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Buy.com Folds Print Magazine, Moves Content Online

Online retailer Buy.com has discontinued BuyMagazine as a print publication 19 months after it began an ambitious mailing to 600,000 customers.

The free publication, a mix of editorial and advertising on electronics and entertainment products, switched to an online version. Starting with this month's issue, it was e-mailed to a larger list of 3.5 million customers for whom Buy.com has addresses.

“Printing is very expensive and limits your circulation due to your budget constraints,” said Stew Duncan, BuyMagazine's publisher in Aliso Viejo, CA. “By going digital it allows us to offer the readers more information interactively and real-time shopping.”

Generated in-house, the online BuyMagazine list included consumers who spent an average of $200 on Buy.com in the past 24 months. Split equally between the sexes, the consumers typically bought CDs, DVDs and music equipment on Buy.com and its sibling BuyMusic.com.

The publication's print version averaged 68 pages per monthly issue. Its digital version is 177 pages.

The look and feel remain the same, albeit with more functionality, said Duncan, who also is managing director of Buy.com ad agency Thinkbig, Aliso Viejo.

For example, readers can click on a CD ad that is hot-linked to a particular Web page and sample a few songs. They can add the album to Buy.com's shopping cart right there. Soon, clicking on a movie ad will take readers to the trailer.

The September issue offers access to more than 1 million products as well as celebrity interviews and product reviews on Buy.com and BuyMusic.com. Readers can access the current issue at www.buymagazine.com.

BuyMagazine in its digital iteration will continue to feature the top 10 picks list of products across categories. This includes music, videos, computers, books, games and cellular items.

Also, celebrity covers will continue. The inaugural digital issue has the cast of NBC's “Will and Grace” on its cover. Previous covers have featured Eminem, Halle Berry, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Reese Witherspoon, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Alias” actress Jennifer Garner appeared on the cover of the final print issue in July. There was no August issue.

Online, BuyMagazine retains its format as 30 percent editorial content and 70 percent shopping. The company aims to update on the fly even as a new issue goes live on the first day of each month.

Though cutting costs was the main reason for switching to a digital version, BuyMagazine also failed to keep up with the fast pace of the electronics and entertainment businesses.

“It's the lead times that it takes to print an issue,” Duncan said. “Electronics, computer products, books and games — some of those products no longer would be available.”

In going digital, BuyMagazine is considering a subscription-based download format such as is offered by The New Yorker, Popular Mechanics, Financial Times, Forbes and Harvard Business Review. These publications are available through subscription-based digital download formats.

“There are plans to turn this into a subscription-based product for non-Buy.com customers,” Duncan said.

The print BuyMagazine had 200 paid subscribers, or 0.033 percent of its circulation. They each paid $23.70 for an annual subscription. This included a $10 gift certificate for use at Buy.com.

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