Rolling Stone Adds New Dimension to 1,000th Issue

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Wenner Media's Rolling Stone magazine celebrated its 1,000th issue with its fastest-moving cover to date. And yes, John Lennon's on it.

It was also the first time that any large publication used 3D lenticular technology on both its front and back covers. The issue, which hit newsstands May 5, was mailed to 1.3 million subscribers while 500,000 copies were sent to newsstands.

"This was our first time using lenticular technology, so it was a learning process," said Patrick Bryan, manufacturing director of Wenner Media, New York.

Michael Elins Pictures designed the cover, which features a pictorial similar to the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album and includes images of 150 pop culture icons since the late 1960s.

National Graphics Inc., Brookfield, WI, created the 3D imagery. The company provides lithographic lenticular products and designed the first commercially viable lenticular lens.

Once Rolling Stone's editorial department decided on the particulars of the cover, it took six months for National Graphics and the manufacturing and operations departments of Rolling Stone to complete it.

"We had to make sure our client understood how to prepare the files to achieve the effect that they wanted," said Bill Benedict, sales and marketing manager at National Graphics. "Once they had their idea, we then guided them through the preparation."

Mr. Benedict said that the key area of focus was organization in order to place all the elements in their correct places to achieve the 3D effect. This included identifying the proper lenticular technique and then interlacing the images accordingly.

Naturally, challenges arose while creating the innovative cover.

"The design was a challenge and also the physical process of adding color and dye, tipping it and shipping it with a glue that would ensure that the lenticular cover would not fall off, but would have the option to be peeled off as a souvenir," Mr. Bryan said.

The cover was printed on 100-pound paper, then shipped to Chicago where the front and back covers were tipped on. It then was sent back to Oklahoma to Rolling Stone's regular printing press where it was completed.

It is still too early for Wenner Media to tabulate sales of the 1,000th issue. The average Rolling Stone reader is 30 years old, and nearly 60 percent are male. Ninety percent of the 1.4 million circulation rate base is subscription, and the rest newsstand. A single copy costs $3.95 on newsstands. The subscription rate varies, but is currently $25.94 for the year.

Through the success of the cover, both Colgate and Showtime have asked National Graphics to design ads for them.

"The response has been more than we expected," Mr. Benedict said. "It has made the phone ring off the hook."

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