Archive for June, 2010


Celebrating the new blood of the magazine industry: 25 Notable New Magazines from the last 25 Years

June 28, 2010

New magazines are the new blood that runs through the veins and arteries of our industry. They are what gives our industry the constant pulse that keeps the industry well, alive and kicking. In celebration of my 25th anniversary of Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazine I revealed earlier today, at the Retail Marketplace Conference that is hosted by the Magazine Publishers of American and the Periodical & Book Association of America in Boston, Ma, the names of 25 notable new magazines published for the first time between 1985 and 2010.

What follows is an adaptation of my presentation at the conference and the list of the 25 notable new magazines of the last 25 years.

25 Notable Magazine Launches from the last 25 Years

Over 25 years I have counted, collected, coded and consulted thousands of magazines. There have been good years, bad years, strange years and frustrating years; but every year has been an enjoyable year. When I started, there were people telling us that magazines were dying, that television was choking their life away. There were folks saying print was dead, and that I hadn’t yet caught on to changing trends.

The following list 25 notable magazines from the last 25 years is dedicated to those individuals who have been saying we are publishing in vain and that magazines are a soon-to-be-extinct medium. They were wrong 25 years ago, and they are still wrong and you will continue to be wrong. To paraphrase Roy Reiman’s famous advice for those who want to start a new magazine, the magazines in this list know how to be different and know how to be better.

The options were endless. A lot of magazines had a great run for years and then changed ownership and with that their days of glory faded. Some were ground breakers, but the copy cats came along and outsmarted and outperformed them. Some continued to be true to their DNA from day one and thus rose to the top of the pile..

Magazines like McSweeney’s show that the magazine buyers in America are hungry for unique, quality products. You won’t find a more innovative magazine on the newsstands or a more devoted readership. But aside from uniqueness, all of these magazines share three common characteristics: recognition, repetition and addiction.

Magazines like Lucky and Spry recognize who their audiences are and can better address their needs, wants and desires. This recognition is paramount because no magazine can be successful when it doesn’t know who its audience is. All magazine audiences want a level or repetition. They are not looking for the same story issue after issue, but read over the cover lines of Men’s Health for the last year. Men’s Health will always talk about better sex and better abs. This doesn’t make the magazine boring, it helps readers know what to expect at the newsstands. Repetition is all about developing a formula that matches up readers with content and sticking with what works. By sticking with that formula, these magazines have built addictive content. Just like Wizard magazine has done, once readers are addicted to the product you are producing, you have an audience that no economic downturn or increase in paper prices can destroy.

This list has magazines that have shown this is the medium that understands the American people, focuses on the positives in life and seeks to provide service to millions of readers every issue. No other medium can make those claims, and no other medium is as trusted, loved and celebrated as the magazine medium is. Even with such new inventions as the iPad, nothing can take the place of my first love.

Choosing the most notables of the last quarter century was not an easy task. However, when all was reviewed and checked 25 magazines climbed to the top of the thousands plus ladder. They are listed by historical order and they have three things in common: They all are still being published; they all stayed true to their DNA; and they all cared from day one about the customers who count and not counting customers. Readers were the customers of those magazines and this list shows you why.

1985 Elle
As a small magazine that challenged the fashion big wigs, Elle soon became the centerpiece of the fashion publishing world. The first import from France whish now shares a brand with 42 other international siblings. It dared to sell an idea rather than a business plan and the dare worked.

1986 Men’s Health
When you come up with a formula that works, stick with it. That’s what Men’s Health has done for years and it still draws in millions of readers every month.

1987 Cooking Light
If you ever question the viability of print, just take a look at Cooking Light. This magazine hasn’t stopped growing in circulation and advertising since it hit the newsstands almost 25 years ago.

1989 First for Women
Not all business models are created equal. By distributing in shopping carts and not requiring retailers to return cover price revenue for sold magazines, Bauer carved out a section of the magazine industry all for themselves.

