Publishers Information Bureau: Women's service mags up

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Simply stated, the downturn's grip on magazines is not over yet. For the first nine months of the year, ad-page growth for all 230-plus magazines measured by Publishers Information Bureau was just 0.3%-a slowing rate of growth from the 1.8% increase posted for the first half and the 5.3% posted for the first quarter.

Still, surprising strength was shown among the traditional women's service magazines, which despite overall newsstand weaknesses (AA, Sept. 8) posted a string of strong increases ranging from Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Family Circle (up 8.6%) to Hearst Magazines' Redbook (up 24.6%). A glimmer of better times was glimpsed in the personal finance category, as both Time Inc.'s Money and the Hearst-Dow Jones & Co. co-venture SmartMoney turned in strong gains. But the three top business titles-McGraw-Hill Cos.' Business Week, Forbes and Time Inc.'s Fortune-remain mired in double-digit declines.

Conde Nast Publications' Wired, with a 31.9% gain, far outstripped G&J's Fast Company (down 4.3%) and Time Inc.'s Business 2.0 (up 4.5%).

Martha Stewart Living, battered by its founder's legal woes, posted the biggest ad-page decline, with its numbers dropping 31.4%. Earlier this month the company announced it would lower rate base, the guaranteed circulation to advertisers, in 2004 to 1.8 million from its current 2.3 million.

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