Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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To Embrace Is To Create A Beautiful And Necessary Magazine:  The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With John Sotomayor, Founder & Publisher, Embrace Magazine.

January 6, 2023

”The pandemic brought the world to a halt, but not Embrace Magazine. I decided to launch anyway, keeping all unpaid ads intact to allow LGBTQ+ owned businesses and their ally businesses a chance to bring awareness to their products and services during the pandemic while launching the magazine as it was intended…” John Sotomayor

“Publishing Embrace will always be a labor of love akin to the quote by Mark Twain, “find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” however, it is definitely a business venture…”  John Sotomayor

What happens when you mix in a blender a creative person at heart, with a strong business sense and enjoys the aesthetic appeal of magazine design, along with the intellectual application of the editorial content that can have an outward impact on the world around us? This person also adds every personal and educational experience of his life into the mix.  And did I fail to mention he is gay, and also Roman Catholic?  This and all is John Sotomayor, the publisher, editor-in-chief, and executive producer of the Florida based Embrace Magazine and Media.

I met John last year at the annual conference of the Florida Magazine Association where I was speaking.  His love for magazines and specifically for what he was doing with magazines, was evident in every single word he told me.  I could feel the passion, the love, the excitement, but at the same time the fear of the future.  How can one survive in this marketplace and how can a great magazine (my words, not his) survive in the midst of all the headwinds?

I have decided to interview John and ask him a few questions about him and Embrace magazine and Embrace media.  What follows is my Q and A with John: 

Samir Husni: Two years ago, you single handedly launched Embrace, tell me the story of that launch and your memories of that period…

John Sotomayor: After the success of a previous brand magazine, I decided I wanted to launch an LGBTQ+ magazine, which was more inline with my identity. I decided to make my formal announcement on June 28, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in my native New York City, which signified the start of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. I used the next few months on market research and development. Prepared to launch in January 2020, I had some delays that occur naturally with a startup. I was ready to launch next quarter, April 2020 when the world had other plans. The pandemic brought the world to a halt, but not Embrace Magazine. I decided to launch anyway, keeping all unpaid ads intact to allow LGBTQ+ owned businesses and their ally businesses a chance to bring awareness to their products and services during the pandemic while launching the magazine as it was intended. It paid off. We received public engagement. Emergency relief funds provided us the financial assistance we needed to get the first three issues published. 

S.H. : As you reflect on the launch, what are some of the most pleasant moments that you can recall?

J. S. : The most pleasant moments involved working with the contributors and our supporters toward developing the vision and content I desired to achieve the level of publication I sought Embrace to be. Everyone brought their A game. Many contributed at a fraction of their worth, and some contributed for free. Where some might have thought print publishing was on a downturn at best, and a thing of the past at worst, those around me saw this as an opportunity to achieve a next level platform for the LGBTQ+ community. Then, there was the reveal. The premiere issue exceeded all expectations. Minds were blown, and new engagement began instantaneously. My former employer, Kendra Akers, publisher for Akers Media Group publications I wrote for, sent the following message, “Hi John, WOW, you have outdone yourself with this publication. Great job! I wish you the best of luck with this new endeavor! I think people will really love it and appreciate it.” She was right. Many others shared similar sentiments. On competition level, judges awarded us with the highest honors in every competition we entered for various journalism organizations throughout Florida and the nation. 

S.H. : What are the biggest hurdles you faced and how did you overcome them?  In case you did not overcome them, what are the plans to do so?

J. S. : The largest hurdle we faced so far was the COVID-19 pandemic that saw a worldwide shutdown and isolation for almost two years. As we all know, businesses were closed from most of 2020 – 2021. Even when they reopened, for their own survival, they had to drastically reduce their operating budgets. The first for most to go was advertising. That was our bread and butter. We managed to stay afloat by publishing three issues per year rather than four. We planned to publish quarterly. We also kept our operational costs extremely low, again, thanks to the generosity of our contributors. Not only did I not make any earnings for the first three years, but I also contributed financially from my personal savings. It is unwise but necessary. This leads to the next hurdle, becoming sustainable, and even profitable. The solution I am currently negotiating is an acquisition deal with a major media group that sees value in our branding. They have a vast umbrella of luxury brand magazines, but none solely devoted to the lucrative LGBTQ+ audience. Embrace is that asset. If the deal goes through, they will handle all operations — circulation, distribution, advertising, expansion — and I will retain creative control as managing partner, publisher, and editor-in-chief. We will retain our status as a certified LGBTBE (LGBT Business Owned Enterprise), granted to us by the NGLCC (The National LGTB Chamber of Commerce). That status as an LGBTQ+ owned business helps us enormously to attract businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, that wish to do business with a supplier diversity business. 

S. H. : The magazine was well received by the magazine community in the state of Florida and in fact it won the magazine of the year in its first year from the Florida Magazine Association. What’s next?

J. S. : Thank you, that was a major moment for us! To give the full effect of winning Magazine of the Year by the Florida Magazine Association in 2021, we need to add that Embrace Magazine won Charlie (first place) for Best New Magazine, Best Overall Magazine, and won Magazine of the Year, all in the magazine’s inaugural year. That has never happened before and some say, may never happen again. Also, we took top honors in all four Best Overalls, including Charlie for Best Overall Writing and Best Overall Magazine, and Silver (second place) for Best Overall Design and Best Overall Digital Innovator, the latter a new category. No other magazine has ever accomplished that either yet. In total, we were honored with 22 awards, the highest any startup magazine has ever garnered. We also made history at the FMA as the first ever LGBTQ+ magazine member in 2021, the organization established in 1953, and the highest awarded startup. We made history with the Associated Church Press, being the first LGBTQ+ magazine member in 2020 of that Christian-based journalism organization, established in 1916. This year, we added a national award from the NLGJA: Association of LGBTQ Journalists for Photo-journalism Excellence, and a national board position for me, as publisher, with the NLGJA as well. Both occurred in Chicago. The FMA also added me as a board member. As a result of these achievements, Embrace Magazine was approached by the Poynter Institute of Media Studies to do a profile on us as a successful startup LGBTQ+ magazine. That by itself, is a high honor given the status in media the Poynter Institute carries. What’s next in 2023? I have already entered us in the GLAAD Media Awards. We should know the results in early 2023. If we are a finalist, I will attend the ceremony in either Los Angeles or New York City. If we win, anything is possible, as that will indeed be a high honor. 

