Is Playboy Screwed?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the recession, it’s that sex still sells. Sex workers are pulling in the big bucks, the online porn business is booming, and the sex toy industry is thriving. The only person not reaping the rewards? Hugh Hefner. Playboy has hit a major slump, reporting a loss of $13.7 million this quarter as advertising dipped 26 percent. The magazine is considering raising their $5.99 cover price and reducing the frequency and circulation of the magazine. Interestingly, the magazine represents less than a quarter of the company’s total revenue, which has insiders speculating that Hefner will offset its losses and keep it afloat despite its decline. Regardless, major changes are in store. Last week, we told you that photographer Terry Richardson shot a recent cover, giving the magazine some much needed edge, and this week Heidi Montag Pratt confirmed she’ll be posing for the magazine, all in hopes of boosting newsstand sales. But why is Playboy, one of the most well known magazines in the world, having such a rough time? Experts believe Playboy’s old fashioned aesthetic no longer tittilates, and those who “read it for the articles” aren’t impressed by the journalism anymore. “It lost on the intellectual side for people who actually bought Playboy to read it,” says Samir Husni, chair of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi in an interview with ABC News. “And it lost on the other side for people who just bought Playboy to look at the pictures because there were plenty of pictures now everywhere. As much as you shake the magazine, it doesn’t move the same way it moves on the Internet.”

Can Playboy recover? Should it? Or is it time for Hefner to retire and retreat to the mansion? Hopefully, orgies in the grotto will continue.