ANOTHER ONE TO SWITCH? It sounds like Glamour could be the next Condé Nast title set to say goodbye to print.
As part of the publisher’s ongoing restructuring, which was supposed to be wrapped up this year but instead has entered a new phase of sales and cuts under the advisory of Boston Consulting Group, the nearly 80-year-old, beauty-centric glossy looks slated to go all digital as soon as early next year, sources tell WWD.
The move to digital may have been the plan for a while, as the sources noted editor in chief Samantha Barry was in January brought in to helm Glamour for the specific purpose of molding the title into an online-only brand. When Condé revealed Barry as its choice to succeed Cindi Leive, who led Glamour for 16 years, it touted her as the publisher’s first “digital native editor.” Before Glamour, Barry was executive producer for social and emerging media at CNN Worldwide, and had never worked for a magazine or in women-focused media.
Barry also spoke of her digital savvy in taking the role, telling The New York Times she was bringing to Glamour “the ability to pivot.” Although she said at the time the print magazine was “a huge part” of Glamour, she pushed that “Glamour is a brand — it’s not just a magazine.”
A Condé spokesman declined to comment on “rumors.”
It is possible that there are multiple scenarios being considered for the future of Glamour, however, as Condé has shown business changes can sometimes happen quickly and lack precision. Before deciding to try and sell W, along with Brides and Golf Digest, a shutdown of W, already down to eight issues a year, was on the table. Then there is the combination of the American and British editions of Condé Nast Traveller, which seems overly complicated with headquarters to move to London, a Web site to be based in the U.S., a lot of shared content, fewer staffers and, for now, eight U.S. print issues and 10 U.K. print issues.
There is a British version of Glamour, which was downsized significantly last year and shifted to an almost entirely online outlet with a biannual print issue, so an attempt to go biannual in the U.S. and possibly stitch the two regions together, like Traveller, could be under consideration. In a humorously micromanaging memo to Condé business leads on talking points about the Traveller consolidation, Pamela Drucker Mann, Condé’s chief revenue and marketing officer, said “several new initiatives” between Condé and Condé Nast International could be expected.
Unlike with Traveller, sources said Glamour would be consolidated in the U.S., most likely under Barry’s stewardship.
Over the last decade or so, Condé has turned Self and Teen Vogue into online-only brands, folded the Web site of Epicurious into Bon Appétit, and closed a slew of magazines, including Lucky, Men’s Vogue, Vogue Living, Vitals, Details, Jane, House & Garden and Mademoiselle, among many others.
Simply looking at the latest print issue of Glamour gives some clues as to why online may be the best place for the title. The issue for September — historically one of the magazine world’s heftiest months — features an on-the-street cover shoot with the actor and comedian Tiffany Haddish and is only 148 pages, 55 of which are ads, essentially unchanged from the combined June/July issue with 134 pages, 56 of which were ads. For comparison’s sake, September’s Vanity Fair comes in at 220 pages, with 132 pages of ads, and issue number five of W (which comes in September) counts 188 pages, with 86 pages of ads.
Readership at Glamour also looks to be shrinking. Readers of print and digital subscriptions fell in July by 15 percent year over year to 8.6 million, according to the most recent data from the MPA-Association of Magazine Media, while Web readers fell by about 17 percent to 993,000. Year-to-date, subscription readers are down 10 percent, Web readers are down 19 percent and mobile readers are down 21 percent. There is at least one bright spot: Video, an online-only medium and a big investment area for Condé, is up by a significant 45 percent year-to-date.
Elsewhere at Condé, its prospective sales are said to be going rather slowly. The publisher still has not brought in bankers to prepare formal presentations for the magazines up for sale, although, as WWD has reported, Meredith is said to be eyeing Brides and Stefano Tonchi is meeting with investors in an effort to finance a deal for W, which he’s edited since 2010. As for Golf Digest, a clear suitor has yet to emerge. A source noted that should the title fail to sell, a backup plan could involve some combination of it with GQ. Currently, production schedules for the three titles on the block are business as usual, but planning only goes as far as February, which is the end of Condé’s fiscal year.
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