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People Magazine Will Give Spanish a Try

May 09, 1996|PAUL D. COLFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

One year after the tejano singer Selena was slain by the president of her fan club, fans' impassioned response to her death has led to a watershed moment in magazine publishing.

People, which last year sold around 300,000 copies of a Southwest issue featuring Selena on the cover and then sold nearly all 900,000 copies of a special commemorative edition, will publish its first Spanish-language issue next week.

People Extra En Espan~ol will be a translation ("La Era De Diana") of "The Diana Years," the special edition put out by the weekly in March following word that Princess Diana and Prince Charles were divorcing.

By comparison to the Selena issue, next week's print run is small--150,000 copies, targeted to Latino communities--but release of "La Era De Diana" is a giant step by the hugely successful celebrity mag toward publishing Spanish-language issues with regular frequency, perhaps starting later this year.

"To tell you the truth, I had never heard of Selena until she was killed," said People Managing Editor Landon Y. Jones Jr. "But the response to our two Selena covers redefined how successful an issue could be."

He added: "We'll closely watch how this Diana translation does. We're putting questionnaires inside and we'll get market research back. . . . There's a lot we don't know."

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EW Goes Local: Another Time Inc. property, Entertainment Weekly, has premiered what publisher Michael J. Klingensmith calls a "national urban edition." An estimated 600,000 copies of this week's issue (May 10)--that's about half the circulation--were sent to New York, Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas with an additional 12-page section called "EW Metro." It focuses on the Broadway opening of "Rent," a few fab restaurants, upcoming club dates by such comics as Bill Maher and various music offerings, including an ongoing gig at Le Petit Four in Los Angeles by a jazz group featuring actors Jeff Goldblum and Peter Weller.

Klingensmith said that Entertainment Weekly has not had the space to cover events, such as theater, that were mainly regional in nature. By knitting "EW Metro" once a month into only 600,000 copies, the magazine offers a less costly point of entry for lower-budget advertisers while sparing itself the expense of increasing the page count for twice as many copies.

Klingensmith dismissed a suggestion that the magazine was responding to the recent start-up of Ticketmaster's monthly Live! "Actually, this was part of the original plan of the magazine, that we would ultimately venture into local territory," Klingensmith added. "Depending on the advertising reception, I can see the section growing to 24 pages, but it will probably average 16."

*

Grisham's 'Jury' Almost In: The book runs 402 pages and the first printing will total 2.8 million hardcover copies. Tonnage indeed, but old news for this author.

It's "The Runaway Jury," John Grisham's new legal thriller and his second to receive a launch so grand. The book goes on sale Wednesday, and not a day sooner, if retailers around the country honor the same-day launch imposed by the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group.

"The Runaway Jury" arrives with an all-too-contemporary plot line involving a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Publishers Weekly has given the novel a starred rave: "As usual with Grisham, the writing is no more than workmanlike, the characterizations are alternately thin and too broad, but all is redeemed by his patented combination of expertise and narrative drive."

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Afterwords: It would appear that publisher Alfred A. Knopf, which has a big-ticket contract with Dean Koontz, has fallen short of expectations for the novelist's most recent title, "Intensity." It was a bestseller, yes, but a consumer-friendly cutting of the sales price suggests that a fair number of copies remain in stores. The publisher is offering retailers a "special credit" per copy sold through June 22--that is, stores are being advised to price the book, which lists at $25, for $12.50 . . . .

Elaine Farley, the fashion editor of Glamour since 1992, this week was named senior editor in charge of Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue. She succeeds Julie Campbell, who has moved on to write a book about her experiences after putting together the wildly popular issue for 30-plus years. . . .

The recent Broadway debut of Sam Shepard's "Buried Child," 17 years after the play won a Pulitzer Prize for drama, has prompted a flurry of published titles by the writer. Knopf has released "Cruising Paradise," a new collection of tales by Shepard, and sister company Vintage Books has brought out trade-paperback editions of "The Unseen Hand and Other Plays" (a reissue) and his play "Simpatico," which was first performed in 1994 at the Public Theater.

* Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday. His column is published Thursdays.

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