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September 16, 2021

Publishing News

New Yorker Festival Slates Hybrid Outdoor, Online Edition
Deadline: "The New Yorker Festival will once again be a largely virtual affair this year, though a number of in-person events will also be held outdoors, at Brooklyn’s Skyline Drive-In. The 22nd annual edition of the festival will take place Oct. 4-10. Amy Schumer, Stanley Tucci, Aimee Mann and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl are among the confirmed participants, with more to be announced over the coming days. There will also be a preview screening of Stephen Karam’s "The Humans", a film adaptation of his Tony Award-winning play, as well as an event focused on HBO limited series "Scenes from a Marriage"... The virtual format enlarges the scope, with last year’s fest drew ticket buyers from all 50 U.S. states and more than 50 countries. Virtual sessions this year will feature Tucci; model and writer Emily Ratajkowski; comedian and actor Amy Schumer; primatologist and activist Jane Goodall; and writers Jonathan Franzen, Tara Westover, Rachel Cusk and Patricia Lockwood... Several themed panel discussions are also scheduled to stream. One will feature contributors to the New Yorker anthology The Matter of Black Lives"...

NPD: 'Great Year' for the Book Market
According to NPD's Entertainment Outlook 2021 report, in this year's first half vs. first-half 2020, U.S. book unit sales were up by 60 million, or 13%, and MSRP value is up by $1B. The small screen is a major driver of sales. For instance, romance novel sales rose 40% after the debut of Netflix's popular "Bridgerton" series. Manga sales are up by $109M YTD, driven by readers crossing over from anime viewing on video-on-demand services. In some categories,such asbuseinss/economics, self-help and biography, digital audio accounts for more than a third of sales.

Rolling Stone Releases '500 Best Songs of All Time' Ranking
AV Club: "In acknowledgement of the fact that someone needs to give the internet its weekly bucket of low-stakes material to get all worked up over, Rolling Stone has decided to redo its list of the “500 Best Songs Of All Time.” The updated version arrived today and, even without opening it, we’re pretty sure you think it’s completely wrong and that everyone involved with making it ought to be fired. Starting with Kanye West’s “Stronger,” a placement that’s bound to send someone off to Twitter completely fuming with indignation, the list moves on to include tracks like Miles Davis’ “So What” at 492, Prince’s “1999" at 339, Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold” at 259, Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” at 178, Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five’s “The Message” at 59, and on and on. The real meat meant to chum the online waters, though, is the top 10 “Best Songs Of All Time.” This part of the list runs through Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” at 10 and 9, respectively, then on down through Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On,” The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power.” The final entry—the inarguable best song ever recorded—is Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The comments section is already off to a good start, readers letting the publication know that its subjective effort to highlight 500 culturally worthwhile songs is “perhaps the most out of touch list ever published by Rolling Stone""...

Bookstore Sales Leap 64% in July
PW: "Bookstore sales jumped 63.8% in July over a year ago. Sales were $716M, making this the highest July total since 2012"...

Trolls Accuse Time100 of Photoshopping Harry & Meghan Cover
NY Post Page Six: "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new Time 100 cover was roasted by internet users who believe the photo was heavily airbrushed. The magazine released the cover picture of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Wednesday, in which they appear with eerily glowing smooth skin, creepy bright eyes and, in Harry’s case, suspiciously fuller hair. “The airbrush is doing some heavy lifting there,” one person tweeted on Wednesday. “The cover looks so fake… oh wait it’s because they are,” someone else wrote. Some thought the mag did a number on Harry’s infamously receding hairline... Another thought Harry and Markle looked like royals in an animated Disney flick, writing, “Terrible retouching job. They look CGI"... Others, however, seemed unbothered by the cover and praised the pair over the photo. “Amazing cover! Love all the good work they are doing despite the vicious attacks coming at them by The Firm,” wrote a fan. “Keep up the good work #HarryAndMeghan! Your humanitarian work speaks for itself.”

Study: Podcast Advertising Drives Sales
MediaPost: "Podcast listeners are likely to buy the products advertised in an audio program, according to a new study by NCSolutions (NCS). Of listeners polled, 42% have purchased a product featured in the podcast. And among the group identified as power subscribers by NCS, 68% have done so. Moreover, 29% of podcast listeners and 49% of the power subscribers have used a promotional code. In addition, 34% of podcast listeners have purchased products two or more times after hearing an advertisement, while 17% have bought products they have heard featured four or more times. "As their popularity has grown, podcasts have become a new advertising medium for CPG brands," states Lance Brothers, chief revenue officer, NCSolutions. "Podcast advertising hit a significant tipping point in 2021, with spending expected to reach $1B. As CPG brands look to justify further investments in the medium, they will need performance metrics that demonstrate the impact of their brands' podcast advertising on incremental sales," he adds. That said, 33% of all listeners feel podcast advertising is “a good way for brands to reach me.” That rises to 42% among power subscribers. In addition, 23% of all listeners and 28% of power subscribers say podcast advertising is relevant to them. And, overall, 27% say podcast advertising is enjoyable to listen to, while 26% feel they have learned about unique products they wouldn’t have discovered elsewhere. Those totals rise to 30% and 32%, respectively, among the power subs. Of all listeners, 88% have spent as much or more time with podcasts in 2021 as they did in 2020. And 56% of power subscribers have increased their listening. Meanwhile, 34% of listeners are new to the medium as of the start of last year. Podcast listeners are buying in these categories: clothing, 46%; food/beverage, 42%; beauty/grooming, 35%; technology, 32%; health & wellness, 31%."A podcast is a personal medium,” states Linda Dupree, CEO NCSolutions. “Hosts are very influential when in the ears of subscribers, and partnering with a podcaster who speaks to your audience can be a very powerful strategy." NCSolutions surveyed 2,043 consumers, 52% of whom are podcast listeners, in August 2021."


