In a surprising plot twist, gentlemen’s literary journal Playboy has announced that it will stop publishing photographs of fully-nude models in its print edition. The companion website stopped featuring nudity in August of this year—and as a result, internet traffic has increased from 4 million to 16 million users a month.
The print journal only has a readership of 800,000 people currently, compared to 5.5 million subscribers in 1975. Playboy says that the change in material is a necessary one, as “its executives admit that [the magazine] has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered…You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”
Hugh Hefner agreed to the decision, proposed by chief content officer Cory Jones, who says that the magazine will still feature some racy photos as well as a “Playmate of the Month,” but that the images won’t be as risqué as they have in the past.
“12-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it’s the right thing to do,” Jones told the New York Times.
Jezebel considers the magazine’s move to be one intended to keep the magazine modern and relevant, to keep it from losing its “most desired class of readership of young well-off men. There’s also a probable interest in trying to continue to gain readership among women; the magazine has clearly courted the market with features on “women’s issues” like college sexual assault or Gamergate.”
Other attempts to revamp the publication have not done well, notes the Times, but removing the nudity might help. Playboy’s largest competitor, Penthouse, tried to change the market by going even more explicit, a decision that sent it crumbling down; it has yet to recover.
If Playboy wants to continue to be relevant, changing its direction might be the only way to go. People can now see whatever they want on the internet, and probably for free—so what’s the point of keeping nude photos in the magazine? Something else must be offered. Already, Playboy has published some pretty big names in the writing community like Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, and Luis Urrea.
What’s next for the magazine? Now that they have changed what used to be the foundation of their work, it could be just about anything.