Kids' Magazines Booming

October 14, 1990|By Cox News Service

In the grown-up world of magazine publishing, advertising revenues are off, titles are being folded or put on the market, and magazines only three months old are subject to revamping or relaunching.

But the picture for children's magazines seems to be rosy. The International Reading Association published an index in 1989 listing more than 120 children's magazine titles. And that number seems to grow every month.

This fall, for example, the publishers of Cricket will bring out Ladybug, a literary magazine for preschoolers, Consumer Reports will relaunch its Penny Power as Zillions and Field & Stream will publish a pullout Field & Stream Jr. children's issue in its November issue. In the meantime, the editors of Fortune magazine are developing a spinoff publication for high-schoolers tentatively titled Fortune for Students.

"Children's and men's magazines are considered a hot property that until now had been untapped," said Samir Husni, x xTC journalism professor at the University of Missouri. "It's a reachable market."

He estimates that more than 25 magazines for kids have been started in the past five years. But only about a dozen or so children's magazines are available at newsstands. By making the magazines available primarily by subscription, the publishers aim for readers, rather than advertisers, to support the publication, Mr. Husni explained.

Most of these new magazines are aimed at yuppie spawn, children of affluent yet guilt-ridden working parents who are eager to have their offspring read the right sort of books and magazines.

These children have impressive buying power of their own. American children ages 6 to 14 have an estimated $6 billion a year in discretionary income, according to Children's Market Research in New York City. "I've seen figures that say some of these kids have $65 a week of disposable income," Mr. Husni said. "You can buy a lot of makeup and Barbie dolls with that."

Magazine publishers and advertisers are well aware of younger readers' buying power and their attraction to any product seen on television. That's why children can buy Barbie, Duck Tales, The Real Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles magazines.

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