To me the more interesting question is why the magazine’s owner decided to close it rather than seek a buyer. I talked to an antitrust partner at a New York law firm who said one would have a tough time using antitrust law to prevent the closing of Gourmet, but that that one factor to look at would be whether either Gourmet or Bon Appetit were acquired, and if so, what the Department of Justice said at the time. It turns out that Condé Nast bought Bon Appetit as part of a $170 million acquisition of Knapp Publications in 1993 (before Joel Klein, now the New York Schools chancellor, got to the Justice department’s antitrust division). We’ve got messages in to Mr. Klein, the Justice Department, and the New York State attorney general’s office but haven’t heard back from them yet. If Condé Nast was shopping Gourmet to potential buyers, it wasn’t doing it particularly aggressively; Marvin Shanken of M. Shanken Publications, which publishes Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, and Food Arts, told me he hadn’t been approached as a potential buyer. I’ve got a call in to Cook’s Illustrated to ask them the same question (Update: a spokeswoman called back and said they won’t say whether they were offered the magazine, but that Christopher Kimball has an op-ed running in the New York Times this weekend.)

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