Not long tenures
At Life & Style, Mr. Spencer succeeds Mark Pasetsky, who is going back to the consulting firm Mark Allen & Co. after less than a year in the post. Mr. Pasetsky was named editor in chief at Life & Style just last November, succeeding Debra Birnbaum less than a year after she was named to the post.
"Richard's leadership at In Touch Weekly has led to overwhelming success of the magazine," Hubert Boehle, CEO of Bauer Publishing, said in a statement. "His masterful direction and management will continue to grow both In Touch and Life & Style. Our success in the world of celebrity culture will only get stronger under his continued direction."
In Touch has in fact been an impressive success, considering it arrived on the scene decades after People and years after Us Weekly. But Life & Style, its younger sibling, isn't growing as quickly despite a smaller base on which to build. In Touch reported average paid circulation of 1.3 million during the first half of the year, up 10.2% over the first half of 2006, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations; Life & Style reported 753,092, a gain of 6.8%.
Despite online rumors that Bauer would close Life & Style and fold its circulation into In Touch, the company said both magazines will continue to operate with separate staffs.
Slowdown in category
It isn't clear, however, how much more expansion the celebrities have in them; the rate of growth appears to be slowing.
And In Touch and Life & Style have both benefited from their low $1.99 cover price, which is now under pressure from magazine distributors who want fatter margins than such a low price provides.
Bauer originally relied almost entirely on newsstand sales at the celebrity weeklies, in fact, but has recently been pushing aggressively to build their ad sales. During the first half, ad pages at In Touch expanded 30.8% to 516.9 and grew 51.8% to 321.5 at Life & Style, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
Us Weekly, by comparison, increased ad sales 7.7% to 983.2 during the first half. People saw ad sales slip 1.5% to 1,812.1 but remains the unchallenged category champion.