Playboy Double Issue Sign Of Trouble

Playboy_bunny

I received the first ever “double-issue” of Playboy Magazine today. This means–presumably–that instead of receiving twelve issues this year I’ll only receive eleven. They apparently tried to make this detail more palatable by including a 14-page pictorial of twins. Get it? Nothing in the magazine explains the reason they combined two issues into one. Hugh Hefner didn’t reply to a tweet in which I asked him about the double issue.

@HughHefner Is @Playboy going to become a bimonthly publication? #Playboy
3:36 PM Jun 14th from web in reply to HughHefner

I found an article online that posits and explanation. No wonder they’re not forthright about the frequency change in the magazine.

Playboy Plans ‘Radical Changes’ to Print Model
Jason Fell, Folio, May 11, 2009

The publisher reported a $13.7 million net loss during the first quarter of 2009, compared to a $4.2 million loss during the same period in 2008.

Last October, Playboy eliminated 80 jobs and closed the company’s DVD business.

I’m thrilled they axed their DVD business! I wish they’d nix the Cyber Club and give all print subscribers access to an online edition with full access to the archives. The Cyber Club is little more than endless pictures and videos of beautiful naked women. No thanks. I really do read Playboy for the articles.

The digital edition of Playboy is currently distributed by Zinio, which sucks…big time! I can’t print the articles or copy/paste quotes for use at The Rhetoric or Twitter. The DVD anthologies are also distributed by a third-party, Bondi Digital, in a proprietary format that will likely be unsupported in even the near future. New decades were supposed to come out every six months; only the 1950s have been published so far.

Playboy’s new model of revenue-by-licensing is killing the brand.

Playboy is considering “radical changes” of the print business model, including price increases, a frequency reduction and lowering its rate base of 2.6 million. The company said it would combine Playboy’s July and August issues into a double issue.

They need to make radical changes to their print business model. I’d gladly pay higher subscription rates for Playboy if it were a better magazine. It used to be a great magazine. Hugh and the other editors need to go through some of the old magazines to get a feel for what it was like when it was tops, and reread The Playboy Philosophy.

Hef (@HughHefner) recently tweeted, “The double issue is one of my most recent favorites.” I wonder how it compares to his favorites from the 1960s and ’70s.

Playboy: July/August 2009
Playboy: July/August 2009

Just look at this cover for this double issue. It’s a boring snapshot of a beautiful model. So what? How do you think it compares to previous great covers?

Top Ten Playboy Covers
Brent Danley, The Rhetoric, September 8, 2008

The current issue covers twice the time of a single issue but does not have twice the content. It does have a pictorial of twins, which is cool. What I subscribe for, however, is the progressive intelligent editorial voice–the articles. This issue has several VERY short articles by prominent thinkers about the future. I expect a magazine which is for men–not boys–to have more in-depth and lengthy analysis. The Interview is Alec Baldwin, which is cool, I suppose. I’d rather read about someone a bit more interesting, like Jack Dorsey, Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens. There is a profile of notorious pitchman Billy Mays, of Oxi Clean fame. Snore. The Forum–my favorite part–is still relegated to the back and is a scant five pages. Marginalia is gone. WTF?!

I’ll continue to subscribe so I won’t have a gap in my collection, in case they eventually climb back to prominence and profitability. I won’t continue to laud what has been their important progressive voice. That voice has been muffled by greed, mediocrity, shameless self-promotion, sophomoric content, and distracting pursuits of licensing contracts and reality television shows.

@Playboy tweets are mostly about Playmates and casting calls. Is that what the brand has become? How about focusing on real issues like recent marriage initiatives, the failed War on Drugs, health care, the environment, Dr. George Tiller, Iran, Iraq, the treatment of women in Islam, and the declining influence of the religious right?

We need a new Shel Silverstein, too. And a panel forum. Is that too much to ask? The current issue of Esquire Magazine has a wonderful piece of fiction by Stephen King. Since when does Playboy get it’s proverbial ass kicked by a rag like Esquire?

If guys want sophomoric content let them buy Maxim. If they want to be sexually aroused let them buy Penthouse or Hustler. Playboy should not compete for their dollars; it has always been better than that.

The corpse is starting to stink. Can it be resuscitated? I certainly hope so!

