February 6, 2009

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The New Yorker is one of few print publications (New York Times, Economist, National Geographic, Monocle, Dwell, Good, Vanity Fair…who else?) that deserve to be using trees and getting shipped around the country. They’re in trouble, bleeding ad pages as if old media is going out of style, which it is. Excerpt:

She takes over a magazine clearly in need of help. The New Yorker’s ad pages dropped 26.8 percent in 2008, far more than other Condé Nast titles, and more than double the industrywide decline of 11.7 percent. Financial services ads, a New Yorker mainstay, were among the hardest-hit categories last year.

The New Yorker was operating in the black in early 2008, but not by the end of the year, according to company executives who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss finances.…for the rest, click here.

Remedy? Subscribe. Subscriptions stabilize the finances of any one magazine, and allow them to print more articles, interviews, reviews, news and features. If you’ve been thinking about it, do it. You’ll get 52 magazines in your mailbox 52 times a year, just in time for that long post-hangover hot bath you’ve been meaning to take all week long.

Via Media Bistro:


Conde Nast shuttered Domino earlier today and unless things turn around quick (don’t hold your breath), the magazine publisher will undoubtedly be looking to make more cuts. CouldThe New Yorker be next?

At first glance, you’d immediately assume no. David Remnick‘s book consistently produces some of the best journalism around. Year in, year out, its assured multiple Ellie noms and a couple of wins. But the economics might end up forcing Si Newhouse to kill his baby.

The mag’s struggles to retain advertisers have been well documented. Earlier today, Gawker‘s Hamilton Nolan called it the company’s “Plutonium loser” for seeing its ad pages drop 26.8 percent over last year. (We would have gone with “Adamantium loser” but we quibble.)

The February 2 issue paints an even more dire picture. Checking in at 83 pages, it features — by our count — a mere 15 pages of ads, or roughly 18 percent. Five of those pages, however, are “house ads” for New Yorker or Conde Nast products, bringing the total paid ad pages down to 12 percent. That, my friends, is not good. Not good at all.

The question might be not can Conde afford to shutter The NYer…

And, Gawker:

The latest issue of The New Yorker runs 82 pages. What you see above is all—all—of the paid advertising. Is it time to get seriously concerned?

The issue itself was great—Kelefah Sanneh on rethinking Booker T. Washington, a long Larissa MacFarquhar piece on Caroline Kennedy, Ta-Nehisi Coates on the inauguration. I personally even read thefiction, by George Saunders, which only happens about twice a year.

But the ads? What you see are just under ten pages of paid ads, to go along with five and 2/3 more pages of house ads.

That’s bad. Especially in light of the fact that the New Yorker had the largest ad page decline of any Conde Nast magazine last year: -26.8%.

Conde just folded Domino this week. One would think that as times get tougher, more magazines will go down—but one would also think that the company would do anything to keep its prestige titles safe.

Not necessarily. The New Yorker is a great magazine, and great magazines are expensive to produce. Having America’s best magazine as its biggest ad page loser is not the kind of balance that Conde can afford these days. Somebody please buy some ads over there…


Bonus! The creation of a New Yorker cover:


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