U.S. News

Online-Only Magazines Gain Traction

Mary Catherine Wellons|Producer

It's September, and that means it's time for those phone book-sized editions of fashion magazines to start showing up on newsstands.

But this autumn, many readers will be flocking to online publications instead.


There's a new trend in the magazine world: the online-only model. Leading the pack in this area are online magazines such as Rue and Matchbook. Then there's Lonny, the most successful of the bunch.

Lonny, which got its start two years ago, is turning heads in the magazine world. Its founder, Michelle Adams, was a former assistant at Domino who founded Lonny after Domino and 11 other shelter magazines folded.

Adams and her partner Patrick Cline set out to fill the void left in the shelter category.

"When people approach newsstands there's that barrier to picking up an issue," Adams said. "Whereas with Lonny, full access of our content is free."

Lonny now boasts readers in every continent, 30 million page views per issue, and 200,000 unique visitors per month. It's also garnered attention from artists and designers like John Derian as well as celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow.

"We had this immediate surge of excitement and the blog world was so excited to see something new coming to life instead of the announcement of another folding publication," Adams said.

Lonny looks like a print magazine, but the big difference is that it's free. It focuses primarily on the home (with a bit of fashion thrown in), and includes embedded videos and interactive pages.

Magazines Move Online

Lonny relies on advertising to pay its bills. Its biggest advertisers include Bloomingdale's, Crate & Barrel, Kate Spade and Room & Board.

While online magazines are not putting paper publications out of business, the print industry is paying attention.

Meredith Corp.'s Traditional Home liked the format so much it partnered with Lonny to create Trad Home, an online magazine with a similar look and feel. In just five weeks, Trad Home generated 16 million page views.

In order to stay relevant, "magazine companies have to figure out how to reach younger consumers that didn't grow up on print," AdWeek's Moses said.

Lonny has already figured that out, and now that it has a worldwide following it just might consider putting out a print edition in 2012.

"While we won't change our business model, we certainly will cater to those who want it [Lonny] in print," said Adams.

The magazine world will be watching...and worrying.

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