Vermont Life magazine up for sale

A spread in the summer issue of Vermont Life.

The storied state magazine Vermont Life is up for sale.

The Scott administration is accepting bids for the purchase of the publication. The state will also consider licensing or partnership agreements with a private publishing company.

The state-run, glossy magazine that has promoted the Vermont lifestyle for more than 70 years has been in operating in the red over the past decade. Accumulated deficits ran to $3 million this year.

Vermont Life was founded in 1946 as the first state tourism magazine. For many years, the publication featured glossy full page photographs of the Vermont landscape and feature writing about Yankee ingenuity and a disappearing agricultural way of life. It was used by the commerce agency to promote Vermont products, businesses and tourist sites.

In the past decade, the magazine was upgraded and the focus shifted to the local food movement, recreation and the arts. A digital edition of the magazine was created in 2012. Vermont Life has also published a popular annual calendar, holiday catalogs and notecards.

It is considered to be one of the nation’s first regional magazines.

The magazine’s fiscal woes are partly attributable to changes in the media industry that have hurt print publications, including books, newspapers and magazines. The transition to web publishing has been a difficult largely because Google and Facebook own 90 percent of the advertising market.

In the spring, lawmakers and commerce agency officials agreed it was time to let a private entity run Vermont Life.

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development released a Request for Proposal on Monday, inviting qualified publishing companies to compete for Vermont Life.

The state is looking for a qualified buyer or contractor — depending on whether potential bidders wish to purchase Vermont Life outright or partner with the state. Agreements with contractors would be for a three-year period.

The deadline for proposals is November 17.

Vermont Life has revenues of about $1 million a year and 13 employees. Advertising brings in about $300,000. Forty-one percent of the magazine’s income is from subscriptions and product sales make up 22 percent of revenues, according to the request for proposal.

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