American Pie 21.08.03

After months of declining ad income, US magazines are enjoying a turnaround. Ad income is up almost 10 per cent. “We’re relieved,” said one major magazine publishing executive. Car-makers have upped their spending on ads by more than 25 per cent to more than $220m (£138m). Ads from pharmaceuticals and home furnishings companies are also up. Sales too – Vanity Fair, which now sells around a million copies every month, anticipates sales of over 1.5 million in the year ahead. Marie Claire expects a jump from 850,000 to 935,000, while the New Yorker is predicting it will add at least 25,000 to its current sales of 875,000. One of the most optimistic is Lucky, a shoppingoriented magazine published by Condé Nast whose current circulation is 800,000.

By the end of the year it expects to hit 900,000 – a 12 per cent increase. Hearst’s CosmoGIRL! reports a 24 per cent jump in ad pages this year. Is the worst over? Is there no group that doesn’t have its own magazine these days? Here’s Tall – for people who are taller than most (men over 6ft 2in and women over 5ft 9in). What do you put in a magazine for tall people? The ?rst issue includes a report on extra-long mattresses, a photo of the world’s biggest chair (it’s almost 7ft high) and a feature about the longest-limbed female twins alive (basketball players Heather and Heidi Burge, who are both 6ft 5in). There is also an article by publisher Everard Strong (6ft 9in) demanding more leg-room for tall people in airplanes.

Celebrities who lend their names to magazines like to see their picture splashed around. Take Oprah. Her picture is on every cover of the magazine named after her. Martha Stewart, at least until recently, was often featured on the cover of Martha Stewart Living. Rosie O’Donnell was also in every issue of Rosie – until it folded. Rock star Gene Simmons – and his tongue – is a prominent feature of the new music magazine called Tongue. But no one is likely to match Jack Nicklaus. The famous golfer has a magazine named after him. In the latest issue there are no less than 26 pictures of the Golden Bear. There are also four pictures of his wife. And two photos of his sons. Plus a picture of his daughter and daughter-in-law. Enough? Who said that Oprah hogged her magazine?

Cutting free access to its editorial content on the web is paying off for Time Inc. After dropping ?ve of its magazines from free websites, among them Entertainment Weekly, the company reports a surge in pay-to-view subscribers. In two days EW signed up 1,500 new subscribers on its website – ?ve times the normal daily rate. Altogether Time Inc plans to shut off free access to 13 of its publications. Those magazines that are no longer completely free are “dropping the curtain” as they put on some of their more popular features such as Fortune magazine’s Top 500 list. Some smaller magazines such as New Republic have shut off most of their magazine to anyone who isn’t a subscriber. Business Week now offers only some of its editorial material free to non-subscribers.

Tina Brown has denied reports that she has been offered the editorship of the New York Daily News – a report that ran here in Women’s Wear Daily. She is still involved, she insists, in her television interview programme on CNBC that, despite lukewarm reviews, may ultimately go weekly.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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