How To Relaunch A Magazine

The days of media conglomerates may be coming to an end. Small publishers are snapping up bits and pieces of what used to be parts of big media: one title here, another magazine there. In many cases, it’s the old staff who sold out who are now re-buying their titles from struggling giants.

Publisher’s Weekly went to the former publisher of the magazine; some ex-Cygnus staffers formed a company to buy their magazines’ assets from Cygnus after the company closed ’em; the Washington Blade was recently relaunched by three former staffers.

So it’s not improbable that if you work at a magazine or newspaper you could end up helming the ship someday.

Folio: has just published a piece about two publishers who brought magazines back from the dead.

Lessons: Focus on digital. When Steve Harris, who originally founded Electronic Gaming Monthly, acquired the “dead” title from Ziff Davis, who closed it in early 2009, he tweaked a weekly e-edition that comes with the print edition. Subscribers now get twelve issues–one year–of the print magazine along with 52 digital editions free.

The other lesson: it’s okay to stay small. Kevin Thomas and Susan Grisanti Kelley, already publishing one magazine in Maine, saw an opportunity to purchase another, the struggling Port City Life. They’ve grown the magazine since 2009 from a circulation of 21,000 to 30,000, but they don’t want to get bigger than that: “We don’t believe in big circulation, that’s not appealing to us,” Thomas told Folio:. “We want to do a great job with 30,000 to 40,000 readers. It helps us stay focused on a quality product.”