Monday, May 11, 2009

Playboy to Cut Issues, Circulation, Ad Rates?

Look for Playboy magazine to combine two issues into one this year to save printing and postage costs. That's just one of several "radical" changes the 55-year-old periodical is considering as it reacts to the vicious downturn in the economy (amidst a continuing slump in circulation, though still at about 2.5 million), according to a report in today's Chicago Tribune:
Playboy plans to combine its July and August issues into a single edition to reduce printing and distribution costs, and it is looking at trimming its circulation and reducing its advertising rates, officials said. Playboy is also planning to roll out a redesign in its June edition aimed at bringing a "younger and fresher look to the magazine," [interim chairman Jerome] Kern said.
Leaving aside the fact that the magazine did a redesign starting with its January issue, does anyone really think the problem is the magazine's design? Furthermore, must we really take seriously this "younger and fresher" silliness? Didn't we learn from the days earlier this decade when the magazine was rumored to be trying to ditch its readers who were over the age of 25?

If they want to cut circulation, might I suggest they raise prices? Stop selling subscriptions at such cheap rates. Raise the cover price. That'll naturally deter some readers, which is apparently the new goal. And it'll also bring in more revenue. Make it a reader's magazine again. Beef up the content; don't kill it.

Oh, and for the hundredth time: Do something about the advertising situation. With 2.5 million in circ, the mag should certainly get more ads than GQ or Esquire, both of which are well south of a million.


Matthew said...

Thanks for the link! I see what you are saying about how porn mags can't compete with online, but as for "really trying," the only caveat I'd offer is that the gay-porn mags were put together on NO MONEY. As cheap as you might think they looked, you'd be shocked that they were far, far cheaper than that. So I do think the staff was quite invested in making them as good as's the publisher that didn't really try. Thanks, glad I found your blog! Matt

jzipperer said...

Re: "it's the publisher that didn't really try." Yeah, I think that's the problem at many, many publications, in every type of genre. A business-side exec (I forget which titles) recently started an online fight by blaming editors for being almost entirely at fault when a magazine fails. I thought that was nonsense.

But my comment in the blog was mainly to express my disappointment whenever a magazine seems to be cranked out without energy, interest, or quality. Why would they expect the reader to care if the people who put out the mag don't seem to care?

(Then again, I can't really hate publishers, because in my current position, I'm effectively editor and publisher.)

Your response was posted to a different article than my Mavety item, so I just wanted to include a link to your blog post again, because it's well worth people reading:

So when do we get to read your next novel?