As the decade draws to a close, one of the greatest impacts of the 21st century, at least so far, has been the complete realignment of the way that we communicate, and the demise of the printed word as we traditionally imagine it. Cards are now e-cards, books are e-books and magazines are now websites and blogs. Following the first post of magazines that have gone out of print, this list continues the naming of the casualties as the battleground for the printed word moves from actual ink to virtual space.
10. I.D. Magazine
I.D. Magazine had netted five National Magazine Awards since 1995, including three wins for general excellence, as it covered the art, business and culture of design, a subject with growing appeal. But I.D., a small bimonthly, still faced the same forces that had already knocked far larger titles from print. The downturn in print advertising, the increasingly specialized information needs of I.D.’s core readership among product designers, and the proliferation of other resources all worked against I.D.’s sustainability, according to Gary Lynch, publisher and editorial director of the F&W Media Design Community. F&W said it will continue to produce the I.D. Annual Design Review, an international design competition.
9. National Geographic Adventure
National Geographic Adventure had amassed half a million paying readers and collected four National Magazine Awards, including one for general excellence in 2002, since its debut as a quarterly in 1999. But the brutal economic climate and the changing contours of the media business conspired against it in 2009. Its ad pages fell 35% in 2009, a year when monthlies as a whole fell 21%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. After exploring a sale of the title, National Geographic wound up deciding to pull it from print, where it had already reduced the annual frequency to eight issues from 10 last year, and continue the National Geographic Adventure brand online and in other media, including newsstand editions, books, e-magazines and mobile applications. The editor in chief since its introduction, John Rasmus, and 16 other employees are losing their jobs as a result. “We’re tremendously proud of what John Rasmus and his team have accomplished over the last 10 years,” said John Q. Griffin, exec VP and president of publishing at the National Geographic Society, as he announced Adventure’s exit from print. “They have consistently delivered award winning editorial to an enthusiastic audience of readers and advertisers. But given the current advertising environment and the opportunities we see in emerging digital platforms, we think the time is right to transition the Adventure brand.”
8. Giant Magazine
Radio One, a big radio broadcaster focused on African Americans, bought Giant Magazine in 2007, shortly after the lifestyle and entertainment title also started focusing on African Americans in particular. But Radio One never sounded too committed to the print edition. “We didn’t pay much for Giant, $270,000, so really the big thing for us is the losses that we incur on it,” president-CEO Alfred Liggins said during an earnings call in February 2008. “But we bought Giant really sort of as the editorial platform for what we’re going to do online.” By November 2009, Radio One decided to bet exclusively on the online play, rebranded GiantLife, and suspended the print edition, which had a guaranteed paid circulation of 250,000. “Over the past three years, the print version of Giant magazine has grown in advertiser support and fostered a loyal following among readers both online and off,” said Tom Newman, president of Interactive One, the digital division of Radio One. “The economic downturn has had a tremendous impact on print media, and we had to make the decision to suspend printing the publication. Additionally, we recognize the increase in demand for real-time information and see this as an opportunity to leverage our existing robust online platform to better serve Giant consumers and advertisers through our interactive medium.”
7. Metropolitan Home
Metropolitan Home had lived through a lot, starting with its origins in 1969 as a special interest publication called Apartment Ideas and then as a regular magazine called Apartment Living, both aimed at the Woodstock generation. “Apartment Life profiled bearded men in dashikis playing the flute while building bookcases and sensitive-looking couples eating quiche together in bed,” The New York Times recalled in a 1993 piece on shelter magazines. Meredith renamed it Metropolitan Home in 1981 as part of an effort to grow up with Boomers, or at least any Boomers who cared about design. Hachette Filipacchi bought Met Home in 1992, making it a sibling of Elle Décor, a title with which it had been competing. But the 2008 recession and collapse in the housing market both hurt shelter titles’ ad revenue and made publishers wonder whether two magazines in a category were too many. Hachette eventually closed Met Home, saying Elle Décor would be its focus in the shelter category.
6. Gourmet Magazine
Conde Nast’s decision to shut down the venerable Gourmet, the first of its crown jewels to meet the axe, probably did more than any previous shutdown to give the general public the sense that magazines are in peril. In reality, magazines aren’t endangered so much as they are contracting. And Conde Nast’s continued reliance on ad pages, the part of magazines’ business contracting the most, meant it had to make hard choices as the economic slowdown. In the epicurean category, it chose Bon Appetit over Gourmet, much as it simultaneously culled its bridal titles by closing Elegant Bride and Modern Bride to focus on Brides. All the same, closing Gourmet shocked many people. “It’s a real center of gravity that vaporized,” said Anthony Bourdain, the chef, author and host of “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel. “I understand the bottom line; we all do. But I’m really surprised that Condé Nast would jab itself in the eye like this.”
5. Cookie Magazine
At the same time that Conde closed Gourmet and two bridal titles, it shut down Cookie, the monthly parenting magazine it introduced four years earlier for moms with disposable income and an interest in style. The parenting category was never undeserved, of course, so recession and changes in media only added to a challenge that existed from the start. Cookie joined a parade of Conde launches that fell since 2000, including Cargo, Men’s Vogue and Conde Nast Portfolio.
