Randall Rothenberg's Viewpoint column "It's a failure worth pondering: Meigher did many things right" (AA, Jan. 24) -- a philosophical lament on the demise of uncompromisingly top-tier magazines, as personified by Garden Design and Saveur -- was a good news/bad news analysis from our perspective.
The good news is that Rothenberg is an articulate advocate for our brand of magazine journalism: "real quality." The bad news is that, while he's clearly a fan, he confuses the foundering of a business partnership with the prospects for our magazines' futures, which are -- especially now -- blazingly bright.
As a fan, he should be bolstered to know his surmises on our sale are simply not true. "Perhaps readers .. .. . had grown too price-sensitive to pay the freight," he suggests of our high cover prices. On the contrary, newsstand sales have been constant, as has circulation growth, at a premium price.
"Perhaps advertisers .. .. . aren't willing to fork over for high CPMs." So far, ad support has more than held its own, and upcoming operational efficiencies and expanded marketing opportunities gained through our new owner, World Publications, will help remove any question marks about the company's stability.
Finally, he posits that the "diseconomic" forces of print are consigning its members to the Internet, and that our magazines, vaguely, are a casualty.
Surely the future of print is intertwined with the Internet, but nobody believes print will be swallowed whole. People (like us) will long love receiving beautiful, glossy bound-together sheets of paper that reflect their best selves and aspirations, especially if those pages wrap "sensuous hedonism in accessible practicality," as he puts it.
Will our readers and advertisers benefit from a branded Internet component? We think so, which is why establishing Garden Design and Saveur Web sites is at the head of World CEO Terry Snow's to-do list. Did not having sites land our award-winners in the loser's pile? Obviously not.
What the founders of Meigher Communications could not foresee was the difficulty of achieving large returns soon enough to satisfy a range of private and institutional investors, many of whose investment strategies shifted over five years.
Chris Meigher and Doug Peabody gave Meigher Communications their very best shot, and the size of their dreams is measured in the splendor of our magazines, which we have the unique opportunity to carry on.
Contrary to "being too good for their own good," as Rothenberg concludes about our publications, readers and the publishing community now will have the opportunity to see how good Garden Design and Saveur truly can be.
Director, Marketing and Communicatons
Saveur and Garden Design
Randall Rothenberg's column is indeed a troubling commentary on the plight of today's many small magazine publishers.
Market forces are seriously affecting basic revenue streams resulting in declining margins. Newsstand revenues continue to be diminished by increased demands from retailers and wholesalers. The costs of cultivating new readers and renewing subscribers through direct mail have skyrocketed and many advertisers, at the expense of the small publisher serving smaller audiences, are reallocating some of their budgets to on-line ventures.
Without the economies of scale a mega-publisher enjoys, small magazine publishers are indeed facing a real crisis. But shall these publishers fold up their tent and sell their properties? I don't think so and neither do many of my publishing colleagues.
The solution is a passsionate commitment to quality content and an intrepid search to find creative solutions to compete in these most demanding times.
Special Interest Media
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