Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Will Time Inc. Have to Cut Again?


Time Warner’s AOL can spin positive news out of the miserable results it offered up today: Our wounds are self-inflicted, and we can heal them.

But Ann Moore, who runs Time Warner’s Time Inc. publishing business, will have a tougher time selling that story to investors. Her magazine company performed as badly as the rest of the industry did in the last quarter.

Time Inc. saw ad revenue drop 30 percent in the first three months of 2009, which corresponds roughly to the 26 percent drop in ad pages the overall magazine business recorded during the same time.

That drop is much worse than industry executives had braced for last fall when nearly every publishing company, Time Inc. included, made a round of layoffs. And as this quarter’s miserable numbers trickled in, publishers from Forbes to Condé Nast have made a second round of cuts to adjust to the new reality.

Time Inc. hasn’t done so, or at least not in a significant manner. But it may have to. One suggestion, offered to me by a Time Warner (TWX) executive yesterday: “Time has way too many magazines. They should fix that.”

For the record, Time Inc. has “more than 115 titles” world-wide.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work