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Between The Age Of Possibilities & The Age Of Impossibilities. A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

July 30, 2015

From Lebanon With Love.

From Lebanon With Love.


Having just returned from 19 days in my native Lebanon, via the City of Lights (Paris), and meeting with an array of journalists and editors; perusing as many newsstands as possible (a Mr. Magazine™ fait accompli when he travels) and enjoying a multitude of new titles that both captivated and fascinated me; it is my opinion that print is alive and well and living abroad.

samir in lebanon Despite war and the revilement’s of the ravaging that has gone on in Lebanon and the entire Middle East region, hope is strong and the pleasant approach to media downright refreshing. With all of the problems that conflict can bring to a country and its people, Lebanon has had a renewed spirit and strength when it comes to magazine media and media in general.

While in Lebanon I did an interview with Ibrahim Nehme, founder and editor-in-chief of The Outpost magazine, which I published earlier this week this blog. The interview was nothing short of amazing due to this young man’s passion and drive when it comes to the possibilities that are out there for young Arabs. He is beyond adamant about the potential of the Arab nation, starting with the youth and continuing on through Arab adults who need his publication’s vision of hope and promise in a world sometimes gone mad with brutality and harshness.

International Blog 14-14 Ibrahim’s magazine media approach and the mission of his magazine, which seeks to promote the positive and facilitate real change within the Arab world, reminded me of a very famous adage that I use quite often in my teachings and in my own publishing philosophy, and which I also have on a plaque in my office: there is always hope. And that dictum carries so much weight not only in the Arab world, but also in our own American media: he who knows the word hope doesn’t recognize the word impossible.

That statement hit me right between the eyes when I returned to the States a few days ago. I have interviewed some of the most influential and knowledgeable men and women of the publishing industry over the years and no one has basically told me anything that even remotely goes against the statement of there is always hope.

Upon my return, I saw articles ranging in negativity from the one on Time Inc.’s CEO, Joe Ripp’s clock is ticking to the statements that have been made recently by some media critics that TIME magazine is no longer relevant, and Self and Details maybe shutting down. It was then that I said to myself, when are media critics going to stop being the bearers of “predicted” bad news? It’s not even factual, on-paper bad news; yet somehow critics always manage to spin negativity on the stories they foretell about the future of magazines and magazine media. They paint a picture so dark and sinister, that it’s totally incongruous to the hundreds of new launches that I personally record on Mr. Magazine’s™ Launch Monitor each and every month. So, who exactly is correct? The Wizards of Woe who thrive on somber speculations or the bright, exciting covers that are scanned and published each month from the Magazine Innovation Center at Ole Miss? I challenge you to be the judge.

To all of these people who respond to my opinion with: but look what’s happening at Hearst or Condè Nast or Meredith; I ask them now; what exactly is happening? As I said; I’ve interviewed all of these CEO’s and I’ve talked extensively with them; they’re not telling media anything as apocalyptic as some are reporting. It’s how the media and some of the media reporters are taking the information and running with it as if they’re being paid to basically dig their own media graves. Instead of promoting positivity the way Ibrahim Nehme from Lebanon’s The Outpost magazine does, they’re biting the very hand that feeds them, and then repeating the obscene gesture over and over again. Isn’t that a bit nonsensical or is it just me?

And have those naysayers seen what folks in Japan are paying for the Financial Times newspaper? When all of the media reporting only reflects one side of a supposed picture, we become cocooned. I guess I’ll have to challenge people to hop on a plane and visit newsstands abroad. The news isn’t nearly as bleak as sometimes reported.

I wrote about The Outpost, of course, since I interviewed its founder and editor-in-chief, but while in Lebanon I also picked up many other magazines, such as Executive Life Magazine, a new title that just came out in English, and by the way it’s amazing how the English language has spilled over into the world, not just in Lebanon, but all over; everywhere English is not necessarily the native language, we are seeing a lot of English-language magazines being born.

From the editorial of the first issue of Executive Life magazine:

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Ceci n’est pas un magazine. (This is not a magazine) If you don’t believe me, just read further. Tired of focusing on everything that goes wrong in Lebanon – and there’s a lot – the team at Executive Magazine decided to explore what’s going right in the country; those creating beauty, exploring new frontiers, engendering hope. We found a whole new world of Lebanese artist, connoisseurs and visionaries producing a rich bounty of new ideas, designs and concepts – and now we’re on a mission to promote these people and the beauty they create…This is not a magazine, but a cause – and we want you to join it. Become a believer.

If we substitute the word Lebanon for the words magazines and magazine media and focus on the positive things that are happening in today’s magazine media world; all the new publications that are coming into the marketplace; all the established magazines that are still doing extremely well and making billions of dollars in revenue; if we focus our energies on all these creative ideas that are out there; there’s no impossibilities that can’t be met with possibilities.

International Blog 7-7 Since my ancestors, the Phoenicians, created the alphabet; what if there were never any alphabet, the ABC’s you learned in school? You wouldn’t have been able to read this book today! This is the story of the birth of the alphabet, the story of a magical link between a sound and a sign. (From the Little Book of the Phoenician Alphabet)

That magical link that we also create in magazines; those magical ideas that keep coming time after time, whether someone is creating a new magazine or a whole series of new coloring magazines, such as the ones I picked up abroad – Jeux èvasion and Flèchès èvasion, which are not for children, but for adults; one title after another of coloring magazines for adults are coming to the marketplace worldwide.

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All of these new titles are hitting the newsstands, from coloring to puzzles, just look at the number of titles out there; it’s amazing. I found magazines celebrating the nightlife of Beirut (RagMag – the Beirut Nights issue), magazines celebrating the marketing and advertising resources and all the changes that are taking place (Communicate), stories of pride everywhere, magazines celebrating the international face of Lebanon, such as Taste & Flavors with Salma Hayek and the movie The Prophet.

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I just received the first issue of a new magazine called Out Living It. It’s the First Descents Magazine coming from Colorado in which the founder of First Descents, Brad Ludden, writes:

International Blog 9-9 This magazine serves to inspire and document the people, places, organizations, companies, and lifestyle choices that represent our collective desire to meet life head-on with undeniable passion. I hope its pages further inspire you to be Out Living It.

After those 19 days overseas, I returned with the conclusion that through all the gloom and doom, through all of these predictions of this or that CEO fading out, or this or that magazine dying; at the end of the day magazines and magazine media are going to be Out Living It and most probably Out Living Us and digital, mobile, or anything yet to be invented, if we continue to be strong and focus on the positive.

People, from both east and west, are exhausted from the negativism that is all over politics and the media… they never see or hear anything good. It’s time for a new wind of thinking to blow through the minds of media reporting. It’s long overdue.

Take it from me; as long as I have that plaque hanging in my office, there is hope, I’ll never give up on magazines or magazine media. They have found their own place in the marketplace since conception and they aren’t going anywhere. Except maybe new frontiers they have yet to explore. A newsstand on the moon perhaps…

Until the next Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

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A Magazine Of Possibilities That Was Born From The Womb Of The Arab Spring – Seeking Change & Inspiration – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Ibrahim Nehme, Editor-In-Chief, Founder, The Outpost Magazine.

July 28, 2015

Reporting from Lebanon.

Reporting from Lebanon.

From Lebanon With Love. A Mr. Magazine™ Interview From Lebanon.

“Growing up, I always had a knack for physical things and I was never that great when it came to technology, so for me the printed product was a natural choice when I chose to make the magazine. For a magazine that’s mission is to ignite the renaissance of this area of the world; I don’t think digital-only can achieve that; people need to feel the tangible aspect of things.” Ibrahim Nehme

scan-20150725194142-1 The possibility of possibility was the idea-embryo for The Outpost magazine, a Beirut-based publication that seeks to promote the positive and facilitate real change within the Arab world. Ibrahim Nehme is the founder and editor-in-chief of the magazine and a young man who is adamant about his creation and about the mission he is dedicated to. An excerpt from his editor’s letter in the very first issue showcases the magazine’s reason for existence quite eloquently:

There are moments in history when humanity, with grit, passion and erudition, saliently moves forward. In moments like these, all the fears that have previously held us back, the ideas that sounded impossible, and the assumptions that defined our limits disintegrate as a breed of individuals reaffirm the notion of the possibility of possibility.

I met with Ibrahim on a recent trip to Lebanon. We spoke at Paul’s, a coffee shop on the main highway leading to North Lebanon and close to the Casino Du Liban. It was as inspiring a conversation as The Outpost’s mission statement is. Positivity and idealism and real passion are three words that can be used liberally when describing the young man who sat before me and talked about young people in the Arab nation who are ready for change and growth and a clear and concise direction for a successful future.

