Domino got caught in not one industry trend, but two. When Conde Nast shut down the home-design and shopping title last week, its President-CEO Charles Townsend blamed the economy. He just didn't specify which part of the economy was to blame. Domino is the fifth shelter title to succumb to the poor environment for home furnishing and housewares marketers since the crash of the real estate market. Meredith's Country Home, Time Inc.'s Cottage Living, Hearst's O at Home and Hachette Filipacchi's Home magazines all quit print in the last year. But Domino is the sixth glossy to close in January alone, as publishers make hard decisions about what they can afford in 2009. Along with Domino and Country Home, parenting title Wondertime was closed by Disney Publishing; Hearst pulled the plug on Teen; green-lifestyle publication Plenty lost its funding; and Ziff Davis gave up on Electronic Gaming Monthly.
Domino's crime seemed to be unprofitability -- perfectly typical for a Conde Nast launch less than 4 years old -- combined with poor prospects for the business. "The economy is bad," an insider said. "It's not getting better. We're on the wrong side of the balance sheet."
Ad pages fell 4.5% last year, a decent performance in a year when monthly magazines as a whole saw ad pages drop 9.4%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, and when you consider Self Publisher Kim Kelleher earned Conde's Publisher of the Year because Self's ad pages declined only 3.8%. But Domino's decline followed a 3.7% slip in 2007, a year when monthlies slipped just 0.6%. Still, Domino also showed promise, becoming a favorite among design bloggers and winning accolades including Advertising Age's Launch of the Year in 2006. Domino reported an average paid and verified circulation above 1.1 million over the first half of 2008. That number is up 81.5% over the first half of 2007, according to its reports to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
"Although readership and advertising response was encouraging in the early years, we have concluded that this economic market will not support our business expectations," Mr. Townsend said.
The March issue of Domino will be its last.