Scottsdale's first magazine to cover the lifestyles and attitudes of the city's upper crust is shutting down.
Cities West Publishing executives decided last week to cease publication of Scottsdale Life magazine, a glossy, free periodical that highlighted the high culture of the community.
The last edition will be published in September — five years after the magazine got a new name, redesign and identity.
Cities West owner and publisher Bill Phalen, who also owns Phoenix Magazine and Phoenix Home & Garden, said the company wanted to move away from free publications because advertisers strongly prefer paid subscriptions.
Crossover readership from its Phoenix magazines also played a significant role in closing Scottsdale Life. For instance, there are about 26,000 Scottsdale residents who subscribe to the Phoenix magazines, which combined serve about 139,000 readers, he said.
Profits did not factor into the decision, he said, adding that the magazine is doing better financially than last year.
"It's just our opinion that when readers subscribe to the product, they are investing in the product," Phalen said. "We really just kind of made the decision to be in the paid-circulation business, and not in the distribution of free magazines."
Phalen bought Scottsdale Scene in January 1998 and decided to improve its editorial content. Later that year, he unveiled Scottsdale Life, which covered fashion, dining, arts and culture, business, home building, decorating, travel and recreation.
At the time, Phalen was quoted as saying the magazine was important because "it's Scottsdale's first city magazine."
While it unabashedly focused on lifestyles, trends and culture, the magazine did have some news value, said Mike Phillips, a Scottsdale spokesman and former golf columnist for the publication.
"Its demise will make the journalistic landscape poorer in Scottsdale," he said. "It covered what we are about."
Its first edition featured former Scottsdale resident and movie mogul Steven Spielberg, and a conversation with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his wife, Cindy.
Between stories about gas grills that cost up to $6,600 and the benefits of foot massages, its July issue included articles about plastic surgery and the emergency room expansion of Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital.
"Whether that product will be missed — yes, it probably will," he said. "But we had to make a business decision, and we decided it was better to really place our emphasis on our two main paid titles."
Nearly all employees have been absorbed into other areas of the company, he said.