S. H. : Is publishing Embrace still a labor of love or more of a business venture now?

J. S. : Publishing Embrace will always be a labor of love akin to the quote by Mark Twain, “find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” however, it is definitely a business venture. Embrace is designed by Em Agency, owned by my good friend and long-time colleague, Jamie Mark. With them, we work on ads together. Our website, embracemedia.us was designed by A Great Idea, owned by my new close associate, Shane Lukas, who also contributes content to our online resource blog. We added Embrace Media, which in addition to the magazine, includes Embrace On-Air, our radio show broadcast out of 93.6 FM/1370 AM WOCA The Source, in Ocala. We create video content inhouse but are also in negotiations with Gardner Productions based in Toronto, Canada and New York City to create video advertisements. Hopefully, the acquisition deal with the media group goes through. We should see regional distribution grow to include Barnes & Noble for print, then eventually expand to other regional markets, applying national content to regional advertising. Ultimately, I hope Embrace Magazine and Embrace Media take me to a comfortable retirement, while leaving a lasting legacy. 

S. H. : What makes John tick and click?

J. S. : I am creative at heart, with a strong business sense. I enjoy the aesthetic appeal of magazine design, along with the intellectual application of the editorial content that can have an outward impact on the world around us. I also apply every personal and educational experience of my life. I am gay, but I am also Roman Catholic. I made it a point to include a Religion department alongside Issues + Politics, International News, Art + Culture, and Activism + Charity. We have made many major advancements socially, politically, and culturally as a community. However, if the LGBTQ+ community is to ever be completely free of oppression, then we need to confront and unify with our largest oppressors, which are religious groups. I would like to be a catalyst of real change. I also am diversely educated. I studied mechanical engineering but have a dual bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester in Economics and Political Science with a certification in Marketing and Finance. I studied law at Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC but did not complete my JD degree due to complications from being outed as gay. I am also a natural, self-trained artist with the ability to draw. I apply all of my education and artistry to my magazine. I am hands on with every editorial and design decision in Embrace. I have been told by the COO of the media group I am negotiating with that in essence, I am the magazine. What you see within the pages are all a reflection of me. 

S. H. : What are the plans for 2023 and beyond?

The immediate plans are to lock the negotiations with the media group and Gardner Productions. Then hopefully become a finalist at the GLAAD Media Awards and hopefully win. Either way, the plan is to attend the GLAAD Media Awards in LA or NYC and continue to network and bring awareness to Embrace Magazine and Embrace Media. If the deal with the media group goes through, Embrace Magazine will grow regionally, starting with states that have large LGBTQ+ communities, then expand outward. Ultimately, I would like to see a European version of Embrace, and a Spanish language version called Abrazo. There are still many areas in South and Central Americas that do not embrace the LGBTQ+ community yet. When a person comes out to their family, the family either shuns them or tries to have them institutionalized until they denounce being LGBTQ and reassimilate as straight. We need to reach those areas to promote and assist change. From there, assist those in need in other repressed areas of the world for LGBTQ+ people in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Looking further into the future, I would like to see Embrace Magazine have its own televised programming, maybe even a network, like National Geographic. Imagine the potential outreach Embrace could produce then. 

S. H. : Anything you’d like to add that I failed to ask, or you’d like to mention?

J. S. : When I am asked to improvise, I see an opportunity to add my shameless plug. As a startup, Embrace Magazine still needs financial support. We welcome investors, and of course advertisers. Our 2023 Media Kit is available on our website, embracemedia.us. I also welcome story ideas. Please reach me at john@sotomayormedia.com. Finally, I welcome new contributors: writers, columnists, photographers, illustrators, and graphic artists. Two-thirds of our contributors are LGBTQ+, the remaining third are allies. One of my goals was to provide a platform for talented LGBTQ+ artists to showcase their writing, photography, and design skills toward LGBTQ+ related subjects. They may not have the opportunity elsewhere. Allies are welcomed. Why would I not include the best writer or photographer simply because he or she or they are not gay? So long as they support the mission of the magazine, their talent is welcomed in our pages. We are all inclusive, diverse, and unifying. 

S. H. : And my typical last question, what keeps John up at night these days?

J. S. : I have two answers. First, I am concerned for all of our LGBTQ+ community, that our hard-earned civil rights are not torn away by the political mechanism that seems hellbent on doing so. Being from Florida, I see that already being enacted on the state level by our current governor, who has his eyes on the presidency in 2024. I have seen and heard the hate spewed by the Proud Boys who meet in rural bars to plan their next protest. They are getting louder, and forceful. They are no longer satisfied with disruption, they seek destruction. We at Embrace exist to counter, using intellect, compassion, and love to persuade people so that peace and prosperity win. These are the nightmares that keep me up at night. 

Second, I am always thinking three steps ahead, as I always have played my favorite game, chess. I do not compete against others. I compete against myself. However high I set the bar previously, I focus on how I can raise the bar even higher. I think, what theme or concept can we come up with to excite our audiences? The photo-essay that won our national award in photo excellence was world renown and revered drag photographer, and Embrace Magazine contributor, Magnus Hastings’ brilliant concept for his book, “Rainbow Revolution” which we used as the foundation for “Thinking Outside the Box.” We collaborated on the July 2022 Arts issue, “Icons Gone Wild” which featured popular LA drag queens reenacting iconic Hollywood actresses in well-known scenes, with a twist. The result will surely garner more awards, as it has received world-wide attention. We have come up with another concept I will keep secret, for now. I can tell you it will be published in our summer Travel issue, and it will be our campiest drag photo-essay yet! These are the thoughts that keep me up at night, that eventually turn to dreams.  

S. H.: Thank you.

To learn more about Embrace magazine and magazine media go to http://www.embracemedia.us

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New Magazines 2022: A Status Report Including The Launch Of The Year: The Mountains Magazine.

