Conde Nast Introduces Gourmet the Zombie

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 05:  Copies of Gourmet maga...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

So, today Conde Nast — which I generally approve of as they regularly provide quality content and keep several people I know gainfully employed — showed just how shallow they can be.

Some eight months after they shuttered the venerable publication, Conde Nast announced this morning, the magazine would return — sort of — as an app.

“By focusing on a new way to meet consumer needs, tap into our deep branding, and approach our content differently, we came up with a product that re-imagines Gourmet and revalues engagement,” said Conde Nast President and CEO Charles Townsend.

In other words:

They’re taking all the archives — the great articles, the brilliant photography and scrumptious recipes — from the magazine’s 68 years and repackaging them so they’re available in app form.

And here’s the key part of the release — “It will be free to download, with registration required, followed by paid content options.”

If you want to see a sort of creepy sounding video of how great life will be with the new app (it really does sound like something out of a science fiction movie, listen to the voice), go here.

So, unlike — Conde Nast’s great website with all the recipes from Gourmet, Bon Appetit and their other publications — which is free and, I suspect, on its way out given today’s announcement, Conde Nast plans to charge monthly for content that you’ve probably already paid for at least once (more, if you’ve bought the cookbooks).

And, the best part yet — there’s no indication that they’ll actually be providing new content!!

So, all those writers, editors, photographers… they’re pretty much still looking for work.

At the press conference, this new Gourmet was compared to Wired Magazine’s brilliant app edition, the first issue of which was downloaded more than 90,000 times.

One of the key differences, of course, is that Wired contained new content, not repackaged old content.

This is not the future of publishing. I suspect a lot can be read into the fact that they highlight in the press release that the app is being developed in collaboration with a strategy and technology consulting company.

This comes across as a somewhat craven attempt to make an extra buck. Yes, I’m aware they are also promising it will have a social network component. My feeling is use Epicurious as much as possible before they close that, too, and join Facebook.

If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize.

And what of Ruth Reichl, the brilliant writer and editor who had helped revive Gourmet, she apparently wasn’t even mentioned at the press conference.

On Twitter, though, she had this to say:

“They’re reviving the brand, not the magazine. Pity.”

They’re creating a zombie. Taking something that had been killed and reanimating it. Only without its soul.

  1. If the developers had any pride, they’d have started off the app with a big feature on brains.

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