Archive for January, 2015

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This Pineapple Is To Have, Hold, And Enjoy! The Story Of The Latest Travel Magazine Launch. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Publisher Christopher Lukezic.

January 30, 2015

“We believe print is a really unique way to experience content and a really unique way to engage with our readers. The tactile quality of the paper that we’re producing the magazine on, the photography; all of it, really comes to life on paper in a way you can’t necessarily get on a digital screen.” Christopher Lukezic

Pineapple-1 Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, has added another component to their online presence: an ink on paper component, Pineapple magazine. Long known as the symbol for hospitality and welcome, the pineapple was a fruit that survived much during the 1400s and still managed to thrive, according to Pineapple publisher, Christopher Lukezic. It was brought to Europe from the West Indies and quickly became a sweet symbol of cordiality.

And the heritage of the “Pineapple” was a Godsend to Christopher as it represented everything he and his team wanted to present with their very unique travel magazine, which is slated to become the content force and driver of Airbnb’s community of readers and travelers, a hale and hearty symbol of travel that welcomes and greets warmly.

The magazine marks a major step for Airbnb to become not just a platform where stories are created, but where stories are told. Pineapple will reflect the unique perspective of Airbnb’s global community, with deeply local and personal content that hopefully will inspire travelers everywhere.

I reached out to Christopher recently and we talked about the excitement this ink on paper product has produced within the company and about the reasons for it. From the beauty displayed between the printed pages to the tactile feel of the paper itself; Christopher shared why he and Airbnb believe in the power of print as a digital entity themselves and why the distinct point-of-view of the magazine will go a long way in distinguishing it from the multitudes of competition on the newsstands already.

The magazine will cover a wide variety of topics – such as culture, art, food, and style – from a local’s perspective with neighborhood guides, insider tips, and unique, personal stories. Each issue will showcase three different cities through the lens of local community members and global travelers.

So grab your traveling gear and follow Mr. Magazine™ and Christopher Lukezic, Publisher of Pineapple, as they take you on a trip around the world of travel…

But first, the sound-bites:


Christopher Lukezic On why Airbnb chose a print component in a digital age:
I think that Airbnb wanted to be a bigger part of a producer of really high quality travel content. The magazine is a part of a larger effort by the company to move into the world of publishing and producing travel content.

On why he thinks more digital entities are adding a print component to their equation these days:
I believe that there is a certain tactile quality to print that engages with people and that’s something that doesn’t necessarily happen on a digital screen.

On the unique selling proposition he is offering the marketplace with so much competition out there already:
One of the things that we try to do is not to have a prescriptive travel magazine. We’re not a team of editors trying tell people what they should and should not do in a city.

On the major stumbling block he has had to face during the magazine’s conception and launch: You said it earlier: a digital company moving into print. It’s a very new world for us and we’ve been learning a lot as we go.

On that “aha” moment when he knew he’d hit on something special:
We went through a couple of iterations and a couple of ideas early on and we shifted course a few times, but I think for us it really all kind of came to fruition when we landed on the name. And I think that was the moment that we knew we were going to do something really special.

On his distribution strategy for the magazine:
We’re still trying to figure out what the future of the distribution strategy of the magazine will be. You will be able to purchase it and we’ll also distribute it to our community, so both of those ways will continue.

On the relationship between Airbnb the company and Pineapple the magazine: It’s very much a two-way street relationship. The future of this and how it ties into the business and how it relates to our core business, we’re still working on a lot of that, but it will very much be an integral part of the Airbnb experience.

On what he hopes to have accomplished with Pineapple a year from now:
Our real goal with Pineapple is for people to start to think about it as a place where they can come to plan their trip experience, as well as to book accommodations.

On what keeps him up at night:
Not much actually. I’m pretty happy with where things are and I’m really excited about the potential for this magazine and the future of it. The only thing that would maybe keep me up at night is not being able to do everything that we want to do.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Christopher Lukezic, Publisher, Pineapple magazine…

Samir Husni: Airbnb has been a digital entity for almost seven years now, having begun in 2008; why did they decide to go with a print magazine now?

Christopher Lukezic: I think that Airbnb wanted to be a bigger part of a producer of really high quality travel content. We wanted to be a source for people to come to, not only to find great places to stay while they’re on a trip, but also when planning the trip itself; a source where they can find content that inspires them to visit places and also informs them about places they’re already going.

