Tag Archives: gourmet

Conde Nast brings make Gourmet magazine – as an app

There was much clamour last year when Conde Nast announced the closure of specialist food title Gourmet. Now the magazine has been resurrected as an app and new website, Gourmet Live. Both will make use of Gourmet’s archive of material, but the app, which will be launched towards the end of the year, will feature new, bespoke content for iPad and tablet readers, the video below suggests:

“Because Condé Nast already has one strong-selling food magazine, Bon Appetit, it can afford to experiment with the Gourmet brand a little. What Conde Nast may discover is a new model for delivering the premium content of its magazines,” reports Mashable.

The free-to-download app will prompt users to pay for additional services and content and is promising a rewards system for readers. But as Lloyd Shepherd suggests is this a “gaming” element or ‘iFeudalism’?

Gourmet Live is hiding some content from most users (so isn’t this a kind of paywall I can’t see?). And if I do things in a certain Gourmet-approved kind of way, I get to see that content.

This is wrong for two reasons. One, it hides content away, so all the paywall arguments apply here, but doubly so, because at least there’s a simple way to unlock paywalled content – by paying. Here, I have to jump through some hoops.

And there’s the second problem. It changes the relationship between publisher and reader. It makes the reader a kind of supplicant, willing to perform tasks to get treats. And, frankly, it’s just a magazine, you know? Who can be bothered?

The end of Gourmet – a photographic view

Last month Conde Nast announced the closure of luxury food magazine Gourmet in a move by the publisher to cut costs, which saw several other titles shuttered.

Marking its closure the title’s former art director Kevin Demaria has published a collection of photographs entitled ‘Last Days of Gourmet’ – an office landscape that meant a great deal more to Demaria, as he explains:

Kevin Demaria's Last Days of Gourmet collection“In shock and disbelief, using garbage pails for long exposures, I took these photos of the last few days at Gourmet. Although at times it was hard for me to shoot the common places in the offices at Gourmet, I knew I needed to document where I loved working for the last eight years. It was a unique opportunity to have worked with such amazingly talented people in such a friendly work environment. Gourmet became my family and I will always look back proud to have been part of such an amazing magazine.”

(Hat tip MagCulture.com)

New York Observer: Ruth Reichl on Gourmet’s closure – ‘Our circulation had never been better’

Some chilling observations on the idea that good content will out in the current industry downturn from (now former) Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, after publisher Conde Nast announced the magazine’s closure.

“It was a magazine that depended on luxury advertising, unlike many of the epicureans. Most of our competition gets a lot of different kinds of advertising. Our main categories were travel, automotive, financial, jewellery – that all went away (…) I guess at a certain point the company decided that advertising wasn’t coming back. I wasn’t privy to those discussions,” Reichl told the Observer.

She goes on (suggesting perhaps too much distance between the magazine’s editorial and commercial teams?):

“I did know that this was bad, but on the other hand our circulation had never been better. The editorial product was a big hit with the readers, and I did not anticipate this.”

Full story at this link…

Food journalists launch Zester Daily to combat loss of Gourmet

In a pre-emptive attempt to fill the gap that will be left when Conde Nast closes luxury food publication Gourmet, a collection of (predominantly North American) food and drink journalists have launched a new site.

Zester Daily will cover ‘all aspects of what we eat and drink’, according to a press release.

The site has been set-up by former LA Times writer Corie Brown and plans to create a network of professional contributors.

Most interestingly, the site says: “Zester Daily uses an innovative financial model, in which every writer is invested in its success.” The release suggests that, while the site will be primarily advertising-funded, writers will take part in some form of revenue-share. “[M]embers are rewarded based on their reputations and their ability to find an audience for their work,” says the release.

Martin Cloake: Conde Nast mag closures and ‘unreasonable optimism’

Reflecting on news earlier this week that publisher Conde Nast will close several magazine titles, including that of luxury food mag Gourmet, Martin Cloake asks whether those commentators now predicting the death of magazines are overstating the case.