From the first-issue editor’s letter:

Our first issue is being published at a time when a renewed sense of possibility enshrines the Middle East. The current social, cultural and political transformations are reweaving the fabric of the societies we inherited. A new generation is emerging that is, for the most part, eager to dust off thick layer of tyranny, narrow-mindedness and impotence to embark on a cathartic journey of reform.

scan-20150725194535-2 As you can read for yourself from the inspiring editorial; the magazine is intelligent, poignant and excellently written and gives a most personal look at life in the Arab world. I spoke with Ibrahim about the magazine’s frequency change (from quarterly to bi-annual), the sustainability of the publication through the World Makers concept (allowing readers to pay for a spot in the magazine to feature their own work), and about the future of the magazine. It was a premier interview with a young man who is a premier human being, using his passion to change his world for the better.

So, I hope you enjoy this stirring interview with Ibrahim Nehme, Founder & Editor, The Outpost magazine; it certainly made Mr. magazine™ see the “possibility of possibility,” and I’m sure it will you too.

But first, the sound-bites:

Ibrahim Nehme On the background of The Outpost magazine: Basically, in 2011 I was contemplating whether or not I should leave Lebanon and go somewhere abroad and continue my studies. At the time I was working for ArabAd, which is a local magazine, and the experience with ArabAd kind of opened my eyes to the world and the situation of the country, which at that time, and in a way still is, really bad. It came down to staying in Lebanon and doing something about it, like trying to create a magazine that actually ups the standards of the local print industry, or just leaving.

On why he chose English instead of Arabic for the language of the magazine: We wanted to publish in English because we wanted to reach out to this particular target group, but for a magazine that has a mission really larger-than-life, with a mission that seeks to ignite change in this part of the world, we’re aware of the limitations of the English language and we do have plans to publish in Arabic, possibly a newspaper that will be distributed for free.

On whether he felt it was crazy to start a print magazine in a digital world: For a magazine that’s mission is to ignite the renaissance of this area of the world; I don’t think digital-only can achieve that; people need to feel the tangible aspect of things.

On the biggest stumbling block that he’s had to face: The biggest stumbling block was the fact that before starting I had a very clear plan as to how to gear this magazine forward. I had a plan for after the first year and what would happen; how we would secure revenue, but as it turned out, how things worked in my head were completely at odds with how the commercial world works.

On why he thinks the magazine is selling out at bookstores, even with the hefty cover price of $12: When we first launched Issue # 0 everyone said that it was too expensive. It’s a quarterly magazine, so it comes out every three months and you’re paying $5 technically for three months, whereas there are monthly magazines that are $7.00 here on the stands. I think because it’s all new and the market is completely immature, people aren’t familiar with the concept that you actually have to pay for quality products.

On why he changed the frequency from quarterly to bi-annual: Primarily for financial reasons because to produce this kind of magazine it takes so many resources, also time being one of those resources.

On what motivates him to get out of bed each morning: The magazine is what motivates me, because the prospect is so exciting. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what we can achieve with this magazine. And just the prospect of really seeing the long-term vision of where this could go and trying to work toward that is really exciting.

On where he expects to see the magazine one year from now: So, in a year’s time, if this works out, we will have three main pillars for the operation, which is the printed edition, the project that we are conceiving, as well as our digital platform, which is not going to be as much a hub for content as much as a platform for World Makers. So that will encourage people to connect with each other, because I think that it can become a facilitator for change.

On the definition of a World Maker: A World Maker is a person, in this case, really an Arab person, living in the region and who is trying to do something independently to facilitate positive change in the Arab world.

On anything else he’d like to add: I think that we’re meeting at an interesting point because for the longest of time we’ve been trying to figure out who we are and what the magazine stands for and the point of view resonates with the type of people we are trying to reach out to. I think now we have matured somewhat and really know what we stand for and we know what we’re trying to do and that dictates our editorial and our conceptual strategies. We’re really doing very well; we’re in 50 cities around the world.

On what keeps him up at night: Lately, as I said, I’ve been sleeping like a baby. Nothing is keeping me up.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Ibrahim Nehme, Founder and Editor-In-Chief, The Outpost magazine…

From Lebanon With Love

From Lebanon With Love

Samir Husni: Tell me about the background of The Outpost – why Lebanon and how did it get started?

Ibrahim Nehme: Basically, in 2011 I was contemplating whether or not I should leave Lebanon and go somewhere abroad and continue my studies. At the time I was working for ArabAd, which is a local magazine, and the experience with ArabAd kind of opened my eyes to the world and the situation of the country, which at that time, and in a way still is, really bad.

It came down to staying in Lebanon and doing something about it, like trying to create a magazine that actually ups the standards of the local print industry, or just leaving. And at the time the Arab spring was happening and there was this inspiring energy going throughout the region and I felt that it was a good time to stay and do something with print.

And that’s how the magazine of possibilities was born, because at the time the region was open to all inspiring possibilities. In a way it was born from the womb of the Arab spring as a magazine of possibilities that aims to capitalize some kind of change in this ongoing revolution. It’s a political magazine; it’s a socially-conscious magazine, and it reaches out primarily to young Arabs who are the activators of change.

So, that was the initial idea. We launched our very first issue, number zero, and it was intentionally numbered zero because we were a bunch of young people with no significant experience in making a magazine or in publishing. We just wanted to put our ideas out there.

It kind of picked up though soon after the issue was out; we were nominated for awards and the feedback was really good. It just took off from there. There have been so many changes to our strategy in how we’re approaching print.

Samir Husni: Why did you choose English and not Arabic as the language of the magazine?

Ibrahim Nehme: English was the striking point because the creative director at the time and myself, were like most Lebanese, American-schooled, and we consume our media primarily in English. And like us, there are legions of other young Arabs in Lebanon and in other parts of the region who also consume media in English and not in Arabic, which may be a shame I know, but that’s the reality of things.

We wanted to publish in English because we wanted to reach out to this particular target group, but for a magazine that has a mission really larger-than-life, with a mission that seeks to ignite change in this part of the world, we’re aware of the limitations of the English language and we do have plans to publish in Arabic, possibly a newspaper that will be distributed for free.

And also, because now we’re reaching out to Europe and America; we’ve been getting a lot of requests that are from non-Arabs. And I think publishing in English is helping to break these stereotypes associated with the Arab world. I always get messages from surprised readers, such as: we didn’t expect Beirut to be as you show it, so I think that it’s helping in that sense.

Samir Husni: We live in a digital age and you’re a young man, under 30, fully aware of the digital tendencies of your generation; are you crazy to start a print magazine today and to also try and defend the future of print in this digital age?

Ibrahim Nehme: Growing up, I always had a knack for physical things and I was never that great when it came to technology, so for me the printed product was a natural choice when I chose to make the magazine.

It was never really a matter of print or digital; I think that somehow the conversation has been skewed and framed in such a way that it’s wrong. Every media has its different pros and cons and its different features.

We started out in print and we knew that digital would come at some point down the line, so we have to start working on our digital platform, which we are now doing. And we’re thinking that we will conceive it the way that we did the print edition.

Again, for a magazine that’s mission is to ignite the renaissance of this area of the world; I don’t think digital-only can achieve that; people need to feel the tangible aspect of things.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?

Ibrahim Nehme: The biggest stumbling block was the fact that before starting I had a very clear plan as to how to gear this magazine forward. I had a plan for after the first year and what would happen; how we would secure revenue, but as it turned out, how things worked in my head were completely at odds with how the commercial world works.

And it took me almost a year to grasp that we, the publishers of the magazine, and the media industry were on a completely different page. We speak a completely different language and for the longest time we were trying to change our language to make them understand who we are and what we’re trying to do, up until we finally realized that wasn’t going to happen. Now we’re at the point of realizing what we stand for and how we’ve been doing in the market and we’re trying to turn that into revenue that will help us sustain this enterprise.

What we’re doing is scrapping advertising; starting with the next issue we will no longer publish any form of advertising; I’ll tell you more about this. We thought that moving forward and in order to keep this magazine sustainable, we could enlist the people who really believe in the value of the magazine, not advertising agencies or media companies; but the people who are really seeing the value of the magazine, the readers. And in many ways these readers are the change agents who are implementing positive change in the region, which in this issue we call them “World Makers.” A “World Maker” is anyone who lives and is trying to do something positive for nothing in return.

scan-20150725194724-3 With the next issue we have something called the World-Making Factorium, which is a poster inside the magazine. We talked about 50 World Makers and we tried to find connections between them. The idea is, for example, one woman is trying to make one place better and then collectively the whole place is going to become better because it’s inhabited by all of these caring people. These World Makers were numbered, indexed and rearranged, then connected to each other based on what they are working on. The result is a network showing the world that is constructed due to each of them making change in different clusters.

