Why Did Conde Nast Close Gourmet?

After a grim reaperish review by McKinsey consultants revealed that Conde Nast would have to cut up to 25 percent of its budget, the magazine company announced today that it will close four magazines: Gourmet, Cookie, Elegant Bride and Modern Bride. Most of the jaw-dropping online seems to be focused on Gourmet, an established name in the food journalism industry that has been publishing for more than 60 years. Why Conde, why?


From the internal Conde memo:

Gourmet magazine will cease monthly publication, but we will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet's book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com. We will concentrate our publishing activities in the epicurean category on Bon Appétit.

Well there it is. Two foodie magazines in one struggling industry was one magazine too many. Competing for the same advertisers and the same readers, it made sense to kill one to save the other. And in the downturn, Gourmet simply wasn't keeping. In the first quarter of this year, Gourmet and Bon Appetit saw ad pages decline 42% and 26%, respectively, according to Gawker. Gourmet's circulation was smaller (950K to 1.3M) and its top ad rate lower ($98K to $113K). But in March Conde pres Chuck Townsend said:

"Gourmet and B. A. are two completely different magazines, both in their editorial point of view and in their audiences," Mr. Townsend said through a spokeswoman. "Both are circulation powerhouses, and I'm perfectly content with both properties as businesses."

What a difference McKinsey makes.

For more, read Corby Kummer's half-eulogy, half-plea for Gourmet on the Food Channel.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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