GEARING UP FOR A CRASH: When the Audit Bureau of Circulations released its semiannual report on consumer magazines this week, it seemed the men’s category was enjoying an upswing in readers. With a healthy helping of T&A in virtually every men’s magazine including the older staples like GQ, newsstand sales were up at FHM, Esquire, GQ, Men’s Health and Sports Illustrated by more than five percent.

One title that can’t be included in that group is Gear, which for the second period in a row managed not to file on time. The submission date for the ABC filing is not the only deadline Bob Guccione Jr.’s magazine has missed lately. In August, Gear failed to deliver its September issue to many of its subscribers, whom they later told the “bindery broke down.” But then the November issue didn’t come out until December, December didn’t come out until January, while the January-February issue has yet to arrive on newsstands like The Hudson News, Universal News and W.H. Smith. Perhaps they should officially go bimonthly.

This story first appeared in the February 21, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I think they’ll have to rename it the March issue,” said a source familiar with the situation.

The source said that Gear actually isn’t suffering from a huge drop in newsstand circulation, since the magazine is largely subscription based, but that the sales of the magazine are significantly below average for the category and that the 30,000 to 35,000 copies sold at newsstand don’t point to a magazine that is really growing significantly. Additionally, subscriptions have been dropping.

A spokeswoman for the magazine said that Gear’s January-February issue came out in late January, even though it has yet to reach newsstands in New York. “They had printer problems and moved printers,” she said. “There had been lateness, and they are now on schedule.”

Guccione was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

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