1990 Entertainment Weekly
Despite a slow start, Entertainment Weekly is now the source for all things entertaining. Over the last 20 years, this example of success has followed pop culture and given us great writing and photography.

1990 Martha Stewart Living
Martha Stewart Living shows how powerful print can be in branding not just a category of interest but also an individual. As an offshoot of her television show, MSL defined home and home Service magazines.

1992 Wizard
Wizard makes you wonder if anyone over there could see into the future. Since before comics were a pop culture craze, Wizard has been dishing out all the information about anything and everything comic related.

1993 Fast Company
Fast Company proves that the good survives. With its launch before the dot com bust of the 90s, Fast Company has earned its keep by showing that no matter the economy, good content can sell.

1993 Wired
Wired understands that all things electronic and innovative are a lifestyle–or to be more exact—an obsession for some people. Just like the technology in its pages, there aren’t very many magazines in this category that have survived the test of time, but
Wired has and it is growing.

1994 InStyle
Success breeds success they say, and InStyle is a great example. With its start in the pages of People magazine, InStyle has grown into the source for celebrity-obsessed
Americans. The first magazine to humanize celebrities and show them shoeless in its pages.

1997 Maxim
Maxim proves there is no such thing as a dumb idea. Despite everyone saying it would never work, Felix Dennis launched Maxim and was soon the owner of a 1 million plus circulation title.

1998 ESPN
As a magazine that was multiplatform before multi-platform was even a term, ESPN the Magazine proved that great writing and photography can allow you to challenge anyone, even the biggest sports magazine on the market.

1998 Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concerns
McSweeney’s is based on innovation from frustration. After roadblocks concerning the current business model, Dave Eggers launched McSweeney’s. There is no denying that this magazine is quite possibly the definition of innovation.

2000 American Profile
Knowing your audience and providing them with great content will always be a successful formula. The Publishing Group of America took this advice to heart and is still benefiting from this 2000 launch.

2000 Lucky
Luck had nothing to do with the success of this title all about shopping. By taking a successful trend overseas and adapting it to the American market, Lucky magazine transformed a common activity and made a successful business

2000 O, the Oprah Magazine
What can you say about Oprah’s magazine? It’s a great extension of an individual who has proven she knows how to market herself and package her brand

2000 Real Simple
On a newsstand dominated by women’s magazines full of sex, celebrities and chocolate,
Real Simple proved these weren’t necessary for a good launch. Millions of readers and advertisers agree each month.

2001 The Week
The Week is the curator of the best journalism money can buy and the publication that makes even the most ignorant aware of what is going on in the world. It also personifies the Mr. Magazine tagline of more information in less time and less space.

2002 InTouch Weekly
The fast and fun content of InTouch Weekly is perfectly in line with the expectations of the 800,000 weekly readers of this celebrity title. It proves again that knowing your reader is still key to a successful magazine.

2003 Everyday Food
Everyday Food is the little engine that could of the newsstands. No one thought that Martha Stewart could launch a successful title after her court troubles, but this title showed that Martha still knows this category front to back.

2004 All You
As a great partnership between the country’s largest retailer and one of the country’s largest magazine companies, All You shows that it doesn’t have to be difficult to find customers where they are.

2004 Life & Style Weekly
As another magazine that traces its roots back to its sister InTouch magazine, Life & Style Weekly proves that the successful apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
It’s a spin-off, but it lacks none of the quality of the original.

2006 Relish
Circulation of 6 million is a great goal, especially when it’s the initial circulation at launch. But that 6 million is nothing now that you see Relish has a circulation around 15 million.

2008 Food Network Magazine
When asked what would make their experience better, hundreds of thousands of Food Network viewers said they wanted a magazine. Now with a circulation of 1.4 million,
Food Network is skyrocketing on the newsstands and mailboxes.

2008 Spry
As a newspaper supplement focusing on health and well-being, Spry quickly found its niche and carves out a spot among its 9 million readers. This is a great addition to America’s hurting newspapers. Maybe the Spry visit will be what the doctor’s prescribed for a healthy newspaper.

