Summary:

Condé Nast is relaunching its online image archives store in partnership with online prints and posters retailer Art.com as tries to find a…

Saul Steinberg, The New Yorker, Condé Nast Store
photo: Saul Steinberg, The New Yorker, Condé Nast Store

Condé Nast is relaunching its online image archives store in partnership with online prints and posters retailer Art.com as tries to find a better way to make money off its magazines’ vast archive of photos and illustrations from Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Vogue and Glamour.

The new store, which was redesigned by Art.com while Condé Nast will determine the pricing for objects in it, is much more like a digital catalog than the previous version. It’s also much more easy to navigate from magazine brand to magazine brand. The prices for most of the works also seems fairly reasonable and certainly within reach of many of Condé Nast readers.

For example, the famous 1976 Saul Steinberg cover from The New Yorker, showing a map looking west from the city, like the other images, starts at $125, but depending on the size and framing can be had for $849.99 (and that’s with a 20 percent discount) when the “Premium Giclee Print” is stretched to 26 by 36 inches and includes a frame.

In general, magazines have been steadily losing the ad gains they won back last year after recovering from the deepest part of the recession. And as the shift from traditional print advertising to less lucrative digital advertising continues, older publishers realize that their archives can serve as an asset in many ways, especially when it comes to the sale of iconic images. A few years ago, for example, Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) revived the Life brand as tablet app that showcased its classic pictures, while at the same time partnering with Getty Images on an online gallery.

Lately, Condé Nast has looked to other ways of burnishing its brand, such as starting an entertainment division headed by TV network veteran Dawn Ostroff.

The deal with Art.com is on top of existing print licensing deals Condé Nast has with other btob companies. For example, the publisher works with LicenseStream that lets businesses purchase items from Condé Nast’s “cartoon bank.”

In seeking an outside partner to help design and power the sales to consumers for Condé Nast’s thousands of images, some of which go back to the 1800s, the publisher realized it may be adept at turning magazines into apps and websites, but running an e-commerce operation around its brands’ archives is not its strongest suit.

“We wanted a company who had expertise in how to sell wall art,” said Julie Michalowski, VP for Strategic Planning/Business Development at Condé Nast. “The previous e-commerce site that we had was pretty basic and was not specialized in selling wall art.”

For example, Art.com has been able to provide little features, such as allowing prospective buyers to take a picture of their living room wall, post it online and see how the image they want to purchase might look next to the couch.

In an e-mail, Art.com CEO Geoffroy Martin told paidContent that the deal is representative of a new direction for the online retailer.

“This program with Conde Nast is the first of its kind for Art.com, and a core strategic initiative for us as we move into 2012,” Martin said. “Our hope is that other partners who have robust image collections and strong consumer marketing touch points find value in what we have to offer to help them leverage and monetize those images–the Art.com platform, customer experience and larger international production capabilities.”

Art.com does already work with titles such as Life and National Geographic, but it only manages those relationships within Art.com’s current sites, which also includes ALLPosters.com. Because Conde Nast is home to several different brands, the co-branded site approach made more sense as opposed to hosting a section on Art.com.

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