Media and Advertising

Newspapers in disguise

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What do you do when you run a newspaper with a stodgy name like "Books and Periodicals News" and you want to attract more readers? One easy solution is to turn your paper inside-out.

Pictured here is a comparison of the two "covers" to the digest newspaper Books and Periodicals News (书刊报), published out of Shijiazhuang. On the left is the cover shown on the newsstand, Exploring (探索·发现), numbered as page 9. The main headline reads "The busted plan of American spies to shell Tian'anmen," and vertical text announces stories reporting "Why ancient China did not ban prostitution," and "American scientists invent 'color changing clothing'." Most of the articles are taken from popular science and history periodicals and run under somewhat misleading headlines - "Was Hitler a man or a woman?" asks one.

On the right is the much blander actual front page, which is printed and folded so that it gets buried at the center. The gutter is printed over, and article continuations are arranged so that a story that starts on page 9 may conclude on page 4. If the actual front page were used, then readers would be denied suggestive photos, one of a crystal skull that "reportedly holds the answers to the mysteries of human civilization," and another of a soul leaving the body of a young man.

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B&P News is by no means unique in its efforts to skirt the rules governing publication names and appearances.

Another paper that uses a similar trick is Fortune Today. It's a fairly lackluster consumer paper that attempts to take advantage of the market for urban lifestyle magazines by appearing on newsstands wrapped in its B-section, City Character.

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