Big Sales Are the Name of the Game

Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday.

What's in a name?

Plenty. Especially in publishing, where the right person's name in the logo can quickly define what a magazine is about and put wind in newsstand sales.

These days in particular, a name's the thing, from the new Mary Emmerling's Country to the newer Louis L'Amour Western Magazine.

"With so many magazines out there, you want to break through in a crisp fashion," says Peter Costiglio, vice president for communications at Time Inc., which publishes Martha Stewart Living. "Having a name . . . not only defines the field you're in, such as the home/style field, but also defines where you are in that field, as is the case with Martha Stewart Living."

The champion of the eponymous species is edited by the ubiquitous designer, cook, author, TV host and homemaking doyenne whose name has become synonymous with an upscale country style.

"Time Inc. saw that Martha Stewart was a franchise and a business entity all by herself," says Leo Scullin, who heads Scullin & Co., a media consulting firm. "All they needed was a product with her name on it."

Martha Stewart Living is such a hit that Stewart takes the confident step in the April/May issue of not appearing on the cover for the first time since the magazine's launch in 1990. With ad revenues up nearly 93% last year (to an estimated $8.8 million), she explains in an editor's note that her image and her name had formed "a sort of 'brand statement' that readers could quickly identify." Brand identity established, Stewart says she will now spend less time posing and more time working on stories.

Mary Emmerling has been an editor at Country Living and other magazines, designed furniture and authored best-selling books on country decorating and such. She was Stewart's boss at Mademoiselle and House Beautiful but now is expected to give Mary Emmerling's Country, now in its third issue, a Stewart-like name recognition in the crowded country field. But she will appear far less often than Stewart in photo illustrations.

"I want to be real low-key," explains Emmerling, whose magazine focuses more on country decor, so that it does not compete with Stewart's do-it-yourself gardening and entertaining ideas. "I'm doing this magazine to show all the people I've met around the United States and to promote what they do."

Emmerling's March/April issue, which features a Santa Fe, N.M., hideaway, a Long Island farmhouse and the editor's own countrified SoHo loft, will be one of four published this year. Advertisers are being guaranteed a circulation of 300,000 copies.

Encouraged by this trend, Hearst Magazines is slowly developing Lauren, a lifestyle magazine that would reflect the upscale cabin and Americana interests of designer and urban cowboy Ralph Lauren. Cooking Light has extended its health-conscious franchise by publishing 600,000 copies of a special fitness issue, Kathy Smith's In Shape for Summer, which features the shapely star of more than a dozen exercise videos on page after page. Dell Magazines is publishing new sagebrush fiction in Louis L'Amour Western Magazine, evoking the name of the late mega-selling master of the genre.

Of course, the name game has been played for years. The iconoclastic liberal I.F. Stone published I.F. Stone's Weekly. The flamboyant Malcolm Forbes was a walking advertisement for Forbes magazine. Media baron Rupert Murdoch has invested millions to establish the mature woman's fashion mag Mirabella, which he launched in 1989 and named after founding Editor Grace Mirabella when she was dismissed from the helm of Vogue.

Lear's, the magazine Frances Lear started for the woman (like herself) "who wasn't born yesterday," ceased publication recently. Its demise leaves the older woman's market to Mirabella, perhaps proving that no niche is big enough for two names-as-titles.

Then too, more magazines are expanding their franchises by putting their own well-established names on kindred offshoots, such as Esquire Gentleman, Esquire Sportsman and the new Country Living Country Travels--hoping to connect instantly with satisfied readers of the parent magazines during the few seconds they spend perusing a newsstand.

Barkley and Jordan in Print: It's hard to pinpoint the funniest entry in "Sir Charles," a $14.95 title from Warner Books in which Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns fills 127 pages with his wit and wisdom. But try this: "Stupidity and reality are very close." Or this: "Why do bald guys always wear beards? When I started to go bald, I took it like a man."

In a similar but more serious vein, HarperSan Francisco has published Michael Jordan's "I Can't Accept Not Trying"--a 36-page hardcover ($12) in which the superjock-turned-minor-leaguer offers inspirational sentiments about the pursuit of excellence. Such as: "Any fear is an illusion. . . . What is there is an opportunity to do your best and gain some success."

B Matter: The New Yorker devoted much of its Dec. 6 issue to journalist Mark Danner's account of how 700 villagers were slaughtered in 1981 by U.S.-trained soldiers of the Salvadoran government. Now, Vintage Books has published Danner's expanded report of the episode as a $12 trade-paperback edition, "The Massacre at El Mozote." The book makes generous use of newly released documents that detail Washington's slow response to what happened in that remote mountain hamlet more than a decade ago . . .

Mark Olshaker should receive a more eager reception from booksellers when his next thriller, "The Edge," is published in September by Crown. New Line Cinema has optioned the book for $200,000, with an $800,000 purchase price in the offing, for director Renny Harlin, of "Cliffhanger" and "Die Hard 2" fame. Olshaker tells the story of a Washington homicide detective (a woman) who's on the trail of a serial killer, an artist with medical training . . .

A felonious reader in Provo, Utah, was the first to sample Dave Wolverton's "The Courtship of Princess Leia" before Bantam Books' new "Star Wars" offering went on sale last week. Wolverton reports that someone broke into his home before Christmas, left the TV and stereo, and took only the final page proofs to the book.


Ink is published Thursdays.

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