We have to take money, of course, to sustain it, but the gift that we’re giving is important involving the World Makers, who are the revenue generators of the magazine. But it’s an upfront framework for supporting the magazine.

Samir Husni: I tried to find Issue 5 when I first arrived in Lebanon recently and in every bookstore that I visited they told me it was sold out. So, even with the $12 cover price, which is a hefty price for a magazine in Lebanon, it’s still sold out. Why do you think that’s happening?

Ibrahim Nehme: Yes, it’s $12 and when we first launched Issue # 0 everyone said that it was too expensive. It’s a quarterly magazine, so it comes out every three months and you’re paying $5 technically for three months, whereas there are monthly magazines that are $7.00 here on the stands. I think because it’s all new and the market is completely immature, people aren’t familiar with the concept that you actually have to pay for quality products.

But we went bi-annual and people are buying it anyway and the price is still the same – $12 for every six months. What happened is we went bi-annual and we forgot to account for the fact that there are three more months that the magazine is on the shelves, so it was set up very fast.

Samir Husni: Why did you change the frequency?

Ibrahim Nehme: Primarily for financial reasons because to produce this kind of magazine it takes so many resources, also time being one of those resources. It’s a conceptual magazine, so we spend a lot of time developing the concept that binds everything together. And the quarterly frequency made it very short.

Samir Husni: Is The Outpost your night job or your day job? (Laughs)

Ibrahim Nehme: (Laughs too) My night and day job. It’s my life right now. And this is another source of revenue; we’ve been partnering with organizations that have been approaching us to produce some printed material for them and these types of jobs are really paying for the printing of the magazine and other costs. So, even when I’m working on that, it’s under The Outpost’s umbrella.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed each morning and say it’s going to be a great day?

Ibrahim Nehme: Recently, I haven’t been able to wake up easily because I’ve been working so hard; I’ve been really exhausted.

Aside from that because it’s just a phase, the magazine is what motivates me, because the prospect is so exciting. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what we can achieve with this magazine. And just the prospect of really seeing the long-term vision of where this could go and trying to work toward that is really exciting.

Samir Husni: Do you envision seeing yourself one day being the Tyler Brûlé of the Middle East and The Outpost as having the same success as Monocle?

Ibrahim Nehme: No, because we’re not a commercial magazine such as that; we’re more like an activist magazine than a lifestyle magazine, which is what Tyler has in Monocle. I love hearing his stories, they’re very inspiring and a lot of what he’s trying to do now, in terms of a business model, could inspire us in many ways, but to say that we may someday be as Monocle – no.

Samir Husni: You’ve created a very well done magazine, in terms of content, readability, design, photography, charts and infographics; you name it, it’s very well done. And all of this is rare for an activist-type magazine. If I’m sitting here with you in Beirut next year; how far has The Outpost come in one year? Where do you expect to see the magazine a year from now?

Ibrahim Nehme: Actually, we are currently working on a project that’s due a year from now. We’re trying to test different things and see how they would fit into each other. One of the things that we’re doing is developing a project, it’s an offline and online project, whereby we get the readers, as well as artists that we select from the region, to engage in a debate concerning a particular topic and then all the outcomes from the interactions and interventions that happen will be channeled into that issue.

I think that a lot of the things that happen in the process of creating the magazine remain in our heads and ideas from our closed brainstorming sessions and I think that these things are important and we need to open up the discussion and let other people in who are outside the magazine.

So, in a year’s time, if this works out, we will have three main pillars for the operation, which is the printed edition, the project that we are conceiving, as well as our digital platform, which is not going to be as much a hub for content as much as a platform for World Makers. So that will encourage people to connect with each other, because I think that it can become a facilitator for change.

Samir Husni: Give me your definition of a World Maker.

Ibrahim Nehme: A World Maker is a person, in this case, really an Arab person, living in the region and who is trying to do something independently to facilitate positive change in the Arab world. They could be an entrepreneur, an artist, an environmentalist, a lawyer, an activist or a feminist, you name it. Any person across different levels of activity who are trying to advance the region against all odds and creating worlds from scratch, because they’re living in a place where the entire infrastructure for living, for working, for production, for creation, is non-existent. That’s a World Maker.

Samir Husni: Do you feel like you’re the oddball, like you’re swimming against the current in this part of the world?

Ibrahim Nehme: For sure.

Samir Husni: Does that frustrate you or encourage you?

Ibrahim Nehme: It used to frustrate me a lot; now, I’ve made peace with it.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Ibrahim Nehme: I think that we’re meeting at an interesting point because for the longest of time we’ve been trying to figure out who we are and what the magazine stands for and the point of view resonates with the type of people we are trying to reach out to. I think now we have matured somewhat and really know what we stand for and we know what we’re trying to do and that dictates our editorial and our conceptual strategies. We’re really doing very well; we’re in 50 cities around the world.

Also I think that it’s helping. When you say that it’s mission is to help ignite a renaissance by basically inspiring people to do positive things, like inspiring this person to start up a business, or that person to work on fixing something else, just so many different things. We had a message from a lady in Cairo who said she had seen our magazine and she was really inspired, so she decided to buy the magazine in Egypt. If we could have that woman times 2,000 in five years, , it would be awesome. As I said, we’re just scratching the surface.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Ibrahim Nehme: Lately, as I said, I’ve been sleeping like a baby. Nothing is keeping me up.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning: The Story of O. A Double Issue.

July 20, 2015

6f3ca72f-2050-4b1e-8583-3d829f31d820 The new issue of Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning is out. It is a double issue for the weeks of July 20 and July 27.

Click here to read the latest issue of the Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning and here to receive a free subscription in your in-box each and every Monday Morning.

The Mr. Magazine™ blog is going to take a very needed and deserved break and will be back next week. Here’s to a great summer and all the best.

In the meantime, go a newsstand near you, pick up a magazine or two. Reading a magazine will help you cool off the summer heat… reading a magazine is more fun under the sun!

See you next week.

All my best.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

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Inside The Great Minds Of Magazine Makers: “The Mr. Magazine™ Interviews” In A Book.

July 17, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 8.04.21 AMPutting my money where my mouth is, I am publishing a host of Mr. Magazine™ Interviews in a book this coming mid August. The book, Inside The Great Minds Of Magazine Makers, contains interviews with 30 “Magazine Makers” that first appeared on this blog. Believing that the only way for great works to be permanent is to be in print, I am taking 27 of those interviews and publishing them in a 240-page-book. The book is published by the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi and printed by Trend Offset.

Mary G. Berner, President and CEO of MPA: The Association of Magazine Media, wrote the introduction to the book. In her intro she writes, “In Inside the Great Minds of Magazine Makers, Samir invites you to join him in his conversations with some of the most powerful and creative people in magazine media today. As these strategists and story tellers navigate the exciting frontier of digital content distribution, measurement, and monetization of magazine media brands, we get a unique fly- on-the-wall perspective on how they continue to deliver engaging, curated and valued content to a rapidly expanding audience.”

In my preface I write, “This is NOT a book about magazines and magazine media. It IS a book about the people who create magazines and magazine media. It is a journey inside their brains to find out what makes them tick and click. A journey that will help readers of this book understand where the creative, the editing, the storytelling, the business, and the marketing skills of today’s magazine and magazine media CEOs, presidents,editors, and publishers come from.”

The 27 chapters in the book (published in random order but keeping interviewees from the same magazine and magazine media company together) include interviews with:

Joe Ripp – CEO & Chairman, Time Inc.
Norman Pearlstine – Executive Vice President & Chief Content Officer, Time Inc.
David Carey – President, Hearst Magazines
Michael Clinton – President, Marketing & Publishing Director, Hearst Magazines
Ellen Levine – Editorial Director, Hearst Magazines
Maria Rodale – Chairman & CEO, Rodale, Inc.
James Oseland & Ellen Carucci – Editor-in-chief & Publisher of Organic Life, Rodale, Inc.
Chris Mitchell – Publisher, Vanity Fair, Condé Nast
Lewis DVorkin – Chief Product Officer, Forbes Magazine
Randall Lane – Editor, Forbes Magazine
Mark Howard – Chief Revenue Officer, Forbes Magazine
Bob Cohn – President & Chief Operating Officer, The Atlantic
Andrew Clurman – Chief Executive Officer & President, Active Interest Media
Carol Brooks & Ian Scott – Editor-in-chief of Simple Grace, & President and Publisher, Bauer Media U.S.
John Temple – President & CEO, Guideposts
Scott Dickey – CEO, TEN: The Enthusiast Network
Liz Vaccariello – Editor-in-chief, Reader’s Digest
Tony Romando – CEO & Co-founder, Topix Media Lab
Tinu – Publisher, Shoeholics Magazine
Todd Paul – President, Open Sky Media, Inc.
Adi Ignatius – Editor-in-chief, Harvard Business Review
Steve Giannetti & Victoria Pope – Publisher & Editor-in-chief, Smithsonian Journeys
Diane Anderson-Minshall – Editor-in-chief, Plus Magazine, Here Media
Mariette DiChristina – Editor-in-chief & Senior Vice President, Scientific American Magazine
Dana Points – Editor-in-chief & Content Director, Parents Latina, Meredith
Daren Mazzucca – Publisher, Martha Stewart Living, Meredith
Lesley Jane Seymour – Editor-in-chief, More Magazine, Meredith

The book is available for a $100 donation to the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi. All the proceeds from the sale of Inside The Great Minds Of Magazine Makers will be used to create a magazine student scholarship to help with the costs of students’ internships and such. Please send your checks to Magazine Innovation Center, 114 Farley Hall, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, U.S.A.

