Well, this is very sad news when content creators go out of business. Here’s Condé Nast CEO Chuck Townsend’s official memo…

From: Townsend, Chuck
Sent: Monday, October 05, 2009 10:17 AM
Subject: Announcing Changes within Condé Nast

We have now completed an extensive review of our business – an important undertaking given the dramatic changes in the U.S. economy. The review has led us to a number of decisions designed to navigate the company through the economic downturn and to position us to take advantage of coming opportunities.

Condé Nast’s success comes from the ability of our publications to attract readers with a wide range of interests, as well as advertisers who value them. But in this economic climate it is important to narrow our focus to titles with the greatest prospects for long-term growth.

As a result of our review, Brides will increase its frequency to monthly to solidify its position as the most important brand in the bridal category, and Modern Bride and Elegant Bride will close.

Gourmet magazine will cease monthly publication, but we will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet’s book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com. We will concentrate our publishing activities in the epicurean category on Bon Appétit.

Finally, Cookie magazine will be discontinued, and resources that had been dedicated to its publishing will be invested elsewhere.

The editorial and business staffs of Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Gourmet, and Cookie all have earned their magazines large and devoted followings. We have been proud to publish these titles, and we are grateful to the staffs for their hard work and dedication.

These changes, combined with cost and workforce reductions now underway throughout the company, will speed the recovery of our current businesses and enable us to pursue new ventures. In the coming weeks, we hope to announce initiatives to develop digital versions of our brands that will make use of new devices and distribution channels.

Condé Nast is now in its 100th year of creating the most respected and iconic brands in the publishing world. These changes will ensure that our unique publishing company will continue in its preeminent position for many years to come.

And below are responses from around the web on this shocking news to close Ruth Reich’s Gourmet:

Condé Nast plans to announce this morning that it will close Gourmet magazine, a magazine of almost biblical status in the food world; it has been published since December 1940. The magazine has sustained a severe decline in ad pages, but the cut still comes as a shock. There was speculation that Condé Nast would close one of its food titles — Gourmet or Bon Appétit — but most bets were on the latter. Gourmet has a richer history than Bon Appétit, and its editor, Ruth Reichl, is powerful in the food world.

In addition to Gourmet, Condé Nast plans to announce it will also close Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride. Cookie is a relatively new introduction, started in 2005, while the bridal magazines were seen as offshoots of the bigger Brides magazine, which Condé Nast also owns.

The cuts come at the conclusion of a three-month study by McKinsey & Company, which conducted analysis of Condé Nast’s costs, and told several magazines to cut about 25 percent from their budgets. These are the first closings announced by the company since the McKinsey study.

– from NYTimes

But it’s not terribly shocking that Gourmet is now getting the ax. We wrote about the similarities between Gourmet and Conde’s other food title, Bon Appétit — and in this economy redundancy is death. The increasing reach of food blogs like Grub Street and Eater, which just went national, has also been cutting into the readership and clout of Gourmet. (Curiously, no word yet on the mag’s closure from normally Twitter-prone editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl.) – from WSJ

Despite rumors that the epicurean titles could be in jeopardy, the news of Gourmet’s print demise (the website, publishing, and TV arm will remain) seems to have come as a shock to long-time fans of both the magazine and its editor Ruth Reichl. The shuttering of Cookie, however is a surprise to many including it would seem, some on the inside: FishbowlNY’s Amanda Ernst notes that “as recently as last week the magazine’s publicist pitched us an interview with Cookie’s publisher Carolyn Kremins, boasting that she was ‘recently awarded the MIN Sales Team Leader of the Year for 2008 recognizing her 11 percent increase in ad revenue in 2008 versus 2007 with almost 30 percent of the publication’s 2008 ad pages [coming] from new advertisers.’” And yet, apparently not enough to save them from the McKinsey knife. – from here

In addition, an internal memo notes that Gourmet’s publishing footprint will be maintained: “Gourmet magazine will cease monthly publication, but we will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet’s book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com,” wrote CEO Chuck Townsend. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt just published “Gourmet Today,” a cookbook edited by Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl. – from MediaBistro