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Elle Girl: Canary? Coal Mine?

Hachette Filipacchi Media US shutters Elle Girl as a print magazine; brand to live on the Web and via mobile content applications.

Last year I (and everyone else that covered magazines) got regular emails from Elle Girl?? PR people trumpeting its massive ad page gains. They were not lying: Elle Girl?? ad pages rose 46.1% in 2005, to a pretty respectable 749.3. It made #3 on Adweek?? Hot List for magazines with under $50 million in revenue.

And yet. Elle Girl was a latecomer and a lowballer in the teen magazine niche. Which, arguably, makes little sense as a category anymore. Anyone watching teens interact with media now has to seriously wonder why they?? bother, at all, with a monthly print product.

Some time ago I?? mentally calculated that if magazines were to fall prey to the digitization of media habits, it start with teen magazines.

I remain unconvinced that the magazine industry will dissolve completely because media habits are changing. (That its overall revenues might erode 5% or 10% or 15%??hat?? a whole ??other story.) But, well, here?? a reasonably healthy print magazine, with its ad pages still going up, owned by a major publisher??hich decides producing it in print is just not worth it anymore.

When I started covering magazines in 2000, the teen category was the ??ot?one. (I’m sorry; I can’t use that word in this context without quotes.) Major players like Cosmopolitan and People and Vogue and Elle were readying, or had already launched, teen magazines tangents from the mother ship. Teen People was a major success story of the ‘90’s. Since then it’s gone through a notably bumpy stretch. Since then, Teen, YM, and now Elle Girl have all given up the ghost.

Well, Elle Girl hasn’t given up the ghost. Maybe it’s just the first to make the transition that all of its sister titles eventually will.

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