SBJ/June 18 - 24, 2001/Media

Emap peddling USA titles, saying it paid too much for them 2 years ago

When Tom Moloney was promoted to chief operating officer of England's Emap plc, it paved the way for Steve Parr to become president of Emap USA. But Parr won't last long at Emap USA. That's because Emap plc is giving up on America and selling Emap USA, just two years after it sank $1.5 billion for the American publications, most of which came from Petersen Publishing.

"We paid more than we should have and the market is tougher than we thought it would be, even without the economy slowing down," Moloney said, adding that the company had an $820 million write-down earlier this year. "We will have no real U.S. presence." (Emap plc will retain its new non-sports title, guy mag FHM.)

Moloney said Emap plc is looking to sell the Emap USA divisions (which publish such wide-ranging titles as Motor Trend, Hot Rod, Surfer, Skin Diver, Hunting, Snowboarder, Motorcyclists, Slam, NFL Insider and Guns & Ammo) as one unit.

"We think the business is stronger that way," he said. Parr is part of the unit and will leave Emap USA to go to the new company, Moloney said. "We're selling it lock, stock and barrel. And it should be done in the not too distant future."

  NEW LOOK IN PHILLY: The Philadelphia Daily News has seen a circulation jump of 5,500 copies a day since May 14. The boost was fueled partly by putting the red-hot 76ers on the cover for 22 straight days (and counting, at press time), but also in part by a redesign of the entire paper.

"Right now, it's very hard to measure what caused the jump," said graphics editor John Sherlock.

The entire paper got new fonts for headlines and body copy to give it a bold new look as it makes the transition, like many other newspapers, to a smaller size to save money. But a redesign was overdue, since the Daily News hadn't had one since 1992. "The newspaper looked like a ransom note with each section looking different," Sherlock said. "Now it seems like it all comes from one place."

Sherlock said the sports section has more boxes and other formats for culling information from stories and it also has bumped up the display promoting the paper's television talk show on Comcast SportsNet. Sherlock said most papers get 1,000 to 3,000 complaints after a redesign from longtime readers resistant to change but the Daily News had received only about 150. "We've had a good reaction," he said.

  IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE: The Benjamin Franklin Award, given by the Publishers Marketing Association to independent publishers, equals extra sales and a dose of prestige. So said Michele Terry, production and marketing manager for Eclipse Press, a division of equestrian publisher The Blood-Horse. Eclipse Press was formed in December.

Eclipse will reap the benefits, having won the Benjamin Franklin Award in mystery/suspense for "Great Horse Racing Mysteries" by John McEvoy. The book had a printing of 5,000, and the award could spark a boost in sales in excess of 500 copies. "Stores are more likely to order it now," Terry said. "It is very difficult for equine publishers to get into mainstream bookstores. These are high stakes."

Eclipse sells its titles primarily online and at horse-related specialty shops and tracks, along with some bookstores.

The award will help for future books as well. "It gives us increased cachet as a serious publisher in the industry," Terry said. "Stores will look at our next titles more closely."

  MORE FROM THE FORM: The Daily Racing Form has introduced the third phase of its new Web site, drf.com, on which it has spent millions. The site now features a personalized home page, a live tote board and complete race charts. There is also extra material for paying subscribers.

  BRASSEY'S, BLUE RIBBON TEAM: Brassey's Inc., a publisher of military books, ventured into the sports world in 1998 with The Baseball Prospectus and followed with several other titles. Now it is expanding its reach, joining with Blue Ribbon Media to publish the Blue Ribbon College Football and College Basketball Yearbook.

Stuart Miller can be reached at smiller@amcity.com.

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