Fashion Magazines Losing Heft

Last Updated Aug 11, 2008 11:02 PM EDT

The perennially fat September issue of Vogue this year looks like it's been on a bit of a diet. It's still robust, but with "only" 674 ad pages, it's down 7 percent from last September's 725. Last year's issue weighed 4.9 pounds; this year's look to be around half a pound lighter.

Vogue is not alone. The fashion and beauty segment of the magazine industry is starting to suffer the kinds of advertising losses that are becoming familiar throughout the publishing industry. It is inevitable that as consumers pull back on spending that advertisers will do the same.

W's September issue, for example, is off 18 percent in ad pages; Cosmo is down 3.2 percent. We noted that, overall, the category was off 8 percent for Q-2, but the slide seems to have accelerated since then.

The pain in the magazine business is widely shared. Most magazines count on newsstand sales for one of their significant revenue streams, but those fell 6.3 percent in the first half of 2008, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner could issue a press release, "Honey, I Shrunk the Magazine," but he'd have to have someone to send it to.

Another (bad) sign of the times is that automobile advertising, which as recently as 2005 accounted for over 10 percent of newspaper ads, has shrunk to just 2.8 percent this year. All media channels are hurting, as car-makers shed $414 million in advertising buys in Q-1 this year. The pain is being felt in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio.

Meanwhile, our occasional award for Dumbest Headline of the Day goes to...The New York Times, for this front-page business section story:

"Is Google a Media Company?"
I guess we don't have any NYT readers here. :)

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital,, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.