers wouldn't believe that people actually read the magazines. Paying subscribers are the only subscribers that matter.

In a barber shop, a magazine, and it's ads would be seen by many people, so it would be good for the magazine, and it's advertiser to be sitting on the table in that shop, or any waiting room.

So that would explain why your barber would just be sent free mags.
posted by delmoi at 8:35 PM on April 13, 2007

I've been using the same barber for a long time and
I even have my own trivia book on his hat/shelf/coat-rack-thingy.
All of the magazines in there have the little postage sticker and there are "subscriber" names on them. I'm going tomorrow morning look at them and I will ask the owner.
posted by winks007 at 9:09 PM on April 13, 2007

Rhomboid: EBSCO is no niche service; they have lists for waiting rooms, lists for libraries, lists for universities, lists for club sales, lists for anything you can think of. They're essentially a catalog of trade publications, and one of the larger such establishments.

I'm not in sales, but I know there's a standard equation for public placement copies that you use to calculate your ad base. I'm sure there's some wiggle room, but you get to say "we deliver X copies to public areas, which means we can claim Y readership." This is used to set ad rates, as well as postal regs, although that's way beyond my ken.
posted by sonofslim at 9:24 PM on April 13, 2007

In my freshman year of college, I filled out a couple of web forms with the name of my film crew on the "company" line, and "Lead Programmer" on the "position" line. It's a long story as to why.

Nevertheless, ever since then, all sorts of trade magazines ink computer programming and filmography have sent me one-year subscriptions for free. And of course, as that year ends, they send lots of little notices about how my subscription is about to die. And it does. And then two or three months later, they start sending me the magazines again.
posted by Netzapper at 9:34 AM on April 14, 2007

I'm not sure how it fits in, but I'll another data point...

I used to subscribe to Bicycling magazine. After about a year, I got tired of it, and let my subscription lapse. They sent me a couple of "reminders", but I always tossed them. I'm still receiving the magazine several years later.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:04 PM on April 14, 2007

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