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Tatler: 300 years and still strong

Stephen Beard Oct 6, 2009
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Tatler: 300 years and still strong

Stephen Beard Oct 6, 2009
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Kai Ryssdal: Over in the UK an icon of British publishing marks a major anniversary this week. The society magazine Tatler has been charting the ups and downs of London’s upper classes on and off for 300 years — 2009 and 2008 and 2007 have been tough years for established print media. But not, apparently, for Tatler. Marketplace’s Stephen Beard explains.


STEPHEN BEARD: At 85,000 the circulation has dipped a little. Ad revenue is slightly down, too. But otherwise Tatler is in great shape says editor Catherine Ostler. The secret: a readership that occupies the ultimate niche, the wealthy and the well-connected.

CATHERINE OSTLER: The magazine is about much more than the traditional upper classes, it’s about kinda old money, new money and sort of powerful people.

She says the magazine is beautifully written and stunningly illustrated with glossy photographs. But Ben Fenton of the Financial Times says the real attraction lies in the party pages. Page after of page of snaps taken at society gatherings.

BEN FENTON: They put loads of photographs and names of people in. It’s a well recognized model for local newspapers. And it obviously works just as well for the upper crust.

The magazine proved such a hit with Russian oligarchs and their hangers-on in London, that Tatler has now launched a Russian edition in Moscow. It sells 70,000 a month. Oddly enough the British edition sells quite briskly in New York says editor Catherine Ostler.

OSTLER: Probably in America there’s a certain fascination with what the English are up to.

American readers will need to have a keen interest in the British aristocracy to enjoy this week’s commemorative edition. In a special photo-shoot, Tatler features the largest number of dukes assembled in one room since the coronation of the Queen.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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