Cosmopolitan’s plan to open a chain of Cosmo coffee shops in Britain is being watched carefully by US publishers. Still beset by a decline in ads and lost readers, publishers are looking for ways to boost their income. Many envy the way Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey have capitalised on their magazines’ names to promote brands in supermarkets. Rodale’s Men’s Health is lining up a chain of fitness clubs, while Gourmet is considering links with speciality food stores. It’s predicted that within 10 years the income from magazines themselves will be dwarfed by income from other sources. But not all spin-offs work. Playboy once had Playboy Clubs all over the world – none exist today. People last year tried opening a store selling celebrity-linked products but it soon folded. However, the Meredith Corporation has cashed in on its Better Homes & Gardens magazine by sponsoring house design, cooking and gardening TV programmes.
One magazine has prospered since the events of 11 September – Soldier of Fortune. Started just after the Vietnam War by Colonel Robert Brown, a former Green Beret, it went into decline in the Clinton era but now sales are as hot as a machine gun’s barrel – up from 100,000 to around 150,000. From his Colorado office, Colonel Brown is sending reporters to Afghanistan and commissioning articles on self-defence and sabotage. It openly supports killing Osama bin Laden – even suggesting using a space-based laser beam to zap terrorists, causing all their fat molecules to be instantly vaporised in a pillar of fire.
The Wall Street Journal, in the middle of war with the FT, is to get bigger. It’s planning a fourth daily section devoted mainly to arts and entertainment. It’s doing so because of the success of Friday’s Weekend section, which has lately started to attract movie, travel and even theatre advertising. That, it is hoped, can make up for the recent loss of business ads. The new section, due to debut next year, will carry more pictures and, a first for the WSJ, some in colour.
Norman Rockwell, the folksy illustrator who drew covers for Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal, was for years dismissed as just another magazine artist, a hack. But now, 25 years after his death, he is being hailed as a great artist and an exhibition of his work is being held at the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibition has taken on a new significance because of the 11 September attacks. The New York Times is even using an updated version of one of his illustrations, showing parents fondly tucking their children in bed, in a series of whole-page ads entitled ‘Make Sense of Our Times’. In the new version the father is carrying a copy of the Times dated 12 September with the big black headline "US Attacked".
The White House has apparently not yet forgiven Tina Brown’s Talk for the spoof picture it ran of Bush daughter lookalikes behind prison bars. That was at the time they were having troubles with the law on under-age drinking. The White House gave orders that no one was to talk to Talk. The ban still stands, it seems. When Talk proposed after the Trade Center bombing to sponsor a conference in New York called The World Redefined, and invited leading Republicans including former President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush to attend, they got no response.