January 3, 2023

As the shift continues at the nation’s newsstands from regularly published magazines to book-a-zines, one can see as we enter 2023 that the future of ink on paper is going to be with those single topic, high-priced publications.  They are everywhere: at the checkouts and at the mainlines.  They cover every conceivable topic from Inside the Mind of Your Dog to Inside the Mind of Your Cat and everything in between. The cover price of these publications ranges between a low of $9.99 to a high of $14.99.  Some of these publications are second, third and even fourth printing.  All returning to the newsstands by “popular demand.”

So can the aforementioned be the reason for the drop in the total of new magazines published with a regular frequency?  Well, the simple and short answer is YES.  A crowded marketplace combined with the three headwinds (paper shortage, printing cost, and postage rates)  publishers had to deal with in 2022, kept the major remaining publishers from entering the new magazine field (in fact just the opposite happened for the major publishers, they folded some of the existing magazines that they have), and those publishers focused more on the book-a-zine market.  

My sources tell me that the two major publishers Dotdash Meredith and a360 media now control 60% of the book-a-zine marketplace.  Well, for those of us who recall the “golden age of magazines” in the 1980s and 1990s, you will remember that Meredith used to be a leader in publishing what was called back then SIPs or special interest publications.  Those SIPs were used as a test before that SIP was changed to a regularly published magazine.  Country Home comes to mind as one of those SIPs later becoming a magazine with frequency.  a360 media is doing now the same with their book-a-zines such as Feel FreeSteam+ and Gold Buckle (all introduced as new magazines in 2022).

So here is a recap of what I wrote in an earlier blog late last year:

The new magazine launches of 2022 were as cold as the arctic weather that hit the nation in the last few days of December.  In 2020 the number of new magazines dropped to 60 titles, but then we had COVID 19 to blame.  In 2021 the number of new launches doubled and some more to 122.  But in 2022 the number of the brave souls who launched new titles, or brought old ones back to life stopped at 74 new titles.

I asked Doug Olson, the president of a360 Media, about his reaction to the aforementioned news. His answer, “2022 was a year of perseverance for the magazine industry. Through hard work, leadership, and continued innovation, the industry navigated input costs, advertiser supply chain issues, labor shortages, and unprecedented consumer inflation in ways that position the industry for a successful 2023!” 

Whether 2023 will see an improvement in the number of new title launches or not is yet to be seen.  What is for sure is that the so called book-a-zines or special interest publications have taken over the nation’s newsstands squeezing out both the established regularly published magazines and the arriving newbies.

Never in my recent memories have I walk into a newsstand and left empty handed.  Twice in 2022 that happened, to the surprise of my wife.  “You mean you did not find a single new magazine,” she asked with honest surprise on her face.  

But, enough of the doom and gloom, let us concentrate on the bright side of the new magazine world and on the brave souls who still believe in ink on paper in addition to all things digital.  Those brave souls were led by Alan Katz and his The Mountains magazine.  The Mountains is an example of how a print magazine is and should be done.  High quality writing, photography and design, The Mountains: From The Catskills To The Berkshires,  deserves to be the 2022 Launch of the Year.  Although it is a regional magazine, its content is one of the best I have seen in some time.  Whether you live in the mountains or in the valleys, The Mountains and its team is the magazine for those who enjoy a lean back and relax kind of read with pages of experiences and not mere content.

As for the rest of the new magazines of 2022, here is the breakdown of the categories of the new magazine launches of last year:

Total US Print Magazines Launched By Category In 2022*

16 Special Interest 

10 Sex

08 Women’s

07 Arts & Literary

05 Metro & Regional

05 Home

05 Crafts/Games/Hobbies

05 Black/Ethnic

04 Auto, Motorcycle, & Bikes 

03 Food

02 Children’s 

01 Travel

01 Music

01 Men’s

01 Hunting & Fishing

*A total of 74 new magazines were launched in 2022 compared to 122 in 2021 and 60 in 2020.

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The Mountains Magazine And 73 Other New Magazines Are The New Launches Of 2022.  The Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor.

December 27, 2022

The Mountains magazine is the Launch of the Year, plus 9 Most Notable Launches of 2022.

The new magazine launches of 2022 were as cold as the arctic weather that hit the nation in the last few days of December.  In 2020 the number of new magazines dropped to 60 titles, but then we had COVID 19 to blame.  In 2021 the number of new launches doubled and some more to 122.  But in 2022 the number of the brave souls who launched new titles, or brought old ones back to life stopped at 74 new titles.

I asked Doug Olson, the president of a360 Media, about his reaction to the aforementioned news. His answer, “2022 was a year of perseverance for the magazine industry. Through hard work, leadership, and continued innovation, the industry navigated input costs, advertiser supply chain issues, labor shortages, and unprecedented consumer inflation in ways that position the industry for a successful 2023!” 

Whether 2023 will see an improvement in the number of new title launches or not is yet to be seen.  What is for sure is that the so called book-a-zines or special interest publications have taken over the nation’s newsstands squeezing out both the established regularly published magazines and the arriving newbies.

Never in my recent memories have I walk into a newsstand and left empty handed.  Twice in 2022 that happened, to the surprise of my wife.  “You mean you did not find a single new magazine,” she asked with honest surprise on her face.  

But, enough of the doom and gloom, let us concentrate on the bright side of the new magazine world and on the brave souls who still believe in ink on paper in addition to all things digital.  Those brave souls were let by Alan Katz and his The Mountains magazine.  The Mountains is an example of how a print magazine is and should be done.  High quality writing, photography and design, The Mountains: From The Catskills To The Berkshires deserves to be the 2022 Launch of the Year.  Although it is a regional magazine, its content is one of the best I have seen in some time.  Whether you live in the mountains or in the valleys, The Mountains and its team is the magazine for those who enjoy a lean back and relax kind of read with pages of experiences and not mere content.

In addition to The Mountains other magazines rising to the top of the ten most notable launches of 2022 like the froth of a good cup of espresso are in alphabetical order: 

Al HayyaAl Hayya is a magazine that publishes literary and visual content on the works, interest and strife of women, bilingually in Arabic and English. 

Bavual:  The African Heritage Magazine.

