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Gourmet Magazine Ripped From the Grave, Revived as iPad App

gourmet live ipad app
Ruth Reichl, nonpareil food writer and the last editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine, summed up our feelings when she wrote on her Twitter account this morning, "[They are] reviving the brand, not the magazine. Pity." "They" are Condé Nast, the publishing powerhouse that shuttered Gourmet last year after a drop in revenue, and the big boss that just announced the reincarnation of the defunct mag as an iPad app called 'Gourmet Live.'

This is only the latest in Condé's rethinking of its media properties. (We've written earlier about the dreadful new Vanity Fair app.) "Live" is a bit of a misnomer since the app will largely draw from the magazine's print archives of recipes, photos and essays, with only a small amount of new content. To be clear, the magazine is not coming back; Condé Nast is just looking for a new way to capitalize on a dead product.

"Ca-ching! Thank you very much, if you will," said Condé CEO Chuck Townsend during a press conference today, according to the New York Observer. In terms of ca-ching, Wired's app version has fared much better than Vanity Fair, with 90,000 downloads (at $4.99 each) since its release earlier this month. With the announcement of Gourmet Live (available for free toward the end of the year) and Townsend's comments, we're certain which side of the profit-versus-content line the company is riding.

That's not to say that the marketers at Condé Nast are unabashed philistines, since the print magazine industry hasn't exactly made a stunning comeback. It is, of course, in the company's best interest to rebuild its monetary stores so that it can continue to provide great content through its existing outlets. But 'Gourmet Live' will incorporate social networking features (like the ability to share articles on Facebook and Twitter) and a Foursquare-like game engine that will provide both free and paid content -- and, to us, all that just seems like riding a trend rather than establishing a sustainable model. ("Hey, let's throw every successful Internet fad into a food magazine!" [muted huzzahs from underlings])

In an era when struggling newspapers are complaining about new media verbiage and the Internet continues to trounce the entire print industry, you've got to monetize your assets in whatever newfangled, short-sighted and fad-laden way you can. [From: New York Observer and New York Times]

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