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I have two different covers on July 2004 magazines:

1) Sun burst photo on front cover, Toyota ad on back.
2) Heavily armed female guerilla fighter, presumably columbian, Olympus ad on back.

There are other differences on the covers, and in the front and back ads on or near the covers.
How unusual is this?. Is one of them rare? Are there other examples of totally different front covers on any other (modern) issues?

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Advertising is always regional, and can vary by several dozens of pages, though the national advertisers' buys get some preference and usually are consistent on front ad, last ad, ads opposite first story and after end of last article. Sometimes, a set of ads will appear in the front of one region, and amid rear ads in another, and I have never managed to study long enough with enough variants to make any judgment.

Geographic disbursement of members would indicate that some variants would be significantly smaller press run than others (California or Upper East Coast). There are also foreign press runs where I have noted the widest advertising variants, and more common rear ad alteration. I do not thnk I have or have seen any variant rear cover that is not a foreign edition. That having been said, I also have no proof (from my absence of seeing a domestic one with a different rear cover) that rear covers have never been altered for regional sensiblities or commercial purposes (no sense advertising Florida vacation to Florida subscribers).

I am aware of front cover variants for particular country's objections (China being the most prominent, but also Moslem lands). I have only the 1984 issue changed for Saudis. I have a list of soem dozen others reported.

I also once bought (and paid freight on which was the bigger expense) a run of roughly 400 from ealry 1970s through about 2000 from Quebec. While very different advertising, the contents were all completely uniform with my subscription. So a very expensive lesson with little payout.

As to the July 2004 sun burst, I'd have two thoughts if the Columbia narcotraffic story is still present. I'd speculate that it was a offprint done for some specialty purpose (for instance author, Explorer's Hall exhibit, similar event, and I would think that the cover would give some hint therabout). Alternatively, if contents are identical except for ads, then thre was some reason to alter the cover not connected with offending governments unable to control narcotrafficking within their borders.

If the article as well as the cover art are both excised, the answer would be that the edition was one for the Colombian subscribers or otehrs in northern South America. If the article is gone, I would postulate that is your answer.
In both versions the articles are the same. My own intuition is that the early run was the guerilla fighter. She is really armed to the teeth and looks very mean. I think that somebody at NG decided that this photo really wasn't in keeping with their image...
What does the 1984 Saudi change involve? And your list of other cover variants would be appreciated...

Your issues purchased from Quebec should have given you the Oct. 74 version without the red map indication on the spine, assuming they were from the right period...
I have not fully investagated this so I may be wrong, but is it possible that one is a News Stand Edition while the other is a subscriber edititon. I think that I noticed on a couple of editions on the newstand in the early 2000s that there was a cover difference. The easy way to tell this would be if one has an ISBN bar code and one does not.
Hello Michael,

No, neither variant is a newstand edition, there are no bar codes.There are other differences in the covers, besides the totally different main photo. The Sun bursts version has a small red triangle on the upper left which reads: An economy built on cocaine 34, and the list of articles does not refer to the sun article on page 2, but does add: Special Sun Supplement at the end of the list. The guerilla fighter version also has a small red triangle on upper left which reads:Free poster The Sun. And the list of articles starts with the one on the sun, but does not include a reference to cocaine article on page 34. Also note: totally different back cover and a few differences in the front and back ads.
Based on this I would have to go with Paul that it may be a regional difference, I am not fully aware of how many of these there are out there, but as you mentioned earlier I also have the 74 variation. I can also tell you that I have the sun burst in my collection from NGS and I am in Louisiana.
What kind of regional variant could account for the sun burst photo being set aside in favor of a very heavily armed female guerilla fighter with a decidedly mean look? I suppose it is possible, and the difference in ad content might be considered as a partial confirmation of this theory...But doesn't anybody buy into my idea that the guerilla fighter was considered too unNGM like and replaced by the sun burst?...And will somebody please tell me what the 1984 Arab cover var involves? Does it involve a completely different cover?
Hi Jean,

I probably will come back and comment more, but for the moment, I can say that yes, I agree with the perception thatt he guerilla fighter was a bit "hardcore" for the traditional spirit and persona of the NGM (and N.G.S.).

There are signs of change though. Example being, "Who Murdered the Mountain Gorilla" caption on the cover recently in '08. Such a bold statement! Many people saw that and took pause. NGM doesn't tend to be so in-your-face, for a lack of a better description.

