People Disappears from Wal-Mart in Distribution Stand-Off

One has to wonder at the logic of a magazine distribution standoff in the midst of a financial crisis that’s threatening to sink the industry. Nonetheless (as threatened) Time Inc., American Media, and Bauer have pulled their magazines from Wal-Mart, the single biggest magazine retailer in the country, over a dispute with wholesalers Anderson News and Source Interlink Cos, who (as threatened) have imposed a seven cent surcharge on every copy delivered.

This means until the dispute is settled Wal-Mart will be without copies of People, Sports Illustrated, Time, In Touch, Life & Style, Star, and National Enquirer. Time Inc. says they have pulled together their own network of wholesalers, which is great but doesn’t solve the problem of Wal-Mart who says it is standing behind Source Interlink and Anderson.

It’s hard to say who will suffer the most from this. Surely magazines need all the racks they can get these days, however People is highest selling magazine in the country and one imagines Wal-Mart would prefer to keep it on their shelves. In the meantime the New York Post says Us Weekly, owned by Wenner Media, and OK!, owned by Northern + Shell, will continue to be delivered since neither publication took issue with the surcharge, meaning thatperhaps they will be the short term winners in all this. The Post also quotes one source saying “There will be some Band-Aids and some blood, but it will all probably calm down in about a month.” That said, a month is a lifetime in this economy.