A thorough piece in today's WWD is chock-full of juicy nuggets about how magazine editors create a cover that will inspire you, a potential reader, to spend your hard-earned cash on their efforts. In the '80s, Dick Stolley, founding editor of People, created "Stolley's Law Of Covers", which you already know, even if you don't know you know: "Young is better than old. Pretty is better than ugly. Rich is better than poor. Movies are better than music. Music is better than television. Television is better than sports... And anything is better than politics." Kind of like looking for a date! Of course, what works for each magazine is slightly different. For Cosmopolitan, the young lady on the cover had better get "the girls" out. "It's not about big breasts like it used to be. It's just about showing off your breasts, whether they're double As or whatever," says editor in chief Kate White. Hear that, IBTC? You, too, can be on Cosmo! (And if you look at a gallery of Cosmo covers, and you'll see almost all of the women are touching one thigh, directing attention "down there." My crotch! Let me show you it!)
Over at Men's Health, however, the dudes are covering up. In 2004, half the covers featured shirtless guys; in 2007 there was only one bare-chested man. For Allure, it's all about the best tressed. "Not only abundant hair, but the blowing hair is good for us," says editor Linda Wells. "The worst thing we can do is a really tight, pulled-back style or a hat." And over at Seventeen, some kind of flair is like, totally what a girl wants: "Every cover has to have the doodad," says editor Ann Shoket. "That is, a piece of jewelry... or something that catches your eye." But the person — or personality — on the cover is a big deal as well. Kate White says Cosmo's perfect model is "Someone that you'd love to drive cross country with, you're not going to end up arrested with and with whom you're not going to get bored." Hmm, makes sense that Ms. Lohan was a choice. And Ms. White finds a great cover uh, satisfying. "My sense of a good cover that will sell well is if I want to lick it," she says. "And the Beyoncé [December 2007] cover I licked several times... Before the sun came up." Hey, at least the woman loves her job?