Britannica Magazine: The ultimate guide for curious young minds!

Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine.

Feel Free:  Leanne Ford’s Magazine.

Raised Southern: Inspiration from the heart and soul of the South.

So Flo Habitat:  For what it means to live in South Florida.

The Home Edit: Feel-Good Organizing from the Stars of the Netflix series.

Western Life Today:  Designed to honor and celebrate the heritage of the West while simultaneously embracing the latest trends.

Here’s to a successful 2023 filled with new magazine launches and great experience making…

All the best, 

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

Preserving the Past, Present and Future of Magazine Media

samir.husni@gmail.com

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Revealed: The Simple Secret For A Successful Magazine Launch. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Doug Bitto, Principal, Advantage Circulation Consulting.

May 17, 2022

I found my match.  Doug Bitto, the principal of Advantage Circulation Consulting, LLC. is as big of a magazine junkie as I am.  He also is a firm believer that if it is not ink on paper, it is not a magazine. He describes himself as a bit of a pop culture junkie. “Magazines have fascinated me ever since I was very young,” he told me, “so it’s no surprise that I gravitated towards the business.”

Doug’s formula for a successful magazine is relatively simple as he says: “The underlying formula for all successful print magazines is relatively simple: Passion combined with deep knowledge, framed within the greater cultural understanding (i.e. what people actually want to read and buy at this particular moment in time).”

So with that in mind, and after a chat with Doug, here is the Mr. Magazine™ interview: Enjoy.

Samir Husni:  During our chat, I felt I found my match in a person who believes in the power of print, can you please explain why? 

Doug Bitto: When a print magazine is produced and distributed, it is a permanent snapshot of a culture. It cannot be changed, to be reviewed and scrutinized for decades (or even centuries) after being produced. A digital “magazine” on the other hand can be altered and the original message lost forever, including the advertising which is an essential component of cultural understanding. In addition, print is much more effective than digital in conveying a message because more of our senses are used when interacting with print. When was the last time anyone smelled their iPad? 

S.H.:  You run a circulation consulting company, do you mind expanding some of what your company does and your role running it? 

D. B.: We have evolved into an end to end consulting firm over the last 20 years. In addition to the physical nuts and bolts aspects of newsstand distribution and management, we have expanded to include consulting on product development, working very closely with editors and designers. One of our strengths, I believe, is our ability to successfully recognize cultural trends and how they are applicable to our clients.

As far as my role is concerned, I wear many hats. At the end of the day, however, it’s about ensuring that I successfully guide my clients.

S. H.: Small, regional, and new niche magazines are your specialty. Why and do you think there is still room for new magazines in this digital age? 

D. B.: Culture is constantly changing but much like radio, print will always be around. One trend we are seeing post-pandemic is the return to traditional media, as discussed in a recent article by Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2022/04/why-marketers-are-returning-to-traditional-advertising. Personally, I have not “seen” a digital ad in years, much less clicked on it. And if I find myself on a website that has pop-up ads (or worse yet, autoplay ads) I immediately click out without even looking. Not only are they annoying, they can actually create physical stress. Multiple studies have shown this. As the article states, people are becoming “ad blind” digitally due to these factors. 

Print on the other hand is relaxing. And if ads are well curated, they fit seamlessly within a print magazine. I hate to break it to the digital ad folks out there but from a practical standpoint, print ads are far superior. When you turn the page of a print magazine, you HAVE to look on the next page. Ad blindness is almost impossible. 

Advertising aside, magazines are rapidly turning into higher quality, higher dollar items with very little or no advertising. Again, not a new trend, but it is accelerating. And people are willing to pay for this experience. Out of the six new title launches we have recently launched or are launching over the next few months, four fall into this category. All are high quality in content and physical presentation. All are between $12.99-$14.99US, $14.99-$19.99CAN. 

S. H.:   Define a magazine for me. 

D. B.: I take a traditional approach. Mirriam-Webster’s first entry is how I would define a magazine:

Definition of magazine

1a a print periodical containing miscellaneous pieces (such as articles, stories, poems) and often illustrated

A digital publication is not a magazine, even though our culture is now defining many forms of media as a “magazine”. A different term should be used to describe a digital only publication. 

www.advantagecirc.com

S.H.:   Can you share a success story of a new launch that you consulted on, and can you share one that failed? 

D. B.: I would like to speak in general terms first.

The underlying formula for all successful print magazines is relatively simple: Passion combined with deep knowledge, framed within the greater cultural understanding (i.e. what people actually want to read and buy at this particular moment in time). A product that not only informs and inspires, but entertains. Especially with niche and hyper-niche titles, readers are more than likely to be passionate experts in their own right. They are looking for knowledge above and beyond what they possess. The “formula” does not guarantee success but without its understanding, failure is guaranteed. The most successful publishers have an innate understanding of this. 

Regarding a successful launch, we have one title in the Sports Category that was basically a “gear” catalog when first presented to me. At launch it was approximately 40% catalog, not including additional advertising. But the content was excellent. The launch issue sold 51%. They have since expanded their content extensively but to this day their best selling issue of the year is always the “gear review” issue. Again, the publisher is one of the top experts in his field. And readers trust that the message being printed and products being presented are high quality. 

Now for the really bad failure. When I first started consulting over 20 years ago I signed a lifestyle magazine whose only concern was ad dollars, as I came to find out later. Content was secondary. Lowsingle digit sales on the launch issue. And when I say low, I mean LOW…3%. Naturally, they did not last for more than a couple of issues. 

S. H.:  Anything else you would like to add. 

D.B.: It may sound ridiculous in the digital age but nothing has really changed on the newsstand side of the business since its inception. Print magazines are produced and sent through distribution channels to retail. I believe that this industry has in many respects lost sight of the fundamentals. We cannot forget that this is an organic business and the most important people within the distribution channel are the merchandisers. Proper title placement and rotation are absolutely essential.  Without merchandisers who understand how to merchandise magazines as the unique products that they are, the industry suffers.

On the publishing side, I foresee almost all of the large publishers eventually going digital with print being reserved for special issues, and small independent publishers launching at an increasing rate. This movement started more than a decade ago but it will accelerate and become more prevalent in the future. Driven, ironically enough, by the digital age and the increasing ease of publishing in print.   

