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MEN LOOKING GOOD: Esquire has been in an entrepreneurial mood lately, given its experimentation with covers for several issues that included electronic ink, pop-up windows and pull tabs. That spirit is translating to content, as the Hearst men’s title invests more in its fashion coverage. The magazine will roll out the first spring edition of the Big Black Book, a style manual for men that provides a seasonal guide to fashion, accessories and expensive toys. The book launched in fall 2006 and was brought back in both fall 2007 and fall 2008. The book is sold at bookstores for $9.95, with a distribution of between 100,000 and 150,000. Though it’s not the ideal time to launch print spin-offs, Kevin O’Malley, Esquire vice president-publisher argues Black Book is a less expensive complement to the flagship; an advertisement in Big Black Book costs roughly a third of what a page in the magazine would cost (according to Esquire’s rate card, a four-color, full-page ad in Esquire runs $103,960). Some of the smaller Italian brands “would love to be advertising in Esquire, but they can’t afford the trade papers, much less a national book.” New advertisers to Big Black Book include Aquascutum, Brioni, CitationShares and Ralph Lauren Polo Black Fragrance. Belvest, Canali, Cartier, IWC, Ermenegildo Zegna and Jacob & Co. are a handful of the 26 returning advertisers. Any additional outlet for business helps in this economy: Through April, Esquire’s ad pages are off 27 percent, to 206 pages.
This year, Esquire has included a wider range of photographers to shoot fashion portfolios, including Lorenzo Bringheli, Barnaby Roper, Carlos Serrao and Max Vadukul. To help draw more attention to their work, esquire.com will host short films inspired by its fashion shoots, designed as promotional trailers for the stories in the magazine. Meanwhile, Esquire has raised the profile of fashion director Nick Sullivan, giving him more real estate in the magazine with a Q&A column, “Ask Nick Sullivan.” — Stephanie D. Smith