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More, and Less, of Harper's Bazaar

Now that Hearst has had its hand on Elle for four months, the publisher is ready to roll out some changes at one of its other fashion titles.

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Cover of Harpers Bazaar

Cover of Harper's Bazaar

Photo By Courtesy Photo

MORE, AND LESS, OF HARPER’S BAZAAR: Now that Hearst has had its hand on Elle for four months, the publisher is ready to roll out some changes at one of its other fashion titles: Harper’s Bazaar. WWD has learned that, in the coming months, the magazine will increase its trim size and, once again, reduce its frequency.

Harper’s Bazaar will come out 10 times next year after it combines its upcoming December and January issues, which will represent a drop in frequency for a second consecutive year for the fashion title — it dropped to 11 times annually this past January. “For now, the cover price will remain at $3.99, $4.99 for September and March,” said Harper’s Bazaar publisher Carol Smith via a spokeswoman. “We’re also moving to 10 issues, continuing to publish a June-July summer issue and, now, a year-end December-January issue. The bonus Runway Report will run in September, with additional single-topic issues around franchises like Fabulous at Every Age and Mr. Blasberg’s Best Dressed. The rate base will remain unchanged.”

Bazaar’s rate base is 700,000.

Other magazines have reduced frequency as a cost-saving measure at Hearst as well: Last year, Esquire dropped to 11 issues, and House Beautiful went to 10.

A spokeswoman would not get into details about Bazaar’s new trim size, but two Hearst insiders said it would not be as big as W or the British Harper’s Bazaar fashion issues in March and September, which are the same size as W. The reason? Although W’s trim size may be attractive to advertisers, magazines that big traditionally do not sell well on newsstand. (As an example: Harper’s Bazaar averaged 136,621 issues sold on the newsstand per month in the first half of 2011, while W averaged 19,006 sales.)

One source said the size increase would be more in line with Hearst titles House Beautiful and Country Living, which increased trim sizes in the last few years by 12 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively. A spokeswoman would not say when Bazaar’s trim size change would go into effect, but a Hearst insider said it would be early next year. The magazine will also upgrade paper and cover stock.

Bazaar is an obvious choice for a bit of a reboot. Of all the major fashion magazines — Vogue, Elle, InStyle and W — it suffered the roughest first half. It is the only magazine of that group that suffered a drop in ad pages, with a 5.4 percent decline in the first six months. After a strong 2010, it also has fared worse than its rivals in the first half. Bazaar dropped 15 percent on newsstand sales, while W, Elle and InStyle had losses of 12, 10 and 8 percent, respectively. Vogue was the only winner with an increase of 11 percent.