There’s an old saying in business. If you can double your price and lose less than half of your customers, you should do it.

Looks like Newsweek is taking the spirt of this idea to heart if the plan behind the re-imagining of their publication is any indication. Because there focus will be less on the week’s news and more of the long form journalism that other publications simply can’t duplicate.

From Wash Post:

Newsweek, whose circulation was as high as 3.1 million in recent years, plans to cut that to 1.5 million by the beginning of 2010, in part by discouraging renewals. The magazine will begin charging the average subscriber about 90 cents an issue, nearly double the current rate.

“If we can’t convince a million and a half people we’re worth less than a dollar a week, the market will have spoken,” [Newsweek editor Jon] Meacham says. The newsstand price will also jump from $4.95 to $5.95, a buck more than Time.

The new layout, with larger photographs, splits each issue into four parts: Scope (News, Scoops and the Globe at a Glance); Features; The Take (What We Think About the World); and The Culture. Meacham, an admirer of the Economist, is fashioning a serious magazine for what he calls his base, with a heavy emphasis on politics and public policy.

Another interesting factoid in the article is they don’t see themselves competing against TIME anymore. And while I find the logic behind that idea persuasive, I still think they’re competing for the same dollars and one of them may ultimately go under because there isn’t room in the space for both of them. Both publications can’t hemorrhage that much money and still be relevant. So my guess is we’ll see one or the other fold in the coming years unless they can genuinely provide very different experiences. Because I know that while I would never think about picking between The Economist and Newsweek, I would pick between TIME and Newsweek.

In other words, I hope they’re not continuing to whistle past the graveyard here even with the strategy change.

More as it develops…

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