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15 Years And Counting – O, The Oprah Magazine Celebrates The Major Milestone With A ‘Circle Of Friends’ That Continues To Grow Every Day – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Lucy Kaylin, Editor-In-Chief.

July 14, 2015

“I know that magazines have always been and continue to be a really rare and wonderful thing. I think, especially with a magazine like ours, it is a uniquely, immersive experience. It’s such a pleasure to have this beautifully curated collection of stories, ideas, sometimes quizzes, exercises; things that have been put together to challenge readers and to lift them up and get them to see their own life in a new way.” Lucy Kaylin

“I suppose it could, simply because there are so many other ways to express one’s ideas. There are obviously so many formats and platforms out there today. But I wouldn’t love that; I wouldn’t think that would be a positive thing. O, as a print publication is incredibly special and it’s lush and beautiful and it’s tactile and something that is very well-enjoyed in bed, in a hammock, on the couch or in the tub. The physical nature of it is one of the very special things about it.” (on whether the magazine could exist without the print component) Lucy Kaylin

O Mag August Cover Fifteen years is a major milestone for anything these days; sometimes our fast-paced lives, inundated with notifications and distractions coming from all directions make everything seem fleeting and surreal. That’s when Mr. Magazine™ grabs his drink of choice (usually coffee), reclines in his chair and reads a great magazine.

O, The Oprah Magazine is one such relaxing and immersive escape. Celebrating 15 years of publishing success with beautifully curated content and amazing photographs; the magazine is as welcoming and compelling as its namesake.

From the launch one year ago of the engaging ‘Circle of Friends’ subscription model to the new cover treatments, inside changes and more; O, The Oprah Magazine is pushing the boundaries on creative innovation and proving once again that there is power in the printed word and allure in good content.

Lucy Kaylin became editor-in-chief of O, The Oprah Magazine in May 2013, having been deputy editor since 2009. I spoke with Lucy recently about the magazine’s 15th anniversary and the ‘Circle of Friends’ subscription model and Oprah herself and the magnetic connection Oprah has with her audience, both the woman and the magazine.

It was a very enlightening conversation and one that proved fame and fortune doesn’t always change the core of a person’s true nature or the ink on paper that bears her moniker. Genuineness and quality always shine through.

So, I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lucy Kaylin, Editor-In-Chief, O, The Oprah Magazine; it was a true joy for me.

But first, the sound-bites:

OPR
On the secret to O, The Oprah Magazine’s longevity:
The magazine is the same; it’s never just about celebrities. It’s always had, arguably, the world’s most famous celebrity on the cover every month anyway. It’s been about big, resonant, rich, important ideas for real women. So, there have always been lots and lots in the magazine for women who have great ambitions for themselves, in terms of living a realized life. And that’s for all time, that’s not something that goes in and out of fashion; it’s something that I think we all want.

On the process of putting together an issue of the monthly magazine: We have what we call ‘Big Idea Meetings’ and that’s where we get the entire staff together and talk about themes, such as what would be worthwhile themes for each of our issues. And we’re in constant communication with Oprah, she’s very interested, obviously, in what we’re doing and she often has great ideas for us, but she’s absolutely wonderful in trusting us and letting us be the magazine-makers, but she’s there for us whenever we need her.

On whether she feels she channels Oprah with each and every issue: To an extent. We really do like to have a multiplicity of voices, of course, so there will be people who have had all different kinds of experiences, sharing what they know and what they’ve been through, within our pages, so in that sense it’s not a strict first-page-to-last channeling of Oprah. But we do have a very, those of us who work here, have a very clear sense of what matters to her.

On how she continuously engages the audience whether Oprah is in the forefront of media or not at any given time: We are blessed with a really wide readership and the readers that we have and our subscribers are quite passionate and quite loyal, so I don’t have the sense of fighting to find readers or fighting to keep them. I think the real secret is that what we’re putting out there is of such sustaining quality; it’s sustenance and it’s the stuff of life. Again, it’s not superficial; it’s not fleeting; it’s something that I feel certain millions upon millions of women and men are looking for.

On why she believes Oprah and the magazine is inimitable to other publications: I really think that Oprah is 100% unique. She’s just a very powerful person and I mean that in the nicest way. She’s very impactful, the way that she’s able to connect with an audience, for instance. The way that she’s able to open up a person who’s sitting across from her that she’s interviewing. These are just incredibly rare gifts and skills that she has. She’s extremely tuned in to the human experience. She’s so not distracted by the trappings of fame and success.

On Oprah’s down-to-earth nature: I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been around her many times when people are encountering her for the first time and it’s really quite something to see the impact that she makes. I can’t imagine that there are too many people you could compare her to in that respect. She peers right into your soul; she’s very much an authentic person with everyone she meets. That’s part of her magic; all that is completely real.

On the most pleasant moment in her career: There have been so many. I can certainly say that one of them was getting this job, which is being the editor of Oprah’s magazine. It really touched me in a very profound way, the responsibility that I was being given.

On the major stumbling block she’s had to face: For me, I think probably it’s just like with most people when you’re starting out. I was a writer at GQ magazine when I was quite young, in my 20s, and I do remember trying to figure out what I wanted to say. I was always good at putting words together and making pretty sentences, but I remember being challenged by my editors at GQ who were great mentors and very talented people, who made it clear, especially at a magazine as great as GQ, that it wasn’t enough to just write well, you had to have a point of view and something to say.

On what she knows for sure as editor of O, The Oprah Magazine: I know that magazines have always been and continue to be a really rare and wonderful thing. I think, especially with a magazine like ours, it is a uniquely, immersive experience. It’s such a pleasure to have this beautifully curated collection of stories, ideas, sometimes quizzes, exercises; things that have been put together to challenge readers and to lift them up and get them to see their own life in a new way.

On whether O, The Oprah Magazine could exist without the print component: I suppose it could, simply because there are so many other ways to express one’s ideas. There are obviously so many formats and platforms out there today. But I wouldn’t love that; I wouldn’t think that would be a positive thing. O, as a print publication is incredibly special and it’s lush and beautiful and it’s tactile and something that is very well-enjoyed in bed, in a hammock, on the couch or in the tub. The physical nature of it is one of the very special things about it.

On what makes her click and tick and motivates her to get out of bed in the mornings: I really love the work itself. As social as I can be, which is what makes me take such pleasure in my colleagues; I love the solitary work of magazines; I love working on copy and I love wrestling with ideas. I love the process of taking the wet clay of a concept and molding it, figuring it out and turning it into something wonderful that you can share with literally millions of people. It’s very pleasurable work.

On anything else she’d like to add: Just that it’s a very exciting time. As you know we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary and I’m really thrilled with the momentum that I’m feeling, creative and commercial, in terms of just the excitement that surrounded our May issue, which was officially our anniversary. And the great sense of a new chapter beginning that we all have.

On what keeps her up at night: I would say that even though this is a volatile time in the magazine business, happily, I don’t feel like anyone is dying from it or suffering deeply or terribly from it. In that sense, I reserve my sleeplessness for what’s happening with my kids. But the magazine business is there and I think it will survive and be there for me, no matter how much sleep I get or don’t get.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lucy Kaylin, Editor-In-Chief, O, The Oprah Magazine.

O Mag May Cover Samir Husni: When O, The Oprah Magazine was launched, there was a lot of talk about how long a celebrity magazine could last; we had Martha Stewart and Rosie, yet, 15 years later, the magazine is still going strong. What do you think is the magazine’s secret to longevity?

