Gourmet Quick Kitchen- "Special Editions" of Gourmet Magazine to hit newstands
August 30, 2010 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Conde Nast to revive Gourmet- sort of. A gesture of contrition? An attempt to appease unrefunded subscribers? Yet another attempt to cash in on the Gourmet brand? Only time will tell, but Conde Nast will apparently take another stab at repackaging the magazine- by publishing a few "Special Editions" of the much mourned Gourmet Magazine.
posted by Lisitasan (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A gesture of contrition? An attempt to appease unrefunded subscribers? Yet another attempt to cash in on the Gourmet brand?

C, most definitely C.

Edited by one old Gourmet hand, Kempe Minifie, along with Catherine Kelley, the 128-page magazine goes on sale at some newsstands and at the Condé Nast store on Sept. 7 for $10.99.

Thankfully, I live in a city where I can get a pretty decent start to a dinner for $10.99. And I don't even have to cook it myself.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:26 PM on August 30, 2010

Also coming back, the Gourmet Cookie Book, as reproduced in MeFi projects. Totally called it. I'm really happy about the Gourmet revival - I rep two stylists who worked on the new issue, we just saw it and couldn't believe we made the cover, so excited. Seeing it today was such a nice little cherry on top of over a year's worth of effort. Hell yeah.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 2:43 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unless one of those special editions is "We Assign A Whole Bunch Of Those Sprawling Insightful Pieces Like When We Sent David Foster Wallace To A Lobster Festival in Maine & He Came Back With Like 10,000 Words On The Ethics Of Boiling An Animal Alive & We Ran The Whole Thing Because Unique Longform Journalism Like That Is What Differentiates Magazines From Blogs & Online Recipe Repositories," I'll be saving my $10.99 for the bookstore, thanks.
posted by gompa at 2:49 PM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

The magazine industry is currently in love with Special Interest Publications (SIPs). They love Super SIPs (148+ page books) even more. The margins on them are amazing - they tend to be distributed through channels that perform robustly, namely specialty stores (that's Barnes and Noble and Borders) and independent shops. They *don't* tend to show up on newsstands, so they don't need to go through the byzantine and expensive process of clearing out bipad space, and you don't need to print as many. There are no subscriber headaches to deal with. The whole enterprise is very good business. Think about all those bizarre "magazines" you see at the bookstore now - Ultimate Chicken Recipes, Apronology - they're usually "presented by the editors of Established Brand Magazine. Even in my industry, which is super-niche publishing, the suits find us ever niche-ier topics to build SIPs around.

If the suits also care about the integrity of the product enough to cut their margins a tiny bit and throw some money into actually making the thing, there's nothing wrong with them. I think in this case, the brand is strong enough that only an idiot would want to run it into the ground with junky products. If it's a big, glossy, thoughtfully-edited and beautifully photographed magazine - Gourmet, only more of it - I'll probably think about buying at least the first one.

It makes for an interesting meditation on what print magazines are, though, and why we make and buy them, especially in a time when we can all turn to other endless resources for similar content, maybe even for less money and more convenience. But that's similar content, not the same.

And good content is still king, despite what the new media Chicken Littles would have you believe. We buy really good magazines specifically because they provide the antidote to that: Curation, vision, vetting. Who cares about a collection of a hundred recipes? No one, until it has some specific slant or focus or otherwise says something. Gourmet had different focuses over the years, but it always had specific editorial vision - and I liked that. If they're able to preserve that in these SIPs, I'll be delighted to have a little bit of it back. On the other hand, SIPs need to speak less to a loyal base, since they have no subscribers - the strong urge is to just crank out something good enough that will appeal to lots of people in the store. It takes editorial staff who care about the product and the brand to take it past that point.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:11 PM on August 30, 2010 [13 favorites]

Without detracting from the eloquence of what you just said, peachfuzz, I think it's worth pointing out that New Media Chicken Littles would be a rockin rock band name.
posted by Lisitasan at 3:30 PM on August 30, 2010

Is Time-Life Inc. the first company to think of this? After the weekly magazine Life went under, its brand and photo archives was used as the stock for a series of coffee table books before being revived as a monthly for a few years in the eighties. In the decades since, it's mostly existed as a SIP as peachfuzz describes; a brand name that evokes Americana, attached to a hundred or so pages about either seasonal photos and contentless articles (around Christmas and July 4th) and occasional special-edition collections of news photos from an event (9/11, Katrina).
posted by ardgedee at 4:21 PM on August 30, 2010

I dunno, I'm obviously biased (been working extensively with the Gourmet Live team since its inception) and I know MeFi's bias on these things is always towards the cynical end of things. But it's a nice set of beautiful recipes. I was just thumbing through it today and even though I was looking at it as a Producer Of Media, I ended up pausing on the Bahn Mi recipe and thinking "hmm, I could actually do that. And I want to eat it."

It is, as peachfuzz indicated, a good SIP. And i say that as someone who's not particularly a fan of the format.

And for the earlier question about Gourmet Live — I can tell you that if the intent were to simply cash in, people wouldn't be busting their asses and losing sleep to make something great there. I'm probably not supposed to go into too much detail (coming soon! buy now!) but I know some significant part of my professional reputation snicker rests on it being worthy of the Gourmet name, and certainly everybody other than me that's working on it is up to that standard. (Not even counting the awesome Conde Nast staffers on it, there's ftrain, lizs, perplexed, spishack, et al.)

Anyway, the big point is that I'd argue Conde Nast is one of those few places where, aside from all of the sky-is-falling dead-tree-isms, they absolutely still think their brands mean something and represent content of substance and beauty. I wasn't involved enough in the Quick Kitchen thing to really know if it meets that bar, but I wouldn't rule out immediately that future things under the Gourmet name were real and valuable, and not merely the media equivalent of Weekend at Bernie's.
posted by anildash at 4:30 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sadly I was never really interested in the Quick Kitchen section. I am curious about how the new Gourmet Live looks and works. I really miss their long form writing, it was some of the best material on food sustainability.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 4:53 PM on August 30, 2010

I think they announced this plan when the magazine ceased publishing.
posted by Miko at 5:11 PM on August 30, 2010

Gourmet? Meh. However my wife dearly misses Domino.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:16 PM on August 30, 2010

Anyway, the big point is that I'd argue Conde Nast is one of those few places where, aside from all of the sky-is-falling dead-tree-isms, they absolutely still think their brands mean something and represent content of substance and beauty.

Brands, yes. Writers, not so much.
posted by neroli at 6:02 PM on August 30, 2010

Wow - just had a revelation about the new Gourmet. Not the Quick Kitchen, but the new platform being designed. It is going to be unreal. Quick Kitchen is more like a bit of misdirection. But the firepower of the people working on this is crazy.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:55 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

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