This is not to suggest that people are reading less – in fact, they are probably reading more than in the past. The impact is evident in the industries that support printed words. In 2009, there were several dozen major publishers with leading brands in the magazine market who simply stopped publishing. It is estimated that $5 billion in advertising spend was removed by corporate budget revisions, and so with less money in the business, the magazines simply could not afford to pay for themselves. Much of the adspend has moved into other realms, particularly the digital fronts. This list shows just some of the magazines that stopped publishing in 2009.
10. Blender Mag
Blender, the music magazine founded by Felix Dennis, acquired plenty of fans along its way, including 768,000 paid subscribers toward the end of its run. But ad revenue fell far short. Ad pages at Blender sank 31% last year and plummeted another 57% from January through April of 2009, according to the Publishers Information Bureau and the Media Industry Newsletter. Monthlies as a whole, by comparison, sank 12% last year and another 22% through April. For all its readers, circulation wasn’t headed the right way either. Alpha had pushed its paid circulation guarantee to 1 million copies an issue from 800,000. But copies distributed to public places like waiting rooms grew the fastest, from 13,000 copies in the second half of 2007 to 100,000 a year later, according to company reports with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Paid subscriptions fell 8% while newsstand sales declined 18%. The web site, Blender.com, will continue. The title’s shutdown, announced by the company with “great sadness,” cost the magazine business another 30 jobs.
9. Best Life Mag
Best Life had lived on the bubble since its expansion from a newsstand-only quarterly in 2004, each year a referendum on whether it would see another, but Rodale’s entry into men’s lifestyle finally met its end in March 2009. The May issue will be its last. The web site will go dark as well. Best Life reported average paid circulation of 526,276 over the second half of last year, up 6.1% from the second half a year earlier. And the young title’s ad pages were still growing, expanding 6.6% in 2008, the Publishers Information Bureau said. But the pressure on its advertisers, who are responding to recession by concentrating ad spending in a few top magazines, evidently proved too much. Ad pages fell 36.3% in the first quarter alone, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Rodale said it expects to find new positions for about a quarter of Best Life’s 40-plus employees, including VP-publisher Michael Wolfe and editor in chief Stephen Perrine.
8. Travel & Leisure Golf
American Express Publishing decided to take Travel & Leisure Golf out of print after 11 years, making the March/April issue the last. Ad pages at Travel & Leisure Golf had sunk 13.9% in 2008, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. It reported average paid circulation of 194,047 over the second half of 2008, 32% lower than the 286,053 paid circulation it reported for the second half of 2007, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations and BPA Worldwide. Including free copies distributed to public places like doctor’s offices, the title reported average overall circulation of 637,048 over the second half of last year, according to BPA. The print edition will be survived by an affinity membership club called Travel & Leisure Golf Players Club and possibly other elements. The company said it is considering its options with the website and events program.
7. Hallmark Magazine
Hallmark Cards got its magazine going just as major publishers were beginning to thin their portfolios in earnest, bringing on concern from media buyers who considered the women’s magazine category pretty well covered already. But Hallmark bet that its brand and retail distribution system would give it an advantage. And the title, indeed, grew from a paid circulation guarantee of 400,000 to a guarantee of 800,000. It was still growing in 2008, posting an 11% gain in ad pages during a downturn that hurt the vast majority of titles. But it was not enough — particularly not, the company said, given the “trends facing the magazine publishing industry as a whole.” “Despite favorable consumer acceptance of the publication, we can not justify continued investment in the magazine at a time when we must focus our efforts and resources only on those projects that will lead to long-term profitable revenue growth for the company,” President-CEO Donald J. Hall Jr. said in a statement. The magazine, which published six issues a year, employed 28 people; its shutdown also eliminates 10 related jobs in the parent company’s creative division. Its website will also shut down.
6. Domino/Conde Nast
Conde Nast decided to shut down Domino magazine and its website only two weeks after naming one of its senior executives to shepherd the title through the recession. The magazine, which was introduced in April 2005, hadn’t run out of launch runway. But the weather was getting worse. “The economy is bad,” an insider explained. “It’s not getting better. We’re on the wrong side of the balance sheet.” Ad Age named Domino a Launch of the Year in 2006. Its ad pages fell only 4.5% in 2008, a decent performance in a year when monthlies on the whole dropped 9.4%. But home magazines have been bloodied by the implosion in the housing market. “Although readership and advertising response was encouraging in the early years,” Conde Nast President-CEO Charles Townsend said upon closing the title, “we have concluded that this economic market will not support our business expectations.”
5. Teen Magazine
As recently as the millennium, Teen magazine was publishing 12 issues a year and maintaining paid circulation above 2 million. By 2008, it was publishing quarterly and selling just 200,000 copies. Meanwhile Hearst Magazines decided to concentrate on Seventeen alone, so it shut down CosmoGirl in 2008 — and announced Teen’s demise in 2009. The brand will continue in print only as a prom annual. Earlier shutdowns among teen or young-women’s titles include Hachette’s Elle Girl, Time Inc.’s Teen People and Conde Nast’s Jane.
Disney axed Wondertime magazine, the 3-year-old parenting title, after its March issue because of tough economic conditions, the company said. The website will go dark too, although some Wondertime blogs and community areas will head to other Disney sites such as FamilyFun.com. Unlike most of the magazines getting yanked from print these days, Wondertime was still growing. Its ad pages expanded 20% in 2008, a worse year for ad-page sales than even the terrible 2001, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. But its ad pages were still small in number — and 2009 threatened to severely slow their growth rate. Wondertime reported average paid and verified circulation just below 400,000 copies in the first half of 2008, the most recent six-month period available.
3. Plenty Magazine
Plenty appeared at just the right moment to capitalize on new interest in green living, but just the wrong time to introduce a new magazine. Instead of publishing “green issues” on glossy virgin stock every spring, its pages used 85% to 100% recycled paper every issue. It won shelf space from Hudson News to Whole Foods. Plenty’s media kit for 2009, prepared before the end arrived, promised paid circulation of 200,000 six times a year. The economic meltdown, though, meant Plenty would need new financing to continue — and made new funds impossible to secure. The carbon-neutral website is getting axed along with the print edition.
2. Electronic Gaming Monthly
Ziff Davis bought this magazine in 1996, when its paid circulation hadn’t yet topped 400,000 but the promise of the growth in video games made its future look attractive. And it was, for a time. Average paid circulation topped 600,000 in 2005 and stayed there since. But online game coverage undermined the print version. After its final print issue, EGM will continue as an area on the 1UP Network, which Ziff Davis sold to Hearst’s UGO Entertainment in early January.
1. Country Home
Country Home’s paid and verified circulation had held steady at nearly 1.3 million copies, an impressive level that once attracted advertisers, but the meltdown in the housing markets simply savaged its ad-page sales. Ad pages in 2008 fell a full 25% from 2007, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. So Meredith shut it down, laying off its 40 employees as part of a larger round of cuts totaling 250. The website will go dark when the print edition shuts down after its March issue.
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