Lucy Kaylin: I think it’s a couple of things. The first thing really is Oprah herself. She’s so much more than just a celebrity. She’s a person who is admired the world over for her completely unique and inspiring journey and her approach to life, for her endless curiosity and creativity and her love of challenge and innovation.

I think people realize that they’re not just looking at a really famous face when they see Oprah; they’re seeing a very authentic person who lives in a very big way the life that they see for themselves, which is one of creativity, passion and self-realization, all of those things that are quite genuine and not all just about fame.

And for the other part of my answer; the magazine is the same; it’s never just about celebrities. It’s always had, arguably, the world’s most famous celebrity on the cover every month anyway. It’s been about big, resonant, rich, important ideas for real women. So, there have always been lots and lots in the magazine for women who have great ambitions for themselves, in terms of living a realized life. And that’s for all time, that’s not something that goes in and out of fashion; it’s something that I think we all want.

We’re the very best DNA in the business, I think, and we’re really about something. It’s not about fads or gossip; it’s about what really matters most to the human experience.

Samir Husni: As you channel this human experience with every issue of Oprah; can you describe for me the dynamics of how you put each issue together? How involved Oprah is with the actual magazine? There’s a lot of talk that Oprah reads or looks at everything. Just describe for us the process of putting an issue of O, The Oprah Magazine together every month.

Lucy Kaylin: We have what we call ‘Big Idea Meetings’ and that’s where we get the entire staff together and talk about themes, such as what would be worthwhile themes for each of our issues. Ideas of themes that we’ve had in the past are: ‘Who’re you meant to be,’ ‘The 20 most important questions a woman should ask herself,’ or ‘Aging brilliantly,’ How to love the skin you’re in;’ those kinds of ideas that, again, are really about helping women to live a fuller and better life.

So, when we settle on a theme, we kick around how that would play out in the pages, such as who would be some of the writers that we’d like to contribute stories and who knows someone who has a cool story to tell about the topic at hand.

And we’re in constant communication with Oprah, she’s very interested, obviously, in what we’re doing and she often has great ideas for us, but she’s absolutely wonderful in trusting us and letting us be the magazine-makers, but she’s there for us whenever we need her. She’s certainly not interested in micro-managing and she loves to see what we come up with.

Not long ago my senior staff and I were at a retreat at her house on the West Coast and that was just an incredible opportunity over the course of a couple of days to really pick her brain and to share with her some thoughts that we had for the magazine and her feedback was valuable. We treat her instincts like the gold that they are and listen very carefully to that feedback.

Samir Husni: Do you feel as though you channel Oprah with every issue? Do you transform Oprah the person into Oprah the ink on paper?

Lucy Kaylin: To an extent. We really do like to have a multiplicity of voices, of course, so there will be people who have had all different kinds of experiences, sharing what they know and what they’ve been through, within our pages, so in that sense it’s not a strict first-page-to-last channeling of Oprah.

But we do have a very, those of us who work here, have a very clear sense of what matters to her. And the kinds of things that she likes to see in the magazine and the kinds of positions that she takes on things. We’re all pretty likeminded here. We came here to her magazine for a reason, so it’s not a struggle to figure out or to understand what’s important to her. It’s top of mind, for sure, all the time, what would Oprah think or what would she do and would this please her; whatever the story at hand might be.

Samir Husni: The title of one of my new books that’s coming out in August is called “Audience First” and when I look at the Oprah magazine and hear some critics, such as when Oprah stopped her television program, people were saying that’s the end of Oprah. Or whenever Oprah does anything remotely different, people cry that’s the end of her; how do you continue to capture that audience who are either enthralled with Oprah the magazine or even with what Oprah represents, not necessarily with the human being, Oprah, but her teachings, messages, her lifestyle, or they’re convinced she’s a thing of the past? How do you retain that steadfast audience, regardless of whether Oprah has a television show or not, and keep that magazine relationship flourishing?

Lucy Kaylin: We are blessed with a really wide readership and the readers that we have and our subscribers are quite passionate and quite loyal, so I don’t have the sense of fighting to find readers or fighting to keep them. I think the real secret is that what we’re putting out there is of such sustaining quality; it’s sustenance and it’s the stuff of life. Again, it’s not superficial; it’s not fleeting; it’s something that I feel certain millions upon millions of women and men are looking for.

If you’re putting out high quality content and you also have the benefit of an extremely high profile, extremely well-known face for the entire enterprise, such as Oprah and of course Gayle too, that’s a wonderful double-whammy for us. We have the great content, but we also have the extremely appealing and well-known face of what we do being the billboard for us, in a sense, as we look to attract new readers.

Samir Husni: To me, Oprah is one of the first magazines in the United States that broke the race barrier; it’s more of a melting pot for any woman or man who can relate to that lifestyle or approach. Why do you think that no one else has been able to imitate Oprah?

Lucy Kaylin: I really think that Oprah is 100% unique. She’s just a very powerful person and I mean that in the nicest way. She’s very impactful, the way that she’s able to connect with an audience, for instance. The way that she’s able to open up a person who’s sitting across from her that she’s interviewing. These are just incredibly rare gifts and skills that she has. She’s extremely tuned in to the human experience. She’s so not distracted by the trappings of fame and success.

It’s so interesting to me that there are lots and lots of actors and actresses today who have achieved tremendous fame and wealth and have, as a result, lived very strange lives sometimes and have been sort of walled-off from their public because it’s all become just too stressful and paparazzi-driven. It becomes, again, a kind of strange life.

And that’s just never happened to Oprah, even though she’s the most famous of them all, because she’s really tuned in to the human condition. And what made her famous was, of course, her TV show where she was very much surrounded by and interested in real people and real people’s issues and what was happening with their families and their pasts and childhoods, jobs and marriages.

She’s always been an authentic person in our world. And that doesn’t go away; she’s as real as they come and she’s been fabulously rewarded for it, but that doesn’t change her.

Samir Husni: I met her once when the magazine was launched at the launch party. And with all of the celebrities that I have ever met, I’ve never met anyone so down-to-earth. I felt like when she was shaking my hand and talking to me that we’d known each other forever.

Lucy Kaylin: I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been around her many times when people are encountering her for the first time and it’s really quite something to see the impact that she makes. I can’t imagine that there are too many people you could compare her to in that respect. She peers right into your soul; she’s very much an authentic person with everyone she meets. That’s part of her magic; all that is completely real.

And I think that’s why it’s such an advantage for us at the magazine. The heart of what we do is so real; it’s so authentic and it all stems from her.

Samir Husni: Speaking of real, for everything in this life, including life itself, there is a lifecycle. There’s a time to be born and a time to die, Heaven forbid. That being said; is the life of the magazine attached to the life of Oprah?

Lucy Kaylin: I don’t think I could comment on that. I hate to even think of such a thing, if what we’re implying is what happens when she’s gone. I don’t know.

I think we are just as grateful as we could possibly be for what she’s put into the world and what she continues to bring into the world and that we get to be a part of it. Who could possibly speak about the future?

Samir Husni: Reflect a little on your experience as a magazine editor and working in magazines. Can you recall the most pleasant moment in your career; one where you said, “Wow!”

Lucy Kaylin: There have been so many. I can certainly say that one of them was getting this job, which is being the editor of Oprah’s magazine. It really touched me in a very profound way, the responsibility that I was being given; the trust that the people around me had in my abilities; just the privilege, the privilege of being the chief custodian for something as wonderful as O, The Oprah Magazine.

Samir Husni: And what has been one of the major stumbling blocks that you’ve had to face in your career and how did you overcome it?

Lucy Kaylin: For me, I think probably it’s just like with most people when you’re starting out. I was a writer at GQ magazine when I was quite young, in my 20s, and I do remember trying to figure out what I wanted to say. I was always good at putting words together and making pretty sentences, but I remember being challenged by my editors at GQ who were great mentors and very talented people, who made it clear, especially at a magazine as great as GQ, that it wasn’t enough to just write well, you had to have a point of view and something to say.

And I remember struggling with that and trying to get my arms around the idea that my opinion on things and my point of view on things was worth broadcasting to the reading public. I got over that, but it took me some time.

Samir Husni: If someone asked you today then; Lucy, you’re the editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, what do you know for sure?

Lucy Kaylin: What do I know for sure? I know that’s a very good question. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Lucy Kaylin: I know that magazines have always been and continue to be a really rare and wonderful thing. I think, especially with a magazine like ours, it is a uniquely, immersive experience. It’s such a pleasure to have this beautifully curated collection of stories, ideas, sometimes quizzes, exercises; things that have been put together to challenge readers and to lift them up and get them to see their own life in a new way.

