The Most Expensive Magazine You Can Buy Is a Wannabe

When it relaunches in May, Worth magazine will cost $20 on the newsstand. Think of the price as punishment for not being worth $2 million, the minimum to get the book free.

One hundred ten thousand people will get the new Worth gratis, thanks to their "address exclusivity" in one of 11 major markets. (All addresses are exclusive, but we know what they mean: snob addresses.)

Here's the thing: Worth is obviously targeting the ultra-rich out of desperation. Paid circulation fell 57 percent to 31,000 in the last half of 2008, a decline followed by "severe layoffs" on the editorial and business sides.

Some smarty-pants executive at Sandlow Media seems to have decided Worth could have the best of all worlds: Low printing costs due to a limited subscriber list coupled with high advertising rates thanks to the excellent demographics.

Unfortunately...

  • Junk mail is junk mail. The rich are no more likely to read a free publication they didn't ask for than anyone else. (New York Sun, anyone?)
  • "Rich" is badly defined. $2 million net worth? That might be rich in, say, Birmingham. But $2 million doesn't buy as much in Cupertino, CA, to say nothing of New York and Los Angeles.
  • The rich aren't that different. Just ask Harvey Weinstein, whose ASmallWorld "MySpace for Millionaires" continues to be stomped by MySpace for Everyone, and Facebook. It turns out the rich like to connect to the world of poors. That's where the hot twentysomethings are. That's where their businesses tend to find their customers. And that's where the articles the rich like to discuss with friends tend to be published or drawn from.
  • The content sounds terrible and pointless. Worth will help you find a wealth adviser! Great, because it must have been really hard for a rich dude to find that type of information previously.

Worth did one thing right: Claiming it's the most expensive magazine on newsstands. Posing as the exclusive purveyor of super-valuable secret rich people information won't fool Worth's "subscribers" for very long, but it's at least good for some free relaunch press.

[Ad Age]

(Cover via Ad Age)