Buffalo Spree Publishing Inc., an independently owned publishing company based in Buffalo, plans to launch a Rochester-themed magazine called (585) at the end of April. The magazine will be headed by Mark Gillespie, former general manager and editor of the Livingston County News.
(585) will be Rochester's counterpart to Buffalo Spree Publishing's flagship publication, Buffalo Spree magazine, which covers arts and entertainment, fine dining and events.
Buffalo Spree Publishing was founded in 1967, when it began publishing the magazine. The magazine's website says it has more than 136,000 readers. Buffalo Spree Publishing also produces annual publications such as a medical resource guide, a holiday shopping guide and a beauty book.
Buffalo Spree Publishing opened a Rochester-area division in Brighton in 2009. The company has since published Rochester versions of its holiday shopping guide and beauty book and a theater guide called Rochester Playbills.
Like Buffalo Spree magazine, (585) will be published six times a year and have its own website, which will launch in the coming months. Gillespie said the magazine will cost $3.95 per issue. Elizabeth Licata, vice president of Buffalo Spree Publishing, said the company has not settled on locations for distribution.
"There was an air of inevitability to it," she said. "We're, of course, aware that Rochester already has Rochester Magazine. That's a nice magazine, but there seemed like there could be a niche for another magazine in the area."
Rochester Magazine is a monthly style and culture magazine produced by the Democrat and Chronicle, which is owned by Gannett Co. Inc.
Gillespie said (585) will have more of a youthful voice and will hit a demographic somewhere between the typical Rochester Magazine reader and the audience for Rochester's City Newspaper.
"I think there's a whole readership that occupies the age and income level in between those two publications," he said. "Our ideal reader is a homeowner with a college education who maybe has a couple of kids and discretionary spending. However, (585) will be a magazine everyone with an invested interest in Rochester can read."
Gillespie said (585) will not use aggressive market research. The formula for the magazine's content will be driven by feedback from the community and circulation figures. The magazine has three Rochester employees, Gillespie and two salespeople. Gillespie will determine the content along with a team of freelance writers. If (585) is indeed to be like Buffalo Spree magazine, it will likely cover a variety of topics. Recent issues of Buffalo Spree magazine have featured cover stories on Buffalo's top physicians, the most innovative local movers and shakers, the local dining scene and Buffalo's historical figures.
Gillespie said (585) will focus on Greater Rochester, including surrounding counties.
"I have a stake in trying to make sure we interpret Greater Rochester as loosely as possible," he said. "People from Rochester spend their money on road trips to surrounding areas and, likewise, the surrounding counties have an interest in downtown Rochester, (where) their residents dine and go for entertainment."
Gillespie acknowledged there is still the issue of print advertising being down at many news outlets in recent years. However, he said he is confident (585) will succeed due to its focus on quality and its niche in a local and regional market.
Mike Johansson, lecturer in communication at Rochester Institute of Technology, is the former editor of the Democrat and Chronicle's now-defunct Insider magazine. Johansson agreed with Gillespie that niche publications do have a solid future in the industry.
"If you can find that niche and the right need, you can do well," said Johansson. "I'm teaching a class now that is focused on launching a publication, and one thing we talk about is how you find the right niche. If you figure out a niche that no one else is occupying or a niche that someone else is not doing well in, you can find success."
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