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The Issues Brought On by Divorce

Publishing: From legal matters to money, relationships and children, there will be no shortage of topics for a new quarterly catering to the recently single.

August 20, 1996|DENNIS ROMERO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Who else would be behind the nation's first mainstream glossy devoted to divorce but two top execs who once worked at a bridal magazine?

The duo--Publisher Dan Couvrette and Editor Diana Shepherd--split from Wedding Bells to enter into holy matrimony with Divorce magazine, a quarterly, launched last week in Chicago.

A light went on in Couvrette's head during the summer of '94 when he and his wife were going through a divorce. He searched for literature on the subject to help him cope and saw magazines dealing with everything from cryonics to Celtic culture--but nothing on divorce, something that has happened to one out of five married Americans.

But when he shopped the idea of a magazine to media moguls, "everybody thought I was crazy." So he did what any good divorced person would do: He did it himself--with the help of Shepherd, who happens to be single.

The first issue and those to follow will feature articles on legal matters, money management, children and, of course, relationships ("Haven't Been on a Date in 15 Years? We'll Show You Some Great New Ways of Meeting People in the '90s" reads a headline in this first issue).

In fact, there will be no end of issues for the magazine to cover. The breakup of the family is at the root of some of the most pressing phenomena facing the country today--from single parenthood to adolescent crime, Shepherd says. "Everyone in North America is touched by divorce."

And she lays out the statistics to prove it: More than 1 million divorces are granted each year in the United States. These days, the average marriage lasts just 7 years. And more than one-third of Americans in their 20s have divorced parents.

Couvrette says divorce is a way of life because of the way we live our lives. Women have more power, freedom and choice. Men and women spend more time at work. Religion has a looser grip on culture.

Couvrette paints the market as wide and deep and the advertisers as willing and able to put money into his small vehicle (17,500 copies are being distributed so far; half of them are delivered free to lawyers, counselors and others who deal in divorce).

The first issue, he notes, has 50% advertising--mostly Chicago lawyers, counselors and financial planners. (A list of advertisers and their services is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.divorcemag.com/divorce). And the magazine has had what Couvrette describes as a successful run in Toronto, where it has been around since March. The glossy has been customized for Chicago, where it is now based, and will be tailored for New York this fall and Los Angeles soon after. There will also be a national edition launched in the winter.

The question is whether Divorce can form a lasting relationship with readers. Even the most successful magazines often take at least three years to begin turning profits.

"For better or for worse, there are a lot of negative connotations attached to divorce," says John Masterton, an editor at Media Industry Newsletter. "Are people who get divorced going to want to read a magazine about divorce? Some people just don't want to read about their lives."

Oh, l'amour.

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