Starbucks and New York-based publishing giant Time Inc. have formed a joint partnership to produce and distribute a magazine to debut this summer and be sold only in Starbucks' 1,800 stores in the United States and Canada.
Titled "Joe," the magazine will be published quarterly in 1999, with issues scheduled for publication in June, September and December. Both companies said publication frequency could increase in 2000, depending on how well it is received during this year's test phase.
The 84-page magazine will sell for $3 a copy and focus on issues such as art, politics, music, pop culture and books. It will include up to 40 pages of advertising in each issue, the companies said. General Motors has agreed to buy ad space in all three 1999 editions. Other Starbucks' business partners, including Kraft Foods and United Airlines, have been approached about placing ads.
Starbucks President Howard Schultz says Joe will aim to provoke thought and spur conversation in the longtime tradition of coffeehouses.
"If you go into a Starbucks store, people are doing things around conversation," Schultz said in an interview over the weekend. "There's a real interest and need for people to reconnect with each other, and we think the magazine will do that."
He declined to disclose how much each company has invested in the venture. But for Starbucks, the magazine clearly represents yet another vehicle aimed at attracting and retaining core customers, now an estimated 8 million a week in North America, most of whom are well-educated, affluent and upwardly mobile.
David Long, president of media sales and marketing for Time, said the partnership offers unique opportunities for both companies.
"This is, from my standpoint, a marriage made in heaven," Long said. "We haven't done anything like this at Time Inc. before. It's a joint venture, and one we're extremely excited about."
Perhaps most intriguing for Time, said Long, is that despite Joe's limited publishing schedule this year, the magazine still could be profitable because the high costs of distributing the magazine and promoting it to attract subscribers will be eliminated. "We just do away with all that" by sending the magazines directly to Starbucks stores, Long said.
If each Starbucks store sells just an average of two copies a day, the magazine will be profitable, he said. In addition to hard-copy editions of Joe, Starbucks also plans to post magazine excerpts on one of several Internet Web sites the company is now developing.