4. Southern Accents Magazine
Home magazines continue to suffer amid the recession and real estate collapse. Southern Accents became the latest victim on Aug. 6, when Time Inc. said it would close the 32-year-old print edition, published six times a year, after the September/October issue. The website at SouthernAccents.com will continue. Approximately 20 of the 29 employees at Southern Accents will lose their jobs, the company said. The Time Inc. Lifestyle Digital Group will handle SouthernAccents.com along with other brands, as the group has already been doing. Ad pages in Southern Accents fell 37.4% in the first half, compared with the first half of 2008, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Magazines as a whole, by comparison, saw ad pages slide 27.9%. Southern Accents reported paid and verified circulation averaging 405,635 in its most recent report, down nearly 1% from the period a year earlier as newsstand sales dropped 11% and subscriptions fell 5%, but its use of free public place copies surged. “Southern Accents is an elegant, sophisticated brand that has resonated with its devoted readers for many years,” said Sylvia Auton, a Time Inc. VP who oversees its lifestyle group. “However, in this difficult economy, we need to focus our energy, resources and investment on our biggest and most profitable brands, so we had to make this difficult decision.”
3. Vibe Magazine
Vibe was no sure thing when it first appeared in 1992. “Convinced that hip-hop music is giving rise to the same kind of pervasive culture that rock-and-roll did a generation ago,” The New York Times reported that September, “Time Warner Inc. and the musician Quincy Jones are starting a funky new magazine called Vibe.” That “funky new magazine” took off as hip-hop proved its founders right, particularly in the 1990s. The bottom line, however, was less reliable. Time Inc. sold Vibe in 1996; the buyers sold Vibe again 10 years later. Last February the latest owners, Wicks Group, cut circulation by a quarter, dropped two issues from the schedule and put the staff on a four-day work week — with commensurate 10% to 15% pay cuts. About four months later, nonetheless, Wicks shut Vibe down entirely, as AOL’s Daily Finance blog reported June 30. The recession explains a good deal of Vibe’s fatal troubles, but not all of them. Other factors likely include growing music coverage online and struggles within the music industry itself. Vibe’s ad pages from January through June plunged 39.2%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, a bigger decline than monthlies’ average 22.8% drop. Vibe’s paid and verified circulation averaged 817,825 over the second half of last year, down 8.6% from the half a year before, as a big expansion in free copies to doctor’s offices and hair salons was overcome by big drops in subscriptions and newsstand sales, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
2. Nickelodeon Magazine
Add Nickelodeon to the list of family-oriented cable networks like Hallmark Channel and Disney who closed a magazine in 2009. The Viacom kids brand announced it will cease publication of 16-year-old Nickelodeon Magazine, as well as Nick Jr. Magazine and Nickelodeon Comics, at the end of 2009. The magazine group included some 30 employees. “While some staff members will stay on through the end of the year to finish publication of the final issues, the remaining staff regrettably will be let go,” the company said in a statement. 2008 was a rough year for the kids title, with total qualified circulation down from 1,101,866 in December 2007 to 748,159, according to BPA Worldwide. Ad pages in Nickelodeon also fell 26.9% in 2008, a year when magazines overall saw ad pages fall 11.7%, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami said in a company memo, “From the onset, Nick Magazine set out to be a publication for all kids and to be inclusive of everything that they were interested in, with an irreverent attitude and humorous voice that was totally unique. It pioneered the children’s magazine category, and continued to be a leader as the group grew to include Nick Jr. Magazine and Nickelodeon Comics. “But as I am sure everyone knows, the magazine publishing industry as a whole is severely challenged, and because of that we have decided to exit the magazine business and will cease publishing them by the end of this year. This was a very difficult decision, given the amazing work that the magazine staff has turned out issue after issue and year after year.”
1. Portfolio Magazine
The magazine’s debut issue, over 600 days in gestation, exemplified the new tone Portfolio strove to adopt, weaving business coverage (and ads) with fashion and lifestyle content (and ads). A two-page spread on a diamond company CEO pictured her posing in a strapless emerald silk chiffon gown, complete with fashion credits. Cover stories included “The New Masters of the Universe” by Tom Wolfe and “A Tiger Woods I.P.O?” by Michael Lewis. But its tone, not to mention its massive overhead, lost some of its appeal as the global economy convulsed and shrank in 2008 and 2009. Advertisers cut all but their most important magazines. Portfolio’s ad pages from January through the April issue fell 61% from the period a year earlier, which included one more issue, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Most magazines suffered but not nearly that much: Ad pages for monthlies fell 22% from January through April. “Even if the economy starts to recover, it’s likely the advertising is going to lag it,” said David Carey, the group president and publishing director, on the day the magazine closed. “The gap between where we needed the business to be in 2010 and 2011 proved to be too large.” The shutdown eliminated more than 85 jobs (although Portfolio at one point employed as many as 140), including those of editor in chief Joanne Lipman and publisher William Li.