Playboy Drops Nudes, Wants You to Read it for the Articles

Playboy will stop publishing photos of “fully nude” women this Spring as part of the magazine’s upcoming redesign, The New York Times reports.

The move reflects the reality that nudes and pornography are a click away, and Playboy can’t compete with other publishers whether professional or amateur.

“That battle has been fought and won,” Scott Flanders, Playboy’s chief executive, tells The Times. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

Via The Times:

It is difficult, in a media market that has been so fragmented by the web, to imagine the scope of Playboy’s influence at its peak. A judge once ruled that denying blind people a Braille version of it violated their First Amendment rights. It published stories by Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami among others, and its interviews have included Malcolm X, Vladimir Nabokov, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jimmy Carter, who admitted that he had lusted in his heart for women other than his wife. Madonna, Sharon Stone and Naomi Campbell posed for the magazine at the peak of their fame. Its best-selling issue, in November of 1972, sold more than seven million copies.

The Playboy Web site stopped publishing nudes in August 2014 in order to comply with policy standards of sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Since that time, the SFW site’s traffic has grown from to 16 million uniques per month and the average age of its visitors dropped from 47 to 31, according to The Times.

Playboy makes most of its money licensing its brand and logo around the world “for bath products, fragrances, clothing, liquor and jewelry among other merchandise,” The Times reports. The US edition of the magazine loses about $3 million per year but Flanders considers it a marketing spend. “It is our Fifth Avenue storefront,” he tells The Times.

Image: Assorted Playboy covers from the 1960s. A complete collection can be viewed at Playboy.

Michael Cervieri

Michael Cervieri is the creator of the Future Journalism Project where he explores better ways to produce, consume and understand the news. He has taught Internet and Mobile communication technologies at both the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the university’s School of International and Public Affairs. (Twitter | Contact)