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Rolling Stone shrinks page size

Rolling Stone magazine is shrinking with the times.

After more than four decades of standing out with a larger format than other magazines, it will step back and look like everyone else starting with the Oct. 30 issue, due this week.

The adoption of a standard format could boost single-copy sales and reduce production costs for advertising inserts such as scent strips and tear-out postcards. The magazine says any cost savings, though, will be offset by the inclusion of more pages and the shift to thicker, glossier paper.

Like other devoted readers, Eddie Ward, 35, said he will miss the old format, which was an inch taller and two inches wider. But he looks forward to the change and might even buy a smaller, “more fashionable” bag to carry his belongings.

Rolling Stone chose Barack Obama, who is campaigning for president on a theme of change, for the cover of the Oct. 30 issue. By contrast, the last issue in the oversize format featured a cartoon of John McCain.

Magazines constantly undergo redesigns – The Atlantic, for instance, debuts new sections with its November issue out Tuesday. A few also have changed dimensions, including TV Guide, which grew into full-size in 2005.

In fact, Rolling Stone has changed formats twice before. It first published in 1967 as a tabloid-size newspaper because that was all its budget covered. It began printing on a four-color press in 1973 and magazine-quality paper in 1981, when it also shrank to its just-abandoned 10-by-12-inch size.

The switch to a standard format completes the magazine's transformation into, well, a magazine and comes as readers depend less on the printed pages for breaking news common in newspapers, said Anthony DeCurtis, a longtime writer for the magazine.

And size may not matter in the Internet era, though Rolling Stone says the Web site will remain supplemental to print, which has seen circulation stable since 2006 at about 1.45 million.

The decision to change officially came down to this: Why not?

“The size is a nostalgic element but not the iconic part of the magazine,” Publisher Will Schenck said. “Evolution and change is part of our DNA.”

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