July 22, 2024

The Thriving (Online) Shelter Magazine Industry

Her newfound influence was confirmed recently when the publisher of Traditional Home magazine, Beth Brenner, another ex-Domino staff member, proposed a collaboration with Lonny. “I was an assistant, and she was the publisher,” Ms. Adams said, referring to their roles when they last worked together. And then, she said, “All of a sudden. …”

Lonny appears online, but it is oddly identical to a traditional print publication in format, with a table of contents, recurring features and a software platform that recreates the experience of flipping a magazine’s pages. Its latest issue — the 11th — features lush photographs of homes in Los Angeles and New Orleans, advice from the celebrity caterer Lulu Powers and a makeover of Lonny’s Midtown offices that show how to create “your own chic and functional workspace,” all with a spunky tone and service-y approach lifted straight from Domino.

Ms. Adams’s editorial venture has attracted big-name advertisers (Kravet, Room Board and Bloomingdale’s all ran ads in the latest issue), as well as competitors. Since Lonny started, in October 2009 — at a time when many traditional shelter magazines, including House Garden, Metropolitan Home and Blueprint, had gone out of business — three more online shelter magazines have popped up. There’s Rue, a San Francisco-based publication that reads like Lonny’s hipper downtown sister; High Gloss, which made its debut in February; and Matchbook, which appeared a month earlier and takes a broader, lifestyle-oriented approach, as personified by a character the founders, Katie Armour and Jane Lilly Warren, call “the Matchbook girl.” (As in, “The Matchbook girl pens handwritten notes to her grandmother.”)

The real estate blog Curbed has jokingly labeled this publishing phenomenon the “Design-Pubs-Powered-by-PDF-Flipbook-Technology-Issuu category” (a reference to the Issuu software that most of the magazines use), and calls Lonny its “Grande Doyenne.”

Anecdotal information provided by the magazines — based on surveys and profiles of their Facebook and Twitter followers — suggests that most of the readers are young, fashion-conscious women drawn by the approachable tone. Jenn Newman, a 34-year-old singer who lives in Brooklyn, is an example.

“Lonny says, ‘Here’s incredible style,’ but they’re showing readers how to translate it into their own aesthetic,” she said. “It takes the snobbery out of design.” Ms. Newman also reads Rue, which she ranks second behind Lonny, and said she likes the way stories in online magazines are free to stretch out, offering more “eye candy.”

But she does wish Lonny were available on the newsstand. “I would pick it up in a heartbeat,” she said.

ALL of the publications are edited by women in their 20s who first built a following by blogging. It may seem strange for young creative types to be starting online publications that so closely mimic traditional magazines, particularly when that means adopting the conventions of print in such a literal — some might even say unthinking — way. But in the blogosphere, it turns out, many see print as conferring a sense of legitimacy and distinction.

As Crystal Gentilello, the 28-year-old co-founder and editor of Rue, put it, “Everyone and their mother has a blog.”

Ms. Gentilello was sitting in a restaurant in Manhattan the day after being flown in from San Francisco by Lowe’s, for an event where guests colored giant canvases to promote a line of paint. (“Nate said it felt like nursery school for adults,” she said, referring to the event’s host, the designer Nate Berkus.)

“Unless you’re one of the top five blogs out of millions, you’re not able to make a living,” Ms. Gentilello said. “I saw this as a way to take it to the next level and be ahead of the curve.”

None of the new magazines’ founders can claim much experience in either design or publishing. Only Ms. Adams has a background in interior design (she minored in the subject at Michigan State University), and the year and a half she spent as an assistant at Domino means she also outranks her peers in editorial experience.

Paloma Contreras, the 29-year-old co-founder of High Gloss, went from teaching high school Spanish in Houston, where she lives, and blogging about design, to being an editor in chief. “I think not having the formal background has been a good thing in some sense,” Ms. Contreras said. “Of course, it would have been beneficial in other ways. There was a huge learning curve.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e570b45d4cd7afa878824808553e1d86

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