S. H.: What keeps Doug up at night these days? 

D. B.: Without question, the health of the newsstand distribution industry. With costs rising and large publishers continuing to go digital only, all levels are being squeezed. That being said, I am actually very positive about the future of newsstand. There will undoubtedly be more pain to come, but I believe that this industry will survive. 

S. H.: Thank you.

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In Magazine Publishing, There’s Nothing More Exciting Than The “Launch.” An Excerpt From Our Wisconsin Magazine. From The Mr. Magazine™ Vault.

May 3, 2022

photo

Our Wisconsin magazine is approaching its tenth anniversary in 2023. In its second issue there was an editorial talking about the “joys of magazine publishing.” I found myself emailing my friend Roy Reiman, Publisher of the new magazine Our Wisconsin, and Mike Beno, the magazine editor, to ask their permission to reprint parts of the introduction to the second issue of the magazine. So without any further ado, here is an excerpt from the February/March issue of Our Wisconsin magazine:

In magazine publishing, there’s nothing more exciting than the “launch.” Not many other things in business come close to this kind of adrenalin rush.
You begin by coming up with an idea or concept for a magazine you feel is “entirely different”. You’re sure potential subscribers have never seen anything like this before.
So you spend months (in our case, we began last spring) planning the format, the design and mostly the content. And then you start gathering that content…which isn’t easy when you don’t have a publication to showanyone. You just have to wave your hands a lot and write lengthy descriptions of what you plan to do.
Then you pull all this together…sort through hundreds of pictures and ideas for articles (some terrific, some not even close)…write and design 68 pages…and finallyput the first issue on the press, printing enough to “test the market”….
And then you wait.
And it drives you crazy. You wait for more than a week for the first response…any response, to see what total strangers think of your “baby”.
“Inventing” a magazine is much more personal than inventing a lawn mower or a toothbrush. It’s more revealing of who you are; it’s an extension of your personality. There’s a lot of you between those pages. So the fear of rejection is greater.
After you put that sample issue in the mail, you’re like a field goal kicker with the game on the line, with its heel or hero element. So you wait as the ball sails…for a long week or more.
If, when the early responses begin trickling in, you learn readers don’t like the first issue, it hurts. To a degree, it’s as though you learned they don’t like you.
But when you learn they like it–and some people even say they love it–wow! That ball is sailing through the middle of the uprights, and every subscription is a pat on the back.

I love magazines, and I love magazine launches even more. That is no secret. So, when I acquire a new magazine or read a story about a magazine launch, the urge to share my love with the whole wide world is overwhelming.

A revised copy of the aforementioned blog was first published on March 30, 2013.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

samir.husni@gmail.com

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The Intimate Nature Of New Magazines And Their Creators…

April 13, 2022

Welcome to the wonderful world of new magazines.  And by world, I mean literally, the world.  Here are four new magazines from Canada, China, England, and France, all in English and all are a clear testimony of the intimacy of the ink on paper and their creators.  Thanks are in order to my friends at www.magculture.com who on a regular basis supply me with a host of new magazines from their store in the UK.

It used to be said that ideas come by the dozen and they are worth a dime; it is the execution of the ideas that count.  Here are four very well executed ideas as introduced by their creators:

Chicken + Bread 

From The United Kingdom

Editor in Chief Hope Cunningham writes in the intro of the first issue:

Chicken + Bread is a platform created to document food stories and histories that centre people of colour, especially those in the UK. Our contributions to food continue to change what we perceive to be “English” and this is certainly the case for various communities around the world and throughout history…

And this issue you in your hands is rooted in nostalgia too; fulfilling my lifelong dream of creating my own magazine.  After many years of doubting, I’ve finally done it.  I hope you enjoy, or, as the French say, bone apple tea.

Check it out at chickenandbread.com

Serviette

From Canada

Founder and Editor at Large Max Meighen writes in the intro of the first issue:

Hello and welcome to the inaugural issue of Serviette Magazine. For those who are unfamiliar with word “serviette”, it’s Canadian vernacular for a napkin… Whatever the circumstances, you can be certain that wherever there’s food, a serviette is close by.

To that same sentiment, Serviette is a magazine about food, but not just about the food we eat. It’s about the themes, ideas, conversations, an connectivity around the cycle of our food: the language, culture and transformative possibilities of the future of our food; the journey it takes from seed to stomach, and all of the people who helped it along its way.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting independent publishing. We wouldn’t exist without you.

Check it out at serviettemag.com

Overseas 

From France

Editorial Director Andrea Casati writes in the note To Our Readers:

It all started with the waves. The waves of desire, the waves of passion.  Overseas is a journey inspired by a challenge, a vision, a will: to tell the story of basketball from perspectives different than the canonical North American narrative.  It wasn’t easy to start-out and sail, it wasn’t easy to face the fear of the unknown.  But moving from port to port, from meeting to meeting, we understood that the route was the right one, yet not obvious.

Overseas is a pilgrimage in a basketball rooted I local cultures, an immersion int eh sea of superficiality and generalisation that continues to impoverish a movement with infinite facets, infinite meanings, infinite connections.  Addition over subtractions. Complexity over banality…

Thank you for riding the wave of curiosity with us.

Check the magazine out at overseas-mag.com

Noisé

From China

Editor in Chief and Creative Director Tang Siyu writes in the intro of the first issue:

Noisé is a dream and an urge.

It’s about good stories that last.

It’s about visions and sensations that do not diminish.

It’s about true beauty, whether inside or outside.

It’s about trusting our instincts and breaking the rules.

It’s about our faith that people with a gift and people with a dream will shine.

It’s our new chapter, let’s make a Noisé.

Check the magazine out at http://www.noise-magazine.com

So what are you waiting for? Head to your nearest magazine store and pick up a copy of a brand new magazine. There is no more intimacy than holding an ink on paper magazine in your hands. Wake up and smell the ink on paper. It is divine. Enjoy.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

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28 New Titles (And One Returning)Arrive To The Marketplace 1st Quarter 2022

April 1, 2022

Keeping on track with the first quarter of 2021, a total of 29 magazines were available at the marketplace (whether at the newsstands or available via digital newsstands selling print). The magazines were as diverse in their subject matter and content as anyone can imagine.

