The pandemic may have made the Hamptons more popular than ever, but it clobbered the beach enclave’s publishing scene last year with many mags forced to skip the traditional Memorial Day issue as ad dollars dwindled.
This year, it’s a different story. With COVID-19 vaccinations up — allowing the rest of the Hampton’s economy to catch up to the area’s red-hot real estate market — the Hamptons’ publishing scene is booming.
Sturdy veterans are back — some bigger than before the pandemic. And the area has also become a draw for newbies, like Grazia Gazette, a new Hamptons newspaper.
“The Hamptons are on fire,” enthused one veteran publicist who does events for a number of East End publications.
Indeed, Hamptons Cottages & Gardens plans eight issues this year — one more than in pre-COVID 2019 and two more than a year ago — as Big Apple residents fleeing the city continue to send Long Island real estate prices surging, which has translated into ads.
“The outlook for this year is rosy as the influx of new homesteaders focus on their homes and gardens,” said Cottages & Gardens CEO Marianne Howatson, who said the mag’s June issue has seen a 58 percent increase in ad pages from a year ago.
Howatson is not the only Hamptons publisher benefitting from the sizzling home market.
“Real estate is our biggest category,” said Social Life publisher Justin Mitchell, who cut back to six issues last year but plans for eight this season. His Memorial Day cover eschews a star and pictures a young girl relaxing in a beach chair. “We’re out here relaxing, it’s a different vibe than the city.”
Joan Jedell’s Hampton’s Sheet stayed away from a Memorial Day issue for the second year in a row, but said the Fourth of July issue will be its biggest in 23 years of publishing. Business has been so brisk that Jedell also plans a Manhattan Sheet spinoff to capture some of the same parties and events later in the fall.
And she has a new deputy editor, Sydney Sadick, who worked at Hamptons and Daily Front Row in the past.
Vicky and Josh Schneps, the mother- and-son team behind freebie amNY Metro and other NYC-area newspapers, leapt into the Hamptons market last fall when they acquired Dan’s Papers and the Independent website from Dan’s Independent Media.
Now with their first full summer ahead of them, they have created a 124-page summer preview issue of Dan’s Papers pre-Memorial Day, a 252-page Memorial Day edition of Dan’s Papers and a new 100-page magazine, Behind the Hedges, which was broken out as a standalone magazine for the first time.
“I can definitely tell you he advertising is above 2019,” said Josh Schneps.
While Daily Summer has never appeared daily in print, it has survived and often thrived for ten years on the East End as the glossy seasonal off-shoot of fashion chronicler The Daily Front Row.
Founder and editor-in-chief Brandusa Niro said she’s back to publishing five issues this year after cutting back to three last year.
“Retailing is hopping in the Hamptons and it’s not hopping yet in NYC,” she said. “Because of the high net worth audience that is concentrated in the Hamptons, the fashion advertisers are more keen than ever to get in front of those shoppers.”
“There is definitely pent up demand,” said Michael Dickey, the CEO of Modern Luxury Media, which owns dozens of regional magazines, including Hamptons, which it bought in 2017.
“Our desire to get out and play is stronger than ever,” said Modern Luxury’s editorial director Phoebe Wahl. “The East End is already abuzz more than ever before as the entire world descends on our little hamlets of heaven.”
The Hamptons issue with Israeli star Gal Gidot on the cover is 292 pages with 153 ad pages.
At Purist, founder and editor-in-chief Cristina Cuomo, who is married to CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, said she racked up 100 ad pages in a 164-page Memorial Day spring issue that included 20 percent new advertisers.
“The Hamptons market has recovered quickly this summer,” she said. “There isn’t a storefront in East Hampton and South Hampton remaining empty and the real estate market is on fire.”
She’s back to six issues, after canceling Memorial Day’s spring issue last year. And while events are back on for the title that focuses on health and wellness, there are still signs of lingering caution. Purist is co-sponsoring outdoor movie nights each Wednesday in East Hampton’s historic Herrick Park with socially distanced blankets and an August East Hampton’s Authors night will still be handled via Zoom.
Mitchell of Social Life agrees, saying his events will be smaller and more intimate this year and that he’s not going to publicize many in advance beyond a VIP list.
Grazia Hamptons Gazette is a new entrant by Dylan Howard, the ex-National Enquirer editorial director who runs the US edition of Italian fashion magazine Grazia. Sources said the new publication distributed 45,000 copies across the Hamptons and the North Fork as well as in Manhattan.
Grazia Hamptons Gazette was published on newsprint, not glossy stock. Howard plans to publish at least six times this summer.
Also new is James Lane Post, a Hamptons-focused publication with an all-women staff started by Jessica Mackin, executive editor of the now-defunct The Independent weekly.
Memorial Day was the fourth print issue of the eight she has planned, along with daily web updates and a weekly email newsletter.
Mackin actually started the venture in the dark days of COVID-19 last November. “It was a risk, but ultimately, we wanted James Lane Post to be a year round publication, so a holiday launch worked well,” she said.
She started small, distributing only 5,000 print copies, but expects to amp that up to 30,000 for the three issues during the summer months, covering style, fashion and events.
“I think the Hamptons will be lively this summer, while we still remain cautious,” said Mackin of James Lane Post. “It will be filled with reunions. I think everyone is just happy to be able to enjoy each other’s company, support local businesses and feel somewhat normal again.”