Gay magazine Advocate mailed without second cover

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National gay magazine The Advocate has started mailing its subscription copies without its usual second cover.

The July 3 issue was the first to be mailed to subscribers with a standard address label affixed to its front cover. Complimentary issues sent to advertisers and offices have been mailed with the front cover showing for the past two months. Before then, all copies were shipped with a second cover that hid the magazine's title.

Michael Phelps, publisher of The Advocate, says the change derives from a combination of politics, customers' desires and cost-saving procedures.

"For many years, our readers wanted privacy," explained Phelps. "Sure, cost came into it, but we polled our readers in April, and asked the question [about removing the second cover]. A majority of readers said absolutely - it's a waste of plastic.

"People just aren't as concerned about their privacy in terms of their sexual orientation as they once were," Phelps continued. "They actually would prefer it that way."

Removing the cover is just one in a string of changes for the monthly glossy. The Advocate's parent company, PlanetOut Partners Inc., recently had to sell $26 million in stock to avoid bankruptcy.

The magazine has plans for a full redesign to debut with its 40th anniversary Sept. 25 issue. Pentagram Design, the firm responsible for the look of The New York Times Magazine, has been hired to give the magazine a new logo, new sections and a "more streamlined" look.

Currently, The Advocate has a guaranteed paid rate base of 165,000. A one-page ad in the magazine costs $15,630.

Since removing the front cover, The Advocate has seen little change in its subscription or advertising numbers.

"We haven't had any feedback from advertisers at this point and we don't anticipate it," said Phelps. "It's kind of a non-issue."

The Advocate is published by LPI Media, a division of PlanetOut Inc., and is based in Los Angeles. Sister publications include Out Magazine and the Web sites Gay.com and PlanetOut.com.

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