BIGGER APPETIT: When Gourmet closed, its readers received sister publication Bon Appétit to fulfill what was left of their Gourmet subscriptions. In January, Bon Appétit will use that sub file to help boost its rate base 15 percent, to 1.5 million from 1.3 million. The increase still puts it behind its more mass competitors Cooking Light, which has a rate base of 1.75 million, and Every Day With Rachael Ray, which carries a 1.7 million circulation guarantee. But the Condé Nast food magazine will put some distance between it and The Food Network Magazine (1 million as of the January/February issue), Everyday Food (1 million), Food & Wine (925,000) and Saveur (325,000). “We will continue to deliver an upscale epicurean magazine with broad appeal,” said Bon Appétit publisher Paul Jowdy. The magazine underwent a redesign in 2008 that freshened up its look and introduced a new logo but, since then, circulation has stagnated. According to Audit Bureau of Circulations, total paid and verified circulation remained relatively flat in the first half of 2009, but newsstand sales fell 12.6 percent, to 98,917.
— Stephanie D. Smith
This story first appeared in the October 29, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
EXIT STRATEGY: The New York Observer will lose yet another top editor by the end of the year. Tom McGeveran, who took over as interim editor in May when longtime editor Peter Kaplan left to join Condé Nast Traveler, will leave to start a new business venture. McGeveran didn’t specify what that venture was, but did say it is something “I’ve been concocting for some time now.” McGeveran was well liked and had worked on nearly every section at the paper since he joined in 2000. He informed the staff Wednesday morning, and later sent a memo to them, per the New York Observer’s Web site. “We’ll have had our own chapter in the history of the Observer, and though it’s been short it is one of the happy ones. Person for person this is the best staff we’ve ever had here,” he wrote. Of late, the Observer has had its share of challenges, including several rounds of layoffs and budget cuts, but the salmon-colored tabloid has also launched a real estate weekly title, The Commercial Observer, and a parenting title, Observer Playground, and recently acquired Very Short List from Interactive Corp (IAC). A search is on for a successor, which McGeveran will help with. “Tom is a great editor and journalist and the Observer has been lucky to have benefitted from his talents for so long,” said owner, and newlywed, Jared Kushner.
SHOPPING AND SOCIETY: W magazine will introduce two themed issues in 2010, beginning in April, when the entire book will be devoted to shopping. During a breakfast with beauty advertisers and executives on Wednesday, vice president and publisher Nina Lawrence explained the issue will be 100 percent “shop-able,” which means every item shown in editorial and advertising is for sale. Readers will be able to shop directly from ads, for example, by taking a picture of a given page and sending it to an e-mail address. Up to three messages will then be returned to the sender, including a link to buy, a special offer and a video of that brand’s latest collection. To mark the issue, Lawrence is planning a two-day shopping event in New York’s Meatpacking District at the end of March.
W also intends to publish a “society issue” in December 2010 that is slated to include an exploration of American society over four decades; black books of New York, Los Angeles and Washington socials; a selected network of socials blogging and plenty of photographs. A spokeswoman pointed out that W will not reduce its frequency next year, contrary to rumors, adding that the beauty-themed issue will be back next year, in May.
During the breakfast, Lawrence also discussed a new beauty report from W that looks at the concerns of today’s luxury consumer. The report found that 73 percent have maintained their spend on beauty products and 86 percent view beauty products as affordable luxuries. And while 93 percent of respondents said they are not brand loyal, the study found 96 percent will shop a given brand’s entire line if they find a product they like.
— Amy Wicks
COMPLEX DEAL: On the heels of selling a 51 percent stake in its Ecko and Zoo York trademarks to Iconix Brand Group, Marc Ecko Enterprises is set to spin off Complex magazine and group of affiliated Web sites via a joint venture with an outside investment group. The company is in talks with a potential partner and a deal is expected within a few weeks, according to chief executive Seth Gerszberg and Complex publisher Rich Antoniello. Marc Ecko, Gerszberg, Antoniello and a fourth silent partner currently own Complex Media LLC. The division consists of the magazine, which has a circulation of 350,000 and targets young men, and the Complex Media Network, a group of 31 style and gaming Web sites that Complex either owns or services with advertising buys. The Web sites bring in about 55 percent of Complex Media’s revenue and the magazine about 45 percent.
The valuation for Complex Media is about $20 million, according to Gerszberg. Spinning off Complex, which publishes six times a year, will allow the magazine and Web sites to recapitalize, boost funding levels and compete with larger titles, said Antoniello. A deal will also be part of Ecko’s ongoing strategy of raising cash to retire debt.
— David Lipke