Gimme Shelter: 'O at Home' Folds

O at HomeThe beleaguered shelter magazine category took another hit Friday with the announcement from Hearst that it is closing O at Home as a stand-alone publication after the winter issue, which hits the newsstands Nov. 25. Hearst said it will fold O at Home content back into O: The Oprah Magazine, from whence it came.

The closure of O at Home as a separate magazine is part of an aggressive cost-cutting strategy implemented by Hearst President Cathie Black some weeks ago, which also saw the closure of Cosmo Girl in early October. (A third Hearst title, Quick & Simple, was closed in July.) The cost-cutting campaign has also resulted in job cuts across the company, with positions trimmed at Harper's Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Esquire.

Hearst is hardly alone in this retrenchment, as virtually all the big magazine publishers have also closed titles and laid off employees.



In the past few weeks alone, Time Inc. said it would lay off 600 employees, Conde Nast ordered an unspecified number of companywide cuts and reduced the publishing schedules of Portfolio and Men's Vogue, and Rodale said it would cut 10% of its total work force. Hachette Filipacchi said it would close Home in October, and Meredith Corp. laid off dozens of employees in June of this year.

As the closures of O at Home and Home testify, the shelter-magazine category has been especially hard-hit by the economic downturn, which began with a steep decline in the housing market. 2007-2008 also saw the closing of a venerable shelter title, House & Garden, as well as newcomer Blueprint.

The remaining titles are struggling, according to the most recent figures for ad pages from MIN Online. For the year-to-date through November, ad pages are down 16.7% at Better Homes & Gardens, 21.9% at Coastal Living, 5.1% at Cottage Living, 9.6% at Country Living, 10.6% at Dwell, 15.5% at Southern Living, 17.2% at This Old House, 4.4% at Town & Country, and 20.3% at Traditional Home.

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