Shakeup at Car and Driver
Csere explains the tension. "Car and Driver's circulation was 1.3 million," he says. "On the one hand that's the world's largest car magazine . . . it's a nice big, fat circulation. On the other hand, compared to [200 million American] licensed drivers, it's less than one percent market penetration. . . . So the readers at Car and Driver, and at most car magazines, are the lunatic fringe."
Advertisers have always paid well to reach that lunatic fringe because other car buyers turned to car nuts for advice. Now, though, more are doing their own research using online guides like edmunds.com.
Csere was glad to see Eddie Alterman take over in March. Raised in suburban Detroit, Alter-man, thirty-seven, is a second-generation car buff-his dad taught him to drive at age eleven or twelve, and encouraged him to apply at Ann Arbor's car magazines when he was a student at the U-M. Starting as a gofer at Automobile, caring for test vehicles, he rose to senior editor before leaving to edit a couple of online car magazines. Neither flourished, but "without that online or digital experience, and understanding the way you have to tailor your editorial content to each medium, I don't think I would have gotten the job" at Car and Driver, Alterman admits.
"In some ways an enthusiast's magazine is a great bonfire," he says. "People can gather around it in a sort of loose community. But online people are actually able to interact and talk to each other and get ideas and tips and advice from each other. It is a very powerful thing.