Exclusive: LA Weekly Will Shrink Its Print Web and Launch Redesign Next Month

For the second time in two years, the LA Weekly will be shrinking its print web. The Weekly, which shrunk from 27 inches to 26 inches in 2009, will now be brought down to 24 inches. The interior of the paper will also be redesigned for the second time since 2009.

Though all indications are the shrink and redesign are a done deal, we spoke with LA Weekly publisher Beth Sestanovich, who cautiously told us, “No final decision has been made yet. But if it happens, we’ll be rolling it out towards the end of February.”

We’ve been hearing rumors that the Weekly, as well as other Village Voice Media papers, would largely be de-emphasizing their print products in the coming months, and putting most of their efforts on the web. Sestanovich denies this is the rationale behind the shrink, claiming “print readership is up 22 percent from last year.”

“Paper prices have done nothing but steadily rise: 20 percent in 2010 and 15 in 2011. That’s a substantive cost increase, which never passed nickel of onto our clients.”

Sestanovich says the Weekly‘s new print web will not match those of the other papers in the Village Voice Media chain–which are square are rather disposable looking, in our not-so-subtle opinion.

“I went through painstaking work so that dimensionally it will look exactly the same [as the paper’s previous incarnations],” says Sestanovich. “I personally don’t like the square look.”

Sestanovich says the move is in keeping with industry standards, as “almost every other alternative paper in the country is on a 24-inch web.”

The LA Weekly, OC Weekly and Phoenix New Times are the last three papers in the VVM chain to make the change to 24 inches.