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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Feb. 13, 200212:00 PM EST

Jacksonville Magazine looking to expand

by: Sean McManus

by Sean McManus

Staff Writer

The reception that Jacksonville Design magazine received when it debuted last year is a testament to the level of sophistication of the city it serves.

At least that’s what Jacksonville Magazine editor Joe White believes, and it’s enough to make him look seriously into expanding the magazine that is growing steadily with the city that shares its name.

White thinks Jacksonville Magazine is at the right place at the right time. Its biggest advertisers have something to do with real estate, such as expensive housing developments and oceanside resorts. Then there’s interiors, like furniture and windows, which proved to be the catalyst for Jacksonville Design. And schools are also there — public and private. And new restaurants and art galleries; banks and security systems.

“That’s evidence that we chronicle a city in the middle of a boom,” said White, who has served as editor for about six years and is no relation to the Publisher James White of White’s Book and Card stores.

With a paid circulation of 11,000 and a monthly production of 21,000, Jacksonville Magazine, along with its varied supplements, continues to grow. Starting as Jacksonville Today in 1983, Jacksonville Magazine won out over the competition, the old Jacksonville Magazine, by implementing a more aggressive distribution network that spans from Jacksonville to Ocala.

It also produced key supplements at the right time: The Jacksonville and the Beaches Visitors Guide, First Coast Bride & Groom, Jacksonville Design and Jacksonville Magazine’s Ultimate Menu and Entertainment Guide. The popular “Best of Issue” is the December issue of the monthly magazine.

According To White, they expect to double revenues for Jacksonville Design when the next issue hits the newsstands this summer.

“We just filled a niche for a quickly growing market in Jacksonville,” said White. “We circulate to a relatively high-end clientele who is interested in interior design.”

Jacksonville Magazine, like any regional publication in a fairly big city, forges relationships with local hotels and the Chamber of Commerce to provide a steady distribution channel. Of course, the White’s Book chain provides a helpful platform for over-the-counter sales. Jacksonville has relationships with about 15 area hotels, which makes the publication available either in the rooms or through the concierge. It also has deals with an assortment of real estate agents who include the magazine in their welcome packages.

But publications like Jacksonville Magazine take a risk though when it has large distribution channels, meaning it could lose Class 2 mail status.

“As long as over 50 percent of your readership actually requests the magazine, like ours does, then you qualify for Class 2,” said White. “It would be a struggle to survive without that.”

Also, being the kind of magazine where the bulk of the readership is subscription-based steers the direction of the editorial. Jacksonville Magazine is written for residents of Jacksonville first and tourists second.

That means articles range from people and politics to food and history and what’s going on around town. The magazine receives about 100 faxes a day from local venues.

February’s issue talks all about chocolate for Valentine’s Day, but also has a story on the Great Fire of 1901. The March issue will have an article about Germans that landed on the shores of Ponte Vedra Beach shores during World War II.

As for the future, White, like many other local business people, see the Super Bowl having a major impact.

“We are looking forward to the Super Bowl,” said White. “We think there will be many different opportunities surrounding new supplements and new ventures as Jacksonville grows. As you might have imagined, golf has crossed my mind.”

Jacksonville Magazine employs about 15 people full time and, according to White, revenues are healthy. White said despite an advertising slump, they will increase ad sales in 2002 and probably increase Jacksonville Design to a biannual next year.

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