Amid women's mag closures, journalist launches new title with 'depth and intelligence'

The proposed closure of More and last week’s announcement that Easy Living is going digital-only could lead some to believe that the specialist women’s magazine market was already beyond saturation point.

But as other titles fall by the wayside, one journalist has used her own savings to launch a different kind of magazine aimed at women.

The first issue of Libertine, which hit the shops earlier this month featuring X-Files star Gillian Anderson as its cover star, includes a look at search engine technology, an analysis of the nascent bio-hacking movement and a column on single malt whisky. And not a photoshopped picture of Kerry Katona in sight.

Founder and editor Debbi Evans said the time was right for a more thoughtful brand of women’s magazine.

“The idea’s been brewing for about eight years, but the market wasn’t quite ready until now,” said Evans. “Recently though, there’s been a bit of a cultural shift – and we’re seeing far more complex, powerful women rise to prominence in business and the media.

“It’s time for a title that really does justice to that complexity, and the support we’ve had so far proves the market.”

The move comes as a relaunch is planned next month for feminist title Spare Rib as a website and bi-monthly magazine.

As well as lifestyle and consumer features, the debut issue of Libertine carries an investment column by Moneyweek editor Merryn Somerset-Webb and tips on using cloud technology from the BBC’s Kate Russell.

Evans, currently the only full-time editorial staff member, has backed the project financially through her own savings and with the help of friends and family, but she is hopeful to securing more funding and build the team.

The first issue of the quarterly print title has a run of 1,500 and is available from “select London retailers”.

Evans said she views the print edition as a way of marketing the digital version of Libertine, which will be available on the iPad from this week.

“We see print as a luxury product and want the print version to be collectible,” she added. “It’s a marketing tool and an add-on to the digital version, and will help boost the profitability of the other brand extensions down the line.”

The magazine has targeted single issue sales of around 8,000 once the iPad and iPhone hits the Apple newsstand. The print edition costs £6, with the iPad version on sale for £3.99.

Evans previously worked as an editor at consumer trends service Canvas8.com and has also written about business and technology for several titles.

She has drafted in Kitty Finstad, group editor at communications agency August Media and former British Society of Magazine Editors chair, as an editorial consultant on a “pro bono” basis.

Finstad said Libertine filled a gap in the market for “a quality female-focused magazine with depth and intelligence”.

She added: “Of course there are loads of great titles out there, but none that put smart women and their broader interests at the top of their agenda.”

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