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Magazine launches aplenty

September 29: Fourteen years after the Baltimore Sun ceased publication of its Sun Magazine, the magazine once again lives on Sundays.

The quarterly publication made its debut as a colorful glossy on Sept. 12, covering home decoration, style, and health and wellness in Baltimore. Baltimore Brew compared the revival of colorful magazines published by newspapers to the “ivory billed woodpecker,” a rarity in a time when newspapers have cut back, focusing their attention on the digital.

A similar phenomenon has also been reported in Chicago. On Oct. 12, Sun-Times Media is slated to debut its new monthly magazine, Athlon Sports, which will appear in the Chicago Sun-Times as well as 46 other newspapers owned by the publishing group. According to the announcement, it will provide features on players, teams and coaches in a variety of different sports.

Rebecca Bredholt, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group, noted that if a newspaper can extend its brand and sell advertising, it’s a logical move, especially when staffs overlap. “We’ve seen advertising dollars coming back to the print media outlets in the last quarter,” she said. “Plus, newspapers’ magazines really lend themselves to lifestyle content on a local level. And as previously discussed on inVocus, hyperlocal is popular.”

In addition to newspaper-produced magazines, magazine launches of all types have been plentiful through August and September. In print, regional magazines dominated, including the launch of editions of sustainable food magazine Edible, in Orlando, Fla., and Greenville, S.C. Other launches include the Pittsburgh Better Times, Green Living Arizona, Utah Boomers and DList Magazine in Portland, Ore. In the digital realm, Well & Good NYC debuted online, as did Beauty Etc. The magazine industry also saw the launch of Shelf, a digital magazine only available online, on the iPad or iPhone.

“This is the typical season for launches, and I think it feels like we’re seeing a lot because we’ve been in a drought for the last two years,” Bredholt said. “What I’m keeping my eye on is the unusually high number of ‘online magazines’ launching. Those not backed by a larger publishing company are going to have a difficult time sustaining themselves in this type of business model. It might be cheaper than print, but where’s the dedication/investment to keep it going for more than one year?”

Meanwhile, launches for magazine apps keep coming for tablets and smartphones. In an interview with the DailyFrontRow.com, Tyler Brule, editor in chief of London-based Monacle magazine, made a case against the iPad. “I’m very concerned for publishers who have chucked a hell of a lot of development into making something that works on the iPad,” he said. “Listen guys, if your magazine isn’t working at the moment in print or on the Web, this isn’t going to save you.”

Only time will tell whether iPad apps can aid a struggling industry, but regardless, magazines launches in print and in the digital realm have not been lacking.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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