Retail News

Retail Sales Rebounded in August
Reuters: Retail sales rose 0.7% in August, "likely boosted by back-to-school shopping and child tax credit payments from the government, which could temper expectations for a sharp slowdown in economic growth in the third quarter... Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales would drop 0.8%. Sales increased 15.1% from a year ago and are 17.7% above their pre-pandemic level... Core retail sales (excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services) surged 2.5%. Online retail sales rebounded 5.3% after tumbling 4.6% in July. Data for July was revised down to show retail sales declining 1.8% instead of 1.1% as previously reported. Qualifying households in mid-July started receiving money under the expanded child tax credit program, which will run through December... A separate report from the Labor Department on Thursday showed initial claims for state jobless benefits rose 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 332,000 for the week ended Sept. 11.Claims were likely boosted by Hurricane Ida, which devastated U.S. offshore energy production and knocked out power in Louisiana... The number of people continuing to receive benefits after an initial week of aid fell 187,000 to 2.665M in the week ended Sept. 4, the lowest level since mid-March 2020"...

Labor Shortage Forces Harris Teeter to Reduce Hours; 80% of Food Retailers Report Labor Problems
Virginian Pilot: "Harris Teeter is cutting back on store hours as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact business with cases spiking across the country.Harris Teeter will temporarily shorten all store operating hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. starting Wednesday, according to the company website. The change is in place until further notice... The Matthews-based grocery chain cited the labor shortage affecting the country nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, as first reported by Grocerying, a blog about grocery stores in the Carolinas. Some stores had been open until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m... Separately, Grocery Dive reports that 80% of food retailers surveyed by FMI for a new report said they face hiring challenges that are negatively impacting their businesses. While the industry has been boosting worker incentives, with 85% of respondents saying they increased wages and benefits for full-time employees in 2020, retailers saw an overall turnover rate of 58%, up from 40% in 2019, The Food Retailing Industry Speaks report found"...

Sam's Club Ups Minimum Wage to $15 to Attract Workers
Grocery Dive: "As retailers inch closer to the holiday shopping season and the competition for labor gets tighter, Sam's Club announced it is raising its starting wage to $15 per hour effective Sept. 25, according to a company memo... The minimum wage for select roles was $11 an hour before the announcement, a spokesperson for Sam's Club said. In certain locations and roles, some Sam's Club workers can make up to $34 per hour. Sam's Club CEO Kath McLay said in a memo that 95% of workers are making at least $15 hourly. Sam's Club will have an average hourly rate of over $17, slightly more than parent company Walmart's $16.40 average"...

Kroger Reinstates Mask Mandate, Even for Vaccinated Employees
WLWT: "Kroger announced Wednesday that it will again update its masking policy, requiring all associates and contractors to wear a mask when in our stores, offices and other facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Previously, employees were required to wear masks only if they were unvaccinated. Masks will remain optional for customers, but are strongly encouraged, company officials said"...

Giant Eagle Expands Online Marketplace
SN: "Giant Eagle seeks an even bigger assortment in for the “endless aisles” in its Giant Eagle Marketplace e-commerce channel. The Pittsburgh-based grocer has enlisted with online product discovery platform RangeMe to accelerate and scale sourcing of new and emerging products. Under the partnership, Giant Eagle aims to expand its offerings across the gamut of categories, including center-store grocery, gourmet food, household supplies, health and beauty aids, over-the-counter medicines, general merchandise, pet care, baby care, housewares, small appliances, vitamins and wellness, outdoor and lawn-and-garden, RangeMe said Wednesday"...

Allegiance Retail Services Completes Successful Checkout Terminal Pilot
PG: "Allegiance Retail Services LLC has wrapped up a successful pilot program of new checkout terminals (NTRs) from AppCard that aim to make shopping easier, more convenient, and relevant. The NTRs were installed in three Foodtown supermarkets in New York and New Jersey, with further locations to come. At the pilot stores, QR codes were posted throughout for shoppers to see specials, recipe ideas and more. “We are seeing a higher level of engagement with our shoppers by delivering an exceptional digital experience, especially with the digital coupons and digital receipts,” noted Jack Shakoor, owner of Caldwell, N.J.-based Super Foodtown, one of the pilot stores. “The NTRs are giving us a more fully painted picture of our customers and what drives their purchases so we can plan accordingly to meet their needs.” The AppCard NTRs enable shoppers to enroll in and update club cards, as well as opt in for SMS messaging to be notified of specials; download digital receipts; get digital coupons for the next shopping trip, based on purchase history; and more. The NTRs are one element of Allegiance’s Go Digital and Save program"...


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