By on April 28, 2009

Bloomberg reports that Source Interlink has gone Tango Uniform. You may know Source Interlink as the publisher of Motor Trend, Automobile and [a claimed] 73 other publications. Not to mention [a claimed] 90 websites. Like the formerly octo-branded GM, Source Interlink simply bit off more than it could chew—and then discovered there wasn’t enough to eat. “The company listed debt of $1.9 billion and assets of $2.4 billion . . . US magazine advertising revenue in the first quarter fell 20 percent from a year earlier, according to the Publisher’s Information Bureau, an industry group. US auto sales tumbled 37 percent in March. Source Interlink hasn’t reported a profit since the second quarter of 2007.” This after spending $1.2 billion to buy a package of titles from PrimeMedia in 2007. As for the future . . .

Interlink says it hopes to use C11 to retire a bit of debt ($1billion), raise some operating revenue ($100 million) and take the company private. The immediate effect of Source Interlink’s C11 filing on the fiercely independent buff books (just kidding) should be minimal. Long term, the axe will swing. And prospects are not good; the buff books are damaged brands in a market crowded with smaller, leaner competitors. And we all know how well that can turn out.

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22 Comments on “Motor Trend/Automobile Publisher Files for Bankruptcy...”


  • avatar
    superbadd75

    Well, not like MT hasn’t sucked for a while anyway. I like Automobile for the most part. It’s at least worth the $10 I paid for a year’s worth. It makes for decent bathroom reading.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Would anyone buy a bankrupt buff book?

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    What eeez theeeez Mortar Trend? A car magazine?

    The world will little note nor long remember their passing. The car companies who remain after the deluge won’t need to buy “Car of the Year” awards.

    And if they do, they can buy them from J.D. Powers.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “This after spending $1.2b to buy a package of titles from PrimeMedia in 2007”

    Wow, was that ever a dumb move.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    I personally have always liked MT. I’m more into trucks, but it’s a good car magazine and like reading it.

    And no wonder they have male enhancement pill ads in the back pages. :)

  • avatar

    As I refuse to bring my computer into the bathroom, I still have need of Automobile mag. Now MT can go drop off a cliff, but Automobile has been a 85% good read for a good while now. I am just saying, I ain’t doing no Sodoku.

  • avatar
    readingthetape

    I never did understand how I got free subscriptions to Motor Trend and Automobile year after year.

  • avatar
    bjcpdx

    How the hell am I going to get along without Mini Truckin’ magazine?

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    Motor Trend can kiss my ass, but CIRCLE TRACK, HOT ROD and CAR CRAFT are both published by SMI, and that DOES worry me… Then again, the last three or four times the publishing company went TU or was bought out, those mags were fine… They actually sell reasonably well. So I’m sure it’ll be alright… I hope. I have subscriptions! :/

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I can concur here. MT is ok. Automobile is much better. I have 1 year subs to both for the aforementioned reasons (bathroom) :)

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    Automobile was a good mag as is Motor Trend. I for one could’ve done without Truck Trend. What a waste.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    MT’s masthead subtitle should be “Just hand Detroit the money conveyor and be thankful already, for chrissakes”.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    As all know, these magazines are supported by ads. I’m guessing their subs price possibly covered a special postage rate, but maybe not even that. Because they are supported by ad revenue, content is necessarily geared toward advertisers, and not readers.

    There is nothing intrinsically disqualifying about a publication supported, to one degree on another, by subscriptions. However, in that case, content must be king. Why would anyone pay more than four of five dollars a year for a car magazine, given the marginal content?

    Perhaps C/D will be next to fail, or maybe they will gain from increased revenue, now that MT is history. Who knows? More importantly, who cares? C/D content is, as everyone here understands–everyone here who has an historical familiarity with the magazine, likewise marginal. C/D has failed miserably to discuss the industry from a critical standpoint, and one cannot look therein for factual information anent the Motor City, and its problems.

    In any event, I liken MT pretty much to GM. They both represent different aspects of the same idea. And they both suffered their respective consequences.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Well, this is interesting. With a lot of these titles, there’s just not as much content to “report.” Heck, even “Guiding Light” is going buh-bye, after outliving Saturn, American Motors, Hummer, Saab, Plymouth ….

  • avatar
    mpresley

    From the article: Source Interlink Cos., the publisher…controlled by billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos., sought bankruptcy protection as it moves to become a private company.

    Former President Bill Clinton left his partnership with Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. in October 2007 while [his wife] campaigned for president. He previously earned $15.4 million from…Yucaipa since 2003…

    I’m guessing Bill received his copies gratis? Sometimes one begins to think that it’s time to take the muskets off the mantle…

  • avatar
    tedj101

    >>Sometimes one begins to think that it’s time to >>take the muskets off the mantle…

    Yours are still on the mantle? What are you, some kind of a nut !

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Source Interlink simply bit off more than it could chew—and then discovered there wasn’t enough to eat.”

    I am sure that the quoted metaphor makes sense at some level.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    Diesel Power is another one of their niche Publications that is good. While it is buried under lots of ads for Truck Nuts and Lift & Tire Combos for the Big Foot wannabe they have some good original content.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    tedj101 writes: Your [muskets] are still on the mantle? What are you, some kind of a nut !

    Yeah…but if you haven’t noticed, there’s a musket ball shortage out there. :-)

    It will be interesting to see what happens in bankruptcy. The only thing that is certain: a Pontiac will not be the next M-T Car of the Year.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    So, sounds like being a shill for players in a bankrupt industry doesn’t actually work as a biz plan. Who knew?

  • avatar
    Johnster

    According to the guys over at AutoSpies, GM owes Source Interlink millions of dollars for advertising in their mags and that it will never be paid. They seem to think that Source Interlink’s bankruptcy was triggered by GM’s.

  • avatar
    niky

    Sooo… now that they’re gone… where do we go for the magazine title auction?

    I call dibs on Sport Compact Car, Turbo, Hot Rod and Automobile… you can all quarrel over the rest. I might not end up publishing, but it’ll feel good being a magazine magnate.

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