Memo Pad: Paper Pushers... Where Will They Go?... Paper Trail...

The closing of House & Garden came as little surprise to those who follow the purse strings at Conde Nast.

PAPER PUSHERS: The closing of House & Garden came as little surprise to those who follow the purse strings at Condé Nast. For one, the magazine has hemorrhaged close to an estimated $100 million over the last decade, according to sources, and had some of the highest editorial production costs among the company's magazines, save for Vogue and several others. Couple that will advertising pages that had stalled at around 800 pages a year, and the economics of its publication were unsustainable, sources said. It's generally believed that a mature magazine at Condé Nast finds 1,000 to 1,200 ad pages to be a sweet spot. "If you're not there, you're not a business," Condé Nast chairman chief executive officer Charles Townsend told the New York Post Tuesday. "You're just shuffling money around."

So which remaining titles don't fit that yardstick? Observers said magazines likely to sit below 1,000 ad pages this year include Cookie, Elegant Bride, Men's Vogue, Golf for Women and Domino. But many of these carry caveats to Townsend's rule of thumb — Cookie, Men's Vogue and Domino are still in launch mode; Golf for Women publishes six issues a year, and Elegant Bride is a quarterly. Cookie's pages are up 35 percent to 428; the bimonthly title will increase to 10 issues next year. Men's Vogue went from three to eight issues this year, and grew ad pages 73 percent to 472.

Domino, meanwhile, has been publishing 10 issues annually for the last two years and reported flat ad page growth through the first three quarters, to 468 pages. As a result, insiders wonder whether the magazine will be the next shelter title to go under the microscope.

Beth Brenner, Domino's vice president and publisher, remained nonplussed Tuesday. "Can I say to you the housing market has affected this magazine? Sure," she said. "I'm not worried about it at all because my revenue is so pronounced, and my rate base is so pronounced. We're the fastest growing and one of the only growing properties in the category." Domino will raise its rate base to 750,000 by next year from its current 625,000. As for 2008, Brenner expects growth in pages from advertisers that may come from House & Garden and from nonendemic categories including automotive, beauty, retail and technology. "I think we would have passed House & Garden next year, in our third full year," she said, which means she expects Domino to add at least another 200 ad pages in 2008 — which would get it very close to Townsend's magic number. — Stephanie D. Smith
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