Maybe all those slick ads about our visceral connection to printed magazines were on to something...
How Esquire Survived Publishing’s Dark Days
New York Times:
By David Carr
Esquire magazine, a monument to male vitality, seemed about to keel over in 2009.
Famous for laying down a much-followed literary track with an article in 1966 by Gay Talese titled “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” the magazine found itself gasping for breath and fighting for survival.
Amid the plague that hit the magazine industry back then, Esquire was worse off than most. Beaten up by a crop of lad magazines like Maxim, then hammered by the flight of advertisers and readers to the Web, Esquire suffered a 24.3 percent loss in advertising pages compared with 2008, which was almost as bad, by the way. A Web site for investors, 24/7 Wall Street, predicted in 2009 that Esquire would be one of “Twelve Major Brands that Will Disappear” the following year.
Worse still, guys like me who have a general interest in the general interest — politics, music, sports, and yes, good-looking women — were looking elsewhere for guidance on how to be a modern man. I didn’t fit the demo perfectly — my fashion look has been compared to a laundry basket that grew legs — but I still should have been an Esquire reader. Like so many others, however, I began assembling my own content, grabbing sports from Deadspin, political profiles from New York magazine, and music advice from sites like Pitchfork.
For long-form reading, I had a nightstand full of narrative heaves from The New Yorker, and celebrity news had become so ubiquitous that I found myself uninterested in Esquire cover articles about Angelina Jolie or Ben Affleck, no matter how good the writing was.
Though it continued to be a handsome, well-crafted magazine, amid the sparkle of all the saucy new media, Esquire began to look like your father’s Oldsmobile. And we all know what happened to that brand.
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