Pressed by the same recessionary trends affecting the rest of the magazine industry, Hachette put the titles up for sale in March; the divestment is part of a strategy focusing on Hachette's key titles like Elle and Car and Driver, which has been implemented by CEO Alain Lemarchand at the behest of corporate bosses in Paris. Most of the titles recorded declines in ad pages last year, with much larger losses this year.
In 2008, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, American Photo saw ad pages declined 9.4%, Boating 25%, Flying 5% and Sound & Vision 14%. (Popular Photography was flat in 2008 compared to 2007). So far in 2009, according to MIN Online, ad pages have fallen 49% at Boating, 17% at Flying and 32% at Sound & Vision, and 15.5% at Popular Photography. (No figures were available for American Photo.)
Bonnier Corp. has a history of picking up distressed enthusiast titles at what are presumably bargain prices. In January 2007, the company purchased most of Time4Media enthusiast portfolio, including Field & Stream, Popular Science and Parenting, for a rumored $200 million to $300 million -- a figure lower than Time Inc. had hoped.
The sale of the titles comes amid a general cost-cutting campaign and reorganization executed by Lemarchand, who replaced longtime CEO Jack Kliger in September 2008. In addition to the sales, Lemarchand has been shaking up Hachette's corporate structure, making editors-in-chief "vice-presidents of brand content" and publishers "chief brand officers." Under the new organization, the chief brand officers (CBOs) are responsible for developing new revenue streams, setting strategic directions for their magazine brands and integrating print and digital sales.