Dave Eggers Still Can't Figure Out Magazines, God Bless


“It’s impossible that you have a million subscribers paying 50 bucks a year and it can’t work,” said Dave Eggers last Thursday, about the death of Gourmet, over at the Berkeley School of Journalism. Yes, that is actually impossible! And not so great that he keeps opining about the death of publishing with a complete lack of understanding how publishing works. Each issue of Gourmet actually brought in revenue of $1.18. A one-year subscription could be had at $15. The $50 a year figure is nonsense. And yet! He’s right at heart, if not in fact. Gourmet made (and obviously spent!) a lot of money-they made $12 million in the third quarter of 2009, and made $14 million in the last three months of existence. But the way they made money was from a thing called advertising. Back in both 2006 and 2007, the magazine’s fourth quarter income was around $45 million-also known as “boat loads of cash.” But even in a bad ad market-could you or me or Dave Eggers put out Gourmet with revenue of “just” $52 million a year? Um, YES. And how! But then we are not a silly, misguided, over-spending magazine company. (Or are we.)