I feel like that there is something that’s just so fun and unique about a magazine. And of course it can be incredibly beautiful; the photography; the illustrations; it’s an art form for all time, even though we are constantly these days finding ways and brainstorming ideas to extend our brands and to do clever things off the page. But a magazine is the wellspring of all of that and it’s just a joyful thing. And I feel very lucky that I found my way into this business.

Samir Husni: Do you think O, The Oprah Magazine could exist without the print component?

Lucy Kaylin: I suppose it could, simply because there are so many other ways to express one’s ideas. There are obviously so many formats and platforms out there today. But I wouldn’t love that; I wouldn’t think that would be a positive thing.

O, as a print publication is incredibly special and it’s lush and beautiful and it’s tactile and something that is very well-enjoyed in bed, in a hammock, on the couch or in the tub. The physical nature of it is one of the very special things about it.

That said; we made a very beautiful app for the E-reader and we’ve made beautiful books out of our content and we have a wonderful website and of course, there’s O, The Network that we sometimes do things with. So, again, there are all kinds of ways to be O, but I’m partial to print and I’m hoping it’s going to be around for a long time.

Samir Husni: What makes you click and tick and motivates you to get out of the bed each morning and say, wow, this is going to be a great day?

Lucy Kaylin: I love the work. I absolutely love the work. One of the things that I discovered when I got into this business a few decades ago, where I started as a fact-checker at Vogue; one of the first things I noticed was the incredible caliber of people that are attracted to the magazine business. They’re all just so smart, funny and well-informed, so that’s always been a huge draw for me. I’ve worked with really fantastic people over the years and it’s just great to spend your day with people you like. That’s always been something that’s quickened my step on the way to work.

But I really love the work itself. As social as I can be, which is what makes me take such pleasure in my colleagues; I love the solitary work of magazines; I love working on copy and I love wrestling with ideas. I love the process of taking the wet clay of a concept and molding it, figuring it out and turning it into something wonderful that you can share with literally millions of people. It’s very pleasurable work.

Samir Husni: Are you a serial comma person?

Lucy Kaylin: I am a serial comma person, for the most part. I’m open to the conversation for those who aren’t, but my instincts say yes; the serial comma is the way to go. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Anything else you’d like to add?

O's Circle of Friends premium subscription model.

O’s Circle of Friends premium subscription model.

Lucy Kaylin: Just that it’s a very exciting time. As you know we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary and I’m really thrilled with the momentum that I’m feeling, creative and commercial, in terms of just the excitement that surrounded our May issue, which was officially our anniversary. And the great sense of a new chapter beginning that we all have. So, I suppose that’s what I would add.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Lucy Kaylin: I would say that even though this is a volatile time in the magazine business, happily, I don’t feel like anyone is dying from it or suffering deeply or terribly from it. In that sense, I reserve my sleeplessness for what’s happening with my kids; how am I going to get my daughter ready to go off to college in a month; concerns for my loved ones that I can’t escape from, for the most part.

But the magazine business is there and I think it will survive and be there for me, no matter how much sleep I get or don’t get.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First… Introducing The 4Cs Strategy For Survival And Success. The Must-Have New Book.

July 9, 2015

Audience First Allow me, for a change, to indulge in a little self promotion for my new book that I have authored with two of my colleagues. Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First, puts in practice what I have been preaching for years. Teaming up with my colleagues from the broadcast and online media world, gives the book a holistic approach to success in a news media world that now recognizes and respects the power of audience. The book will be published on August 18. To order the book click here.

Here’s what the book’s publisher CQ Press an imprint of Sage wrote on their website about the book:

The business of journalism is in the midst of massive change. Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First offers practical solutions on how to cope with and adapt to the evolving media landscape. News media experts Samir Husni, Debora Halpern Wenger, and Hank Price introduce a forward-looking framework for understanding why change is occurring and what it means to the business of journalism. Central to this new paradigm is a focus on the audience. The authors introduce “The 4Cs Strategy” to describe how customers, control, choice, and change are all part of a strategy for successful media organizations. Every chapter in the book relates to one or more of these four key principles:

Customer – Each platform must offer a unique experience to the customer.
Choice – The audience has more options than ever, and news organizations must work harder to be the preferred choice.
Control – Sharing power and control with the audience is now a necessary part of running a successful news operation.
Change – Companies can manage change through adaptation.

Real-world case studies, important theoretical grounding, and a focus on understanding rather than resisting the customer’s desire for choice and control make this an unbeatable resource for students and managers alike who want to succeed in this changed media business landscape.

KEY FEATURES:

Leadership Reports offer insight into what the job of a media manager entails by providing in-depth interviews with major news media managers representing some of the top news outlets in the country, including The Wall Street Journal, Hearst, Forbes.com, CNN, and Bleacher Report.

Think and Do Segments
simulate real-world management decisions through exercises and case studies that test the reader’s ability to apply the techniques discussed in each chapter to good decision making.

Basic Business Principles
that drive the success or failure of the organizations are explained to help students understand the business of media and prepare these future managers for jobs in today’s media organizations.

To order the book click here.

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The Perfect Canvas: A Gardener, A Painter, And A Magazine: The Story of Acrylic Artist Magazine.

July 8, 2015

Artistic Inspiration Along With Navigational Instruction Join Hands To Bring Yet Another Creative Masterpiece To Life – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Patty Craft, Community Leader & Content Creator/Editor, and Jamie Markle, Group Publisher, Acrylic Artist Magazine.

“I still feel like the magazines are a core part of people being in that community and we know from our own data that our magazine subscribers are the most loyal buyers when it comes to art e-commerce store. Those people are very committed to following the pursuit of their art and they look to us to provide instruction in a lot of different formats. I would say the magazines are still a core part of the communities, whether they are Watercolor Artist or Acrylic Artist or somebody who likes to draw.” Jamie Markle

“Despite the fact that some people may be saying, oh, print is dead or it’s challenged, it’s encouraging to me that as a corporation, we understand our customers’ needs, this magazine is something they want, they want a print product. Our results are double what we expected.” Patty Craft

AAsm15_500 For the artist, F+W Media have been producing quality magazines of inspiration and instruction for generations. From Watercolor Artist to Pastel Journal, the niche titles serve the specific audience they’re intended for perfectly, with a new launch joining the stable to fill a need in the acrylic market.

Acrylic Artist joins its brothers and sisters proudly and the parents that are nurturing this new baby are Patty Craft, community leader & content creator/editor, and Jamie Markle, group publisher. Patty reached out to me recently to talk about the new launch and joined by Jamie, we had a lively discussion about niche markets and the future of the targeted title. It was a past, present and future conversation about the long-lived F+W Media and its many reinventions and a glimpse into the personal hopes of both Patty and Jamie for their newborn.

So, get out your easel and brushes and sit down with the three of us for a brief moment in time and be prepared to receive creative inspiration from a painter and wordsmith who both love what they do and believe strongly in their brand. The Mr. Magazine™ interview with Patty Craft, Community Leader & Content Creator/Editor, and Jamie Markle, Group Publisher, Acrylic Artist magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

J.Markle_April_2011_073 On whether or not he (Jamie Markle) believes the future for print is more and more specialized titles: I would agree with that statement. As the world changes I think that print will continue on, but I think that we’ll see more and more niche publications like Acrylic Artist.

On the higher end cover price of Acrylic Artist magazine and what kind of message the price sends to its audience (Jamie Markle): Acrylic Artist is the only magazine of its kind, the only magazine that is for the acrylic artist and only the acrylic artist and what we’re saying is that we want to provide quality content, but in order for us to provide content in the form that they want with beautiful paper and a nice trim size, we need to charge a little bit more in order to make it work.

On his (Jamie Markle) dual duty as group publisher and vice president of fine art for F+W: I’m the vice president and group publisher for the fine art community here at F+W and we do things a little bit differently. I oversee all the editorial teams and they report directly to me as does the sales teams. I really have a 360° view of the content that we produce whether it’s content from the editorial side that we put in the magazine, but also working with the salespeople as we work with our partners.

On Editor Patty Craft’s feelings about coming back to the creative content side of F+W’s Artist’s magazine collection:
I’ve also been with the company for 15 years and in my early years I started out on Watercolor and Pastel, so many of the teammates that I have now were here then. I moved around a little bit in the business and did some different things. I was also a community leader for our garden community and horticulture magazine. But coming back as the editor to actually work with content creation has been really great. Like Jamie said; it’s the balance between the business side and the creative content side.

On what sort of experience she’s (Patty Craft) looking to engage her audience with in the execution of Acrylic Artist: That’s a great question. We put together each issue; you know it’s quarterly and when it comes out, it feels more like a catalog to me. It has a dual purpose: to inspire and to instruct. You can almost look at the issue as part art gallery and part classroom or workshop experience.


