Frederick publisher to buy controlling interests in 'Annapolitan' New ownership plans to expand, improve editorial content

January 07, 1993|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

Owners of Annapolitan magazine will sell controlling interests to a Frederick publisher and his business partner in an effort to keep the struggling monthly afloat during hard times for the publishing industry.

Philip Evans, editor and publisher of the monthly lifestyle magazine, and seven other owners expect next week to sign off on the sale, for an undisclosed amount, to Tom Gorsline and Steve Hall.

Mr. Gorsline publishes a similar periodical, Frederick Magazine, and co-owns Greenleaf Graphics, also in the Western Maryland city, with Mr. Hall.

"The key to survival in the '90s is to have an association with other publications," Mr. Evans said yesterday. "There are advantages to being associated with another publication, and that outweighed trying to carry on individually. Increasingly, it's been very difficult for a single-title magazine company to carry on alone."

He pointed to the demise of Regardie's, a hard-hitting, often controversial magazine that covered the Washington area's economic boom during the 1980s.

Regardie's ceased publication in December, citing operating losses caused by declines in commercial real estate advertising.

And last May, a group led by Susan Souders Obrecht, the publisher of Mid-Atlantic Country magazine, bought Baltimore Magazine, a 50,000-circulation monthly, from Capital-Gazette Communications Inc. of Annapolis.

Early last year, the recession and slow winter months forced the 12,000-circulation Annapolitan to cut two issues and instead release double editions in January and November.

The new owners, who will acquire 51 percent of company stock, plan to increase subscription and newsstand sales by giving the magazine a face lift and improving and expanding editorial content, Mr. Hall said.

He said Annapolitan would remain a lifestyle publication serving the community.

"Editorial and design go hand in hand," Mr. Hall said. "As we develop a new editorial focus, we'll develop an image or look to pTC complement that. [The magazine's] been successful. Readers like it, but you always have to keep changing and improving."

He said it was too early to elaborate on changes, but noted that readers would see a difference in the March issue.

The combined January/February issue is in production.

His two publications will maintain separate editorial and sales staffs and offices, Mr. Hall said.

But they will cut overhead costs by sharing production, design and accounting facilities and staff, and by consolidating all printing and pre-press work in the Frederick office, he said.

Annapolitan's current owners "explored a number of options" before reaching the sales agreement, said Mr. Evans, who has known Mr. Gorsline for about eight years.

"Clearly, this was the deal that made the most sense, based on a knowledge of each other and the similarity of the businesses," Mr. Evans said. "I'm confident that these guys are going to maintain the quality of the magazine."

Greenleaf Graphics, which the partners opened almost a year ago, handles Frederick Magazine's art direction and graphic design.

The company also worked on art production for Regardie's; produced Encounter for the Spain '92 Foundation, part of the commemoration of Christopher Columbus' expeditions, and classroom materials for the Spanish Embassy; and created Hunt Valley-based AmTote's corporate logo.

Mr. Evans, who bought Annapolitan in 1984 when it was digest-size, black and white and distributed free, will continue to be editor. He and the other owners will retain their stock in Annapolitan Inc.

In addition to the slick, full-size, color magazine, Annapolitan Inc. publishes directories and guides through Fourth Street Publishing Co. As part of the sales agreement, Mr. Gorsline and Mr. Hall will publish those guides.

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