Ian Burrell: Still in Vogue... publisher explains why magazine is bucking the online trend
Viewpoint: Vogue readers see the printed magazine as "inspiring and glamorous and beautifully designed", says Quinn
Ian Burrell is Assistant Editor and Media Editor at The Independent, i paper and Independent on Sunday. He covers news from the whole media sector from television, press, radio and advertising to technology. His weekly column on the media appears every Monday in The Independent and i paper. He also writes on media, music and culture, including long-form pieces for The Independent’s Saturday magazine and the Independent on Sunday’s magazine, New Review. He is a regular presenter of BBC Radio 4’s What The Papers Say and a specialist commentator to Monocle 24 radio. He has contributed to most major broadcast outlets including BBC television and radio, CNN, Sky News, Al Jazeera and LBC. He has also written on media for GQ magazine. Ian has been reporting on the media industry for The Independent for more than a decade. Previously he was the newspaper’s Home Affairs Editor. He worked at The Sunday Times for five years, including as a member of the investigative Insight team, covering stories on political funding, industrial espionage and the arms industry. Previously he worked in ITV for London Weekend Television, on a weekly current affairs programme presented by Danny Baker. Ian trained at the Birmingham Post & Mail and was Regional Reporter of the Year in Press Gazette’s national awards.
Monday 05 March 2012
Quinn's Book is a slim volume that the veteran publisher of Vogue takes with him to meetings with the media agencies which make the key decisions on where to spend the advertising budgets of big brands. It contains some information that runs contrary to accepted thinking on public tastes because it shows that the affluent and style-obsessed readers of the self-proclaimed "Bible of Fashion" still prefer print to digital.
"You go into media buying companies now and they say 'Print's Dead, you're a dinosaur Stephen'," says Stephen Quinn, 68, Vogue's publisher for the last 20 years. "But guess what? I'm Irish and combative and I'm at my best when they start being abusive."
"Quinn's Book" contains the results of a YouGov study of 2,500 Vogue readers showing that 87 per cent wanted the brand's content in the traditional luxurious magazine format, versus 8 per cent who preferred the digital attractions of Vogue.com and the iPad app.
Vogue readers see the printed magazine as "inspiring and glamorous and beautifully designed", says Quinn. "This Quinn Book is what I always have when I go to see clients – then I'm ready for anything they can throw at me." Despite these words, Quinn concedes that he is not the best advocate for new media platforms. "I am known to be passionate about the magazine and I leave it to others to embrace digital," he admits.
In September, Vogue will relaunch its iPad app as a monthly offering. The app, which has been coming out sporadically since it launched in 2010, has generated only around 3,000 sales per issue. By going monthly, he says, "you can be part of the Apple store and be part of the different formats, Zinio and all of them, and really start to build".
The Vogue.com editorial team has been integrated alongside that of the magazine and Condé Nast Digital (including the sites of other key brands such as Glamour and GQ) generates annual revenues of £8m. "That's as big as several of our publications, you're looking at a business which is as big as a GQ or as big as a Tatler," Quinn says, hinting at a Condé Nast hierarchy.
Vogue itself makes £25m a year in advertising revenues and Quinn is not shy to mention that his numbers are up by 8.5 per cent for the first quarter of this year, with the average net revenue per page having grown 3.07 per cent compared to 2011. The magazine keeps hiking its cover price by 10p a year but maintains its circulation at around 210,000.
He admits to a fall in advertising revenue during the downturn of 2009, though he says the 18 per cent fall-off was ahead of the market, which dropped 25 per cent. More recently, the money has continued to flow due to British Vogue's association with London, Quinn says. "London has become an international city. There's all the international businesses here, whose executives work in very highly-paid jobs and are fuelling the turnover in our top quality stores. Harrods has crashed through the £1bn turnover and so has Selfridges for 2011."
Vogue's durability also derives from its stability. Editor Alexandra Shulman celebrates 20 years in post this month. "Alex and I don't live in each other's pockets. It's not church and state [separation] but we respect that we have different roles."
Quinn, the husband of former Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn, has no intention of retiring. "I have a young family and I can't afford to retire," he quips, while noting that since he passed retirement age "I have turned in a blue chip performance every year".
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