On today’s high cover price trend and whether he (Jamie Markle) sees a point where the consumer will say that’s too high a price for a magazine:
I think that bookazines have really opened the door to higher prices for SIP’s on the newsstands. So, I think that we’re able to get to that $15 range, but I believe going much higher than that, unless it’s a larger product, I think that might be a little bit challenging. But I do believe that people will pay for quality, but we’re still very cognizant to prices according to the skill level and what the production values are.

On Patty’s most pleasant moment during her career at F+W:
The most rewarding and pleasant experience I have is when we do find an artist that we know has great art or a beautiful garden or a really great story to tell and we are then able to work with them to encapsulate their story in such a way that we can share it with thousands of other people. It’s the beauty of community; it really is what community is about.

On why Jamie thinks we surrendered the term “community” to the digital world when communities have long been a part of the magazine domain from almost the beginning: I still feel like the magazines are a core part of people being in that community and we know from our own data that our magazine subscribers are the most loyal buyers when it comes to art e-commerce store. Those people are very committed to following the pursuit of their art and they look to us to provide instruction in a lot of different formats. I would say the magazines are still a core part of the communities, whether they are Watercolor Artist or Acrylic Artist or somebody who likes to draw.

On whether Jamie can ever envision F+W as a digital-only community with no print component:
Gosh, I hope not. Our print subscribers are really loyal. I suppose that it could happen, but I don’t foresee it happening in the next five years. People still like their subscriptions to their favorite magazines and I feel like we’ve helped, along with every other print producer out there.


PattyCraft_headshot On Patty’s thoughts about how quickly people are talking about the death of the tablet and homepage, whereas it took 500 years for people to coin the phrase print is dead:
Despite the fact that some people may be saying, oh, print is dead or it’s challenged, it’s encouraging to me that as a corporation, we understand our customers’ needs, this magazine is something they want, they want a print product. Our results are double what we expected.

On what motivates Jamie to get out of bed each day and go to work: I would say getting to know the members of the community, whether it’s our contributing writers, the artists we interview, the people who write books for us or make videos for us, my staff; I see the passion that people have for the art that they make and the things that they teach and those connections and that view of what they do and how important it is to our consumers, that’s really what brings me to the office every day.

On what motivates Patty to get out of bed each day and go to work:
As I said in one of my Letters from the Editor: your wings as readers are made of paintings. When they get up in the mornings, what makes them soar is to be able to paint. My wings are made of words. And I’ve always dreamed of a career in writing. And so, it’s an opportunity for me as the editor of this magazine to be able to take these people’s stories, which are very visual, and translate them into the written word for people to read.

On anything else either would like to add (Jamie Markle):
I guess the only thing I would say is one of the other reasons that we launched Acrylic Artist is when we looked at our art business as a whole, we saw that we were serving the acrylic artist with books, video and education, but there really wasn’t a hole in the magazine area. So, it really is our hope that we can build up that community of acrylic artists with our subscription plan.

On what keeps Patty up at night:
Right now, when you are launching, even though as a company we produce a vast number of print publications, this is still a new baby. It’s in its first year of subscription service. Horticulture Magazine, for example, it’s been in print for 110 years. I know what the themes are; I know who the writers are; I know who the gardeners are; I am so immersed in the magazine. With Acrylic Artist, acrylic painting has only been around for 75 years. And I’m new to this. So, the thing that keeps me up at night is making sure that not only am I getting this fall issue that we’re going to send to the printer buttoned up tightly and in good shape, but that I have a deep enough view of 2016 and 2017 to make sure that I can keep the momentum going.

On what keeps Jamie up at night:
I think because I’m a pretty chill person and I sleep really well (Laughs), but if anything concerns me it’s that I’m in charge of making sure that we provide a lot of different types of content to a lot of different people, whether it’s our magazines or books. Not only am I responsible for my consumers, but also my staff, so I always want to make sure I’m doing my best to make sure the business is on track and the content is on track.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Patty Craft, Community Leader & Content Creator/Editor, and Jamie Markle, Group Publisher, Acrylic Artist magazine.

Acrylic artists1-1 Samir Husni: F+W Media started The Artist first. Now you have a stable of artist’s magazines, from Watercolor to Acrylic and many others. Are we seeing that the future for print is going to be more and more specialized titles?

Jamie Markle: I would agree with that statement. As the world changes I think that print will continue on, but I think that we’ll see more and more niche publications like Acrylic Artist, which is one of the reasons we decided to branch off into that specific area, because the magazines that we have like Watercolor and Pastel Journal and Drawing; they have very dedicated subscriber bases and we thought that we would be able to replicate that with the Acrylic market.

Samir Husni: The cover price is almost $15; what message are you sending to your audience, to your “cult readership” with that price?

Jamie Markle: Acrylic Artist is the only magazine of its kind, the only magazine that is for the acrylic artist and only the acrylic artist and what we’re saying is that we want to provide quality content, but in order for us to provide content in the form that they want with beautiful paper and a nice trim size, we need to charge a little bit more in order to make it work.

Samir Husni: In one of the ads I saw that you had edited the book Acrylicworks 2: Radical Breakthroughs?

Jamie Markle: Correct.

Samir Husni: So, are you on both the publishing and editorial side?

Jamie Markle: I’m the vice president and group publisher for the fine art community here at F+W and we do things a little bit differently. I oversee all the editorial teams and they report directly to me as does the sales teams.

I really have a 360° view of the content that we produce whether it’s content from the editorial side that we put in the magazine, but also working with the salespeople as we work with our partners.

Sales opportunities in the fine arts area are limited to a certain group of manufacturers and retailers, so those relationships are longstanding and very important. I’ve been with the company for 15 years and having that 360° perspective has helped me to come up with new ideas and to look for crossover opportunities between editorial and our advertisers.

Samir Husni: Patty, I saw that you came onboard with issue three and from reading your editorial, you were very excited to come back to the art community.

Acrylic Artists 2-2 Patty Craft: That’s true. Social media can be sort of a challenge at some points, but I love the opportunity it affords us to reach out to one another. I’ve also been with the company for 15 years and in my early years I started out on Watercolor and Pastel, so many of the teammates that I have now were here then. I moved around a little bit in the business and did some different things. I was also a community leader for our garden community and horticulture magazine.

But coming back as the editor to actually work with content creation has been really great. Like Jamie said; it’s the balance between the business side and the creative content side.

Samir Husni: One of my premises that I try to teach my students is that we’re no longer just content providers; if we’re just in the business of content providing, we’re dead. We are more of the experience makers. Can you explain to me that as you’re putting the magazine together, what sort of experience are you looking to engage your audience with?

Patty Craft: That’s a great question. We put together each issue; you know it’s quarterly and when it comes out, it feels more like a catalog to me. It has a dual purpose: to inspire and to instruct. You can almost look at the issue as part art gallery and part classroom or workshop experience.

We feel that people who are reading Acrylic Artist have a variety of levels of experiences of painting, but across the board, and I’m not making this up for the interview, we have gotten nothing but positive feedback from artists of all levels. They love the format; they love the glossy paper; they love that it’s 116 pages and they feel like that’s something tangible and meaty that they can go back to over and over. And they’re pleased with the variety of artists that we’re showing, so we feel like we’re doing a nice job based on our readership’s response.

Samir Husni: And did anybody get upset with you when you told them in your Letter from the Editor that you would love for them to subscribe and by doing so they could save almost 42% off the cover price? Did they feel a bit taken aback because they had just paid $15 for one issue and the company is telling them after the fact that they could save quite a bit of money by subscribing?

Patty Craft: (Laughs) I have to tell you no, I have not gotten any bad feedback from that at all.

Jamie Markle: I actually think consumers are pretty used to that now. I’ve never had anyone come to me and say anything about that on any of our magazines. I’ve had people say there’s a better offer over here on this title; why didn’t you give me that one? But there are always different offers for different magazines all the time based on who you’re selling it through.

Samir Husni: Where do you see the specialty magazines and the bookazines that are coming to the marketplace and actually flooding the newsstands going? In June alone, the average cover price for new magazines was over $10. Do you see a point where the consumer will say that’s too much money for a magazine? Or the sky is the limit?

Jamie Markle: I think that bookazines have really opened the door to higher prices for SIP’s on the newsstands. So, I think that we’re able to get to that $15 range, but I believe going much higher than that, unless it’s a larger product, I think that might be a little bit challenging.

