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Lipstein Plans Men’s Magazine Merger

August 30, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ The publisher of Smart magazine said Thursday he was near a final agreement to merge that general interest men’s publication with an unpublished men’s magazine that was being readied for launch next year.

Publisher Owen Lipstein said he had agreed to buy the proposed magazine called Men and would incorporate some of the ideas being considered for Men into the 2 1/2 -year-old Smart. He declined to disclose the price.

In addition, Lipstein said the co-founders of Men, Publisher Christopher Kimball and Editor Peter Kaplan, would join his New American Magazine Co.

He said all three of them had shaken hands on the deal, but that legal documents would probably not be completed until the weekend.

New American Magazine publishes Mother Earth News and Psychology Today as well as Smart. The company has been having severe financial problems, but got a cash infusion earlier this month when a Japanese media company bought a 50 percent interest in the operation.

The proposed merger of Smart and Men comes as a number of new or reworked magazines aimed at men are showing up on newstands. Murdoch Magazines is launching Men’s Life, Capital Cities-ABC Inc.’s Fairchild Group has merged its fashion magazine M with Manhattan Inc. into a new magazine called M Inc. and Conde Nast Publications Inc. has redesigned its nightlife magazine Details.

The deal also comes amid one of the weakest periods for magazine advertising in years. Magazine ad pages were off 3.3 percent in the first half of 1990 compared with a year ago, Publishers Information Bureau reports.

Lipstein has been looking for a new editor in chief for Smart since Smart’s founding editor, Terry McDonell, disclosed two weeks ago he was leaving to become editor in chief at Esquire, the men’s magazine owned by Hearst Corp.

In a telephone interview, Lipstein said Kaplan would become editor in chief of Smart, which would retain its name and its literary mission while incorporating some of the service-oriented ideas Kaplan had for Men.

Kaplan was unavailable for comment.

Kimball said he will become publications director for New American Magazine with responsibilities for all three of its titles.

Mother Earth News and Smart are published every other month. Psychology Today hasn’t been published since January, but Lipstein said it will resume publication in January 1991.

Kimball said in a separate telephone interview that the deal would give him and Kaplan access to much greater financial backing for a men’s magazine than they had been able to arrange for Men on their own.

Kimball and Kaplan had set up Norris Publishing in Fairfield, Conn., to create Men magazine, which Kimball said would serve as a sort of handbook for men in the 20s and 30s. Kimball declined to disclose the sale price.

Smart offers a bigger audience than had been envisioned for Men. Lipstein said Smart’s circulation is 250,000; Kimball had said Men would have a circulation of 100,000.

Lipstein said he probably could not have made the offer to buy Men without the investment by his new Japanese partner, Japanese Independent Communication Co. He has refused to disclose how much the Japanese company paid for its interest in New American Magazine but published reports have estimated it at between $8.5 million and $18 million.

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