Online Shelter Magazines Primed For Further Success

It’s not really my bailiwick, but I thought this New York Times joint profile of editors (almost all women) of successful web-based “shelter”/design publications was very interesting and in some ways reminded me of the camaraderie of the early days of political blogging:

But if there’s a guiding rule among the magazines, it seems to be “Do as Lonny Does.” Rue and High Gloss both publish every two months, like Lonny (Matchbook is a monthly). And all of them use flipbook-style software like Issuu; combined with the requisite editors’ picks and gift guides, that can make for a numbing visual sameness. Even the articles can feel oddly familiar: after Lonny featured the Manhattan decorator Vicente Wolf, he turned up in Rue’s first issue last fall.

Ms. Gentilello of Rue said that there is a collegial relationship between the editors of Rue, High Gloss and Matchbook, because of their shared roots in the blogosphere. She recently had dinner with Ms. Contreras of High Gloss during a blogger conference in Los Angeles. […]

Even so, it’s no surprise that established companies are taking notice, with the social media buzz and the magazines’ readership numbers. (Lonny reported 243,229 unique visitors to its most recent issue, High Gloss said its last issue had about 130,000, and Matchbook cited a figure of about 75,000; Rue wouldn’t give specifics, but said its readership was in the “hundreds of thousands.”)


A couple of points not noted in the piece but that seem relevant to me is that for now the country is mired in the midst of a construction bust of epic proportions. There’s considerable emphasis that we’ve now undershot on the downside and that at some point we’re going to have an actual new boom in building that should benefit this sector of the media. The other is that publications with more visually focused subject matter will naturally benefit from more widespread adoption of tablets. Everyone I know (myself included) with an iPad loves it, and with more and more Android-powered options coming onto the market I expect prices to fall and user base to grow very rapidly. That, too, bodes well for these kind of publications.