Salmon, Sliced Thinner

On May 3, the New York Observer plans to reduce its trim size. The paper’s width will shrink from 13 3/4 inches to 12 1/2 inches, making it as wide as The Washington Post. The length will remain at 22 1/2 inches.

Editor Peter Kaplan said that the paper will continue to run its normal complement of seven stories on its front page, but in a five-column format rather than the current six. The inside pages will remain six columns.

Kaplan said the move should result in “significant savings,” cutting around $100,000 in annual newsprint costs.

“It’s money that I’d rather allocate elsewhere,” Kaplan said. “The vitality and well-being of the paper demands that we don’t waste money. I thought this is the best way to allocate resources without hurting the advertising and editorial properties.

“It gave us a face-lift,” Kaplan added, “that we needed.”

Nancy Butkus designed the new front page. “Nancy Butkus is creating a front page that is strong and decisive, while continuing to evoke the era of The Front Page when New York had 11 dailies,” Kaplan said.

Before settling on the current dimensions, Kaplan said, the paper had considered going to the much-hailed Berliner format, the elongated quasi-tabloid size adopted by the Guardian and Le Monde. The only American printer, however, with a Berliner capability is being built in Lafayette, Indiana and will not roll its presses until this August. So the New York Observer will publish the same size as other narrow broadsheets.

“We’re not narrow, we’re svelte,” said Kaplan.

–Gabriel Sherman Salmon, Sliced Thinner