Bon Appetit Editor Barbara Fairchild Goes Digital, Embraces the Changing World of Print

Since losing esteemed competitor Gourmet last year, Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Barbara Fairchild has embarked on a series of changes at her own magazine. The Feast sat down with Fairchild to discuss the L.A. based epicurean magazine's ever-changing and growing demographic, why they will never go all-digital, and where Bon Appetit will be in ten years.

Bon Appétit stepped into the digital arena.  How are you feeling about this trend?
I’m feeling great about it; I think we absolutely need to reach audiences any way we can. There are some people that will reach us any way possible — through the magazine or on the iPad or on the iPhone application — which will hopefully be coming out within two weeks. We’re working on it diligently, so I embrace it all.  We were really the first, and still, the only magazine in our category, who actually hired a blogger to write a column in our print magazine — Molly Wizenberg who writes our “Cooking Life” column. And on we acknowledge the bloggers who we admire too.

Are you reaching a new demographic through your bloggers and the website?
Absolutely, no question. That’s why I want to be on every possible platform I can be because it’s important to me — not only to get our message across, but it’s very important for people to be involved in their food. Cooking is not difficult; people just need to know that. I have a wonderful farmers’ market in my neighborhood in L.A., a lovely little cheese store, a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s, and I see all these people in their twenties and thirties wandering around on Sunday and I think, "Wow! I really hope you’re reading Bon Appetit," because I think we do a really excellent job speaking to that whole generation that’s super interested, but maybe a little intimidated.

Where do you see Bon Appetit in ten years?
We’ll definitely be increasing our presence in the digital world and adapting to whatever new technology comes our way from Silicon Valley. We’ll keep doing our wonderful cookbooks and we’ll probably branch out more into the smaller e-book versions as well. We’ve been talking about that for 2012.

Do you see yourselves going all digital at some point like Gourmet?
No, because I think there will always be an audience — no matter what age you are — who loves sitting down with a magazine and a glass of wine or a cup of tea on their porch, enjoying the photography, having an experience with it. There’s something about touching the pages. But every new forum has its place. Obviously, the iPhone app is great to take to the market, the iPad comes with a stand, so it’s great for the kitchen—you don’t have to get the magazine so dirty anymore and you can file them away in a pristine state. I’m ready to really keep it going in any form that we have to.

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