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In US, home magazines are up; sex magazines are down

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(Read caption) The number of home magazines has continued to grow despite hard times in the print publishing business. Since 2005, their numbers have tripled while the number of sex magazines has dwindled, according to a new directory.

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This is a tough era for the magazine industry. Spending is down on both newspapers and magazines. So is advertising.

So these numbers come as something of a surprise: Between 2005 and 2010, the number of home magazines nearly tripled in the US and Canada, according to The Standard Periodical Directory, which will be released Wednesday. (Click on the chart at left.) Natural history and petroleum/natural gas magazines more than doubled.

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And what category saw the biggest decline? Sex magazines, whose numbers fell by a third between 2005 and 2010.

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Home is up/sex is down might sound like a social shift, but it's probably more related to technology than anything else.

"The fact that there are fewer sex magazines simply means that the Internet is a better medium for the sex category," says Trish Hagood, president of Oxbridge Communications, the New York company that publishes the annual directory. "It is not an indication of a societal preference for home."

Even for the home category, things aren't all bright. Last year saw the closing of some iconic titles: Country Home, Southern Accents, Domino, Backyard Living, and Metropolitan Home.

Nevertheless, the number of home magazines continued to climb – from 294 last year to 337 this year, according to the directory, which has an online version. The same categories that saw big growth over five years also expanded in the past year, although the comics category is a little skewed because old titles don't disappear as much as they get morphed into new titles.

"Smaller circulation, niche publications are the trend," Ms. Hagood says.