Mental Floss, a magazine that also sells products, expands

One of the hottest T-shirt designers on the market is a magazine.

Mental Floss, the 160,000 circulation magazine owned by publishing magnet Felix Dennis, derives one-third of its revenue from e-commerce, one-third from subscriptions and newsstand sales, and one-third from advertising.

Its T-shirt business represents about 40 percent of its e-commerce revenue.
On Tuesday, it unveiled its latest effort, T-shirt Tuesdays, where every week Mental Floss will reveal a new design to capitalize on one of its best selling products. Last year, Mental Floss sold about 40,000 T-shirts for $24.99 a pop.

Indeed, as the media industry struggles with a severe decline in advertising publications like Conde Nast’s Lucky and Gawker are delving further into the business of e-commerce. The idea is to tap into loyal audiences and subscribers and turn them into a ready-made market.

Mental Floss, a quirky publication covers such diverse subjects as sunken treasures to paper back books to operas based on Richard Nixon, is considered a pioneer of editorial merchandising, selling its readers products for the past decade.

Mental Floss founders Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur Said in an interview with Reuters that the magazine’s T-shirt business already generates seven figures in revenue, but declined to be more specific. Some top selling T-shirts include “I’m no Rocket Surgeon” and “I’m an English Major, You Do the Math.”

Tech wrap: Amazon concerns hit shares shares fell to their lowest level since late March on Thursday on concern about sales growth during the online retailer’s crucial fourth quarter.

Free Wi-Fi is on its way to some Japanese vending machines, reports gizmag. Much like a mobile hotspot at a local coffee shop, people near the machines would be able to connect to the internet for 30 minutes at a time and surf the web.

Just when you thought you’d never hear the words HP TouchPad ever again, the miniature version of the tablet computer that caused a frenzy when it went on sale for $99 has emerged: the HP TouchPad Go, reports the International Business Times.

from Summit Notebook:

All I want for Christmas is a blockbuster

What's a great holiday gift in a recession, yes a good old fashioned book. Random House just got its new Dan Brown bestseller on the shelves.

Pearson's Chief Financial Officer admitted that its consumer publisher Penguin does not have a blockbuster for the holiday season but -- in a rare glimpse of corporate honesty -- said it sure would like to have one.

" I think we've got some good books for Christmas," Pearson's Robin Freestone said at the Reuters Media Summit on the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Microsoft learns from Apple store real estate guru

After pulling a page from Apple’s playbook with its plan to launch its own chain of stores this fall, Microsoft is calling on the expertise of one of the players who made its rival’s stores such a big hit.

The world’s biggest software company confirmed on Tuesday that it has hired former Apple exec George Blankenship as a consultant to advise on real estate, as it puts together its retail strategy.

Microsoft hasn’t said much about the stores since announcing them in February, but its chief operating officer last week came out with guns blazing, saying: “We’re going to have some retail stores opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall. Stay tuned.”

Checking out the Microsoft retail store

When it comes to Microsoft, you can count on one thing: Whatever they do will get plenty of scrutiny in on the wires, in newspapers, and across blogs. Think A-Rod or Brad and Angelina.

Last night, they announced plans to start opening retail stores, which generated a lot of attention (rightfully so, too). Here’s the plan, as Reuters put its:

The world’s largest software company, which also makes the Xbox video game console and the Zune digital music player, did not say how many stores it was looking to open, or when, or which of its products would be on sale.

Jennifer Aniston’s sweater (finally) for sale – TiVo

jennifer-aniston-sweater.jpgClicks-and-mortar, PC-to-TV, T-Commerce. These are technology industry ideas that are resuscitated every couple of years only to fade into obsolescence.

In the case of the latter, T-Commerce, or Television Commerce,  the ability to click a remote and buy something that has appeared on television has seen its fair share of restarts over the last two to three decades. Big players from Time Warner to Barry Diller have tried it and failed. Forrester’s Josh Bernoff once called the concept buying “Jennifer Aniston’s sweater.”

Now digital video recorder technology maker TiVo and online retailer are the latest to give it a go. The idea is the same — Watch, Click, Buy. The experience might even be easier this time around. For starters, consumers are starting to get comfortable with the idea of interacting with on-screen cues, like clicking on ads on TiVo to watch, say, a longer BMW commercial. Consumers are also pretty comfortable with shopping on Amazon these days.