MAGAZINE MANIA STRIKES AGAIN

Just when you thought publishers had finally given up on starting new magazines, along comes a new crop looking for their own slice of the media pie, egged on by an improved ad market.

Virtual City, backed by Newsweek, bowed last week as an 88-page monthly lifestyle magazine “aimed at making the Internet and other new media accessible to everyone,” says publisher Jonathan Sacks, in contrast to the more cliquishly hot Wired and other, more technical titles.

Edited by Lewis D’Vorkin, formerly of Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal, Virtual City aims for a livelier, mass-market mix that’s “much broader, much less insider.”

The mag plans two more issues before deciding whether to go monthly in March; for now, it’s guaranteeing advertisers a 120,000 circulation.

Time Out New York, a State-side version of a successful London-based listings magazine, debuts Sept. 27, with a target circulation of 50,000 and a $1.95 pricetag ($39.95 a year). The mag, with feature articles on nightlife, is being edited by Cyndi Stivers, former deputy editor of Premiere.

But it faces tough competition from a host of other, well established titles – like New York magazine and the Village Voice – that offer much of the same information.

“It’s not their main mission in life,” Stivers says, promising to make her data even more comprehensive than competitors and “filter it through a critical lens.”

Then there’s French-based Hachette Magazines, which has been on a tear of late to prove its mettle as a big-league U.S. publisher. The company launched John F. Kennedy Jr.’s George, a bimonthly that aims to make politics entertaining, with an ambitious 500,000 press run. It acquired and relaunched Mirabella, which had briefly folded under Rupert Murdoch’s News America Publishing. And after buying Premiere from K-III Communications, Hachette has just decided to revive the magazine’s oversized format.

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