Tables of Contents on the Cover and Printed Bellybands

*Advertising Ridiculum Does anybody remember when magazines used to put the table of contents just inside the front cover…Is there a limit to how much magazines are willing to annoy their readers to please their advertisers? via* Eric.Weblog()

The answer is “No, there is not a limit.” The most egregious development magazine in this sense is JavaWorld. Here’s how they do it: like MSDN, their table of contents [is]{style="FONT-STYLE: italic"} their cover. It’s not exactly newsstand gold, but you can make a case for it. So, a few years ago, they started selling what are called “bellybands” – the magazine is wrapped with a ribbon, the ribbon containing advertising. Bellybands are very popular with advertisers because, well, they allow the advertiser to co-opt the entire magazine. But they cost money to produce and have a tendency to be ripped off in transit and, even in the best of circumstances, the reader rips them off and throws them out the first time they use the magazine. So some genius comes up with the idea of a “printed bellyband” – you buy the back cover as advertisement, pay a premium for your horrific co-opting of the front cover, and ignore the fact that the front cover is supposed to deliver editorial information.

Printed bellybands are whorish and unforgiveable but when you do it on a magazine whose front cover is its table of contents, you’re in a world of disrespect for the reader that is absolutely boggling.