Spry, Future Claw Among Most Interesting Launches of 2008

12/19/2008

Granted, there was no Condé Nast Portfolio-like blockbuster in 2008, but University of Mississippi journalism-department chairman Samir Husni–whose Guide to New Magazines has tracked launches since 1985–tells min that the poor  economy did not discourage magazine entrepreneurs. Through November, he counted 634 new titles, just two fewer than at the same stage last year, with, interestingly, the second half–when the economy was worst–being strongest. "It shows that in terms of quantity, magazines are holding their own," he says.

Quality might seem in doubt with a name like Future Claw, but Husni calls the oversized (12-inches-by-15-inches) art/fashion quarterly that debuted last month "a smart magazine for an elite audience. Future Claw wants to keep you on the bleeding edge [sic] of what is hot and hip in the world of art." Its $14.95 cover price is hefty, and the tab for Swallow, another Husni-touted quarterly is heftier: $25. The hard-cover magazine gave readers a taste of Scandinavia in its September launch, and on MRMAGAZINE.com, Husni reminded the price-wary that "Swallow‘s cost is no different than ordering lunch for one with a glass of wine."

But with Food Network–the Hearst Magazines partnership with the cable network that was first to make Rachael Ray and Paula Deen famous (both now have their own magazines)–the $3.99 cost fits the Ultimate Pumpkin Pie on the November-December 2009 launch cover. Issue #2 will be released in February/March and, if all goes well, bimonthly frequency will begin in June/July.

Food is one magazine launch trend, but that is expected. Not so with newspaper expansions. The Dick Porter-led Publishing Group of America added the health-driven Spry in September to its American Profile (2000)/Relish newspaper magazines, and their success catapulted PGA group publisher (since September June 2002) Tracey Altman to Reader’s Digest U.S. publisher in September. Spry, which is running in 300 newspapers (including the Sunday New York Daily News), was min magazine 2008 Launch of the Year.

Read more about interesting 2008 launches in the Dec. 22 issue of min.