Conde Nast creates business publishing group

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Conde Nast Publications announced last week it has formed a new business publishing group that will produce a monthly magazine and corresponding Web site. The title and exact launch date have not been determined, but the magazine is expected to make its debut in 2007.

The New York-based consumer publisher of 18 magazines has tapped David Carey as president of the new group. Carey was previously VP-publisher of The New Yorker, a Conde Nast publication. Prior to that he worked for SmartMoney, a joint venture between The Wall Street Journal and Hearst Corp., and as president-CEO of Gruner & Jahr’s Business Information Group.

The newly named editor in chief, Joanne Lipman, joined Conde Nast from The Wall Street Journal, where she was deputy managing editor. Lipman is credited with creating the newspaper’s “Weekend Journal" and “Personal Journal” sections during her tenure.

“The company really wants to grow in this area and commit its resources,” Carey said. “The idea is that this will be a freestanding unit in the mold of Fairchild and Golf Digest, so over time this becomes a multititle concern.”

Industry watchers say they are interested in the form the new publication will take, as details are still sketchy. Some say that given Conde Nast’s track record, the new publication will be a force to be reckoned with no matter what. “The only thing we know for certain is because it’s Conde Nast, it’s going to be a superior effort,” said Robert B. Crosland, managing director at Admedia Partners. “They don’t do anything halfway.”

Despite Conde Nast’s reputation, prospects for a new business publication are daunting. Publishers Information Bureau figures for the first half show ad page declines for most general business magazines. Fortune (-11.3%) and BusinessWeek (-10.1%) posted double-digit ad page declines compared with last year’s first half. Forbes was down 2.7%. The Economist (-6.7%) and Barron’s (-8.2%) also had declines, as did the two magazines bought last month by Mansueto Ventures from Gruner+Jahr USA: Fast Company (-11.4%) and Inc. (-5.0%).

Carey said the tough market for business media is not a concern and could work in the company’s favor.

“If you have the resources to commit, if a category happens to be in a trough, the odds are that the category will improve by the time the magazine is up and running,” he said.

Carey speaks from experience. He helped launch SmartMoney in 1991. “We announced we were publishing a new personal finance magazine. The stock market was down. … People thought we were insane,” he said. By the time SmartMoney debuted, market conditions had improved considerably and the launch was considered a success.

“Obviously, they think this soft period in business advertising is just a soft period,” Crosland said.

Preliminary advertiser response has been favorable, Carey said. “I’ve gotten a lot of advertiser comments that this category can use an injection of life,” he said. He added that C-level executives are already readers of Conde Nast titles such as The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, which will help the company build the reader base of the new publication. “We already have a lot of contact information,” he said. “We have a lot of circulation resources from the start.”

Carey has plenty of confidence in the new venture. “The industry shows that if you come out with a better mousetrap, people will support you,” he said.

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