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Memo Pad: More Reading For The Rich... Endless Talk Of Politics... Bumping Up

The presence of the rich in New York City may be assured, but launching an oversize glossy magazine for them in a time of Wall Street layoffs and housing uncertainties isn't the best timing.

MORE READING FOR THE RICH: The presence of the rich in New York City may be assured, but launching an oversize glossy magazine for them in a time of Wall Street layoffs and housing uncertainties isn't the best timing. Still, Modern Luxury — which calls itself the largest city magazine publisher in America (by "combined market coverage and frequency of publication"), and which customarily launches in urban markets that aren't as saturated as New York — is hurtling into the space this September with Manhattan magazine. Richard Martin, who was the editor of Complex and recently launched Miami magazine for the company, will be editor in chief, and so far his team includes executive editor James Heidenry, formerly of Maxim, and Lauren DeCarlo, who was fashion news editor at Lucky.

Modern Luxury chief executive Michael Kong pointed out the vast majority of city magazines are locally owned and single-title, so the company's advantage is offering a high-end advertiser with national reach a single plan across its titles, penetrating only the urban affluent, at a rate less expensive than a general interest city magazine. Previous launch advertisers for the company's other titles have included Dior, Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Escada, David Yurman, Carolina Herrera, Chopard and Saks Fifth Avenue.

"There are a bunch of publications out there [for the affluent in New York] but they tend to be really focused on people at parties, dressed up, smiling at the camera," said Martin. "We're going to have smart and aesthetically pleasing pages devoted to things like fashion, art, design, nightlife, restaurants, music."

Manhattan is launching with a rate base of 60,000 copies, with about 35,000 of that the typical direct-mail controlled circulation model. "Unlike a lot of local so-called luxury magazines in New York, we're going to circulate by mail into major feeder markets," said Kong, meaning the New York suburbs competitors like Gotham tend to avoid. The plan is also to sell 20,000 copies on the newsstand and avoid the public-place pileup popular in the category. (Modern Luxury magazines are audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, also not common among its peers.)

As for the economy, Martin said, "You don't want to come off as being completely glib — 'Hey, here's a million-dollar car and ignore the recession.' We'll probably focus a little bit more on charitable giving because it's such an important time for that to be sustained....There will be some philosophical austerity but, again, we're not a budget magazine and we're not going to be doom and gloom here. There are people that have money during these times and they don't want to necessarily be brought down by the times. On a personal level, I find that kind of refreshing."
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