Reversing The Trend, Meredith And Hearst Food Sites Go Web-To-Print

The typical publishing story these days involves a print mag being shuttered to go web-only. But Meredith (NYSE: MDP) and Hearst are taking a little break from that trend to publish print versions of two of their web properties, Mediaweek reports. These steps come as Condé Nast said last week that it would try to figure out ways to resurrect defunct print titles like Gourmet and Domino by possibly licensing the brands for consumer products.

Although the print ad environment is still parlous, 2010 is looking a little less worse than 2009. Reduced bad news appears to be enough for mag publishers to take some chances.

Meredith already printed one issue tied to its social net recipes site MixingBowl last year. This past week, Meredith published a second issue and it plans to publish more on a regular basis. The publisher is also taking a look at sites and channels that might make it as a print product this year. Meredith has been trying to build up its marketing services over the past year, and it might feel that with an additional revenue stream, the timing may be more propitious for a mag rollout.

The food category looks particularly ripe for the renewed print focus, as consumers are likely to stay home to entertain amid what appears to be a weak economic recovery. Hearst’s print turn involves Light & Delish, which is the latest in a line of “bookazines” the publisher has been producing over the past year. This bookazine is derived from cooking site Delish.

Over the past few months, Good Housekeeping and Country Living both had bookazines tied to the original mags. But Light & Delish is coming straight from the web. Hearst has four other websites on deck for at least one bookazine this year:, and Those bookazines are still planned as one-offs, but Light & Delish is expected to be turned into a series.

So what’s the difference between a bookazine and mag? For starters, Light & Delish comes with newsstand price of $9.99 — more than a mag, but the right price for an Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) title. But unlike a book, it comes with ads — Kraft is the launch sponsor of Light & Delish. One other key difference between Light & Delish and most books and mags is that the majority of the material is user-generated recipes. The user-gen aspect will help keep costs down, another demonstration of how many other mags may increasingly take their cues from the web.