The closing of Borders stores eliminated all of those magazine racks that offered an eclectic selection from 2600: the Hacker Quarterly to Witches and Pagans. The resulting loss of these potential sales has small and specialty publishers considering digital, some for the first time.

Outside of big cities and airports, many magazines sell best in the supermarket checkout aisle. Meredith Corp. says that placement accounts 66 percent of its retail sales for its magazines like Better Homes and Garden and Family Circle. But those racks are unlikely to be filled with anything with less than mainstream, small-c conservative appeal.

Mother Jones magazine, for example, told Columbia Journalism Review that losing newsstands means a giant hole in its revenue stream since people will no longer have an opportunity to casually discover it.

The Gay & Lesbian Review is one of the specialist publications that has decided to deal with this quandary by jumping into digital. The venerable magazine, which author and playwright Larry Kramer once described as “our intellectual journal,” has put its meager non-profit resources into developing digital editions and subscriptions through Zinio.

Self-described as a “bimonthly, nationally distributed journal of history, culture, and politics for GLBT people and their allies who are interested in the gamut of social, scientific, and cultural issues raised by same-sex sexuality,” it was unlikely to sell next to the Tic-Tacs.

There are over a dozen GLBT publications already available on Zinio – including the issue of Billboard with Lady Gaga on the cover – but G&LR is among the very few that addresses the intellect of its readers. Putting in the digital newsstand of Zinio therefore seems like a perfect fit, according to Stephen Hemrick, G&LR’s head of business development.

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