I would love to read your comments on the aforementioned selections and which magazine do you think deserves to be THE MOST NOTABLE LAUNCH of the last 25 years. Enjoy.


What is a magazine, really? The debate goes on…

June 25, 2010

My friend Joe Berger who describes himself as “a newsstand sales consultant (single copy sales consultant?), husband, father, recent convert to gardening, sometime avid cyclist” recently took me and Bob Sacks to task regarding our definitions of what a magazine is and is not. He wrote on his blog From the Foredeck of the Titanic an entry under the title: Husni Vs. Sacks: Who’s right? Who wins? Does it matter?

Dr. Samir Husni aka Mr. Magazine, ( ) has developed a well deserved reputation as a defender of the printed magazine. He loves them, collects them, teaches about them to college students. And in the era of digitized content, declares very eloquently that they are not obsolete. As somebody who is acutely aware of the fact that more than 80% of his income still comes from ink on paper magazines, I applaud Dr. Husni.

On the reverse side of the same coin, Robert Sacks (aka, a leading publishing industry consultant refers to himself (and apparently Dr. Husni concurs) as Samir’s “very good friend”, but debates him just the same about the future of the printed magazine. Like all good consultants, Sacks opines that the future of the printed magazine is essentially one where it will be niche and pull in significantly less revenue for publishers as the world goes digital. In fact, Sacks is such a forward thinker, that he and his staff came up with a definition of a magazine that does not include paper or ink (or staples, for that matter). I realize that in ten years or so more than 80% of my income might come from this new definition of a magazine, so I applaud BoSacks too (although may be more of a polite golf clap).

To read the rest of Joe’s commentary click here.


It is NOT an Odd thing for students to be publishing a PRINT magazine

June 23, 2010

In less than six days the newsstands in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, will welcome the newest magazine launch of the year: Odd magazine. The magazine is being published by the the students of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute who have a magazine minor. With a tag line “six degrees of fashion” the students have been able to create an almost 200 pages of stunning photography, typography and one heck of a visual impact of print.

Prior to the launch, the students are utilizing digital and the web to promote and support the launch of the printed first issue. On their website the magazine is using all the electronic tricks to pump up the support and buzz for the printed magazine. A hide and seek ticket hunt for the launch part is in progress. Seven tickets have been hidden in the center of Amsterdam and readers have been asked to follow the clues on Facebook and Twitter to find the invitation tickets to come to the party.

A press kit has been sent to the media world to help promote the magazine and the event. A countdown timer on the website register the days, hours, minutes and seconds before the magazine reaches the newsstands. I had the chance to take a peek at the first issue and I must say that this independent student magazine is nothing but a great testimony of the efforts and experience of what only a printed magazine can provide and a permanent record of the experience the students’ work and what they had to go through in creating the magazine. Odd is a realistic non-virtual keepsake that they can call their own.

Holding Odd in their hands and flipping the pages one after the other is indeed not an odd thing. It is real and they know it and are very proud of it. If students who are minoring in magazine studies can do that, dare I ask what would they have done if they were majoring in magazine studies.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see the magazine hit the shelves and read about the rest of the folks reaction to this beautiful Odd thing. As for me, I am sending a very hearty congratulations to each and every member of the team at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. A job very well done, in print, on the web and all of the social networks. You are anything but Odd. And, by the way, I do agree with y’all, “it is an Odd world, after all!”


25 Years of Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazines and Still Counting…

June 21, 2010

As much as I try to avoid writing about personal stuff in this blog, however the gift I received from my kids (picture on the right) for Father’s Day yesterday forced this blog to be written.

25 years ago, in 1986, I published my first Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazine listing the 234 new magazines that I was able to find and document in 1985. In few days the 25th Anniversary edition of the Guide will be out listing 704 new magazines that were first launched in 2009.

