| Steve Forbes: Dotcom casualty (AFP)
New York, Oct. 4: In what has become a familiar story, a magazine formed to cover the rise of the digital economy has been done in by its decline. The Forbes family, which owns Forbes magazine, announced Thursday that it was closing Forbes ASAP, a magazine founded in 1992 to cover the digital economy.
“There is no market for a dedicated new economy publication,” said Monie Begley, spokeswoman for Forbes.
The closure of the magazine, which was one of the first to seriously cover the internet, is yet another sign of stress at the privately owned business magazine company. Earlier this year, the company engaged in a rare round of layoffs and ceased matching employees’ 401(k) contributions. Forbes magazine, which led the business magazine category for much of the ’90s, lost almost half its advertising pages in the past two years and has fallen to third in ad pages behind Fortune and Business Week.
In remarks in August, Steve Forbes, president and editor in chief, said that the company was responding to “a fall-off that hasn’t been seen since the ’30s.
The Forbes family was unavailable for comment on Thursday, but issued a statement.
“In making this decision, the company is responding to the continuing difficulties in this technology sector,” the statement read.
For most of its 10-year life, Forbes ASAP was delivered bundled along with the regular Forbes magazine six times a year. A year ago, it substituted for the biweekly Forbes four times a year. Begley said about eight people will lose their jobs.
The Publishers Information Bureau does not track ASAP separately, but the parent magazine has suffered a big drop in ad pages so far this year, down almost 30 per cent compared with the same period last year. And last year was a brutal one: Forbes was off more than 38 per cent in 2001 in ad pages compared with the boom year that preceded it.
Forbes ASAP is not the first magazine victim of the evaporating technology spending. Ziff Davis Media, a publisher of a number of technologically oriented magazines, underwent a financial restructuring in August after closing several tech-oriented titles. In August 2001, the Industry Standard closed amid a huge contraction of Silicon Valley ad spending.
John Battelle, former chief of Standard Media International, publishers of The Industry Standard, said that the boom in technology magazines is only over for the time being.
“These magazines are gone until they come back, although they will probably come back in different clothing,” Battelle said. “There will be another boom in the business cycle and there will be a new crop of magazines to cover it.”