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Divorce Enters the Civilized World of 'Zines

November 21, 1996|PAUL D. COLFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday

A new report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations gives further evidence that certain categories of magazines are enjoying circulation growth that far exceeds the performance of general-interest publications, such as the news weeklies. While the latter were down 3.8% during the survey period (1991-1995), computer mags jumped more than 137%, health books were up nearly 36%, and periodicals about dogs and pets rose more than 32%.

The niche is the thing. For every group and interest, there is a magazine.

So it was only a matter of time before Divorce Magazine reached newsstands. After all, there were almost 1.2 million divorces nationwide in 1994.

Multiply that number by two, and you have a sizable number of people potentially interested in information about divorce law, part-time parenting and remedies for a broken heart.

Launched earlier this year as a quarterly by D+D Communications in Toronto, Divorce Magazine has editions in Canada and Chicago. A New York edition is expected in mid-December for $2.95 a copy. A Los Angeles edition will follow in January, with start-ups planned afterward in Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Miami and other cities. Free copies will be available at the offices of lawyers, mediators and support agencies.

"We've talked to people who are thinking about a divorce, those who don't say they're thinking about a divorce but want to know about it and those who are in the maze of divorce," said Wayne Laszlo, associate publisher. "The issues of the magazine are the same regardless of jurisdiction, except that each issue will address the law as it applies in that particular area."

Judging from the fall edition out of Canada, printed on glossy stock but in black and white, Divorce Magazine is serious business.

The cover story: "Your Divorce Team: These Professionals Can Guide You on the Difficult Journey to the Ultimate Goal--a Fair, Civilized Divorce." Elsewhere in the magazine, John Gray, author of the best-seller "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," offers advice on how to cope with separation and divorce.

Other than the ads from local divorce lawyers, mediation services and Realtors, there will be one or two from firms that rent furniture.

Laszlo himself has been through a divorce--"but it wasn't a prerequisite for the job."

*

A Full Look for Half the Price: It was easy to expect a searing profile of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton from David Brock, author of "The Real Anita Hill," a controversial bestseller three years ago. But Brock's new political biography, "The Seduction of Hillary Rodham" (Free Press), turned out to be more sympathetic toward his subject than those familiar with the journalist could have imagined.

Did the book turn off readers of the American Spectator, the Clinton-bashing magazine that Brock writes for? On the other hand, did Hillary fans resist the book because Brock wrote it? Or both?

Perhaps, because parent company Simon & Schuster is urging booksellers to offer the new title at half price ($13), in return for a credit. This usually means that sales are below expectations and a publisher is trying to head off sizable returns from stores.

Another book receiving such treatment, and which also may turn up at half price ($13), is Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.'s "Journey to Justice" (Ballantine). It fell off national bestseller lists not long after publication.

*

The Subject Is Hiss: Fortunate is the author whose new book arrives when interest in his subject has been newly aroused. Case in point: Sam Tanenhaus' "Whittaker Chambers: A Biography" will be published by Random House in February, after Chambers' Cold War accusations against Alger Hiss have echoed widely in obituaries and other post-mortems after Hiss' death last week in Manhattan at age 92.

Tanenhaus, who draws on material from the KGB and other government sources, already has bared one of his theses, writing in Tuesday's New York Times that "all evidence shows that the private Hiss was a Soviet agent."

In addition, Allen Weinstein's "Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case," a book on which Hiss cooperated, will be reissued in June by Random House in a trade-paperback edition.

*

Afterwords: Garden Design, the lush $5-per-copy mag published by Meigher Communications, will increase its frequency to eight copies a year (from the present six), starting in 1997. . . .

Cigar Aficionado, the thick and heavy-as-a-weapon lifestyle magazine for men (and women) with money to spend, also is upping its frequency, from four to six times a year in '97. . . .

After much suspense about whether Working Woman would survive, and in what form, the magazine has published its 20th-anniversary issue under the new ownership of MacDonald Communications Corp. The November / December issue salutes "350 Women Who Changed the World: 1976-1996."

* Paul D. Colford's column is published Thursdays.

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