New York magazine to go bi-weekly

  @brianstelter December 2, 2013: 2:35 PM ET
new york magazine
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

"New York" magazine readers woke up on Monday morning to another sign of retrenchment in the publishing industry: the weekly magazine, which for decades has been a bible for many New Yorkers, will be printed every other week beginning in March.

The publisher, New York Media, said in a press release that it was "reinventing the print magazine as a more substantial, more durable, and more visual product, while growing its digital offerings."

Putting a positive spin on the cutback, the company said the magazine would be an "enhanced biweekly."

As it stands now, the magazine isn't quite a weekly — it doubles up some weeks and comes out 42 times a year.

Still, the announcement — bemoaned by many loyal readers — is a high-profile milepost in the gradual move from print to digital for magazines.

"As long as the [publishing] business model in the United States is based on revenues from advertising and not on circulation, we are going to see more decisions as such," said Samir Husni, a professor at the University of Mississippi who directs its Magazine Innovation Center.

While readers increasingly gravitate toward electronic versions of magazines on tablets and phones, magazines in print are increasingly "collector's items," Husni said.

Some "New York" readers can relate to that — copies of the magazine tend to pile up on coffee tables and nightstands, despite subscribers' best intentions to read them right away.

A smattering of readers commented online on Monday that an every-other-week schedule is more suited to their reading habits.

But others lamented the cutbacks: David Carr, the "New York Times" media columnist who first reported the news, wrote on Monday that "something palpable and intrinsically thrilling will be lost with the change in rhythm to a magazine that has been hitting the streets on a weekly basis for more than four decades."

New York Media had been contemplating a cutback in its publication schedule for several years. The "New York Post" first reported the possibility in October. At the time, the company's chief executive, Anup Bagaria, acknowledged the talks but said there was "nothing definitive yet."

In a statement on Monday, Bagaria said "these are forward-thinking changes that best position the company for further growth."

That growth will come largely from the Web. The magazine's Web site intends to add a new blog about the science of human behavior and expand its other blogs by hiring a number of new writers and advertising salespeople.

After the change in March, the publisher said the magazine would become a bit thicker (with "roughly 20 percent more editorial content per issue") and more photo-centric — an approach that made some optimistic.

While the biweekly schedule "seems dispiriting," the culture editor of the "New York Times Magazine," Adam Sternbergh, wrote on Twitter, the "idea to make print mag into pleasing tactile artifact seems exactly right."

Similarly, Gavin Purcell, the producer of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," put a positive spin on the announcement in a tweet: while pronouncing himself "sincerely bummed" about the change, he said "bi-weekly is better than no-weekly."

Sid Holt, the head of the American Society of Magazine Editors, said that even as some weekly publications cut back, there is "continued growth in the number of new monthies, bimonthlies and even quarterlies," including some new publications from online proprietors like Allrecipes and Pitchfork.

"Magazine editors and publishers are seizing the opportunity to reach new and growing audiences," Holt said. "Which is the real story here — not the change in New York's print frequency but its editorial and publishing success across multiple platforms." To top of page



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