The Guide has been and continue to be a labor of love. The name came from my wife who suggested calling it Samir Husni’s Guide just in case I missed a magazine launch here or there. My kids, who accompanied me on many many trips to the newsstands and witnessed my love affair with magazines first hand, rewarded me on this 25th anniversary year of the Guide with a poster that they designed, scanned, printed and framed with all the 25 covers of the Guide.

And, so I will not think they are asking me to stop, they wrote on the poster, “25 Years of Success… and Still Counting.” They assured me that the “counting” is a “pun intended!” Thank you Marie for helping give birth to the Guide and thank you Diala, Laura and Afeef for the best Father’s Day gift yet. And for the thousands of publishers of new magazines, thank you for the first 25 years of new magazines and here’s to the next quarter century of new magazine launches… that is ink on paper new magazine launches. Cheers.


Innovation in Print: When Tech and Content Meet: Happy Father’s Day the Sactown Magazine Way…

June 18, 2010

A lot has been written about the “scratch-and-sniff” cover of this month’s issue of Sactown magazine, the city magazine of Sacramento, CA. Sactown ventured into a new “value added print” (VAP) by introducing a scratch and sniff coating on the cover that makes the reader actually smell the slice of orange. FIPP Magazine World also introduces with this issue a “Peel ‘n Taste strip, one of the newest and most innovative techniques available in print magazine publishing.”

But the founders of Sactown magazine did not stop their innovation there. In addition to the technological innovation with the scratch and sniff cover, Rob Turner and his wife Elyssa Lee opted to innovate editorially with the masthead of the magazine. In celebration of Father’s Day this coming Sunday, the two decided to list every body on the masthead of the magazine as the son or daughter of rather than the given names of the staffers. Each and every staffer is listed as Son of or Daughter of.
A great combination of technological and editorial innovation that is just one example of how magazines are more than just content providers, but rather they are experience makers. Thank you Rob and Elyssa and Happy Father’s Day to all.


So, What is a Magazine, Really? Read on…

June 11, 2010

Being in the content business and being in the magazine business are two completely different worlds. While the magazine business deals with content, content is only but a fraction of what makes a magazine. The myth that is now sweeping our industry that we are content providers and it does not matter how our customers get their information may be the Trojan horse that will aid some publishers continue on their print suicide path.

Content is good and content will continue to be king and queen of our profession, but magazines are not going to live and survive by content alone. It never stops to amaze me how the majority of people jumped on the bandwagon of equating magazines to music and wanted to sell magazines like the iTune store sells music. I said that before and I will say again, the only similarity between magazines and music is the letter m. Everything else is different. As a child I listened to music on the little transistor radio. Later I listened to records, tapes and even listened to music on television. I listened to my favorite songs over and over. I used earphones, loud speakers, any and all the things created to help me listen to the music. The goal was always to listen to my favorite song over and over again. I did not care how the song was broadcasted or delivered. I was not holding to that radio or television set, because the medium did not matter in that case. It was the message that mattered. It was so easy to separate the message from the medium, and it did not matter what medium delivered that message to me, because my addiction was to the message that I kept listening to, time after time. It was not a message meant for a one-time use. The physical medium was just the vehicle to deliver the message and it was never part of the message.

That brings me back to the printed magazine. Like music, each and every magazine can be used as a medium to deliver a message, but if that was all what magazines do, than we would have been out of business long time ago and we would have one format, maybe an iMagazine that delivers all the content you need to select and choose from for your daily needs, wants and desires.

Magazines are much more than content. Magazines are much more than information, words, pictures and colors all combined in a platform that serves nothing but as a delivery vehicle. Magazines, each and every one and each and every issue of every one, are a total experience that engages the customers five senses. Nothing is left to chance. It is a total package. Without the ink, the paper, the touch, the smell, the look, the taste, it will not be called a magazine. Every issue is a complete new experience with a sense of ownership, showmanship and membership and is renewed with the arrival of the next issue. The total experience of flipping through the pages of a magazine, looking at the different dimensions, shapes, and other physical properties (including the colors we use on every issue whether it is the famous TIME red border or National Geographic yellow border) create a unique relationship with the customer issue after issue.

