When Life magazine folded in December 1972, the final editorial said, "It is not impossible that familiar red-and-white logotype will reappear someday on a new kind of Time Inc. magazine."
Someday apparently has come.
Publishing sources in New York say that a new Life magazine will rise out of the Time, Inc., complex, probably within a year. The frequency of publication apparently has not been decided.
Although Time Inc., sources will say only that they are studying the matter, industry sources in New York have said that changes in the climate of the magazine field have convinced Time, Inc., officials that the time is right to bring back a picture magazine, with a more limited circulation base than before.
Word of Life's rebirth follows by only a month the announcement by French magazine publisher Daniel Filipacchi that he had purchased the rights from Cowles Communications, Inc., to use the name "Look" on a new picture magazine he hopes to debut in the United States this fall.
Time, Inc., spokesman Louis Slavinsky said yesterday that "we know there is a hungering for a visual magazine, but at this point we are still only studying the situation. People tend to exaggerate the fact that we are putting together a dummy issue."
In fact, former Esquire editor and New York magazine editorial director Byron Dobell has been working since October trying to put together a prototype of what the new Life could be.
He is working with Phil Kunhardt, who heads the Time, Inc., Magazine Development Group. The same group put together the prototypes for several other magazines that Time, Inc., has considered publishing.
Among the successes of the development group are People and Money magazines. Among the those tried, but discarded: Well, a magazine about health; View, a movie and television industry magazine; and Camera Month, a photography monthly.
The same group has developed a prototype for a magazine called Women, which still is being tested.
Many of the people involved in the development group are former Life staffers.
Time, Inc., reportedly has had considerable success with the ten special issues of Life published since the regular magazine went under.
Five of the ten were Year in Picture issues, and the others concerned such topics as the American Youth, remarkable women, and the Spirit of Israel, the first such special that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the birth of Israel.
The latest Year in Pictures special is being distributed now and, according to Slavinsky, it contains 17 pages of advertising that brought in $300,000. In that magazine are ten pages of photos by Jeff and Annette Carter, the son and daughter-in-law of the President, for which Life paid $10,000.
Both Life and Look had circulations of more than 6 million copies when they folded. Life published weekly, while Look already had cut down from a weekly to bi-weekly publication when it finally succumbed a year before Life.
According to the Magazine Publishers Association in New York, magazine advertising has shown little or no growth in the early 1970s. And the MPA figures show the number of advertising pages in general circulation magazines dropped from 88 million in 1974 to 79 million in 1975.
But in late 1975, about, the time People magazine was launched, ad pages and ad revenues began to scar and in recent years, there has been a proliferation of new magazines.
"Lessons have been learned," said one industry source, who asked not to be quoted. "And Time, Inc., now knows better how to market a picture magazine."
The special editions of Life, like most other magazines, for example, have sold well in supermarkets, a relatively new magazine outlet.
According to the MPA, magazine sales in supermarkets now represent 25 per cent of all single-copy (nonsubscription) sales, and the number is growing.
"Time, Inc., also realizes that they can't give away the magazine to the reader and let the advertiser pay the whole way anymore," the source said.
When Life folded, it charged 50 cents for its final issue -- which was a double issue for the end of the year.
This year's special picture issue is being sold on newsstands for $2 a copy.