Are Elle, Woman’s Day and Road & Track for Sale?

Publisher HFMUS logoReuters UK this morning reported that Lagardere Active, a division of French-owned publisher Lagardere, is “examining options” for its US magazine unit Hachette Filipacchi Media US.  HFMUS is the publisher of American mass market periodicals ELLE, WOMAN’S DAY and auto title ROAD & TRACK.

These options include joint ventures or partnerships with US publishers, according to the French business weekly La Lettre de L’Expansion.

Not unexpectedly, a spokeswoman for Lagardere Active declined to comment on the report.

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Rodale Tests Men’s Health and Women’s Health Offspring

First issue of Children's HealthCHILDREN’S HEALTH hit the newsstands on September 15.

It is positioned as a special, one-issue spinoff of MEN’S HEALTH and WOMEN’S HEALTH, but is undoubtedly a test of a planned periodical.  Its website is at http://www.childrenshealthmag.com.

The editorial content is more about parenting a healthy baby than straight medical advice.  It emphasizes how-to stories, such as choosing the right formula for your baby, keeping your child from getting fat, avoiding weight gain yourself after you have children and teaching your children how to read food labels.

David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health and editorial director of Women’s Health, is also editorial director of Children’s Health.  The initial print run is 750,000 copies.  By comparisons, competitors PARENTS and PARENTING each have circulations of over 2 million.

Vibe Staffs Up for Relaunch

Vibe relaunch logoVIBE, the new edition, now has an editor-in-chief, Jermaine Hall, who was the editor of the now defunct KING magazine and actually started his career at Vibe.

Earlier this month, the shuttered magazine was purchased by a consortium made up of private equity firm InterMedia Partners, Uptown Media Group and Blackrock Digital, who formed the Vibe Lifestyle Network.

The magazine will relaunch with a November issue and go quarterly in 2010.

Do you think Vibe should start publishing again?

New Parenting Magazine to Launch for Affluent New Yorkers

The New York Observer logoOBSERVER PLAYGROUND will debut September 16 in New York City and a second issue is planned for December.

It will target affluent New Yorkers and cover information about the city’s best youth sports programs, private clubs and profiles of Manhattan’s power couples.  It will have an initial circulation of 45,000.

The publisher of the New York Observer is partnering with columnist and event planner Lyss Stern, who will serve as editor-in-chief.  She is the founder of Divalysscious Moms, a socializing network targeted at mothers and their children, who are interested in fashion, fitness and entertainment.  She accepts pitches via email at lyss@observer.com.

Oh My, Oh My!

Circulation is dismalThis week’s released semi-annual circulation scorecard of the consumer magazine industry, the Audit Bureau of Circulations Fas-Fax report, laid it out in black and white – but it probably should have been red and white:

(All figures, except where noted, are first half 2009 versus first half 2008)

Total paid circulation – down 2.1%
Single copy sales – down 12%
Paid subscriptions – up a wimpy 0.5%

Among newsweeklies, THE ECONOMIST* was up 9% and Felix Dennis’ THE WEEK up 1%, while TIME* and NEWSWEEK* continued to drop.  US NEWS & WORLD REPORT*, which pretty much is out of the category, plummeted more than 25%.

Among fashion magazines, only VOGUE* increased its total paid circulation by any significant percentage (6%.)  In single copy sales no magazine saw an increase.

The celebrity magazines wallowed in pain:
OK!  WEEKLY – down 21% (to 398,360 copies per month)
IN TOUCH – down 20% (to 625,589)
STAR – down 14% (to 601,115)
PEOPLE – down 13% (to 1,319,350)
LIFE & STYLE – down 8% (to 478,788)
US WEEKLY – down 3% (to 843,479)

In sports magazines, ESPN THE MAGAZINE* and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED* both took major hits at the newsstand (down 20% and 25%, respectively).

Business magazines have also fallen in newsstand sales: HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW dropped 16%, FORBES* 15%, FAST COMPANY* 18%, and BUSINESSWEEK*, which is for sale, fell 7%.  Only INC posted a gain (up 7%.)

In the women’s mass market magazines even Meredith titles suffered: LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL* (down 46%), BETTER HOMES & GARDENS* (down 36%), and FAMILY CIRCLE (down 23%.)  Only Time Inc’s ALL YOU*, which is sold mostly through Wal-Mart showed an increase in total circulation (up 12%) even though newsstand sales were down slightly.

Noteworthy results by some of the top magazines (The Horse will try to have more tidbits in the coming weeks – after he stifles his crying fits):

Total paid circulation for the top 25 remained relatively steady, with the exception of TV GUIDE* (down 10%), PLAYBOY (down 9%) and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC* (down 7%).

