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New magazine highlights interesting Sacramento-area women

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1D
Last Modified: Tuesday, Apr. 9, 2013 - 12:03 pm

Shawn Crary wants everybody to meet Bonnie – at least, every woman in the greater Sacramento area.

Bonnie was made for them, said the magazine publisher.

"A lot of publications during the real estate boom focused on luxury lifestyles," he said. "We're not that."

Bonnie, Sacramento's newest monthly magazine, "is for and about real women with interesting stories," Crary said.

Counter to circulation trends, it's in glossy, old-style print.

"Women still read magazines," said editor Gayle Romasanta. "Women are socialized to read magazines from a very early age. They like the tactile experience of turning pages. It's not the same with an iPad."

Since its January debut, Bonnie has quickly made inroads into dozens of salons and offices from Elk Grove to Loomis, spots where local women might pick up a free copy.

Its featured topics – such as women-owned businesses, events listings and restaurants – also make it inviting reading for both sexes, including those who might be visiting Sacramento. The Citizen Hotel carries a copy in every room.

"Our mission is to be sophisticated without being snobby, bohemian without being grungy," Crary said.

Its Facebook page already has drawn more than 1,500 likes.

"They are a real quality, great mag!" posted Roberta Alvarado, one of Bonnie's Facebook friends.

Stockton-based Big Monkey Group publishes five other magazines focused on San Joaquin County life. Sacramento was a natural progression, Crary said, and Bonnie is published in Sacramento by Dome Printing. "We wanted to expand our reach," he said.

Crary found his inspiration for the magazine's focus in three important women in his life: his mother, Bonnie Anthis; his sister Kristi Grigg and his late grandmother Vivian Keister.

"The No. 1 question I get: Who's Bonnie?" he said. "Is she a real person? Yes! She's my mom."

Anthis didn't know quite how to react when she found out she had a magazine named for her, just like Oprah, Crary said.

"She didn't say a whole lot," he recalled, "but I know she was proud."

More than a personal tribute, Bonnie also represents the traits Crary loves most about these women: Their strength, humor and resourcefulness.

"Sacramento is full of powerful women, too," he said. "They hold high-profile jobs or work in government. They lead interesting lives."

That provides plenty of subject material for Bonnie. It has featured cover stories on TV reporter Tina Macuha and Jenny Beard, who is battling cancer while raising children and building her Roseville personnel company.

Launching a print magazine in 2013 seems counterintuitive. Facing competition from the Internet and electronic media, traditional print magazines have been fighting a relentless, decadelong slide.

According to the Alliance for Audited Media, overall print magazine circulation slipped 6.1 percent since 2008, including a 0.3 percent decline in 2012.

But single-copy sales have plummeted since 2008, down 45.8 percent. The No. 1 seller at newsstands: Cosmopolitan.

More than 90 percent of magazine sales come from paid subscriptions. Many titles are shifting their readers to tablets or other mobile devices. In 2012, digital magazine circulation more than doubled to 7.9 million copies, up from 3.2 million.

With a circulation of 19,000 a month, Bonnie is distributed free at more than 550 high-traffic locations.

In his defense of print, Crary points to the strong audience for women's magazines.

"I would never try this with a men's magazine," he said.

While many national titles have struggled, niche products devoted to well- defined regions or interests have held their own and even flourished.

Women's magazines continue to thrive, too. They provide inspiration, motivation and support for a female audience.

And they don't require the same commitment of time (as a book) or money (as an e-reader). Most magazines can be flipped through in under 20 minutes while waiting for a hair or dentist appointment.

That's Bonnie's target audience: Female readers in Sacramento who might be looking for something to browse.

While flipping through its 50-plus pages, they may see some familiar faces, too.

"Our target demographic are women, age 25 to 55, in Sacramento," Crary said, "but we're not your typical women's magazine (with models on the cover). Our first three issues all featured women in their 50s on the cover."

Women's magazines tend to lean heavily on fashion and family, two surefire subjects for their primary audience. Beauty, wellness and entertainment also are common topics.

Bonnie touches on all those. But at its core are strong Sacramento women with inspirational stories.

Said Romasanta, "People say they love it. It really speaks to them."

Added Crary, "I think we offer a unique product. Bonnie is about 360-degree living in Sacramento."

To read more about Bonnie including past issues, go to

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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