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Decor magazine Domino revived as quarterly, online retailer

By Jennifer Saba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Domino, a magazine focused on do-it-yourself home decor until sparse advertising forced its closure during the financial crisis, is re-launching on Thursday as an e-commerce site and quarterly publication.

The revival marks the latest effort by publishers casting about for new forms of revenue as ad sales decline. The magazine industry eked out a gain of less than 1 percent in advertising revenue for the first half of the year, according to Publishers Information Bureau.

The focus for Domino this go-around is as an online retailer, which allows readers to purchase items featured in articles directly on the site.

"Whenever you read a magazine it's often about finding inspiration and then it's a wild goose chase to find the product," said Andy Appelbaum, co-founder of newly formed independent Domino Media Group that will operate the brand.

"The reader never has to leave the platform, so the idea is taking a passive reader experience and turning it into an active experience," said Appelbaum, who was also one of the co-founders of the online food delivery site Seamless.

Others behind the Domino brand are Cliff Sirlin and Aaron Wallace, who also operate the Pintrest-like Project Decor. Conde Nast, which first conceived Domino magazine in 2005 before shuttering the title in 2009, is a minority shareholder of the Domino Media Group.

The group struck initial partnerships with more than 200 designers and furniture makers such as Jonathan Adler, allowing Domino to buy the items at wholesale and sell them at a retail price, said Appelbaum.

One of Domino's original editorial staffers, Michelle Adams, is editor-in-chief and Beth Brenner, the founding publisher of Domino, is its chief revenue officer.

Conde Nast closed the magazine in 2009 due to a lack of advertising, but it had a loyal following of readers and was the most missed title that had gone bust, according to a 2010 survey by the industry trade MIN.

"I was always stewing on how to bring it back," said Bob Sauerberg, president of Conde Nast.

Little by little, parts of Domino emerged: Conde Nast put out special issues made up of archived content beginning in 2012. At the end of August, Women's Wear Daily reported that the brand was working on a full revival with Project Decor.

Conde Nast decided to partner with people who had experience building out e-commerce platforms.

"It's less about the structure and more how to access this talent to tap into the unique assets we had with Domino to bring it to market in a fast way," Sauerberg said.

He declined to give specifics on its stake or financial commitments to Domino Media Group.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba; Editing by Ken Wills)

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