Space in the City

Space in the City

city_magazineIt’s all about selling space. Here is an interesting article about a young entrepreneur named John McDonald. Not only is this 35-year-old the owner of trendy eateries such as the Canteen in SoHo, and Midtown’s Lever House, but he is also a budding magazine publisher.

The restauranteur also operates the Merc Bar and, according to the New York Times, operates a similar bar in Arizona, where he also publishes a regional and lifestyle magazine called Desert Living. Now his latest magazine, the four-year-old City, a glitzy publication regarding Manhatten lifestyle and design is beginning to make some waves. Although he hasn’t made money on the publication yet (who does in magazine publishing?) he is getting attention; the publication won some National Magazine Awards for photography recently.

The article shares some interesting insight into the world of magazine publishing, making some apt comparisons to the traits a publisher needs to sell the idea of his or her magazine, and what a restauranteur needs to do to sell “space.” According to the article: “Whether it is a restaurant or a magazine, it is still a packaging issue,” he said. “It has to be consistent and stick to a certain point of view about design and style that is urban-minded without being pretentious.”

“City has a similarly peripatetic feel, with footloose content that makes it as much a travel magazine as one devoted to design and fashion,” writes David Carr of the Times. “The current issue focuses on shelter, but roams Tokyo, Portugal and Paris in search of that certain little something for the domicile. The narrative is photographic; words, in this City, often serve simply as long captions for the images.”

“It’s tougher than the restaurant racket because there are circulation and distribution issues that are out of your control,” said McDonald in the article. “And if you open up a restaurant and something doesn’t connect, you know right away and you are done. Publishing is a much longer-term investment. It takes endurance.”

One tricky thing about publishing a style magazine, writes Carr, is that many of the big advertisers who would be interested in the subject matter of style and luxury can’t be “bothered with small, trendy magazines.” Yet, that doesn’t mean success is without precident. It’s an interesting article if you are interested in the workings of the magazine world.