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VNU has shut down PC Direct, the UK newsstand magazine acquired through the purchase of Ziff-Davis' European interests.

It's surprising that the company took so long - how on earth did it think it could sustain a portfolio of five PC magazines. (Ziff Davis Media, by contrast, has just one PC title in the US - PC Magazine).

That leaves just four 'core' bookstand PC magazines to fold - Personal Computer World, PC Magazine, What PC? and Computeractive.

ZD set up PC Direct in the UK to compete with Dennis Publishing's Computer Shopper. The company had bought the Computer Shopper magazine from everywhere but the UK - and Dennis wasn't selling.

As was the Ziff way, expensive sales reps armed to the teeth with market research stroked their way through the advertising base, securing top whack from the direct response crowd. The early and mid-90s was a good time for this - ad insert pagination from system builders such as Evesham, Mesh, Dan and IT retailers such as Software Warehouse (now defunct) and Dabs Direct rocketed.

But then - around 1997 - resellers margins started falling, along with response rates and co-op marketing , and the retailers/system builders began hacking back at ads in PC newsstand titles. At the same time, the national newspapers started taking a greater slice of the direct response ad cake.

Hard times

Sources within VNU say that PC Direct staffers are unlikely to be offered other jobs within the company. Summer is never the best time to be looking for a new job and this summer is the worst for a long-time.

Closures, lay-offs and falling ad sales means commissioned articles stacking up in the in-trays of features editors. And this in turn means more freelancers fighting for less work.

Here is a by no-means exhaustive list of recent closures and cutbacks in the UK IT publishing scene:

June, 2001

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