JASON BINN IS on his cell phone-hands-free, though he's in a corner of a
restaurant bar, not an automobile-scribbling intently into his Palm Pilot,
plotting out the details of a busy life.
These include the launch of a magazine-Gotham, his third-and the planning
of his own birthday-cum-prelaunch party for the magazine, which is set to hit
the trendiest stores, apartment buildings and other venues of its namesake on
Those who showed up Feb. 13 at Eugene in Chelsea to help him celebrate and
This should be heady stuff for Binn, 33, a Roslyn High School grad, class
of '86. But Binn-apple-cheeked and still looking like a kid despite all-black
apparel-just shrugs. Even as he mentions the South Beach condo, the Hamptons
house and the Manhattan apartment. Then again, all these domiciles are in the
line of work.
That's because the first magazine Binn founded (with partners)-after
graduation from Boston University and stints at an ad agency and a fashion
firm-is Ocean Drive, a highly successful glossy that tracks the rich and famous
in Miami Beach.
Its 400-page issues have a 70,000 circulation that's half giveaway, half
paid and spreads throughout the nation. "I always loved marketing and
packaging," said Binn, who relishes business success. "It's definitely an
obsession ... I like people who are serious about what they do."
That first launch was January, 1993. In 1998, Binn took over as publisher
of 23-year-old Hamptons magazine. It was a move back to Long Island, where he
grew up with two older brothers, his father Moreton, a barter-company owner,
and mother Penny, who died in 1997.
"I decided I had a bigger vision for the magazine," he said. "We closed it
and restructured it. It was 90 pages long, and nearly 230 when we relaunched."
The last issue (in September; Hamptons suspends during the winter) had 482
pages. Annual ad revenues-from purveyors such as Prada, Dom Perignon and De
Beers-have grown from $1.5 million to $6 million for the 36,000-circulation
Most Hamptons readers (Chris Rock, Tina Brown and other celebrities among
them) live in Manhattan, said Binn, so subscription offers in Hamptons (which
is backing the venture) helped form the base of Gotham's 80,000 copies; others
are giveaways and on newsstands. The monthly will cover fashion, art,
entertainment and celebrities, said Binn. Liv Tyler is on the cover of the
In launching Gotham, Binn is expanding in a lucrative (and incestuous)
market that may be impervious to any economic downturn on the horizon, as
luxury businesses often are. About a dozen other magazines cover New York in
Just last November, Joe DeCristofaro, who founded Hamptons Country six
years ago and later sold it, started Manhattan Style. One of Southampton native
DeCristofaro's first jobs, before Binn arrived, was at Hamptons magazine.
DeCristofaro is readying another issue for next month, then plans to go monthly
in June with a "special Hamptons edition." Is there room for all in this
crowded field? "No," he said. Naturally, he believes he'll succeed and has a
better-quality product than Gotham.
So does Cristina Greeven, editor of Manhattan File, a 100,000-circulation
newsstand and giveaway magazine she founded six years ago. Of Gotham, she said,
"It's nothing new." Greeven said her magazine gave (at separate times) Gwyneth
credible editorially. The others only want to tap into the wealth of
advertising," which may not support them all. While in college, the 31-year-old
worked at Hamptons magazine during summers, eventually as its editor.
Another former Hamptons editor is Jill Brook, now editor of the 25-year-
old Avenue Magazine, which in its current issue features such luminaries as
Denise Rich and Georgette Mosbacher. "We're the ones who created this niche
market," she said. Her 100,000 readers are more interested in parenting than
Gotham's are likely to be. "We're in a class by ourselves. We're not glitz."
John F. McDonald, publisher of 2- year-old, 85,000-circulation City
Magazine, said his publication is also different: "We don't focus on the
insular clique scene." (It actually does seem to be broader.)
The 100,000-circulation Quest, on the other hand, is unabashedly
"society-oriented," said editor David Patrick Columbia. "It's kind of the
gilded one of the bunch," said Columbia, a former Avenue editor who also
publishes a "400 list" of prominent socialites and pens a column (and Web
site), New York Social Diary. "Mr. Binn is going for a broader audience ... You
can't compare Brooks Brothers to Las Vegas." Not all the magazines will
survive, he predicts, but Gotham might: "Jason Binn is a very good salesman."
Binn, in fact, is already thinking of next year: Heads up, Los Angeles.