16 Comment

  1. Agent Triple P says: Reply

    Well said, sir! The problem seems to be this slavish pursuit of sub-thirty readers. There isn’t an intelligent men’s magazine aimed at over forties and Playboy could so easily be this. We have large disposable incomes, a more literary rather than digital world outlook and still like to see pictures of the most beautiful girls in the world (which is what playboy used to give us before the plastic, over-waxed and over-lit specimens of today).

    1. @ATP – Exactly. Thank you for the comment. You’re absolutely correct.

  2. How do we go about letting the publication know that we signed up for 12 issues, not 11. Furthermore how do we express our problem with the direction of the magazine since Christie stepped down? This is not the Playboy I remember or want to support!

    1. This isn’t the Playboy I want to support, either. :(

      I was horrified today when I saw a Playboy Special Edition “Girls with Girls” on the shelf at my local newsstand. “Playboy”, I’ve been telling people, “is not pornography!” Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the new Playboy is pornography.

      I’m becoming less enthusiastic about supporting the brand.

      @Playboy is sometimes responsive on Twitter. @HughHefner is not. :(

  3. I just received my “double issue” and I can tell you I am not impressed. If this is how they want to lose a 25-year subscriber, then they are doing just fine.

    The “twins” pictorial made me pull out an old 1989 issue, and the magazine was so much better. All good things must come to an end, I guess…

    I’d pay double what I pay now for a subscription to the “old” Playboy.

    1. I’d pay double what I pay now for a subscription to the “old” Playboy.

      Me, too. Thanks for the comment, Adam.

  4. Extremely disappointed with this issue. No explanation anywhere of what the “double issue” implication meant. My search for answers led me here. I just hope Hugh is listening to all those who enjoyed the magazine in its original from and agreed with principles upon which it was founded. I’d gladly pay more for a subscription if it meant a return to quality.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Rew. I, too, hope someone at Playboy is listening.

  5. You pretty much nailed it .

    I think things changed about ten years ago, give or take. That’s about when the internet-related material started to proliferate: the game reviews and so on. Then came the features with the naked video-game chicks. Naked *cartoons*?? Whisky Tango Foxtrot, Over?

    I’ve been a reader since 1970 – I stole the July issue from one of my friends’ dads the summer I turned 14. (I still have that magazine.)

    This isn’t my Playboy.

    1. @js23 – My subscription started in around 2004. A friend gave me all his issues back to around 2002 because his girlfriend didn’t want them around. I’ve collected many from the ’60s and ’70s. The contrast between the issues from the heyday and today is stark: the magazine’s back then were thicker, had better articles (and more of them), and less glossy–less perfect–models.

      I love the advertisements in the older Playboys.

  6. The beginning of the end! Pics are not revealing, content is not good and the combining of two issues not acceptable. After many many years of reading Playboy, this is the end for me.

    1. @Dick – Thank you for your comment. I’m not quite ready to abandon Playboy and cancel my subscription (I did let my digital subscription lapse). I still have hope someone in the company will realize that content, not marketing, determines economic success. Perhaps they should go private so they don’t have to concern themselves with ROI and shareholder value.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “Pics are not revealing”. I think the models reveal quite enough. I wish the photography were better and that the girls weren’t so “perfect”. The girl next door is far more interesting than a flawless beauty.

  7. Brent said, “The contrast between the issues from the heyday and today is stark: the magazine’s back then were thicker, had better articles (and more of them), and less glossy–less perfect–models.”

    No kidding – January ’79 came in at 410 (four hundred ten!) pages. And the models from the 60s and 70s were as wholesome as milk and cookies, very unlike the porn-ready mutants they’re featuring now. The writing was higher-quality overall as well: Playboy’s authors from tha era are studied in lit classes today.

    I think the magazine is trying to be what guys move on to when they outgrow Maxim.

  8. The September 2009 issue has an unpublished Kurt Vonnegut story and the playmate, Kimberly Phillips, is gorgeous. Just saying.

  9. Haven’t seen that one yet – I’ll check it out.

  10. Ken McIntire says: Reply

    Well it is 2015 and they still haven’t listened, now we get 10 issues a year as a over 50 yr. reader I am going to let my current subscription run out
    I hope they foreclose on the Playboy Mansion lol

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