Those new titles ranged in topics from Divorcing Well to In Her Garden, from Aspiring who launched its first national issue after being a regional magazine, to Al-Hayya a bilingual magazine in Arabic and English aimed at Arab women all over the globe. Ebony made its return to print with a special issue and Bavual made its debut after a preview issue earlier last Fall. Hills Views & Valleys is attempting to redefine luxury, while Reed is attempting to redefine design.

Of note the return of sex magazines to the marketplace. Nine of the 29 titles were sex titles as you can see in the pictures below. 

Keep in mind that if it is not ink on paper, it is not a magazine in my book, and if I do not have a physical copy of the magazine it is not on the list.

Here are the titles that I was able to find in the first Quarter of 2022. Enjoy.

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Divorcing Well: A New Magazine Landing On The Stands Valentine’s Day… A Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Monique Reidy, Founder & Publisher.

February 6, 2022

“Magazines have an element of magic – they capture a reader’s attention and keep them engaged for a longer period than their digital counterparts.” Monique Reidy, founder and publisher, Divorcing Well.

“Launching Divorcing Well magazine on newsstands on Valentine’s Day is a proclamation that being single and happy in one’s own skin is a celebration regardless of romantic attachment.” M.R.

“A successful divorce is much better than a failed marriage,” my late brother used to tell us after he and his wife divorced. I was reminded of his statement once I learned that Monique Reidy, the publisher and president of Southern California Life is getting ready to launch her newest magazine, Divorcing Well.

Others have tried to publish divorce magazines, but needless to say they failed after an issue or two. The beauty of Ms. Reidy newest magazine is the Well part of Divorcing… It is like lighting a candle rather than cursing the dark. The new magazine aims to help the divorcee to thrive emotionally, physically, and financially. A tall order, but Ms. Reidy is sure the magazine is going to fulfill.

Judging by the selection of the articles and the design of the magazine, it seems that Ms. Reidy is on the right track. The magazine will hit the newsstands in the state of California on Valentine’s Day and I will leave to Ms. Reidy to explain to you why did she choose this specific day to publish the magazine.

So, here is the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Monique Reidy, founder and publisher of Divorcing Well magazine:

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni:  This is your third magazine launch, why are you still a believer in print in this digital age?

Monique Reidy: People still love magazines because they can read at their own pace and they’re able to enjoy the images and content in a relaxed manner. While digital information can be accessed instantaneously, it can be a challenge to get through an article online with the multitude of intrusive ads and continual distractions. Affiliate ads are now everywhere on the internet, luring readers to click links that hijack them away from what they’re reading to some sort of retail trap. I can’t get through an article about foods that could potentially be poisonous to my dogs without being led shoe shopping (thank you programmatic advertising).

I’m still a believer in print because the medium holds more credibility than the internet in the eyes of most consumers. Magazines have an element of magic – they capture a reader’s attention and keep them engaged for a longer period than their digital counterparts. Studies have shown that a digital piece will attract a person for 10 minutes while readers can linger for 30 minutes or more with a print magazine. It’s rewarding to hear that people enjoy our publications and that they’ve been informed and inspired. 

S.H.: You mentioned you want the magazine to be out in times of Valentine’s, what are you celebrating?

M.R.: February 14th is traditionally a couple’s celebration of their romantic relationship. While it’s a worthwhile occasion, singles can sometimes feel left out because they don’t have a partner with whom to mark the event. Valentine’s day is another reminder to singles that they are in fact … single. And for those who wish to be in an amorous relationship, it’s just rubbing salt into that emotional wound. A newly separated person, particularly one whose spouse left the marriage to be with someone else, could spend a lonely Valentine’s Day marinating in anxious thoughts about how the “ex” is enjoying the evening in the arms of another. 

Launching Divorcing Well magazine on newsstands on Valentine’s Day is a proclamation that being single and happy in one’s own skin is a celebration regardless of romantic attachment. The magazine underscores the importance of self-care and self-worth and that it doesn’t take another human to make one feel worthwhile. Our objective is to inspire readers to love who they are enough to fix what’s broken emotionally and aspire to create a happier life on their own terms. 

S.H.:  What has been the biggest hurdle that you were able to overcome with this launch?

M.R.: Since our first launch of Southern California Life magazine eight years ago, I’ve had to listen to a lot of snarky opinions about why this or that idea won’t work. (And trust me, there’s never a shortage of people who want to hold a storm cloud over your head if you’re on a momentous mission.)  I was vulnerable and easily influenced in those early days, so the pessimists and naysayers sometimes caused me to second guess my goals. Learning to listen to opinions without allowing them to steer me off track has been one of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome. 

When you have a vision and you are focused on a specific target, you better not take your eyes off that mark and just keep moving forward. That’s not to discount getting advice from other professionals, but at the end of the day the backseat drivers can tell you where they think you should go, but you’re the one at the wheel, pressing the gas pedal. 

S.H.:  What was the most pleasant surprise?

M.R.: As a magazine publisher I can imagine about a dozen topics a day that would make a good magazine – but not all of them would make sense. But after I went through a difficult divorce the first time and a bloodbath the second, I decided a magazine offering support to people working through that messy dissolution process would be helpful. The most pleasant surprise has been the overwhelming positive feedback from both divorce professionals as well as individuals currently going through marital divorce. While books can certainly be valuable, a magazine with smaller “get to the point” advice can be much more useful. Every issue will cover how to stay well emotionally, physically, financially, and legally through the arduous divorce process. The objective is to have readers feel encouraged, motivated, and hopeful with every read. The most perplexing part about the project is why no one had thought of this concept before. 

S.H.:  Divorce laws differ from state to state, how are you going to cover all the states and their laws in the magazine?  Are you starting regional (like California first) and then expanding to the rest of the country?

M.R.: The largest sector heading to court are the 50 + year-olds. The divorce rate in the State of California is now at 60% and climbing. I launched Divorcing Well first in California because this is where I live and I’m most familiar with the laws governing dissolution within my State, having just gone through the experience. But while divorce laws differ from State to State within the U.S., some things remain the same, regardless of region. 

