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Time kills 'Life,' blames paper, and the world gets images

Time Inc. will cease printing a paper version of Life magazine and will make its library of images available online.

The first cover of Life magazine, November 23, 1936.
The first cover of Life magazine, published November 23, 1936, features a photo by Margaret Bourke-White. Time, Inc.

Time Inc. announcedyesterday that it will stop printing its Life magazine newspaper supplement after the April 20, 2007 issue. The brand will live on through its various other ventures, such as its well-known hardcover and soft cover books, and a new Web site.

Describing the Web site as a "major portal," Time Inc. plans to offer Life's entire collection of photos, approximately 10 million images, on the Web site for free personal use. It is still unclear how Time will make the images available for commercial use, and the company will not disclose the URL for its upcoming portal. Life's image collection includes the work of some of the most accomplished photographers in photographic history, such as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, and Gordon Parks.

In a statement about the closure, the company blamed the weak outlook for advertising in the newpaper business by saying, "the response was not strong enough to warrant further investment in Life as a weekly newspaper supplement."

If you've paid attention to Life over the years, you know that this isn't the first time the publication ceased printing. As we have come to know it, Life began publication in 1932. The magazine chronicled the events of the mid-20th century until 1972, only to return for another run from 1978 through 2000, when it officially ceased publication as a standalone monthly magazine. The brand was resurrected in October, 2004, as a newspaper supplement.