So before we close the book on this great technology we call ink on paper and start moving with the tide of this new digital world, stop and think for a moment on what makes a magazine a magazine and why in this digital age millions of magazines worldwide are still thriving in ink on paper creating daily experiences, one issue at a time. Magazines are much more than content and they are even much more than ink on paper. The total physical aspect of each “storehouse” to use the original meaning of what a magazine is include all of its properties, from the size of the store to the content of the store, seen and felt together.

Take time and think about it. The digital age is helping us create new platforms and new media, but do not fool yourself and think you can recreate a similar experience to that we have in ink on paper magazines. It is one of a kind and I if we only devote five percent of our time, money and energy in this digital age focusing on how to enhance this existing ink on paper technology and what it is delivering, our business will be in a much better shape. Magazines are not just content providers, they are experience makers, one printed issue at a time. And, if it is not ink on paper, please try to find another name to define that new medium, because in my book if it is not printed it is not a magazine. I am living the digital age (you name the gadget I have it, including the iPad) but I am not living in a dream world. I have yet to see anything comes close to what an ink on paper magazine can deliver and do for its customers at such a great feel, not to mention a great price too. Go grab a magazine, any magazine and then let’s start talking about experience making!


PS: The image above is taken from the invitation card used by Triada Printing Company in Kiev, Ukraine for the seminar I gave on June 9 in Kiev.


Best advice for a new magazine launch: “Start a media brand,” says Jeff Wellington, publisher of ReadyMade magazine, in the “Mr. Magazine™ Interviews”

June 6, 2010

“Serve your audience and stay relevant,” is the secret ingredient that Jeff Wellington, publisher of ReadyMade magazine, believes is needed to ensure a successful publishing plan for magazines today. His advice for new comers to the magazine business is to “think for an idea for a media brand” rather than one for just a magazine. He should know. After all he is the one to lead ReadyMade, “the magazine for the innovator in all of us,” into the multi-channel multi-platform that it is today. “We have always had a strong print component, a solid web and digital foundation, as well as experiential events that reflect the passion of our readers and core audiences,” he told me in a recent interview. The publisher of the magazine that tags itself “Instructions For Everyday Life,” offers his instructions for everyday magazine publishing.

Mr. Wellington shares his views on the future of magazines, the story behind the name of the magazine and the user generated content in this installment of The Mr. Magazine™ Interviews. That, and other words of wisdom from the publisher who lead the “little small engine that could” to one of Adweek’s highest awards, are in the following complete, lightly edited, interview with the publisher of ReadyMade magazine Jeff Wellington:

Samir Husni: It has been said that there are three groups of new magazines: ground breakers, copycats and cheap imitators. ReadyMade is a groundbreaker with nothing like it on the market place. How do you publish and deal with a groundbreaker with no competitors in the market place?

Jeff Wellington: Regardless of how you are perceived, you have to stay focused on two critical things: serving your audience, and staying relevant. That sounds easy, but in today’s multichannel environment, it requires having an editorial voice that can connect on many different platforms.

SH: ReadyMade was founded by two entrepreneur women in San Francisco, now it is published by a major magazine publisher, Meredith… is it the same magazine or is it a different magazine? Why?

JW: The core focus of the title and its mission as a lifestyle brand for young, creative professionals interested in home design, decorating, and personal style and that environment has not changed. However, we have been able to expand the range of topics covered because of our ability to leverage the broad editorial assets of Meredith. This evolution of the title has been very organic, and well received by our audience.

SH: The name of the magazine is not the best reflector of what the magazine is all about. What is the mission and goal of the magazine and how can you adapt to such a non-descriptive name for the magazine?

JW: We believe the name is quite apt., actually. It was named after the term artist Marcel Duchamp coined in 1915 to describe a series of sculptures that playfully rethought the relationship between people, mass-produced objects, everyday items and art. Readymade is rooted in the idea of rethinking everyday items and how they might be reused or repurposed. ReadyMade is about people who make things and the culture of making. It’s a magazine for the innovator in all of us.