For example, when we suffer a marital betrayal, the tools to help us through those feelings of loss and abandonment are not bound by geography. Some of us may have at some point felt like we want to accidentally run over our ex’s new girlfriend. We all feel similar feelings and most of the magazine tackles issues pertaining to staying well on every level (including why running over the girlfriend is a stupid idea). Some of the articles, specifically those that address legal strategies, must be modified based on the laws that apply to each State. Divorcing Well can easily expand to other States as most of the content is universally meaningful. The pieces that address divorce laws would have to be modified to adapt to the laws governing divorce in each State.

S.H.: My typical last question is what keeps Monique up at night these days?

M.R.: Nothing keeps me up at night. I believe in a good and gracious God who keeps my family safe and helps me at every turn. I have many friends who have trouble sleeping — I tell them they should learn to trust God or invest in an effective sleeping pill. 

S.H.: Any additional things you’d like to add or I failed to ask you…

Divorce really does suck. And those going through one that is complicated and contentious need a lot of support from friends, family, psychotherapists, divorce coaches and whomever else they can find to dispense constant encouragement. I hope our publication can be a resource to help breathe life to the heartbroken and tired individuals going through this hardship. Our company is a mostly female group and many of us have experienced divorce. We are putting our hearts and souls into helping readers get through divorce and do it well. 

S.H.: Congratulations on the new launch and thank you.

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Link2Us Magazine: The Intersection Of Faith And Popular Culture: The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor-in-Chief Judith Manigault.

January 12, 2022

“Although we have an online presence (and our culture does thrive on the immediacy of online engagement), there’s nothing like the print experience: sitting down with a great magazine and being transported via images, various stories, and content that teaches and inspires. Print is altogether a different thing – an actual real experience.” Judith Manigault, Editor-in-Chief, Link2Us.

Link2Us Premiere Issue Winter 2022

“At the intersection of faith and popular culture lies Link2Us, a new lifestyle publication providing readers with a blueprint for living their best and most authentic lives. The new magazine delivers fresh and engaging content, including health and wellness news, finance tips, style trends and more, with faith and inspiration at its core,” so says the press release for the last new magazine launch of 2021.  The first issue of the magazine arrived late in December at the nation’s bookstores featuring cover star and ABC’s The Bachelor alum, Madison Prewett. 

The digital entity was launched in 2019 and migrated from the womb of digital to the reality world of ink on paper.  I had the opportunity to chat with Editor-in-Chief, Judith Manigault “who birthed the magazine’s concept while on a quest to find faith-based content that spoke to the issues of everyday life in a contemporary and relevant way.”  Judith noticed a lack in print offerings that filled this faith-based contend, and decided to do something about it.

And thus, Link2Us was born. Please enjoy this conversation with Judith Manigault, founder and editor-in-chief, Link2Us.

Judith Manigault, founder and editor in chief, Link2Us magazine

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni:  Congratulations on the launch of Link2Us newsstands’ debut. Can you please tell me about the idea behind the magazine and why did you decide to launch it in print on the newsstands now?

Judith Manigault : As a new publication, we fill a most overlooked niche: a culture hub for the 70% of adult Americans who consider themselves Christians. Historically, faith-based publications have centered their reach on ALL things spiritual but overlook prominent themes covered in mainstream outlets: note-worthy inspirational personalities, entertainment, food, fashion, travel, and more.

A few years ago, I noticed this missing link as I combed through an airport newsstand. Not one magazine bridged the gap between a world of faith and inspiration (which we all need now more than ever) and the everyday lifestyle topics that make our world a more vibrant place. So, we went to work and created a beautiful hybrid we believe millions will enjoy.

Although we have an online presence (and our culture does thrive on the immediacy of online engagement), there’s nothing like the print experience: sitting down with a great magazine and being transported via images, various stories, and content that teaches and inspires. Print is altogether a different thing – an actual real experience. It has the power to slow us down, make us pause, pay attention—and so we thought, what better time to engage the culture with a physical magazine? 

S.H.: The brand was founded in 2019. How did it evolve and what was the most challenging aspect of creating this brand?

J.M.: Well, the evolution of the brand was relatively seamless. We listened to our readers, expanded on what worked, and took the limits off of what is generally considered faith-based content. We meet the reader where they are and bring a fresh perspective to the conversation. You’d be surprised at how many folks search for a better way of thinking, being, and doing life.

S.H.: What was the most pleasant moment during this experience?

J.M.: As a promotional tactic, we asked our readers around the country to find us at their local Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, and airports. Their posts and videos have been fantastic. Knowing that we have made the leap, and they can now find us across the U.S. – from California to NYC (and now Canada) – is exhilarating!

S.H.: What is the role of print in a digital age, and where does the print edition of Link2Us fit in the brand formula?

J.M.: Print is a media format that will continue to thrive as long as people have stories to tell. Readers everywhere still love to curl up with their favorite book at home, or bring their daily newspaper to their local coffee shop for a skim. Turning the pages to see what’s next (in a story, or what’s next in fashion, for example) is still incredibly exciting. Learning about the next trend or finding inspiration for the weeks ahead, especially at this particular time in our lives, is a basic human need and Link2Us is here to meet it.

S.H.: Your tagline is Link2Us and be inspired… and your motto is Next Level Faith… Can you please expand?

J.M.: “Link2Us and be inspired” was simply a way to convey our mission to inspire the masses. “Next level faith” grapples with how we see ourselves as people of faith in the world, and challenges our readers to reach new heights and create a life of faith that is more dynamic, appealing, and compelling.

S.H.: Is there anything else you’d like to add.

J.M.: While we are living in times marked by cultural, political, and social divides, the reality is that we do need each other to survive. It is my hope that Link2Us will serve as a common ground, where conversations revolve around the things that connect us, and not what separates us.

S.H.: My typical last question is what keeps you up at night?

J.M.: Believe it or not, that would be expansion. For us, the ability to talk to and reach a broader audience is of utmost importance. Launching at retail is a major step in connecting with the masses, and we are thrilled. 

