We’ve produced over a hundred issues of Adbusters and watched our newsstand sales sink and soar with the slickness of our covers. I wish it weren’t true, but it’s the slickness that counts.
One of our bestselling issues ever showed a quadruple-double-cheese burger on the cover with the tagline, Are We Happy Yet? It sold like a charm on newsstands all over the world, especially in the U.S. It even won best Canadian cover of the year in 2012.
One of our worst selling issues was one in which we pretended that the apocalypse had already happened and we were publishing our first issue in the aftermath. It was a tense, dramatic mind journey like no other. Our most loyal and enduring readers told us that it was actually our best issue ever, breaking through the denial around humanity's impending planetary collapse with more urgency and passion than any magazine or book they ever read.
But this issue did not have a slick UV coated cover. It was not printed on expensive, coated paper stock–the kind that makes the graphics and photographs pop and sparkle with the glossy splendor of Vanity Fair. It was printed on humble newsprint (like it would be after the crash) and had a simple, brown cardboard cover that simply read, “We’re back.”
It bombed on the newsstands, nearly bankrupting us.