NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., publisher of magazines including Elle and Car and Driver, has dropped out of the Magazine Publishers of America, the magazine industry's association for promoting the medium, lobbying in Washington and supporting magazine publishers.
Hachette casts its withdrawal as a response to the recession. "These are extraordinary economic times," a spokeswoman said, "and this is one of a number of hard decisions that we are making until conditions change."
But the departure is still jarring. Hachette isn't the biggest publisher in the country, but Elle is a big power among magazines. The company, moreover, has had a close relationship with the association.
Jack Kliger, Hachette's president-CEO from 1999 through 2008, served prominently as chairman of the association from 2005 through 2007. In Mr. Kliger's last speech as MPA chairman, he even took a swipe at publishers that don't pay MPA dues for getting a "free ride." Mr. Kliger was succeeded at Hachette by Alain Lemarchand last September.
The MPA said this is no time to quit. "We're disappointed that Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. has dropped its membership in Magazine Publishers of America, especially in this challenging environment," an MPA spokesman said in a statement. "More than ever, this is a time when magazine publishers need to work in unison to promote their interests and protect their assets. We hope that when the economy improves, Hachette will rejoin the MPA, which has served the industry so effectively by spotlighting the effectiveness of magazine advertising, pushing for postal reform legislation and collaborating on many other initiatives that are vital to the health of magazines."
Many other publishers said today that they continued as members and supporters of the association. The dues, however, are clearly a growing issue.
Henry Donahue, CEO-publisher of Discover Magazine, said his magazine is still a member of the MPA. "We are," he confirmed via e-mail, "though it's an ongoing source of discussion given the expense."