The Scientist Lives

LabX Media Group signs intent to purchase

A potential buyer has emerged to save The Scientist from early retirement.

A week after it was reported that the life-science magazine’s twenty-fifth anniversary issue would be its last, LabX Media Group announced that it had signed a nonbinding letter of intent to purchase The Scientist from the Science Navigation Group, its current owner.

LabX, founded in 1995 and based in Ontario, Canada, is primarily an online marketplace for buying and selling laboratory equipment. In 2008, it bought Lab Manager Magazine, a trade journal with a reported circulation of 35,287. In 2010, LabX bought, a forum for discussion about lab equipment.

Susan Young at Nature’s News Blog quoted Lab Manager publisher Mario Di Ubaldi saying, “The Scientist complements what we are doing, it’s sort of the missing piece.” According to the post:

The potential purchase would bring LabX to the attention of The Scientist readers and conversely, expose readers of exisitng LabX products to The Scientist, broadening their focus, says Di Ubaldi. Both possibilities would open up a larger market for existing advertisers.

In a post at The Scientist’s website, senior editor Bob Grant wrote that news of the outlet’s termination caused an outpouring of concern:

Going from celebrating a successful and eventful 25-year run to mourning the loss of a leading voice in the life science community was an emotional rollercoaster ride, to put it mildly. We received calls and emails from devoted readers and former writers and editors expressing their dismay that The Scientist would no longer be published. But as we learned last week, our ride hadn’t quite come to its end.

After learning of The Scientist‘s demise, Bob Kafato, president of LabX Media Group, made a call that would breathe hope into a resurrection of the magazine. Kafato contacted officers at Sciencenow Inc., The Scientist’s most recent owner, to tell them that he was interested in purchasing and reviving the magazine.

“LabX have moved very quickly over the last week to work with us, meet the Scientist team and get to the LOI. We are working with LabX to conclude a transaction as soon as possible,” Andrew Crompton, the chief executive of the Science Navigation Group, wrote in an e-mail, declining to go into any more detail about the deal while it was still in progress.

The press release included the following statement from Mary Beth Aberlin, The Scientist’s editor in chief:

Naturally, we were all saddened by the decision to cease publication of The Scientist, and grateful to our readers and contributors for all their kind words concerning the magazine. The editorial team and I are delighted that LabX Media Group has been able to agree on terms with Sciencenow, Inc. with such dispatch. Our dedicated editorial team will remain intact and continue to produce a magazine that maintains our editorial standards.

New stories—about immunology research, behavior research, and wildlife management—and are already appearing on The Scientist’s website and normal publication should resume shortly.

It’s great news for news for the scientific community and LabX seems like a good fit. The Scientist’s readers are mostly academics and scientists, so there’s a lot of potential for “brand synergy,” or whatever it’s called.

One only hopes that the partnership won’t encourage the more technical side of the The Scientist’s personality too much. Its content is more accessible and engaging than general readers may realize. It would be nice to see its appeal grow broader, rather than narrower, as a result of its brush with death.

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Curtis Brainard writes on science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.