American Pie 07.10.04

Teen mags, once the hottest sellers, are slumping. Single copy sales of such once big sellers as YM, Seventeen and Teen People have plummeted over 40 per cent at the newsstands, a drop of more than a million in four years. Ad pages are dropping too – even though teenagers, with an estimated $95 million in spending power, have until now been a prime market. YM is the biggest problem. In the 90s Canadian editor Bonnie Fuller transformed a staid publication into a bright flashy magazine and circulation soared. But last year the magazine, along with several others, was caught in a circulation scandal. Now the German publisher, Gruner + Jahr, is considering selling it. Ironically one of the purchasers might be American Media, where Bonnie Fuller is now editorial director.

The bloodbath at Dennis Publishing in which 15 top executives were ‘pink slipped’, has cast gloom in the babes and booze market.Why are teenagers and young men turning off from the once big-sellers? One theory is, too much media vying for their attention including websites, on-line shopping, DVDs and computer games.Also young readers – especially girls – are being lured to celebrity magazines. Titles that are in today are US and In Touch. Young stars are currently the hot topic.

There are lot of give-aways these days, but In Character – A Journal of Everyday Virtues – is different. It is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, set up in 1987 by the investment banker, now 92. Focused on religion and science, the foundation has an endowment fund and gives away $40 million every year. The new quarterly magazine will focus on a different virtue each issue. The first is about thrift and includes articles about the growth of American thrift shops, an interview with Steve Forbes about thrifty investing, and a piece headlined “What Would Jesus Spend?” It will be sent to 2,000 “opinion makers” throughout the world.

There is a treat in store for cartoon fans – a new database, compiled by researchers at the University of Michigan, who have been studying the history of humour from psychological, cultural, historical and medical aspects. With it goes a 600-page book which includes two CDs that hold virtually every cartoon published in the New Yorker since it was launched in 1925 – a total of 68,000.The cartoons, organised into decades, show such evolutions in comics as Father Time mutating in the 60s into the Grim Reaper.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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