Reader comment posted on FutureOfCapitalism.com by Mark Zanger, 12:25 a.m., October 7, 2009:
The reference to COOK'S ILLUSTRATED is fraught with unintended irony. Christopher Kimball set up that magazine not to have advertising, so his ads can *never* plummet by 40%. He had decided that there aren't enough food advertisers to support a food magazine in good times, and so food magazines end up running travel stories and other non-food material. He wanted to do a magazine about food and cooking, not one like Gourmet. He learned this lesson by starting a food magazine with advertising called Cook's. It developed to a certain point, and then he sold it to... Conde Nast!
Conde Nast bought Cooks from Kimball solely to fufill it's subscriptions and put Gourmet's circulation over a million so they could use that to get advertising. Conde Nast was so cavalier about Cook's that they did not even bother to renew the trademark, which Kimball re-registered a few years later for $150 or so. This is what Kimball will write in his op-ed.
New York Times op-ed by Christopher Kimball, October 8, 2009:
My first experience with Gourmet was a head-on collision. In 1990, 10 years after I had founded Cook's Magazine, Condé Nast purchased Cook's and then immediately shut it down, Gourmet swallowing up our subscribers. It was the triumph of the American magazine model, one driven by lifestyle rather than nuts and bolts, and floated by the billions of advertising dollars that poured through a narrow spigot into the magazine industry, controlled by a select few, the chauffeured, hard-charging publishers of New York's powerhouse magazine corporations. It was a top-down, winner-take-all proposition, an oligarchy of sorts, a business with a huge barrier to entry and no welcome mat for the upstart entrepreneur. In a serendipitous turnabout 19 years later, Cook's is today alive and well (I restarted the magazine in 1993) and Gourmet has foundered. The difference? We abandoned advertising in 1993 for a 100-percent subscriber-financed model, including a thriving paid Web site.