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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.