The Book of the Week is “The Fall of the House of Forbes” by Stewart Pinkerton, published in 2011. This volume describes the changes that occurred at Forbes (a magazine publisher named after its founding family) in the post-Malcolm Forbes era.
Malcolm, a major shareholder of the company, spent extravagantly on a collection of mansions, art, and vehicles that traversed land, sea and air; not to mention business parties. He had managed the company until his mysterious death in 1991. Thereafter, his successors imposed frugality. Nevertheless, Forbes was unprepared for the new realities of the internet.
When the magazine was finally forced to restructure its operations by instituting massive layoffs and integrating print and Web, it had already been plagued for years by arrogant and petty editors, office politics, high turnover and numerous inefficiencies. While the magazine previously had a sterling reputation for meticulous fact-checking, it has jettisoned quality for dumbed-down content and Web traffic at any cost.
It is thought that the way to achieve profitability on the Web is to foster interactivity with readers. The Huffington Post does so, but has yet to make any money. Furthermore, research has shown that people have much poorer focus and information retention when they are reading news on a backlit screen, than when reading news in print form.
Read the book to learn the history of the Forbes family, and the people and bad choices behind the collapse of this media empire.