SmartMoney Cashes Out: Popular Financial Magazine Bites the Dust

SmartMoneyThe smart money isn't on SmartMoney these days.

News Corp.'s (NWS) Dow Jones revealed late last week that the print version of the seemingly popular monthly personal-finance publication will cease to be after the September issue.

SmartMoney isn't dying for a lack of loyal readers. The glossy yet insightful monthly magazine had 813,730 subscribers last year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. That's slightly fewer readers than SmartMoney had four years ago -- and less than half of the subscribers on the rolls of larger rival Money -- but that's still an impressive circulation for a monthly magazine that reaches what should be an ideal audience.

One would expect marketers of big-ticket items and financial services to gravitate to colorful monthly publications for investors, but the publication was suffering through steep declines in ad revenue. Print just isn't as cost-effective as it used to be.

Pulp Friction

With mailing costs and other print publishing expenses continuing to inch higher, it isn't easy running a magazine these days. Keeping a financial publication afloat is even more challenging, given the time-sensitivity of investing information and the ability of the Internet to immediately deliver breaking or investable news. Publications including SmartMoney have to rely mostly on general personal-finance advice and other evergreen content.

How important is cyberspace when it comes to personal finance? Well, even though Dow Jones is shutting down SmartMoney after the September issue that will hit newsstands by mid-August, will live on.

In fact, the company plans to beef up its online editorial staff. Even if six new hires won't be enough to offset the roughly two dozen dismissals at SmartMoney, it's at least comforting for fans of the magazine to know that it will live on in a virtual form.

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

SmartMoney obviously isn't the first financial magazine to stop the presses, and more could be coming. Money may seem to be safe with its roughly 1.9 million subscribers, but what about Kiplinger's Personal Finance, with about 700,000?

It isn't easy being a print publication these days. You'll be missed, SmartMoney.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article.

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Dow Jones & Co. is the WORST. Don't subscribe to anything they sell. They don't keep their word. I'm STILL WAITING (since the Sept 2012 last issue of Smart Money) for them to convert the rest of my subscription to Barron's magazine. I called on Nov 6th, 2012 and was told that it would be done by the end of November. It is now Jan 22, 2013 and I spoke to two customer representatives who couldn't give me a date of when the remainder of my subscription (from Sept 2012-Jan 2014) will be fulfilled. So I finally asked to speak to a manager and requested a refund. She said she would send it to the back office. I also left my phone number with a request for follow-up. FIrst they railroad me into converting my nearly 2 yr subscription to Smart Money into another magazine. And then they don't even fulfill their promise. They need to give a refund or another magazine subscription within a reasonable time frame. I've been waiting 4 months! They have cost me time (numerous calls to customer service) and money and I have nothing to show for it. Avoid Dow Jones & Co. subscriptions!

January 22 2013 at 6:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had been receiving renewal notices for my SmartMoney subscription even though it has almost one year to run. The invoices were made to look like it was time for me to renew and I had done something on my side to trigger the invoice. I finally e-mailed them and asked them why they were repeatedly sending me these invoices since it was a year before my current subscription expired. That e-mail got no response. It now seems like their were intentionally trying to get renewals when they must have know the print version was soon to be extinct. At a minimum this was not ethical. Wow, I would have thought better from this companies connections.

June 27 2012 at 10:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply