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Marketplace Scratch Pad

RIP Gourmet magazine

Scott Jagow Oct 5, 2009

Publisher Conde Nast announced today that it’s closing four of its magazines. Perhaps there won’t be much fuss over the demise of Modern Bride, Elegant Bride and Cookie. But shutting down Gourmet is a tear-jerker for many people.

The passing of the almost 70-year old Gourmet is a shocker, even within an industry that has to be getting used to death. From the New York Times:

Condé Nast tends to hold tight to its prestigious titles, making the Gourmet closing all the more startling. In an interview in February, even Paul Jowdy, publisher of the in-house rival Bon Appétit, said that such a closing was unlikely. (To be fair to Mr. Jowdy, the economy has plummeted, and Condé Nast has been hit particularly hard since then. Its magazines have lost more than 8,000 ad pages, excluding its bridal titles, so far this year.)

If you read the comments section of the Times story or other articles about the closing, it’s clear readers were emotionally attached to the unique content of Gourmet. I’ve seen the word devastated over and over. From Time Out Chicago:

I can’t imagine a world without Gourmet. And though my life as a food writer, and a contributor to the magazine, may be more affected by the closure than some others, that’s not really the pain I’m feeling. I’m feeling the pain of a reader, and trying not to imagine the approaching moment when a month goes by and Gourmet doesn’t reach my mailbox.

But others could see this coming. We live in an economy where practicality rules. From a reader of the Washington Post’s All We Can Eat blog:

I think they made the correct choice. I used to subscribe to both Gourmet and Bon Appetit. But, I canceled my Gourmet subscription about 4 years ago when I realized that its content no longer interested me. It did not have enough information on actual food. Although I would love to travel the world in pursuit of fabulous meals, that is not part of my daily life. I still subscribe to Bon Appetit because there are more recipes and information on the food itself. I am pretty sure that Bon Appetit appeals to more readers.

It’s true. Gourmet’s circulation was smaller and it’s recent ad losses were bigger. Gourmet will continue its book publishing and TV production and perhaps some web presence.

It’s not the same. There’s something different about the companionship of a magazine.

Not that it matters anymore.

Last week, Gawker held a contest to see who could predict which Conde Nast titles would die next. Somebody got it right.

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