A Mag Grows In Brooklyn
The publishers of BKLYN, however, believe they can successfully challenge this perception. The quarterly title, set to launch early next month, is hoping to heighten awareness of the area's social and cultural institutions (Heart of Brooklyn, a consortium of six area institutions, is the mag's primary sponsor) as well as provide a mix of reviews and neighborhood news bits.
"Brooklyn has really come into its own," says BKLYN co-founder and publisher Susan Berman (who, it must be noted, has a 914 rather than a 718 area code). "You can see it in the tremendous amount of residential and commercial development - Target will be on Flatbush Ave. in 2004, IKEA will be in Brooklyn in 2005. [Brooklyn is] urban, but it has a different energy to it than Manhattan."
The magazine's case is bolstered, of course, by the borough's enormity and ethnic diversity: according to the New York City Department of City Planning, it boasts around 2.5 million residents - making it more populous than Manhattan, its glamorous neighbor to the north, as well as many major municipalities. Demographically, intercept interviews commissioned by Heart of Brooklyn indicate a potential readership that should appeal to advertisers in a host of categories. Berman anticipates the average reader will be 38, highly educated (64% with a bachelor degree or higher) and affluent (household income of $75,000). "The numbers were a little better than we expected," she admits.
Furthermore, the backing of the six cultural institutions (the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the Prospect Park Zoo among them) ensures that the magazine should find its way into the right hands. 15,000 copies of the launch issue will be distributed at those institutions, while the other 85,000 copies in the initial print run will be sent directly to area households (including those on the institutions' mailing lists).
So far, advertisers seem mostly sold on BKLYN, even though Berman admits to encountering more than a few wait-and-see holdouts: "You know, there are always some people who won't go into a launch on general principle." A glance at the first issue reveals a few of the expected local businesses (Independence Community Bank, the Brooklyn Cyclones) as well as several national names with a substantial Brooklyn presence (Miramax, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision). Given the mag's four-times-per-year frequency, however, it's hard to see BKLYN generating support from other community-publication mainstays or the retail ad dollars that Berman covets.
"For us, it's obviously not about sales at the local drug store," she explains. "We'll probably attract our share of image advertising. I still think retail can work for us, though." She remains optimistic that retail clients will have a larger presence in the second issue of the magazine, due December 5.
In the end, the success of BKLYN will largely hinge on whether the title can carve out a substantial middle-market niche for itself. Asked to compare BKYLN to New York or Philadelphia Magazine, Berman says, "As much as I like to think I'm competing with them, I can't flatter myself with that just yet. They cater to extremely affluent readers - the kinds of ads you see are real estate and jewelers and high-end luxury goods. We see our audience as more middle class."
"To be honest, the biggest thing we have going for us is Brooklyn itself," Berman continues. "You couldn't do something like this for Queens. Brooklyn is a place and a state of mind, and we think we're on the right path to capturing it in the magazine."