America Goes Country

Look at two of the most successful magazines in the business today, and it would tell you that the phrase might summarize America's attitude and aspirations today.

In fact, these were the most successful titles in the first quarter PIB report. Meredith's Country Home took in $19.9 million from ads during the quarter, up 196% from the $6.7 million it took in during the same quarter a year ago. AOL Time Warner's Real Simple had $13.8 million in ads, up 125.4% from its $6.1 million take last year.

These were easily the biggest gains, from the biggest bases, on the PIB list. And both magazines say the big gains are a long-term trend. Kevin White, associate publisher for Real Simple, said his book was up 69% last year. His last ABC statement showed 37% in subscriptions, and 20% in newsstand sales. The magazine launched at 400,000 circulation. It's now at 1.2 million.

White calls Real Simple a lifestyle book "for someone like me who doesn't have time to do all the shopping myself," said White. "Our average reader is a 39 year old woman, college educated, almost two-thirds work full time, 60% are professional managerial, are married with kids, and the median household income is $79,000."



In his five years at Country Home publisher Mark Josephson has transformed a decorating and design magazine into more of a lifestyle book, with events like building two show homes - one of them a penthouse apartment - in New York's Grand Central Station during 2001.

"Country Home has been growing the last couple of years," said Josephson. "We've grown the rate base and frequency, based on a healthy editorial product. "The point is wherever you live you can have this lifestyle," he said. For 2003, the magazine is working with a North Carolina builder on an entire subdivision, 130 homes. "This gives our advertisers entrée into this community, so people might specify their products when they build their homes. They can sell real product."

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