Sports bumped sex from the top spot in America last year, at least in magazine publishing.
Some 67 new sports magazines were launched last year, leading a rush of 832 new consumer titles unveiled last year, according to a just-released guide to new magazines.
New sports magazines led all categories, surpassing sex, the top segment for five years, according to “Samir Husni’s Guide to New Consumer Magazines,” published by Hearst Magazines Enterprises.
Food, crafts, games and hobbies also were hot topics for new magazines.
Even excluding the annuals, specials and one-shot publications, which comprise about 45 percent of the total new launches, it was a record year for new magazines. There were four times as many new entrants as a decade ago.
About 11,000 magazines and newsletters now are published in the United States, according to the Gale Directory of Publications.
“The industry seems more vibrant than ever,” said Husni, a University of Mississippi journalism professor who has tracked magazines for a decade.
One of the new launches last year was Bike, published by the same San Juan Capistrano company that publishes Surfer and Powder, a skiing magazine.
Bike typifies the new magazine entrants - tightly focused on a specific topic.
“No one was capturing the fun, excitement and enthusiasm of mountain biking,” said Steve Casimiro, the magazine’s editor.
Readers apparently agree. Bike grew to 40,000 subscribers last year and is up to 75,000 thus far in 1995.
Other new magazines are similarly focused.
Among the new publications: Alaska People, Cowpoke Tales, Grandma’s Favorite Recipes, Kayak Touring and Gadgetworld.
That trend to specialization will continue, experts say.
“You may only be interested in personal watercraft, for example,” said Robert Picard, dean of the journalism department at California State University, Fullerton, and an expert in media economics. “Behind that are advertisers who want to reach a narrow audience.”
Picard thinks the specialty publications will continue to expand. “There seems to be no end to the appetite for well-thought-out magazines.”
Those that are not typically fail. Husni estimates perhaps only 20 percent of the new launches survive to their fourth anniversary.
Publishers also are contending with higher paper costs and declining subscriber bases for general interest magazines such as Esquire, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.
Reflecting higher costs for paper, the average cover price for magazines broke the $4 barrier for the first time, reaching $4.15, Husni said.
In a separate report released last week, the New York-based investment banker Veronis, Suhler & Associates predicted total magazine advertising will increase from $22.2 billion last year to $29.7 billion by 1999 as intensifying global competition forces companies to spend more on advertising.