Magazine Hot List 1993: Highlights


Mind Writers

By Eric Garland

Think Garth Brooks. Think grunge, mountain climbing, yo-yo dieting. Think delivery room etiquette, laser disc rentals, Jenn-Air wall ovens. While you're at it, think tax-free munis and the rupturing of the European Monetary System.

You are not alone.

These are the concerns of an increasing number of Americans, although Cyrus (Billy Ray) admittedly excites many more people than Cyrus (Vance) and Bosnian cease-fire talks. Still, magazine publishers who have fine-tuned their books to such topics have been rewarded handsomely over the last year. Their ad pages are swelling and their circulations are growing steadily, enough to place them on Adweek's annual roll call of the hottest consumer magazines.

Magazines can adapt fastest of all media to emerging trends, gathering a like-minded audience and showering attention, in-depth features and arty photos on the subject. Such is the lesson of the two books that top our lists. Country America has plowed its way into the ranks of major magazines with three years of rapid growth. The Meredith publication, which began as a program guide for cable's The Nashville Network, has leaped from $4.8 million to $13.7 million in ad sales since 1990 and is guaranteeing 1 million circulation this year, 30% ahead of 1991's figure.  It has done so by reaching deep into the hearts of Middle America—a fertile field that often goes unsown by flashy New York publishing houses. 

Like Condé Nast, which went as far from Middle America as possible with its acquisition of the downtown rag Details in 1990. Backed by Condé Nast's house style and resources and informed by editor James Truman's arch sensibility, Details has emerged as the industry's hottest small magazine. It won't be small much longer at its present pace. Revenues exploded to $8.2 million last year (up 124%) while circulation jumped 77%. Details has laid claim to another hard-to-reach element: the youngish male who likes fashion, women, and me-too attention so much that he hardly has time to read staid old magazines.  Except one that gives him precisely that.

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