When a Product Becomes Too Successful
In the magazine world, a publisher is the person responsible for advertising. When I read Alan Katz had been fired as publisher of Vanity Fair after less than a year because advertising was down 15 percent, I let out a loud sigh.
And decided to cancel my subscription.
Last week, a couple of monsters were squeezed through the mail slot of my front door and landed with thumps on the hall floor.
Monstrosity #1: The September 2006 issue of Vanity Fair (400 pages)
Monstrosity #2: The September 2006 issue of Real Simple (356 pages)
Real Simple (“life made easier”) from Time Inc. was subscribed to by my wife. Life with me being very difficult at best, this publication hopefully helps keep her world in balance and provides myriad tips on “Looking great in less time” (Peggy looks great any time), “Organizing digital photos,” “Your money questions answered” and “Special pull-out cookbook: a month of dinners.”
Personally, “service books,” “shelter books” and “fashion books” bore me to stupefaction. When a waiting room magazine rack contains a diet of this pap—or books devoted to health, golf, automobiles, parenting or the outdoors—I am one miserable puppy.
The Supermag of Supermodels, Vanity Fair
When I was a kid growing up on Long Island, the attic was filled with old magazines from the 1920s and 1930s. Rainy days were spent reveling in the pages of The Saturday Evening Post, the first two years of Fortune, Life, Liberty, and Vanity Fair. Both my father and uncle were writers, and knew many friends of Vanity Fair’s founders, Condé Nast and Frank Crowninshield. The old Vanity Fair probably had the most spectacular roster of great writers of any publication in American history. The design and illustrations—especially those by Miguel Covarrubias--were magical.
When Vanity Fair was revived in 1983, it was, frankly, ho-hum. But when Graydon Carter, formerly of Time, Life, Spy and The New York Observer, took over in 1992, the publication came alive.