Industry News

Chris Napolitano on George Bush, the State of Porn, and Why Playboy is Still Hot

Here’s an excerpt from the Freakanomics interview with the editor of Playboy magazine:

I’m so sick of being held up to our circulation spike in the 1970s. The world was much different then. All magazines had higher circulations. Cable TV and the Internet did not exist; VCRs were in their infancy. Look at CBS then, and look at CBS now. But even in this niche market, CBS and Playboy are pretty damn big. And here’s the thing: thanks to our early arrival on the Web (Playboy was the first magazine with a Web site, launched in 1994), our combined audience is bigger than ever. We’re offering Playboy-style content on advertiser-supported and paid subscription sites, and the combined advertising revenue year over year is up.

Today, magazines exist in a universe of expanded entertainment choices for men. Even in the magazine universe alone, the competition is intense — there are a lot of magazines out there! And now we’re competing with free and pirated material online. It’s a transitional period, and we’re certainly one company with the resources and product to ride it out.

Q: What sort of cultural/political maneuvering does Playboy engage in to have its magazine sold around the world? Is the magazine available, e.g., in places like Saudi Arabia, and if so, how does that happen?

A: The best explanation is contained in the current issue (September 2007) in our Forum section, which is a report on our experience in Indonesia. It’s also available here. Our approach on foreign editions is to license the magazine to a publisher already operating in that country. That said, I can’t wait for our troops to come home from Iraq. We’ve had a lot of subscription cancellations because our armed forces can’t receive the magazine in-country or on bases nearby.

Is it just me or are all interviews with sex magazine editors deadly dull? I remember interviewing Allan MacDonnell at Hustler magazine in 1995 and he was dull (though his memoir is fascinating).

It seems that once a journalist becomes a magazine editor, he toes the corporate line and never says anything interesting.

Here’s my June interview with the publisher and editor of Penthouse magazine. They’re excited about the opportunity to remake the Penthouse brand.

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