Devastating news for the design world: After 55 years in publication, I.D. Magazine, America's foremost design publication, has folded.
I.D. was the oldest product design** magazine in the country, and was the one-time employer of many noteworthy figures, including Bruce Mau. Its yearly design competition, the Annual Design Review, was the oldest and biggest design competition in America, and had been operating ever since I.D.'s inception. The competition was also the magazine's cash cow; F&W, I.D.'s publisher, plans on continuing the event and publishing the results online.
In the course of its publication, the magazine won five National Magazine Awards: For General Excellence in 1995, 1997, and 1999; for Special Interests in 2000; and Design in 1997. That amounted to an astounding haul for a magazine with only 30,000 readers per issue. Nonetheless, according to F&W sales managers, I.D. had not turned a profit in seven years and was beset by competition from shelter magazines and mainstream glossies, which have been aggressively adding design coverage, owing to rising interest in design among mainstream audiences.
Meanwhile, I.D.'s sister magazine, Print—a storied design magazine in its own right—will stay open. The news came one day after the company's employee appreciation day.
UPDATE: Here's the release from I.D.:
Statement for External Release December 15, 2009
To Readers, Advertisers and Friends of I.D. Magazine:
Since 1954, I.D. Magazine has served as one of America's leading critical magazines covering the art, business, and culture of design. Today it is with regret that we announce its closure. The January/February issue of I.D. will be its last; subscribers to I.D. will receive Print magazine for the balance of their subscription.
Ceasing publication of an iconic brand like I.D. is never an easy decision, but there are several forces that have worked against its sustainability. Certainly the downturn in print advertising has contributed to this decision, but other factors include the fragmentation and specialized information needs of I.D.'s core readers (product designers) and the plethora of information resources available to them – some for free (online and B2B) and others that are highly specialized and targeted to specific industries served.
F+W Media will continue producing the I.D. Annual Design Review, its flagship international product design competition, in an expanded fashion online. This new web initiative will feature not only 2010's winners but will catalog thousands of notable entries from past competitions. Going forward, in addition to the I.D. Annual Design Review, F+W Media’s Design Group is comprised of the award-winning HOW and Print brands – magazines, books, events, and competitions serving the information needs of graphic designers in all media.
We thank the entire I.D. community, past and present – staffers, contributors, readers, and advertisers – for their support of the magazine throughout its 55-year history.
Gary Lynch Publisher & Editorial Director F+W Media Design Community
*Full disclosure: I was until today a freelancer for I.D.; I was also an editor there, from 2005 to 2007.
**The article originally stated that I.D. was the oldest design magazine in the country—it's actually the oldest product design magazine in the country. The oldest design magazine in the country would be Print, which has been in publication continuously since 1940.