American Pie 08.07.05

Vanity
Fair’s scoop revealing the identity of Watergate source Deep Throat
made headlines all over the world, but had little impact on sales. The
latest tally suggests the July issue will sell around 400,000 on
newsstands, failing to match the 407,000 it averaged over the first six
months of last year, Some experts say it let the story break too early.
“They lost their own exclusive,” said one. But it hasn’t dampened
speculation over how well the book that former Washington Post reporter
Bob Woodward (pictured) is rushing into print will sell. Or stopped
people talking about the chances of any book that Mark Felt, the former
deputy head of the FBI who was Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s tipster,
might write. Then again, Felt is ailing, and there is a feeling that “inside stories” don’t sell as well as they once did.

The next big launch here is going to be the men’s version of Vogue.

It
won’t, it is claimed, be like other men’s mags. It won’t advise on
wines or how to find romance in an office. It will instead offer older
men, in the Cary Grant mould, articles about art, architecture, food
and fashion. Given that Esquire, Maxim, GQ, Details and Men’s Health
are competing for advertising, it is bound to have a battle on its
hands. Plus, advertising aimed at men has dropped eight per cent in
four years, as has women’s advertising. Which is why women’s Vogue has
started accepting ads for Bud Light beer and McDonald’s – reportedly
making advertisers such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton uncomfortable. So
far Men’s Vogue has sold 120 pages of ads for its first issue, almost
twice as many as anticipated. But Condé Nast, the publisher, is not
taking chances. It plans to mail 200,000 free copies to regular
subscribers, and is printing 400,000 for sale on newsstands. Will Vogue
editor-in-chief Anna Wintour play a part? As an executive put it: “She will be just around the corner. Just a short elevator ride away.”

Despite
a virtual boycott by many TV shows, and even many newspapers, one book
that is shooting up the sales charts is a biography of Hillary Clinton
by former New York Times Magazine editor Ed Klein. Within a week it was
number two on the Times’s best-seller list, and its success may have
emboldened Klein to fire back at Tina Brown, for whom he once worked at
Vanity Fair, and who has described his book as “bio porn”. Klein called
Brown a “has-been” and said that while he has written five bestsellers
in 12 years, “she has had a failed magazine and a failed TV show, and
she is now reduced to writing a column for her few remaining friends”.
In her Washington Post column, Brown hit back, saying that Klein –
whose book insinuates that Hillary had lesbian affairs in college –
must have a secret fantasy of “girl-ongirl action”. She dubbed him “Ed
Slime” – to which he responded: “She has a right to disagree with my
book, but by calling me names, she has sunk lower than I have ever sunk
in my writing.”

The New York Times, looking to save money, is
thinking of using lighter-weight newsprint. Following the example of
many European papers, it is considering dropping the weight from 30lb
to less than 28lb. Other US publishers, among them the Knight Ridder
group, have quietly tried it and claim no problems, but at Ten Gannett
papers, the results were mixed, with bleed-through the main
problem. The Washington Post considered it, too, but decided against it.

It
was an off-putting story: the 10 ugliest people in the world. Now it’s
costing Weekly World News a pot of money. Featured was Phoenix
policeman Jason Schechterle, who was disfigured four years ago when a
taxi rammed into his police car and exploded into flames. When the
Weekly World News story ran in February there was a local outcry as
newsdealers refused to display the magazine.

Nationwide, the
issue was pulled. Now American Media, the publisher, has acknowledged
its mistake and the editors responsible have been fired. It has also
agreed to make a donation to a medical burns centre in Arizona. How
much? The magazine wouldn’t say, but admitted it was many thousands of
dollars.

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