SOBERING UP: Proof that a magazine's death can come even before it launches, Bauer Publishing has scrapped plans to launch Cocktail, its new twentysomething magazine set to make its debut in September. Cocktail would have been a weekly title with a cover price of $2.49. The company cited "uncertain conditions in the single-copy marketplace" as reason for its demise. Though Bauer has built a successful franchise on its stable of low-cost, newsstand-heavy magazines, from Woman's World to its celebrity weeklies In Touch and Life & Style, getting another low-cost title in the marketplace may have proven more difficult than before. Wholesalers have become frustrated about the difficulty in eeking out profits from magazines with cover prices below $2.50, according to reports from The New Single Copy, a magazine circulation newsletter. Additionally, some distributors have been asking for guarantees of payment up front from Bauer in order to distribute the magazine, according to one publishing executive. Though guarantees aren't unusual, "it can happen, especially if someone is unsure that something will sell," said the publishing executive. Executives from Bauer declined comment on distribution.
Aside from its distribution challenges, Bauer chief executive officer Hubert Boehle was said to have been less than thrilled with the first test issues of the magazine. Though content was typical of a women's service title — relationship advice, fashion and beauty trends, health and nutrition news — fused with some elements of celebrity, insiders say the editorial direction had turned heavier on the Hollywood news. A spokesperson for the magazine had no comment. — S.D.S.