SH: The new business model for magazine publishing is becoming to resemble a three legged stool: print, the web and digital. What are the plans for ReadyMade?

JW: Fortunately, ReadyMade has always viewed itself as a brand so was fairly ahead of the curve when it came to creating multi-channel elements for our readers. We have always had a strong print component, a solid web and digital foundation, as well as experiential events that reflect the passion of our readers and core audiences. In addition, we are constantly looking at new platforms such as mobile that we believe are core to the DNA of the ReadyMade audience. The truly important points to remember is, content and context, and to be consistent to your brand voice.

SH: If you were to assign a competitive set for ReadyMade, both on the reader’s side and the advertiser’s side, who will be that competitive set?

JW: As you just mentioned in question #1, ReadyMade is a ground breaking concept with a unique editorial formula – 60% of our content is user generated which allows for an open dialogue between our editors and our readers. To that, our readers are highly engaged with our brand both in print and online. Competitively for both readers and advertisers ReadyMade is a hybrid of many elements, it has the creativity of a younger Martha Stewart, the design sense of an Elle Décor or Dwell and the lifestyle sensibility of a Real Simple – all wrapped around the idea of living a responsible green lifestyle.

SH: What advice will you offer someone coming to you and saying, “Jeff, I have an idea for a new magazine…”?

JW: I would make them first think of an idea for a media brand. In today’s world it is critical to think beyond the printed page since the flow of ideas is no longer a one- way street. For example, last year Meredith launched a social media site called Later that site became a series of special interest print media publications featuring content created by the contributors to the site. You have to think much larger than one dimension for any new media brand.

SH: How do you see the future of magazines in general and print in particular?

JW: Generally, I avoid the crystal ball business. However, magazines remain a solid and important part of consumers lives. For example, the recent MRI numbers revealed that many titles actually increased their audience numbers, and that more younger people are reading magazines than ever before. There is something uniquely special about that relationship between a magazine and how consumers experience a magazine. Obviously, new platforms will create new options to engage those audiences, but the future of print magazines will remain vital as long as we create compelling and engaging editorial that taps into the passions of our readers.

SH: Thank you.


On “One-Night Stands and Love Affairs…” Orange magazine asks and Mr. Magazine™ answers

June 3, 2010

“With the launch of any new magazine—especially one that hopes to be “both inspirational and aspirational and sometimes even a bit confrontational”— there will be opinions on it, good, bad, and otherwise,” thus writes Jim Meyers President & Founder of the Imagination custom publishing and content marketing company.

Orange magazine Mr. Meyeres continues “is about providing some understanding and perspective, asking questions and exposing you—the reader—to things that maybe you haven’t thought of before. Working with leading companies and associations, Imagination has intimate knowledge about how to help you connect with your customers or members. We want to share that with you.”

In the second issue of the magazine Rene Ryan director for Imagination’s client strategy interviewed me on the topic of magazines, custom media, the future, free content among many other things. Her lead and first question are below:

His “little black book” is filled with numbers: 685 in 2008; 704 in 2009; 170 in the first quarter of 2010. But what do they mean? We discuss the print industry’s commitment issues with Mr. Magazine.

Q: To many of us in the industry you are known simply as “Mr. Magazine,” a champion for the printed word and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. While that’s true, you’re also one of the industry’s harshest critics, saying that major media companies are “in a coma” and “not living in this world” if they think things are going to go back to the way they were. Since we’re not going back, what needs to change?

A: The No. 1 thing is to stop the “welfare information society.” We have been giving our content and our experiences away for free for years. We’ve put people on this information welfare model for so long that they have now the sense of entitlement; they expect everything to be for free. I laugh when I now hear media companies saying, “Oh, we need to start charging online. We need to start putting up paywalls.” How about you start charging for print first?…

To read the entire interview click here.

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