Did Budget Living Have To Die?

No, says Kyle du Ford. Yes, counters Jon Fine, who takes a much more cynical (read: realistic) view of the public numbers than du Ford does. Yes, Budget Living has a circulation of more than half a million and sold $17 million in ads last year, according to the “official” numbers of the Publishers Information Bureau, but the first thing you learn as a media reporter is that the official PIB number is worthless because of rampant discounting, and that circulation can sometimes cost more money than it actually generates. (Just ask anyone, even Conde Nast, which sent me an apparently free copy of Wired in the mail today.)

There’s a story yet to be written about why owner Don Welsh decided to pull the plug when he did. Even if the magazine was never profitable, as Jon Fine suspects, the magazine much bigger and more disciplined than say, Radar was when Mort Zuckerman pulled the plug on that dream. And it’s not as if the problem was with the lifestyle category.

Over at Readymade, which was always in shadow of Budget Living, co-founders Shoshana Berger and Grace Hawthorne are still bullish. “DIY/home for thirtysomthings and millennials is flourishing,” Berger wrote in an email. “Domino is rocking, Blueprint is on deck,” and Readymade’s numbers last year were golden, albeit from a small base. “Not only are we still standing,” Hawthorne wrote in her own email, “but with little investment, have charted double digit growth each year since launch. In 2005, our advertising revenue increased 49%, subs grew 27%, single copy sales increased 20%, product sales increased 30%. ReadyMade’s market is just now becoming ripe for the picking… with a lot of consumer categories just beginning to pay attention to the under 39 demographic, we will continue to slug it out with high hopes for continued growth ahead.”