New Yorker Wraps Up 2008 with Austere Fiction Issue

December 28, 2008 | 5

As has been the tradition for the last several years, The New Yorker closed out 2008 with a fiction double issue. But astute readers may have noticed that this year’s installment was markedly slimmer than that of years’ past.

Perhaps it is common knowledge, but I was surprised to discover a few years back that it is not the amount of “news” that principally determines the length of individual issues of newspapers and magazines. The length is actually determined by the amount of advertising that’s been sold. This is why, for example, issues of dot-com-focused Wired magazine were nearly as fat as phone books at the turn of the millennium but slimmed down considerably soon after.

The New Yorker is one of the enduring success stories of magazine publishing and is generally able to command attractive advertising rates only dreamed of at other publications, thanks to its affluent and “thought-leading” mix of subscribers, but even The New Yorker may be feeling the ad spending pinch that is impacting the entire media industry right now.

This year, the year-end fiction double issue came in at 120 pages. That’s noticeably smaller than the 154 pages in 2007 and 2006 and the 152 pages in 2005.

The New Yorker has been exempt from the barrage of negative headlines about the news business, but in 2009, readers used to a hefty helping of long-form journalism and fiction may find themselves with a slimmer serving each week.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

5 comments:

  1. I always have a hard time reading an entire issue of the new yorker before the next issue is released a week later. There is just too much to read and not enough time (for me at least). I guess this just means i'll be missing out on less.

  2. I've heard that the length of a magazine is determined by advertising, but it's surprising when such a resilient publication gets hit. Hopefully, the lack of advertisers won't be a permanent problem.

  3. The New Yorker and Wired are owned by the same publisher

    I have read the NYer for years and of late it stinks…if you like literature. They love Hollywood, Wall Street and politics. That about it. Maybe a review on a book like "How Children are Raised today?…answer they are not
    Their best this year was a scrib review of 2666 one paragraph and did not like it…..I think.
    In the old days each issue ran 3 short stories….since that bimbo from england took over….she gone..it is one per issue and you better be one of the top dogs. So much for developing the great New Yorker stable of writers.
    Ross and Shawn would puke if they saw it now.

  4. The New Yorker is still a strong-hold for literature and long-form journalism in a business that is increasingly focused on the bottom line over quality content. The fact that a Conde Nast publication still prints short stories and thoughtful reviews by Updike, Woods, et al, should be celebrated. I too was disappointed by their snubbing of 2666, but that is just an editorial decision.

    I have noticed that the issues are getting thinner and they are driving more content towards their website. If you think The New Yorker matters like some of us do, go out and get yourself a subscription!

  5. I have noticed the same thing about the last few issues of the New York Times Book Review — thin on ads, and thin on reviews.

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