Media Lifeline: Magazine closures

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 27 April 2007 12:00AM

Is launching titles in the music and lifestyle sectors the best way to lose money in publishing?

February 1999: The music and lifestyle sectors seem to be the place to look for expensive disasters. The daddy is perhaps Cosmopolitan Man, closed in April 1978 by The National Magazine Company after one issue - but there's been a steady stream since. A more than honourable mention goes to Wagadon's Deluxe, a music and men's lifestyle title that spectacularly failed to achieve its 150,000 target and closed in 1999 after eight issues.

June 2001: Later, launched in 1999 under the editor Phil Hilton to cater for the older brothers of Loaded readers, is closed when its sale falls below 50,000. The ultimate example of a title born of focus groups rather than any real vision, its critics say.

August 2004: Having bought James Brown's visionary men's magazine company, I Feel Good, at the tail-end of 2003, Dennis Publishing decides to take its men's title, Jack (initially launched in 2002), and give it a high-profile relaunch in dinky A5 "handbag" format. Too late, a groundbreaking piece of research reveals that few men carry handbags - and the relaunch bombs. Jack closes on a sale of less than 40,000.

March 2007: So London, a title about "shameless luxury", burns through the start-up budget, then folds after two issues. Its managing director, the former Mail on Sunday MD Mike Ironside, had a publishing pedigree. Its owners, the Rigby family of IT entrepreneurs, didn't.

April 2007: Brooklands Group, having interpreted the closure of Smash Hits (in November 2006) as proof positive that the teen pop music sector is booming, launches Popworld Pulp magazine. Sales target: 130,000 copies. Actual sale: less than 10,000. Result: closure after two issues. Happily, it lives up to its name when the unsold copies are pulped.

Fast forward ...

December 2007: And it becomes a vintage year for spectacular debuts when Charlie!, a title about disposable culture backed by Kate Moss, Julie Burchill and Camille Paglia and aimed at middle-youth women, plans the mother of all launch parties for the week before Christmas. But it closes with the first issue still wet off the presses when it is discovered that Pete Doherty has hoovered the entire 2008 production budget up his nose.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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