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Gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, 51, questions whether people in this age set want to read magazines about being a baby boomer, arguing that they might prefer magazines that concentrate on tennis, fashion, country-and-western music or whatever else they fancy: "I don't necessarily think we have to join up into a club and have a club magazine." But early indications suggest both magazines are doing well. More's circulation has climbed steadily, from 320,000 when it started in September 1998 to 525,000 last year. My Generation's 3.1 million circulation, carved from Modern Maturity's 20.9 million, makes it one of the biggest magazines in the country. And Carter predicts other new baby-boomer magazines will crop up.
Whether they do depends less on readers than on advertisers, who for decades have made a cult of youth. "The thinking is that people over 50 are loyal to certain brands, so it's a waste of money trying to advertise to them," says Paul Hale, whose investment-banking firm Veronis Suhler advises media companies. Two earlier efforts to win More's audience, Lear's and Mirabella, collapsed, partly because of lack of advertiser enthusiasm.
That attitude is changing, says Ruby Gottlieb, a media buyer for Horizon Media, because advertising firms like hers now realize baby boomers not only are more numerous than young adults but--at the top of their careers, with mortgages paid off and kids grown up--also have more spare change: "I think there's a tremendous spending power and amount of products that they're open to." Magazines for those 50-plus are also getting a boost because prescription-drug firms, whose biggest market is seniors, are redirecting ads from doctors to consumers.
Among the competitors for such ads are a handful of magazines aiming generally at anyone over 50. Greg Daugherty, 48, the editor in chief of New Choices, published by Reader's Digest, doesn't see a significant division between baby boomers and the rest of the magazine's 610,000 subscribers; all of them want advice on health, travel and money.
Rather than starting new magazines, investment banker Hale predicts, most publishers will rework existing titles. TIME has introduced this Generations section for its mature readers. The January issue of Esquire offered interviews with such sages as John Kenneth Galbraith, 93, and Chuck Berry, 75. But not everything will change. Many magazines find it hard to "move off the DNA" that sets their fundamental tone, says Hale. That's why you may never see tips on hearing-aid fashion in Vogue.