“Among my favourite comments are ‘how is a cooking magazine ever going to compete with a good cooking website?’ (try using your laptop on the same work surface as you’re boning a side of beef on and you’ll find out),” writes Cloake, as he flags up an obsession with the delivery mechanism away from the quality of the content.

Using the example of Reed Business Information (RBI), Cloake goes on to explain how some magazine titles are using the web and print editions not as competitors, but to offer different things and to drive readers between mediums.

Full post at this link…

Condé Nast shuts four titles in cost-cutting move

As noted on our blog yesterday, Condé Nast, which publishes magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, is to shut four titles in a cost-cutting move.

180 jobs will be lost as a result of closing Gourmet, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, and Cookie as the company focuses on titles ‘with the greatest prospects for long-term growth,’  according to Chuck Townsend, chief executive of Condé Nast.

Full FT report at this link…

Does the decision hold wider significance for the special interest magazine sector?

Join the debate on Journalism.co.uk:

Gourmet closure: does this sound the death knell for special interest magazines?

Gourmet closure: does this sound the death knell for special interest magazines?

The news that Conde Nast is to close its specialist food magazine Gourmet is now official, after months of speculation that the title might be cut as part of the publishing house’s streamlining.

As a freelance journalist trying to carve a niche out for myself in food writing, the news has been (if you’ll pardon my pun) rather hard to swallow.

Of course I know that media, the way we consume media, and the way the media is funded is changing – and the internet revolution, the foodie blogosphere and twitter explosion are fast-usurping more traditional channels like print – but it still makes me sad.

I’m not alone, if the response on Twitter is anything to go by.

What hope is there for aspiring food journalists to ever make a living (or even a bit of their living) writing about our specialist subject if even the most famous of quality food publications, which has been going for 70 years is going to close?

We all know that steep drops in traditional forms of advertising forced the mag (like every other anorexic print publication around) to cut pages because of the shift from advertising to targeted online marketing, but what about the readers and writers?

We still exist – and now we’re left with a hole to fill. While I’m a fan of the online food content boom (I have a food blog myself) and I love its speed, relevance and interactivity, I still strongly believe that online content can’t fully replace magazines like Gourmet.

It was, as Jay Rayner says in his Guardian post about its closure: ‘The glossiest, the shiniest, the most indulgent’. 

The end of Gourmet is indicative of the general move toward free online content rather than investment in quality writing, and high spec, niche publications. Tim Hayward, Guardian columnist and food writer agrees, describing the move of the publishing house as ‘baffling’.

“Does it really mean that intelligent special interest reading isn’t valuable? If they can’t tap into market with a serious disposable income then what hope is there?” he asks.

Hayward, who is starting a printed food publication, http://www.fireandknives.com/,  for exactly the readers and writers abandoned by Gourmet’s closure, highlights the gap in the market left by its passing. “It’s about the medium as much as the writing, about having the object there in front of you. Sitting down at the coffee table with it was slightly like pornography and you can’t claim that that can be replaced by online for that audience.

“The reason I’m starting Fire and Knives is because no one was talking to that group over here. Now that’s been corked – you’ve got to wonder what it’s going to mean for everyone else. With Fire and Knives I’m taking advertising out of the equation, which means it’s much easier to set up.

“We’ll still have to make money eventually – but it’s just figuring out where from. We’ll probably end up having to go down a sponsorship route.”

So does Gourmet’s closure really mark the end of an era for special interest reading?

As Hayward points out, it’s the structure of the traditional magazine, with its expensive advertising and sales departments that is dying, rather than the readers and writers and hunger for quality content.

But how can we get around that? Will new models emerge for print publications or is the future typing  ‘luxurious chocolate cake’ into Google Images whenever we want our foodie fix?

Rosie Birkett is a freelance journalist specialising in food, travel and lifestyle writing.