LONGER READING LIST FOR NEW YORKERS;TREND-SETTING CENTER ATTRACTS TITLES EVEN IN HARSH ENVIRONMENT

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A bumper crop of new magazines is ripening in the Big Apple.

Established titles like New York and The New Yorker could start feeling crowded on city newsstands and advertising schedules as several New York-based launches are vying for readers and advertisers, despite the past failures of titles such as 7 Days and Manhattan Inc.

These new entries will contend with newer problems. The New York print world is being hampered by rising paper costs, a proposed moratorium on city newsstands and a rocky local economy.

Also, there's competition from not just other magazines but online services.

Taking into account the magazine scene's downright Darwinian survival prospects, industry observers have bleak forecasts for the newcomers.

"I don't hold out a lot of hope for the new magazines in the long run," says Martin S. Walker, president of magazine consultancy Walker Communications.

"Most clients, other than retailers, tend to be wary of Manhattan news magazines," says Russell Gilsdorf, exec VP-media services at Tarlow Advertising, New York. "New York is not an important market for many mass-market products."

Publishers hope to attract national advertisers by offering lower ad rates than the competition. Among those that have signed up are Mercedez-Benz North America, Canon USA and various liquor and fashion brands.

"Not a single national advertiser has said no to us yet," says Michael Abramson, publisher of Flatiron News, an every-other-monthly covering the arts with the downtown sensibility of the Flatiron district.

Advertisers in the first two issues include Canon, Hugo Boss Fashions and Old Navy. Starting in December, the title's frequency will rise to 10 times a year.

Publishers are also confident they can stay afloat by selling space to an ample local retail base.

"National advertising is gravy, but it's not our bread and butter," says Alison Tocci, publisher of Brooklyn Bridge, which made its debut in September.

Brooklyn Bridge, the only magazine in the borough, has advertising from every hospital in the area in the first issue. The magazine has a paid circulation base of 80,000.

In September, two weeklies made their debuts: Time Out New York, a Big Apple version of the London guide, and New York Listings, a Village Voice spinoff.

They join the recently launched , Brooklyn Bridge and the tonier Manhattan File, which reached its first anniversary in August and caters to New York's upper crust.

The new magazines will not only compete with each other, but in a jam-packed New York publishing market. Contending titles include the New York Observer, Paper and New York Press. Online listing guides, like the Paperless Guide to New York City and New York New York, also are in abundance.

Why is New York still attracting such startups amid the current hardships of launching a publication?

"New York is the largest market in the Western world," says Mr. Walker. "So many trends emanate from here in multimedia, entertainment, fashion."

As the hub of many communications industries, New York is prime territory for reaching consumers who can spread the word on what's hot.

"It's a young, active, influential group of readers-the people everyone asks what they should do," says Cyndi Stivers, editor in chief of Time Out New York. About 50,000 copies of the title, selling at $1.95 each, are being published per week. The first issue sold out on 10% of its newsstands.

Advertising Director Vaughan Tebbe says TONY is being considered for ad placement next year by several liquor brands.

The city's diversity has also lured publications hunting for market niches. High-end brands like Mercedez-Benz and Carillon Importers' Stolichnaya vodka have bought ad pages in Manhattan File, a glitzy glossy that claims it turned a profit in six months.

Once free in street boxes, the magazine is now hitting the newsstands and building a subscription list.

"There's a niche of young, affluent professionals, and advertisers have responded," says Tom Allon, exec VP of News Communications, which owns Manhattan File.

These titles might not have to take on the entire city, but they'll have to contend with City Hall. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has proposed a moratorium on licensing additional newsstands, while city planners consider switching to a concession system. Newsstand operators fear the proposal will drive some of them out of business.

Newsstand sales decreased 7.3% in the last two years and 38% between 1982 and 1994, according to a recent study by investment banker Vos, Gruppo & Capell.

One newcomer-The Skinny, a monthly compilation of free or cheap events that first appeared in July-suspended publication last month.

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