But I do believe that people will pay for quality, but we’re still very cognizant to prices according to the skill level and what the production values are. We’ve had a couple other magazines come out this year that we’ve really fit $9.99 on, that were still just around 100 pages, but because the skill level was a little bit lower and more entry level, we thought the consumer was a little bit of a general person and not a specific artist, but someone who was a generalist and might just pick up something on drawing. We chose to get that entry level market instead. I would be cautious to go much higher than $15 or $20 at this point, but bookazines sort of open up that market.

The other thing that’s interesting with us is we’re a book publisher as well, so if we’re going to put a lot of energy into something that is larger and book-sized, we’re probably more likely to put it into bookstore shelves, rather than on newsstand, that way it would have a longer life and it could live on all the outlets, like our own directed consumer stores, Amazon and any of the other bookstores, so if we were to go much higher than $15, for us that enters into a different type of product.

Samir Husni: Patty, what has been the most pleasant moment in your career working at F+W and with all of these communities?

Patty Craft: The most rewarding and pleasant experience I have is when we do find an artist that we know has great art or a beautiful garden or a really great story to tell and we are then able to work with them to encapsulate their story in such a way that we can share it with thousands of other people. It’s the beauty of community; it really is what community is about. I love the opportunity to look for these people who are doing something amazing that inspires that niche, whether it’s painting or gardening. Back when I was on Living Ready even, people who were looking at a preparedness way of life.

Being able to connect those people who are truly doing it as a way of life with people who may be aspiring to do it or are looking for a way to improve how they’re already doing it, that’s my greatest joy.

Samir Husni: And why do you think we have surrendered the term “community” to the digital world when in years past magazines were known for being communities and customers who came to our magazines were meant to be a part of that community they identified with?

Jamie Markle: It’s interesting because I think that what you said is true, a lot of communities were focused around “I am a subscriber to X Magazine” and I actually still see that’s true. We have a couple of different direct consumer websites, whether it is selling books and magazines or we have a streaming video service or online education. And when we have the chance to talk to some of those people, and sometimes it’ll be to tell us they have an issue with a product or about their membership, when I get a chance to talk to those people often I still hear, I’ve been a subscriber of The Pastel Journal for 10 years and I now have access to your streaming video site, and they tell me about how much they love the magazine and how they want to try one of our new services.

So, I still feel like the magazines are a core part of people being in that community and we know from our own data that our magazine subscribers are the most loyal buyers when it comes to art e-commerce store. Those people are very committed to following the pursuit of their art and they look to us to provide instruction in a lot of different formats. I would say the magazines are still a core part of the communities, whether they are Watercolor Artist or Acrylic Artist or somebody who likes to draw.

Samir Husni: Jamie, having said that, do you ever envision F+W as a digital-only community with no print?

Jamie Markle: Gosh, I hope not. Our print subscribers are really loyal. I suppose that it could happen, but I don’t foresee it happening in the next five years. People still like their subscriptions to their favorite magazines and I feel like we’ve helped, along with every other print producer out there. We saw some decline in the newsstand and some subscriber decline, but it’s really leveled off in the past couple of years where we’ve been seeing some nice steady numbers again. I think it’s been really good.

Samir Husni: I was at a conference in New York and people were talking about the death of the iPad and the death of the homepage, so I had to Tweet that it took us more than 500 years to talk about the death of print; now in less than seven years we’re talking about the death of the tablet and the death of the homepage.

Jamie Markle: We’ve actually seen some resurgence when it comes to people interested in print advertising again too. They used to scream: give me digital, give me digital and now we’re hearing what, can you do for print or what can we do for both.

Patty Craft: I’m pretty proud of the fact that our customers’ needs are important to us and when we look at the demographic of people who are acrylic painters who have already been consuming online video or online workshops or DVDs, that group is still attracted to a tangible print product. So, despite the fact that some people may be saying, oh, print is dead or its’s challenged, it’s encouraging to me that as a corporation, we understand our customers’ needs, this magazine is something they want, they want a print product. Our results are double what we expected.

Jamie Markle: I agree with Patty. I would add that I wouldn’t expect to see a lot of other magazine launches anytime soon, other than some SIPs. It was really an exception to take this to subscription, but I was really proud and happy that the executive management team saw the opportunity. And I do feel like it’s because there is such an opening in that marketplace that we were able to come in and sell it.

Samir Husni: What motivates either or both of you to get out of bed in the mornings and say I’m heading to F+W and it’s going to be a great day?

Jamie Markle: We can’t speak for the whole of F+W, of course, but we can speak for the fine art community. For me, I’m in a category that I love. My degree is in painting. I came into publishing a little bit after college. I’d always been involved in other ways, like the Yearbook or the newspaper, but I really didn’t leave college with a degree in journalism, I have one in painting, so for me to be able to work with art every day is just a wonderful gift.

And I would say getting to know the members of the community, whether it’s our contributing writers, the artists we interview, the people who write books for us or make videos for us, my staff; I see the passion that people have for the art that they make and the things that they teach and those connections and that view of what they do and how important it is to our consumers, that’s really what brings me to the office every day. It’s a chance to get to work with really great content creators and to serve the needs of our consumers who are so grateful and vocal about what they love and what they don’t love. It’s just very rewarding.

Samir Husni: Before Patty answers, have you Jamie ever seen any of your own paintings make it to the cover of a magazine?

Jamie Markle: (Laughs) No, I always tell people whenever they ask me that question about myself, I leave all of the decisions like that up to the editors of the magazine.

Samir Husni: What type of paintings do you do; oil or watercolor or acrylic?

Jamie Markle: I have done oil and acrylic. I haven’t done a lot of watercolor.

Samir Husni: Patty, what motivates you to go to work each day?

Patty Craft: I am very transparent. As I said in one of my Letters from the Editor: your wings as readers are made of paintings. When they get up in the mornings, what makes them soar is to be able to paint. My wings are made of words. And I’ve always dreamed of a career in writing. And so, it’s an opportunity for me as the editor of this magazine to be able to take these people’s stories, which are very visual, and translate them into the written word for people to read.

Our readers are obviously very visual, but they also love to read the stories. For me, it’s the fact that I get to come to work and I get to write about things that people are very passionate about.

And separate from that, in the horticulture community, I too am a gardener and as Jamie is a painter, I’ve been the community leader for horticulture for five or six years now. It’s the same with me for that community.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else either of you would like to add?

Jamie Markle: I guess the only thing I would say is one of the other reasons that we launched Acrylic Artist is when we looked at our art business as a whole, we saw that we were serving the acrylic artist with books, video and education, but there really wasn’t a hole in the magazine area. So, it really is our hope that we can build up that community of acrylic artists with our subscription plan.

Looking at the entire scope of what we were able to do for people in the watercolor area and the pastel area, we wanted to emulate that for the acrylic person, because what we do here at F+W is to try and provide content in the format for people when and how they want it.

Samir Husni: And I noticed also that your email address is F+W community.com.

Jamie Markle: Yes, because we really wanted to make that statement. We really are focused on the communities. Our titles change a little bit. Internally, we are called community leaders and externally we use the term publisher, because it makes more sense for people who aren’t within F+W.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you both up at night?

Patty Craft: Right now, when you are launching, even though as a company we produce a vast number of print publications, this is still a new baby. It’s in its first year of subscription service. Horticulture Magazine, for example, it’s been in print for 110 years. I know what the themes are; I know who the writers are; I know who the gardeners are; I am so immersed in the magazine.

With Acrylic Artist, acrylic painting has only been around for 75 years. And I’m new to this. So, the thing that keeps me up at night is making sure that not only am I getting this fall issue that we’re going to send to the printer buttoned up tightly and in good shape, but that I have a deep enough view of 2016 and 2017 to make sure that I can keep the momentum going. Keep providing what people are accustomed to getting with this launch. Those are the things that give me a little pause once in a while.

Acrylic Artists 3-3 Jamie Markle: I think because I’m a pretty chill person and I sleep really well (Laughs), but if anything concerns me it’s that I’m in charge of making sure that we provide a lot of different types of content to a lot of different people, whether it’s our magazines or books. Not only am I responsible for my consumers, but also my staff, so I always want to make sure I’m doing my best to make sure the business is on track and the content is on track.

The great thing is that I have a super, awesome, amazing team and they really make my job easy because they know the communities and they provide that content portion without a lot of steps, so I consider myself very fortunate.

But if anything keeps me up, it’s making sure that we’re growing the overall business and the tricky part of that is that things are changing still pretty rapidly in the scope of things. And we just want to make sure that we’re covering all the bases and making sure we’re growing the print portion of the business as well as the online portion, because we feel like we need to have all of those in our wheelhouse at this point so that we can make sure that we keep up with the times.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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