'Home'-less: Hachette Closes Shelter Title

Home magazineThe slowing economy has claimed another big consumer magazine, with Hachette Filipacchi's announcement that it will suspend publication of Home magazine after its October issue. The news did not come as much of a surprise, in light of the steep downturn in the U.S. housing market--which has hit shelter titles hard, along with a secular decline affecting the magazine business overall. But it does raise the possibility that more shelter titles will go under before the end of the year.

In his memo to employees on Tuesday, Hachette President and CEO Jack Kliger said Home wasn't necessarily gone for good. "The current economic environment is difficult, and the mid-market home sector has been particularly hard-hit. When the middle market recovers, we will consider future publication of Home using the special-interest publication newsstand model." Hachette's shelter Web site, incorporating content from Home, Metropolitan Home and Elle Décor--PointClickHome.com--will continue to operate.



Last year, the magazine reduced its publication schedule from 10 to eight times a year, as ad pages fell 7.5% to 605 compared to 2006. In the first eight months of 2008, ad pages plummeted 31% to 256 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest monthly figures from MIN Online. Finally, in May, the magazine received another critical blow with the death of Editor in Chief Olivia Monjo. After she passed away, Hachette did not appoint someone to fill the leadership role, foreshadowing its decision to close the title.

Home has not been alone in its woes. For the year to date, the magazine business overall is down 6.87%, according to MIN, and the overlapping shelter, regional lifestyle and homemaking/craft categories are suffering some of the biggest losses. Ad pages at Better Homes & Gardens are down 15.6%, Coastal Living 19.6%, Cottage Living 7.5%, Country Living 5.3%, Domino 2.3%, Dwell 7.1%, Elle Décor 1.6%, Ladies' Home Journal 16.7%, Martha Stewart Living 4.4%, Southern Living 9.5%, and Traditional Home 15.1%. Overall, the home furnishing and supplies ad category is down 14.1% in the first six months of 2008, according to PIB.

There are a few exceptions that have seen ad pages rise despite the general downdraft: Hachette's Metropolitan Home is up 1.5%, and Hearst's House Beautiful is up 12.5%, according to MIN. The demise of Home suggests 2008 will see more magazines shuttered. Titles already closed this year include: Blueprint, Golf for Women, Quick and Simple, American Jewish Life, Future Snowboarding, Mass Appeal and Luxury Spa Finder. Lowbrow titles (read: porn) have not been spared, with Playgirl finally lowering its blinds earlier this month.

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