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Best Life to Close

May issue is the last one.

Rodale’s upscale men’s magazine Best Life has become the latest victim of the recession. On Wednesday, the company said it would fold the five-year-old title. “Despite the great work of the sales team and the talent of the editorial staff, given the challenges of the advertising market and general conditions, Best Life could not meet our internal benchmarks. We have made the decision to focus our resources on our core brands,” said Steve Murphy, Rodale’s president and chief executive officer. The May issue will be the last. About 40 people will be displaced, including vice president and publisher Michael Wolfe and vice president and editor Stephen Perrine, but the company said it would try to reassign 10 of those employees at other Rodale titles.

Best Life launched in 2004 as the older brother to the 1.8 million circulation Men’s Health, covering finance, family issues, fashion and health for fortysomething men. According to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Best Life’s readership grew 6 percent to 526,276 in the second half of 2008, though single-copy sales fell by 7 percent in the half, to 74,381. But while through 2008 Best Life increased ad pages by 7 percent to 623 — a feat few titles accomplished — the magazine carried only 63 ad pages in the first quarter of 2009, a 36 percent decline. Comparatively, GQ carried 223 pages during the first quarter, or 33 percent fewer pages than in 2008, while Men’s Health carried 140 ad pages during the period, a 24 percent fall.

While Best Life is the first Rodale title to close in the recession, the company last week moved to consolidate some of its ad sales staff across Men’s Health and Women’s Health and let go of about 20 staffers. In November, Rodale laid of 111 employees across several divisions as a result of the economic downturn.

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