Consumers of the new-media world soon may have some old media options to accent their cyberspace experience.
Wenner Media plans to launch its Internet-focused title by yearend; Krause Publications and online site eBay plan to publish eBay Magazine in September; and Hearst Magazines is mulling a one-shot women's guide to the Internet next year.
The Hearst venture is fueled by its partnership with Internet site women.com.
Wenner's plans currently call for a premiere issue with a mid-November newsstand date, followed by a March/April edition, said executives familiar with the project. The publisher of Men's Journal, Rolling Stone and Us plans to establish the Internet book as a monthly by the second half of 2000.
Editorial will approach the subject the way Rolling Stone covers music, as a cultural phenomenon, one Wenner executive said.
One option may involve launching the magazine by teaming with an online company, said one person close to Wenner executives, but not co-branding the magazine the way Ziff-Davis did with Yahoo! Internet Life.
"They are trying to figure out whether to go it alone or find a partner, which is what they'll probably end up doing," another executive said.
Former New York Magazine Editor Simon Dumenco, hired in May as lead editor for the new title, is in the midst of assembling a staff; Wenner hasn't yet appointed a publisher and the company's sales staff hasn't started pushing the new book.
"I'm not surprised Jann is doing this," said Yahoo! Internet Life Publisher James Spanfeller. "Rolling Stone was launched around the cultural swing of the moment, rock 'n' roll. While rock is still relevant, it's not nearly the same cultural lightning rod it was. What is replacing rock as the cultural lightning rod of today is the Internet. He sees there is a shift going on, and he wants to be part of that shift."
PLAYING TO CARD USERS
Krause's eBay Magazine will widen its focus beyond the site's online auctions and target the 6% of Internet users willing to put their credit-card numbers online and purchase something, said Executive Editor Kevin Isaacson.
The company aims to launch the title with a circulation of 400,000.
With the noted exceptions, earlier efforts cast out on the consumer Internet wave have not been successful.
Mecklermedia, now part of Penton Publishing, shut down the monthly Internet World and transferred the title to its weekly business-to-business book, Web Week. Imagine Publishing closed The Net in 1997 and focused its energies on launching Business 2.0. International Data Group ceased publishing The Web but later established the weekly Industry Standard.
Ziff-Davis stuck it out with Yahoo! Internet Life, and it's ready to declare a 700,000 guaranteed rate base for September.
But even Mr. Spanfeller admits the first year was rocky.
"We probably launched nine months to a year too soon. The first year was torture," he said. "But any later and we would have missed the boat."
Copyright July 1999, Crain Communications Inc.