American Pie 30.08.01

 Normally, covering The White House is a coveted assignment. But not this summer. News crews are not that happy at spending a month in the heart of Texas. Unlike his father, who spent his annual breaks in the little sailing town of Kennebunkport, Maine, the new President Bush is holidaying at his ranch near the little town of Crawford (population 690) where the temperature most days tops 100 degrees. The 40 or more reporters and cameramen who accompanied Bush to Texas think back longingly to the days when US presidents spent their holidays in places like Florida or California. Crawford has only one restaurant, which is so small that reporters have to queue for a table. Bush understands the newsmen’s gripes. "You’ll learn to love Texas – as I do," he reassured them. As one TV reporter surveying the dusty, almost empty Main Street (except for news vehicles) put it: "At least you don’t have to pay for parking."


The slaughter continues. More magazines are folding in the wake of the economic downturn. The latest: Hearst’s Classic American Home, a bimonthly started in 1975 and originally called Colonial Homes. Circulation had dropped to just over 500,000. Also scrapped, an ambitious plan by Women’s Wear Daily, the bible of the US fashion industry, to launch a website. Even Rochelle Udell, the former editor of Self, who was to head the new site, was taken by surprise. All this on top of the sudden closing of The Industry Standard, once the most successful magazine in the dot.com industry. Reports – so far unconfirmed – suggest other publishers might be interested in taking it over, among them Time Inc, McGraw-Hill and CondŽ Nast.


Not folding but changing ownership: JoC Week, the magazine that last year replaced The Journal of Commerce, the daily paper founded by Samuel Morse, which tracked the movement of international shipping for more than 175 years. It has been sold to Commonwealth Business Media in New Jersey. A spokesman for The Economist Group, which bought the paper from Knight Ridder six years ago for $115m (£80m), said: "It’s no longer a strategic fit." It changed hands for $45m (£31m).


Four years after the book business was rocked by the announcement that HarperCollins, one of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corps subsidiaries, was losing millions – and cancelling contracts with more than 100 authors – the company is enjoying a billion-dollar turnaround. One reason: a succession of big best sellers.


The battle of the O mags is being fought in a New York court. On one side, talkshow host Oprah Winfrey, who launched her own magazine last year and called it O, The Oprah Magazine. On the other, German publisher Ronald Brockmeyer, who publishes a sex magazine, also called O. It started in 1988 and is, he claims, one of Europe’s most popular erotic magazines, with worldwide sales (at the equivalent of £9 a copy) of 100,000. He took his title from the erotic novel, The Story of O. When he heard about Oprah’s venture, he claims he warned her to back off or he would sue for breach of copyright. "We were rudely treated and ignored," Brockmeyer claims. Oprah’s magazine, published by Hearst, is one of the big successes of the year. It now sells more than two million a month, at $2.95 (£2) a copy.

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