- Scott T. Shier
I am including 2 photos to add to this discussion.

NGM actually acknowledged 2 versions of the November 2003 issue. In the "Forum" of the March '04 issue, the editors comment:

"Watching You", the story on surveillance technology provoked the most reader mail. One reader complained that it should have been the cover story. It was -- but only on some magazines. Although all members received issues with an ancient Egyptian relief on the cover, newsstand buyers in North America saw two different covers: either the Egyptian relief or a glaring eye. Early numbers show the surveillance cover faring better."

So, here we have a menacing face with an evil eye getting more attention on the newsstands, haha. I never saw this cover in any of the stores by me however. I have yet to see this cover available on eBay.

One wonders what discussion took place at NGM about the 2 covers. Was it purely a marketing ploy (aka revenue generating decision) ? Seems so, since they said "early numbers" show the Eye faring/selling better.

My 2nd photot is just an example of the difference between the European edition of May 2006, and the home-US version. Interestingly to me though, is that NGS used the Judas cover in their American advertising for the Magazine. For a while I was wondered if I had missed an issue somewhere, before I finally figured out what the discrepancy was. Even though it states European edition inside, the Judas cover is the one a Canadian subscriber receieved. They then sold it to me via eBay.

Again, I am most curious about the rationale behind the decision-making about what goes on a cover for this country vs. that one. Especially when it is only the difference between US and Canada, or US and England/Europe. One could specualte that the Alaska cover version would not have been of as much interest to non-Americans. Then again, through my other interests, I can note (anecdotally) that of the Western modern nations, America is the most "religious" (self purported), and that the Europeans tend to be more scientific and skeptical. Thus, would the European market be more tolderant of a such a salient cover as "The Judas Gospels" ? After all, the purported "missing books" of the Bible, the Mary Magdalene, and Judas scrolls are more controversial in America than elsewhere. Just a thought....

~ Scott T. Shier
Attachments:
Also,

Here is the foreign "espanol" edition [Spain[ for May 2006. Note, this too features the Judas story on the cover, but w/ a different image from the Euro-Judas cover. I guess "European edition" only appiles to English-speaking....aka U.K. Commonwealth countries.

- S.S.
Attachments:
Thank you Scott, for great additions to the discussion, also the photos. I will get back to the English language issues mentionned, as soon as I can. Particularly interesting to me is the fact that issues sent to Canadian subscribers, or put on our newstands might be different.
As to your Spanish language example, this sent me searching for the few I have somewhere, but where?
I do have the beginnings of a French language collection at hand, and a quick check of these revealed that these include 12 basic cover differences (including the 1rst edition of oct.99) and 11 with similar covers to the American issues. All of these appear to be newstand editions. Since there are so many different covers on "foreign" language issues I will limit my current searching and studies to the english language mags.
The fact that NGM acknowledged the 2 versions of the Nov 2003 cover is a step in the right direction. It does look like a marketing ploy for the newstand edition. I have never seen the "glaring eye" version either nor on Ebay, but now we know it is out there, and shouldn't be too hard to find. I have stayed away from the newstand editions for my collection, for obvious reasons (except as a seperate "minor variety" collection), but this one leaves us no choice. There might well be other similar cases by now, and the fact that they used both cover types for the newstand edition tells us that even if you find a newstand copy with the regular cover doesn"t mean that there isn't another one around. By the way, can you (or anybody else) tell me when the newstand edition with bar codes was first printed? I only have a few, and the earliest is from Nov 1997.
The May 2006 variety is also quite interesting. I have yet to find the Judas cover type, even though I think I have seen it somewhere...I have three copies of the polar bear type, one of which must be our subscription copy (?), and the others being picked up locally. So it still isn't clear how NGM maps out their editions between Canada, (Quebec in particular?), the U.K. and other (Anglo)Commonwealth countries, and Continental Europe. And any of these areas can be regrouped in different ways in a changing manner for marketing or other purposes..
As to the rationale behind it, to me the polar bear type is simpler the "safer" type as opposed to the Judas type.
And Europe still contains a number of fairly religious (catholic) cultures: Spain & Portugal, Italy, Poland and Ireland...The "missing books" are probably more controversial in America simply because they have been hyped more by the media (and maybe NGM wanted to get away from this trend)...
Scott,
If you run across extra copies Sept 03, Nov 03, Aug 04 or May 07 (pig) variant covers, I'd be interested in purchasing them.
Regards,
John Mahoney

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