IT’S A YOUTH THING: While Martha Stewart spends all day, every day, in a federal courtroom, her employees are keeping busy frantically inventing new magazines that fall outside her cult of personality. The digest-size Everyday Food came first a year ago, followed by this month’s test issue of the similarly sized Organizing Good Things. The next project off the assembly line might be far more ambitious — a young-skewing shelter book along the lines of Budget Living, Readymade and Bonnie Fuller’s as-yet-unnamed reincarnation of her work on Meredith’s deep-frozen LivingRoom.
Sources said Martha Stewart Omnimedia employees have been busy since Christmas borrowing products to be featured in the first issue, which will likely be a newsstand test, like its predecessors, rather than an internal prototype. “My understanding is that it’s a go,” said one source. “I’ve been loaning them things for shoots.”
An MSO spokeswoman wrote via e-mail, “We continually explore new business opportunities; however, it is our general policy not to comment on rumors or speculation.” But the company has been upfront about its desire to launch titles and create products that extend beyond the orbit of Martha Stewart Living and its television and book franchises.
But MSO better hurry — despite Martha being the acknowledged spiritual leader of the growing genre of young shelter/lifestyle books, her competitors have stolen a march on her. Budget Living launched two years ago on a shoestring and already has an unaudited circulation of 450,000 and climbing. Based in San Francisco, Readymade is scrappier but is poised to announce a partnership with a mid-size publisher that will provide the resources to grow, and Fuller is prepared to launch Son of LivingRoom this spring inside of American Media, just a few months after announcing its existence.
“It’s easier to sell advertising and gain acceptance for a new concept when people like Martha Stewart’s editorial staff embrace it,” said Budget Living founder Don Welsh. “We’re delighted and we wish her luck.” — Greg Lindsay
AXEL’S CHOICE: While executives at Gruner + Jahr USA continue to furiously trade memos about what to do with YM (the best parlor game they’ve had since handicapping chief executive Dan Brewster’s departure), the option of selling the magazine apparently has been taken off the table. (Mediaweek reported Monday that a sale to American Media had been a possibility. Bonnie Fuller was YM’s editor in the early Nineties.)
According to sources close to G+J, the company will “relaunch” the magazine in August, and what “relaunch” will mean is what’s currently up for debate. Should YM skew older, where the beauty and fashion ads are, and wander into the sights of Teen Vogue and Ellegirl? Or should it go younger, where the tweens are and where the ad pages are relatively few? (Look at J-14 and Twist.)
Either way, the circulation will be coming down from the current 2 million rate base (which came down from 2.2 million after YM’s newsstand inflations were discovered last year). What that means for editor Christina Kelly is not clear, but so far she’s largely been kept in the dark.
G+J won’t say — a spokeswoman declined comment — but in the spirit of teen magazine quizzes, what should G+J chief Axel Ganz do? Send him your suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org. — G. L.
MOVING OVER: As Fairchild Publications’ Elegant Bride prepares for next month’s walk down the aisle, WWD’s sister magazine appointed a new publisher Thursday. Andrew Amill, the current publisher of Footwear News, will take over from Mary Murcko. She, in turn, will become publisher of W Jewelry, where she had previously been associate publisher. — G. L.