THE BEST MAGAZINES: FOR '95 BEST MAGAZINES, BACHELOR DAYS COME TO END; MARTHA TAKES A HIKE

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Ups and downs are de rigueur for publications. Sometimes, that seems to be more true for Advertising Age's Best Magazines. Here's a look at last year's honorees, with apologies to Newsweek's Periscope editors.

Martha Stewart Living. The big story: '96 ad pages up 42.9% to 855.4 and circulation up more than 60%. The bigger story: Martha finally splits with Time Inc.

Prevention. Wholesaler squabbles hurt single-copy sales, while ad-page gain slows to 3.9% in '96. But Publisher Ken Wallace notes most of the lost ad business came from low-margin direct-response companies, down 32%.

Men's Journal. A 33% rate base hike at the start of '96 boosted out-of-pocket costs; ad pages slipped 9.7%. But the cost-per-thousand readers held steady, and circulation was up about 30%.

George. Most hyped launch of '96 kept its buzz: ad pages topped 1,000, and John Kennedy Jr. got married! The big test: with the wedding and the elections passed, the title will have to make it as . . . gulp . . . a publication.

Cigar Aficionado. Much imitated but not equaled-at least on the business side. Ad pages were up 41% to 863. Circulation as of Dec. 31, 1996, hit 372,169-71.2% ahead of the previous year. For '97, frequency jumps from quarterly to every-other-monthly, and a line of books will follow.

Spin. Ad pages up 4.6% in '96, even as alternative music became a mainstream entity. If current growth rate continues, this year's annual ad page total will top 1,000 for the first time. The challenges: make sure title keeps its buzz as the music scene evolves, and withstand a sexual harassment suit against Bob

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