For her celebrity fix, Kathleen Saxton buys IPC Media's Now, the bible of the fame fetishist.

Who isn't an expert on celebrity these days? Love it or loathe it, celebrity sells. Magazines allowing even the most ordinary of us to take a peek into Michael Douglas' home, Ulrika's lovelife or simply Andy Garcia's eyes have become a sure-fire route to success for publishing houses.

This highly competitive and successful market kicked off in 1988 with Hello! magazine, which led this hallowed sector for some years until OK! arrived in 1996. Since then we've had Heat, Now and, only this month, the launch of Closer from Emap. Even the Sunday magazines and women's weeklies such as Best are devoting chunks of pagination to who's doing what with whom.

Now magazine has been a runaway success. Currently, it is the number-one celebrity magazine in the UK, the fourth largest women's title and its editor, Jane Ennis, has been voted Editor of the Year for three years running.

There is much to be said for its formula - Now goes to press on a Monday, as the weekend's gossip from the Met Bar has been leaked out. It hits the shelves on a Wednesday, delivering topical headlines, with all the appearance of a monthly glossy with a weekly pace.

With the launch of the rather stalkeresque-titled Closer from Emap, Now has introduced a new and improved recipe for those of you addicted to finding paparazzi photographs of models with cellulite. Now's new section - "The A-List" - introduces several new flavours, including the popular writer Zoe Williams to add a touch of no-nonsense editorial with her column, alongside celebrity grilling, celebrity health and celebrity fashion.

At £1, the price is already pretty attractive. I regularly lose a quid down the back of my sofa for goodness sake (hardly a considered purchase), but with a 50p sample price last week I wouldn't be surprised if even the hardened New Scientist readers among you grabbed a copy for a little lighter reading. It passes the most tedious of train journeys and if (as my straw poll uncovered) vanity is your issue, you can always politely leave it on the seat.

Being number one in this highly competitive sector will bring the riches of advertising. From cars for city living, "on the run" cereal bars, pregnancy-testing kits and Ally McBeal videos, it's clear at whom Now is aimed and the much-adored ABC1 women are buying it in their droves.

I cannot yet see the day when the wealth of celebrity magazines sell as badly as knitting patterns, so ignore the opportunity at your peril.

Buy yourself a copy - it might just bring a smile to your face as you glide along on the new Virgin Trains.

Publisher: IPC Media

Frequency: Weekly

Cover price: £1

Circulation: 570,279

Full-page ad rate: £16,500

Advertisers include: Ford, Marks & Spencer, Siemens and Maybelline


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