The cuts continue for Condé Nast.
The parent company of several fashion and lifestyle publications—including Vogue, Glamour, GQ and Allure—announced Thursday that it will shutter the print version of Self, its health and fitness–focused magazine. The news came not even a month after Condé Nast announced it would cut Teen Vogue’s print issues from nine annually to four quarterly, indicative of mounting challenges for the publisher.
Condé Nast positioned the move as Self “refocusing” on digital, and the decision to shutter the print edition led to an estimated 20 job cuts, according to WWD. Carolyn Kylstra, who currently serves as executive digital director, will assume the role of editor-in-chief, displacing the current top editor, Joyce Chang. The last print edition will be the February 2017 issue, though the publication is expected to print special editions throughout the year, according to a press release from Condé Nast.
Selina Petosa, chief creative officer at agency Rational Interaction, said Self’s shift to digital isn’t particularly shocking. “It’s responding to a shift in how and where its audiences receive, share and digest content,” she said. “Self is clearly seeing success with its digital video strategy—it has broken its own monthly traffic records four times. With digital and the associated metrics, brands today can not only increase their reach, but they can also understand what’s resonating and driving traffic.”
Laura McEwen, the current executive director of beauty, fashion and luxury at Flipboard and the former publisher of Self (from 2008 to 2014), echoed Petosa, saying the move reflects changing consumer sentiment: “We’re living in a moment where consumer aptitude for consuming content has shifted dramatically, and that’s having an impact on print properties.”
Self had been downsizing its print publication for several years leading to its termination. After experiencing slumping sales — including circulation that dropped to under 1.5 million and 44,000 single-copy sales, compared to just over 1.5 million and 148,055 single-copy sales in 2014 — it dropped from 12 annual issues to 10 in 2015, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.
Meanwhile, the ongoing cuts at Condé Nast continue to point to an uncertain future for print publications. Within weeks, the media conglomerate is expected to cut 30 additional jobs across all its brands as an increasing number of operations are streamlined and pushed toward digital.
McEwen said that, despite the cutbacks, there will always be a market for empowering health and wellness content for women, and a digital focus for Self will continue to amplify that. She anticipates that, along with the magazine, print advertisers will shift with the move to digital, drawn to Self’s ongoing digital growth. (Under Kylstra, Self’s monthly web traffic has reportedly tripled—it sees up to 5.3 million unique monthly viewers according to comScore.)
“The move from print to digital should be viewed as both the end of a beginning and the middle of something new and exciting,” she said. “Self will always be inspiring to the millions of women who follow the brand and also believe in its vision and in the power of becoming one’s best self. It’s just that the digital platform makes more sense now—it’s a reflection of the current mood and moment.”
Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast and editor-in-chief of Vogue, said in a statement that the appointment of Kylstra will be instrumental in helping to revitalize the brand. Since her appointment in September 2015, Kylstra has helped lead a new digital content strategy that included a refreshed website and a focus on social video. Under her tutelage, Self was one of the early adopters of Facebook Live when the platform launched in June, using the new technology to share fitness tutorials with celebrities and notable health gurus.
“Audiences are more discerning than ever about how they live, and in Self, we have a popular and established brand that speaks directly to the burgeoning health and wellness movement,” Wintour said. “Carolyn has played a pivotal role in refining and focusing Self, and understands how to create content that excites and inspires our audiences.”