The Saturday edition of The Times is to go up in size from six to nine sections this weekend in a move likely to make paperboys across Britain heave a collective sigh of despair.
Three sections are to be launched: Body & Soul, The Eye and Weekend Review.
Accompanied by this 25 per cent size increase will be a price rise from 75p to 90p. Weekday editions of the paper are to go up from 45p to 50p.
Times editor Robert Thomson said: “I think people genuinely have an appetite for quality. There’s no lack of quantity out there at the moment but most of those Saturday papers hit the doorstep with a thud like a house brick – rather than a brick, we see ours as more like mosaic tiles.”
The introduction of a highbrow Review section in particular is likely to be seen as a challenge to The Guardian’s Saturday package.
Thomson responded to this suggestion by saying: “The Guardian traditionally has had a very strong Saturday edition but, frankly, it’s gone stale and I think quite a lot of Guardian readers would be tempted across simply because the quality of the writing at The Times is much higher and really the range of subjects and the range of writers is much broader.
“The Guardian pretends on Saturdays to be a centrist newspaper but it’s the same old socialist sheet.”
Weekend Review will be edited by former US editor of The Times, Ben Macintyre, and include arts features, books coverage and “the wittiest writers examining how we live now”.
The Body & Soul supplement will be edited by former Independent features editor Hilly Janes and will be a “holistic guide to health and well-being”.
Former Time Out editor Dominic Wells is to edit The Eye, a guide to DVDs, CDs and home entertainment.
The Times Magazine has also been expanded and redesigned. Michael Gove has been put in overall charge of editing the Saturday Times. The news sections are to contain more summaries of the preceding week and opinion pages are going up from one to two with Press Gazette columnist Janice Turner and Jonah Goldberg, from the National Review, signed up as contributors.
Thomson said: “On a Saturday there is more opportunity to read and we are giving people more things to read.
Page by page, section by section, The Times is evolving very quickly “A modern newspaper has to appeal to a broad range of readers. It’s not aimed at an elite and elites are not what they used to be anyway.
“What it is aimed at is the eclectic and particularly the eclectic reader with discernment.”
By Dominic Ponsford