Stalwarts O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE* and MARTHA STEWART LIVING* ended up at up 0.1% and down 0.3%, respectively.

OK!  WEEKLY was down 21% and has announced it has lowered its rate base – the number of copies it promises advertisers – by 100,000, or 11%.

DISNEY FAMILYFUN* saw its single-copy sales account for less than 1% of its total circulation.  Maybe that’s why Disney is releasing the magazine’s first-ever newsstand special to be sold in the top 69 Disney stores, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart and elsewhere.  Despite its sad newsstand sales, it was one of the fastest-growing magazines with a total paid and verified circ increase of 17% (to 2.15 million.)

On the brighter side:

THE ECONOMIST* – despite a subscription price of over $100 a year – is continuing its reach for the stars with a North American circulation up 9% and global circulation up 6%, doubling it within 10 years.

Dylan Stableford, formerly of foliomag.com, wrote in his new blog ‘The Media Alley’ at thewrap.com that “publishers largely fulfilled their rate bases.  Of the top 30 magazines in terms of paid circulation, just one – PLAYBOY – missed its rate base (the number of copies it guarantees to advertisers it will sell) during the first half of the year.  Most overdelivered on their guarantees by a marginal amount, except for one: GAME INFORMER*, a magazine for videogame geeks, had a total paid circulation of more than 3.6 million during the first half, some 30 percent more than its guarantee of 2.3 million copies.”

He also wrote: “Magazine with titles I make fun of actually are getting subscribers.  For reasons unknown to humanity, TRUCK, RACE, CYCLE AND RECREATION (up 172 percent), KUSTOMS & HOT RODS (up 93 percent) and BOWHUNT AMERICA (up 50 percent) managed to increase their subscription bases by healthy margins.  Sadly, TROPICAL FISH HOBBYIST (down 6 percent) and WILDFOWL (down 4 percent) didn’t fare as well.”

You can read more here.

And, just so our reporting is complete: The 2009 September fashion magazines came in at a total of 15 lbs versus 21 lbs in 2008.

Time Inc Shutters…eh, ‘Suspends’ Style & Design

Time Style & Design coverTime Inc has closed down TIME’s fashion sidekick TIME STYLE & DESIGN, a quarterly and polybagged to 550,000 Time subscribers with a median household income of $160,000.  The publisher blamed the collapse of the luxury market.

Editor Kate Betts, a former editor of HARPER’S BAZAAR, will continue to cover fashion for Time magazine, although four (or six) other staffers were let go.

The Wooden Horse Round-Up

* Rollingstone.com will finally be run by the magazine in January instead of digital service company RealNetworks…

* SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and CBSSports.com will share each other’s content online and in the print edition of Sports Illustrated…

* Reader’s Digest Canada boasts ad revenues for its five magazines and websites are up 1% in fiscal year 2009.  It is not part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by the American Reader’s Digest Association…

* POPULAR SCIENCE’s digital magazine Pop Sci Genius Guide has not caught on.  The publisher had hoped for 900,000 downloads for the first four issues combined.  The first issue last spring, priced at 99 cents, sold just over 5,000.  The summer issue was free and got 14,000 downloads…

* CELEBRATE ARKANSAS is suing Hoffman Media for infringing on its “Celebrate” trademark with the PHYLLIS HOFFMAN CELEBRATE, a quarterly.  Earlier, Celebrate Publishing asked Hoffman to stop using “Celebrate.”  Hoffman’s answer?  It published the magazine’s third issue…

* ESQUIRE will decrease its frequency with a double June/July issue in 2010 and raise its newsstand price to $4.99…

* CABINETMAKER and FDM have merged to become CABINETMAKER+FDM targeting professional cabinet designers and producers.  William Sampson, wsampson@wattnet.net, is editor-in-chief…

* THE COMMERCIAL OBSERVER is a new magazine covering the commercial real estate market in New York City.  It launches this month and is edited by Tom Acitelli, tacitelli@observer.com…

* ART + AUCTION, the global art-investment magazine, published by Louise Blouin Media, is celebrating its 30th anniversary.  Over the past 30 years, ART + AUCTION has covered the shifting fortunes of the art world and its inhabitants.  In its September issue, it celebrates by offering a collector’s edition with reflections on three decades of the art market…

* Canadian writers, check your contracts: BEST HEALTH is now providing all the fitness and health content on Sympatico.ca starting in August…

* Publisher Morris Publishing (AUGUSTA, SAVANNAH*, COASTAL ANTIQUES AND ART) has received an extension until September 11 to make two interest payments of almost $10 million originally due February 1and August 3.  Not being able to pay debts on time signals financial trouble for companies as it does for people…