Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Vanity Fair Nostalgia Cover Stories Continue

"Another month, another Vanity Fair nostalgia cover with a dead or dying celebrity," says Celebitchym, with just the right amount of acidity. The July cover story for glitzy Vanity Fair is Liz Taylor (and her stormy relationship with Richard Burton). This follows -- with a brief interruption by Annie Leibovitz's June World Cup stars cover -- the May issue of Vanity Fair's feature on Grace Kelly.

Clearly Graydon Carter goes in for Old Hollywood glamour. He has edited "Vanity Fair's Tales of Hollywood: Rebels, Reds, and Graduates and the Wild Stories Behind the Making of 13 Iconic Films" as well as Vanity Fair's Hollywood. Does Graydon know something that we don't about the selling appeal of Golden Age of Hollywood covers?

It is no secret that readers of old media print magazines are aging. The American magazine industry is at an existential moment. But with declining overall circulation and fewer people saying they read magazines each month, is putting 60s movie stars on the cover the solution? Doesn't that only forestall the inevitable?

(image via jezebel)

I am, of course, a longtime critic/observer of Vanity Fair's cover real estate. I go back to 2004, when Vanity Fair's cover real estate was actually something quite valuable. Not so much so now, though. So when Graydon Carter says that Tiger Woods -- at the height of his notoriety -- did not sell that many covers, I am not that worried. Media writer Jeff Bercovici wrote earlier this year: "When they're being candid, editors of mass-audience magazines (as opposed to those targeted specifically at African-American readers) will tell you that black faces simply don't sell as many copies as white ones." Actually, nowadays, in this digital age, Vanity Fair itself, to be quite frank, doesn't sell as many copies as it used to.

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