There was a time when Maxim seemed unstoppable, with its alluring combination of not-quite-supermodels baring not-quite-everything and articles that often acted as advertisements for boxer briefs and hair gel. The magazine, founded in 1995 by Felix Dennis, promised “Sex Sports Beer Gadgets Clothes Fitness.” Readers bought into the premise, with circulation rising to 2.5 million a month, even as rivals like FHM, Complex and Details competed for the same male eyeballs.
And then came the Internet.
The digital revolution has upended all aspects of print media, but the turn has been especially brutal for lad mags. A Bloomberg report out on Tuesday indicated that the magazine, which is up for sale, is getting offers in the $20 million range – only a tenth of what its owners, Alpha Media Group, have been expecting. Back in 2007, Dennis sold the magazine, along with the publications Blender and Stuff, for $250 million. That’s money the likes of which won’t be seen again.
Granted, Maxim’s circulation of about 2 million is still impressive – but it does represent a drop of 20%. And it has cut back to only 10 print issues a year, from 12. That’s a better fate than FHM, which stopped American publication in 2006. Playboy, the granddaddy of lad mags, cut its circulation to 1.5 million during the Great Recession – from a high of 7 million in 1972.