Magazine Report: Introduction

How do we measure Hot? We are asked this constantly—from the time we begin the process of evaluating magazines starting in December, through the first months of the year as we sort through PIB and ABC data, and on through March after the Hot List has been published and industry people question why one magazine made it while another did not.

There are no real secrets—in fact, we explain the process in detail on page 15. But there is an excitement a magazine creates that goes beyond the story mere numbers tell, and it is those magazines we search for as we pore through the approximately 250 titles on PIB’s list of magazines.

Our No. 1 pick, Real Simple, has created a buzz that seems more like a deafening roar. The April 2000 startup debuted on our list last year, at No. 3, and has nearly doubled in ad revenue and increased ad pages by 40 percent over the past year. Media directors tell us it has become the book to emulate—competitors now talk about how their pages look like Real Simple’s. Nipping at Real Simple’s practical heels is Lucky, another upstart (and our Startup of the Year for 2001). Pages there were up 46 percent in ’03 year over year, revenue was 73 percent greater, and circulation nudges the 1 million mark. Neither magazine shows any sign of letting up.

In recent years, our Executive of the Year choices have consisted of people in charge of magazine companies or publishing divisions. David Carey is the first executive we have named in several years who is in charge of just one magazine. But what a magazine it is—The New Yorker, with its long, rich history. The magazine was losing money when Carey took over six years ago—but now Carey’s the “Man in Black” and the magazine is on healthy ground. Our Editors of the Year, Oprah Winfrey and Amy Gross, have forged an incredibly uncomplicated relationship to edit O, The Oprah Magazine, a title that continues to pull in readers. Startup Teen Vogue chisels out a niche in the competitive teen category. And because Real Simple’s accessibility is so much a part of why it resonates with readers and advertisers, the magazine’s design team gets our Creative Team award—proving looks and smarts can go together.

Patricia Orsini

Editor, Special Reports