US readers show appetite for food mags

Not all magazines in the US are doing badly. Some are putting on circulation – and even attracting more ads. Most notably, food magazines. It appears that true gourmets are more interested in reading – and perhaps looking at photos – about interesting meals than doing so on the web. For one thing the pictures are usually a lot better.

True the growth is small, but such magazines as Gourmet and Bon Appetit are experiencing modest increases in subscriptions and news-stand sales. Gourmet for example reports an increase of almost ten per cent in news-stand sales in the first half of 2006. Ad pages were up over 11 per cent. While revenue jumped almost 18 per cent to over $83 million, Bon Appetit saw an increase in news- stand sales of over 4 per cent, subscriptions were up almost two per cent – although ad pages were down six per cent. But that may have been, it’s said, a short-term fluctuation.

Lesser known competitors also posted strong results – or at least broke even – this year compared to last. News- stand sales of Food and Wine are up over two per cent, similarly subscriptions. Ad pages are up over eight per cent.

A newcomer, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, according to the watchdog MediaPost is enjoying a boom,. Its ad pages are up a whopping 40 per cent, and its ad income up almost 52 per cent. Of course this may because it’s a new entrant in the field . One magazine called Eating Well enjoyed a 56 per cent jump in subscriptions.

Another category doing well, or at least showing staying power in the face of Internet competition, is travel mags. Again it may be because travel magazines publish more interesting – and colourful – pictures. Conde Nast Traveller for example has enjoyed almost a 9 per cent increase in news-stand sales – even though its subscriptions have remained relatively flat. Its ad pages are up six per cent and its revenue jumped 11 per cent to $102 million. Travel and Leisure also reports a good year – at least in advertising. Its ad pages are up 14 per cent and revenue up 19 per cent to just under $122 million.

At the same time in-flight magazines are enjoying a boom in ads – in the case of Hemispheres, the magazine put out by United Airlines, an ad page jump of 37 per cent, South West Airlines Spirit up l5 per cent and US Airways Magazine a soaring 115 per cent . Most airline mags don’t report their “circulation” because they are usually in seat-pockets – and in the words of one consultant have a captive audience. That, obviously , is what a lot of other magazines would like.

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