Sunday, January 27, 2008

In men's magazines, a question of size

BoSacks Speaks Out;

I'm not the first nor the last to say it, but as we all know, it's not the size, but the magic it performs that counts. This is as true for magazines as anything else. The discussion below of alternate, smaller-sized magazines is neither new nor all that adventurous. The magazines will work very well for some readers and not so well for others. At best they are a stop-gap performance. The sizes that are now being discussed for these travel-sized magazines are pretty much the same size as the Sony e-reader and the Amazon Kindle. So, is the magazine industry laying the ground work for size acceptance with this new introduction or is it just my imagination? OK, I guess it's just my imagination.

"An optimist will tell you the glass is half-full; the pessimist, half-empty; and the engineer will tell you the glass is twice the size it needs to be"
- Unknown

In men's magazines, a question of size
Britain's FHM will introduce a travel-size edition
By Heidi Dawley

In men's magazines, the eternal question is whether size does in fact matter, and in Britain, where competition among men's titles has been especially fierce, it's a question that's being asked more and more.

FHM thinks it may have the answer.

This spring, the monthly title is set to launch a smaller version that it hopes will help attract readers on the go.

This idea of what's called a travel-size edition is not new. It's been a popular tactic in the women's market for some years now. FHM will be one of the few major men's titles to give it a go.

Media buyers think it might well attract new readers. "The travel format has certainly seemed to work in the women's sector. A number of magazines have brought it out," says Steve Goodman, managing director, print trading at GroupM. "So for FHM to try it is a very sensible move."

For FHM, as well as its brethren, the last few years have not been stellar. The magazine sold an average of 311,590 copies a month in the first six months of 2007, according to ABC figures. That was down 25.9 percent on the same six months in 2006 and way down from the 750,000 copies it sold monthly not so many years ago.
Among the problems facing FHM and the other monthlies was the flush of men's weeklies launched in recent years, mostly downmarket publications. That led the monthlies to chase downmarket in an effort to hold onto their readers, and not with success. "They were tarnished with that," says Mark Gallagher, press director at Manning Gottlieb OMD.

But the monthlies have also been hurt by the internet, which comes as no surprise.
So in 2007, FHM brought in a new editor Anthony Noguera, who had been head of Emap's men's magazine portfolio, to help bolster FHM's fortunes. Noguera oversaw a redesign that came out in August.

"FHM is very different from how it was a few months ago. It is less in that downmarket sphere that it was pulled into to compete with the others," says Gallagher.

The decision to bring out a travel edition, which will be published in select markets alongside the larger edition, is likely to be another part of that effort to help create distance from the others in the market, believes Gallagher.

FHM has not yet said how big the travel edition will be. The regular edition is 12 inches by about 8 ¾ inches.

The travel edition is likely to be similar in size to other travel editions in the glossy monthly market. For instance, Glamour, the magazine credited with bringing this size to the market, is 8 ¾" tall and just over 6 ½" wide.

FHM has said that the travel edition will be a scaled-down version of the regular edition, having the same content and page layouts. It will retail for the same price as the full-size edition -- $7.60 an issue.

The travel size first really took off in Britain in 2000 when Glamour launched into the market. The magazine chose what it called the "handbag size" when it launched.

Glamour flew off the newsstands, overtaking Cosmopolitan to become the No. 1 women's glossy just about 18 months after launch.
Not surprisingly, others followed suit, launching travel editions alongside their regular-sized editions in commuter markets.

A number of publications continue to publish at least part of their circulation in this format, including Marie Claire and Elle, which implies that the publishers believe it to be successful, although it hasn't resulted in huge upward spikes in circulation.

How it does for men's titles is an open question. One title that tried it was James Brown's Jack magazine. It launched in that size, but later abandoned it and has since folded.

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