S.H.: Congratulations again and thank you.

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Alan Katz Heads To The Mountains…Seven Questions With The Mountains’ Founder & CEO. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

December 21, 2021

With The Mountains, we’re bringing world-class photography and service journalism to an audience that has “decentralized luxury” and is tricky for advertisers to reach.” Alan Katz, Founder and CEO, The Mountains.

Then in my adult life, I gave the Hamptons a shot, but it wasn’t my vibe. Pun intended, I just thought it was so much cooler in the mountains!” Alan Katz

What can a “dynamic, highly connected sales and marketing executive with over 20 years experience driving growth and developing new businesses and brand extensions across diverse media platforms — from print to digital to e-commerce,” do next? Well, for the man who held top executive jobs in the magazine media world for almost a quarter century, there is nothing else to do but head to The Mountains, (pun intended). Alan Katz, the former publisher of Cargo, Vanity Fair, Interview, and New York magazines, and the former CEO of AKA Media and Chief Revenue Officer of DuJour Media, is ready to be his own boss and ready to launch a new venture called, you guessed it, The Mountains: the magazine that tags itself as the magazine “from to the Catskills to the Berkshires.”

I had the opportunity to ask Alan seven questions regarding his new venture, so without any further ado, here is the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Alan Katz, Founder and CEO, The Mountains.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni:  The late Steve Florio once described entrepreneurs launching magazines as “terribly naive about what it takes to make a magazine successful,” yet he was kind enough to call this group of future publishers “the romantics.”  As a former Condé Nast executive and publisher, do you consider the entrepreneurial launch of your new magazine The Mountains a romantic affair or a genuine new media business?

Alan Katz, Founder and CEO, The Mountains

Alan Katz: Both. Steve hired me in 2003 to launch Cargo, a terrific men’s magazine. It was both a romantic notion and a genuine new media business–as is The Mountains.  

To me, the word “mountains” itself is romantic; it’s what my parents called the Catskills back in the day. A magical oasis from the big city, where you could find fantastical hotels and retreats.

I chose the name both for its nostalgia and because it’s so relevant to our mission: to be the exciting new resource for the residents, weekenders and visitors of the region from the Catskills to the Berkshires. What’s more romantic than that? We all LOVE this region. It’s gorgeous, bucolic, adventure-filled, rooted in community.

But make no mistake…this is a genuine business. The region is BOOMING—4 of the top 10 zip codes in the U.S. with the biggest growth in net migration 2019 to 2020 were in our geography. Real estate and new businesses are off the charts. The pandemic fueled a “rebalancing” between cities and more rural areas that was already underway. The result is a more sophisticated audience not being served by the existing media in the area. 

With The Mountains, we’re bringing world-class photography and service journalism to an audience that has “decentralized luxury” and is tricky for advertisers to reach. 

S.H.:  How do you approach the launch of The Mountains as opposed to the launch of Cargo?

A.K.: Back to Steve, he famously said at my first team meeting, “There’s nothing like a Condé Nast launch,” and in 2003 he was so right!

The main difference is fundraising. We’ve chosen to seek investment from strategic partners who care about the community and want to support fantastic writers and creative talent that will help bring this region to life, uncover hidden gems and inspire new discovery. 

S.H.:  What is the genesis of The Mountains?

A.K.: I’ve always loved the area. In my childhood, I experienced it all: a bungalow colony, sleepaway camp and fine hotels, all in the Catskills. I even had my prom at Grossinger’s. From “A Walk on the Moon” to “Dirty Dancing: to “Meatballs” (and these day, “The Marvelous Ms Maisel”), I’ve enjoyed it all!!

Then in my adult life, I gave the Hamptons a shot, but it wasn’t my vibe. Pun intended, I just thought it was so much cooler in the mountains! 

So after 25 years as a weekender and homeowner in Columbia County, traveling  around the Catskills and Berkshires and randomly seeing the various media, I was often left wanting more. More original photography. More insightful writing. More useful advice. I’d worked at New York MagazineCargoVanity FairAndy Warhol’s Interview and DuJour, to name a few. My standards were understandably high, but I believed someone should attempt to deliver the best for the market. Then one day, I finally realized that person should be me.

S.H.:  You are launching both in print and digital, what is the plan?

A.K.: Yes, the plan is to launch with both seasonal print and daily digital in Spring 2022. This is a market that doesn’t have the best digital or cable service. It’s a thing. Hopefully that will improve, but until then, a high-quality magazine is what business owners and consumers want and need. They like to lean back and enjoy great writing and cool finds. Print has a certain credibility and luxury, plus it’s power outage-proof!

Our readers come to the mountains to be disconnected, yet want to stay connected, so we’ll fill in the timely facts with daily digital, email newsletters, social media and future video series and podcasts.

S.H.:  Tell me about the team working with you and the goals you expect to achieve prior to the Spring 2022 launch.

A.K.: We’ve hit the ground running with super-talented and connected editors, writers, designers, sellers, marketers and financial folks. They have deep roots in the community and have worked at some of the best brand in the business such as; New York MagazineUS Weekly,Vanity Fair, Apple, AirbnbArchitectural Digest, 1stdibs, Complex, Travel & LeisureDepartures and The New Yorker.

Prior to 2022 we are building the team and the content strategy, uncovering the fun facts and relationships that will enhance our platforms. And seeking advertising support from local and national businesses, brands and service providers, as well as financial and strategic investment partners.

I’m thrilled to say, both are going exceedingly well!

S.H.:  Anything else you’d like to add…

A.K.: I can’t express how much fun this has been, and how welcoming and collaborative the community has been. Everyone says it’s a long time coming, and appreciates our bringing the counties together under The Mountains moniker. Some of our first advertisers are signing on for 2-year schedules!

S.H.:  My typical final question, what keeps you up at night these days?

A.K.: What keeps me up at night these days is two kids in college, one just starting her first great job and the uncertainty of this global pandemic.

As per The Mountains, every aspect of the business tends to keep me up–my mind is racing with new ideas and ways to improve the media landscape for our audience and marketing partners. I mean it. Let’s go!!

S.H.: Thank you and good luck.

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