The 103-year-old publication went on the market Thursday when its owner, Reed Elsevier, put its publishing unit up for sale, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Company spokesman Patrick Kerr told the Times the move was part of a new direction away from advertising-oriented to subscription-based media, and was not a reflection on the performance of Reed Elsevier's Reed Business Information unit -- which publishes Variety, Publishers Weekly, Broadcasting & Cable and hundreds of other publications.
"We've taken the decision to get into less cyclical markets where there's less exposure to advertising," said Kerr.
Reed Business Information's revenue was $1.7 billion in 2007, when Variety's online advertising revenue grew 82 percent while its print advertising revenue fell, the Times reported.
Charlie Koones, who served as president and publisher of Variety until Dec. 31, said the decision to sell the publishing unit is indicative of the kind of trouble print publications face.
"A buyer is going to have to evaluate what kind of investment he wants to make to drive growth," Koones said.