Sampler: the story so far

by Steve Watson in July 2015
Share on Facebook, Twitter or Copy Link

Sampler launched at the end of June as a new way to buy independent magazines online, and with August upon us it’s time for a summer break. There are hardly any new independent magazines coming out over the next few weeks, so the next Sampler offer is scheduled for Thursday 3 September (and it’s going to be an absolute belter – I can’t wait to share it.)

We’ve had a fantastic start to the new project, and I thought it might be interesting to share some of the things I’ve learned so far. There’s much more detail in this Medium post about the changes I’ve made and why, but the following is a brief overview of Sampler so far. (All prices are Sampler’s special discounted rate, rather than the full RRP).


Week one: Dirty Furniture
£9.90 / €14.30 / $15.50
140 pages
Published in the UK
Sold out in 24 hours
The first Sampler offer came off the back of a long build up and copies flew out. This was the first time anyone had seen the second issue of Dirty Furniture, which probably helped to generate a bit of extra excitement, but I soon realised that sort of first-look approach just isn’t a good idea. (Again, see the Medium post for more on that).


Week two: Zweikommasieben
£8.10 / €10.80 / $12.60
164 pages
Published in Switzerland
45 copies sold
Week two was an opportunity to experiment with niche, and contemporary club culture title Zweikommasieben. I’d hoped that Facebook advertising aimed at fans of the DJs and producers featured in the magazine might help to sell copies, but the results were disappointing and the vast majority of sales came via the Sampler email list.


Week three: Froh!
£9.90 / €13.50 / $15.30
192 pages
Published in Germany
78 copies sold
When I found out Germany’s Froh! magazine was publishing its first issue with English translations I knew I wanted to have it on Sampler, and in the end 80% of the copies sold went to people outside Germany. I haven’t yet surveyed Sampler customers to see whether they would have bought their magazines regardless, but I’m guessing that for lots of these buyers, Sampler was providing something they wouldn’t otherwise have read.


Week four: Fathers Quarterly
£10.80 / €13.50 / $18
144 pages
Published in Poland
93 copies sold
Fathers saw a late surge in popularity, with more than half the copies sold coming in the last three days of the offer. I have honestly no idea where those sales came from – both Stack and Fathers gave the offer the usual amount of support, but whereas all the other offers started strong and faded, the customers for Fathers just kept on coming.


Week five: Noble Rot
£7.20 / €10.80 / $11.70
98 pages
Published in the UK
Sold out in 32 hours
Before I started Sampler I assumed that it would be easier to sell some magazines than others, and Noble Rot‘s unfussy approach to wine proved to be very saleable. Throw in that brilliantly colourful front cover, and you can see why this one sold out before the weekend even started.


Week six: Zoetrope
£5.40 / €6.30 / $7.20
92 pages
Published in the USA
Sold out in two hours
But by far the most popular magazine so far was Zoetrope, which sold out in just a couple of hours. And really it’s not surprising – it’s published by Francis Ford Coppola, it’s hard to get hold of outside the US, and it’s incredibly good value (£5.40 including delivery!)

Of course the flip side of that popularity is that there were lots of disappointed people last week who would have loved to buy a copy but missed out, and that’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on once we’re back in September. As a proof of concept, though, I’d say it’s been a really successful start to the experiment, and I can’t wait to further refine it while sending out more of the world’s best independent magazines.

Would you like to have magazine offers like these dropped into your inbox? Sign up to Sampler for free and watch out for the next offer arriving on Thursday 3 September

Close Icon

Join our magazine club! Subscribe to Stack and every month we'll pick a different independent title and deliver it to your door. You never know what you'll get next...

Subscribe now