NEW YORK – Playboy magazine has occupied a special place in the closets and under the mattresses of men for more than 50 years.
But the magazine's mix of famous authors, celebrity interviews and naked women has been struggling to make a profit and is now turning to DVDs in hopes of finding fresh revenue.
Playboy Enterprises Inc. (PLA) struck a deal to let a private publishing company, Bondi Digital Publishing, develop a series of six DVD box sets that will contain all 636 back issues.
"It's kind of like the new version of microfilm," said Bondi co-founder David Anthony.
Bondi and Playboy did not disclose terms of the deal. Bondi, which also was involved in Conde Nast's project to digitize back issues of The New Yorker magazine, will produce the DVDs that will retail for $100 in October, he said.
The move marks Playboy's latest attempt to make money from its bunny brand, after the magazine has become a household name that people know, but few read.
Circulation at the magazine, which once featured Anna Nicole Smith, has plunged to about 3 million in 2007 from about 7 million in the 1970s when actress Dorothy Stratten was a playmate.
Having digital copies would allow for easy searching for photos and stories, said Richard Gagliano, editor of DTmagazine.com in Rochester, New York.
"If somebody wanted to know what issue had so and so's article, William Saroyan or whomever, for $100 that's not a bad deal," said Gagliano, whose site lists prices for hard-to-find magazine back copies.
Digital archives also mean that collectors would not have to risk damaging rare old editions, he added.
Back issues of Playboy can fetch impressive sums, Gagliano said. "For the first issue, mint condition, you're talking $6,000 to $7,000, maybe higher," he said.
A June 1993 issue featuring Anna Nicole Smith on the cover, he said, is going for about $12 to $15 the day after her death.