SPD judging II

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Judging wrapped up earlier today, sooner than expected partly because there were less entries than last year. Even though the cost of entries is relatively low, the volume dropped from about 7,000 to 6,000 entries. The one category that had more entries than usual was Magazine of the Year, which was free to enter.

It was a quiet start to the day after the judges dinner last night. A few hangovers were evident. The main topic of conversation over dinner was the effect of the recession on the industry, the drop in ad sales and the consequent budget cuts. People wanted to know how the NY experience compared with the UK, and I have to say it all sounds pretty similar. Reduced copy sales and ad sales is a double hit that is affecting magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. The one difference is that NY publishers have bigger staffs and editorial costs to cut into than we have in the UK, where smaller teams give less options. Before the judging I met with one British creative director based out here who felt that publishers were taking advantage of the economic situation to move towards a more British level of staffing. Which means quite sigificant changes for US designers. We Brits look at US magazines and wonder at the level of detail and finish – is that about to change?

So far, though, that attention to detail looks far from changing judging by the pages and magazines present this morning. Here was the edited version of the entries, the highlights as selected by us yesterday, for us to whittle down to medal winners. It’s all done without discussion so I have no idea which magazines have won what but the general impression was positive. As I wrote in my previous post, I’d love to say there were some major surprises, but I doubt there will be. A few UK and European titles remained in the mix but really it’s the same set of magazines that rise to the top. Why? Because they’re the best work there on the judging tables.

Interesting snippets caught over the weekend: GQ Design Director and editorial design superstar Fred Woodward takes home a $1m salary; the idea of adapting your subscription issues is taken in a new direction by US Vogue, which drops the weight of its paper stock to save postage on subscriber issues; Australian Vanessa Holden is the latest designer to crossover to an editorial role, taking on the editorship of Martha Stewart Living last month; and another major title is about to reveal its iTablet demo, one that promises to be very interesting. I hope to be able to share news on that very soon.

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