The magazine is a part of a larger effort by the company to move into the world of publishing and producing travel content.

Picture 36 Samir Husni: These days we are seeing more than one digital entity bring print into their equation and in this age where everyone not long ago was predicting the demise of print, we’re actually seeing a reversal of that bleak forecast. Why do you think this reversal is taking place?

Christopher Lukezic: I believe that there is a certain tactile quality to print that engages with people and that’s something that doesn’t necessarily happen on a digital screen. People are surrounded by screens all day long; they’re reading on their phones and their laptops and other digital devices. The engagement of content with print is that you can really get at someone in a different way with it. It’s a little bit of a slower experience and people will come back to it over and over again in the course of a few months, not consuming the magazine all at once, but in sort of bits here and there.

I think that from a travel standpoint print is still a really big part of the travel experience. Every year Google does a lot of research around different industries and they try to figure out what the different experiences are for the different industries. And for travel they put together an insight study every year. And actually they’ve shown year after year that print remains the most important source for travel, once they’re at a destination. When a traveler arrives in a city, print is still the predominant source of information that people use for planning their trip once they’re at the destination.

Those things combined make it an attractive opportunity for us as we move into content, to have a print aspect that is very much at the forefront of our content efforts as a whole.

Samir Husni: As a publisher of a new travel magazine and as you go on your sales calls; what is the unique selling proposition that you are offering the marketplace knowing that there are so many competitors out there?

Christopher Lukezic: One of the things that we try to do is not to have a prescriptive travel magazine. We’re not a team of editors trying tell people what they should and should not do in a city.

All of the content of the magazine is actually from people who live in these places, so we’ve actually gone and found people from every community in the cities that we feature. And we try to discover the city through their eyes. Not only places to see and eat, but to showcase what the life there is really all about.

We try to get at what the actual experience of living in the featured cities is and how these communities have formed over time and how people interact with each other in these cities. And on top of that, there are some tidbits and guides that are more digestible and easier to consume content which is important to travelers as they plan their trips.

But what we really wanted to get at was to honor the cities and unpack them from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. I think a lot of travel magazines approach that in the opposite direction; there’s a team of editors going to places and telling the reader about their experiences in the city and not necessarily going and finding people who live there and allowing them to tell the story.

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block for you as a publisher and how did you overcome it?

Christopher Lukezic: You said it earlier: a digital company moving into print. It’s a very new world for us and we’ve been learning a lot as we go.

The big thing was trying to figure out what direction that we wanted to take with the magazine and how we could engage with our community in the right way. And we really wanted that balance of having this be something that was a collaborative effort that we made in conjunction with our community, but still contain a lot of interesting editorial content which engaged people in the right way. And we found a happy medium.

I think the challenge now is the future and continuing to expand the magazine and our content efforts as a whole, doing that both in print and online. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us and this is just the beginning of the process.

Samir Husni: And what has been your most pleasant moment or that instance when you just sat back and went “aha?”

Picture 38 Christopher Lukezic: This has been a team effort and there were four of us that were very involved in the production of the magazine.

Our editor-in-chief is Alex Tieghi-Walker and Brendan Callahan, who is our creative director and our photo editor, Carrie Levy. The three of them are all from magazine backgrounds and Alex has actually published a couple of his own magazines before and worked for Wallpaper, and so we have some great experience here. But trying to do something new and create something in a crowded market that we really felt proud of was important.

We went through a couple of iterations and a couple of ideas early on and we shifted course a few times, but I think for us it really all kind of came to fruition when we landed on the name. And I think that was the moment that we knew we were going to do something really special. We were struggling to find the right name for this magazine and when it did it was one of those moments when everything just seemed to fall into place. The name really tied together what the magazine is all about.

The name Pineapple is a descendant of hospitality; it’s a symbol that has been recognized for a very long time. The fruit was discovered back in the 1400s and was taken back to Europe by travelers and it’s one of the only fruits that survived the voyage from the West Indies back to Europe. And it became the symbol of hospitality. It was something you would leave for a guest when they came to visit you. It was a gracious sign that a host would leave.

And that’s what the magazine presents. We wanted the magazine to be a gift that a host would give to a guest when they arrived at their destination. So, naming the magazine Pineapple really reached the core of what we were trying to do with the content and the print magazine overall. We wanted this to be something that would greet the traveler when they arrived in their city somewhere around the world.

Samir Husni: I noticed that your distribution is divided; once people arrive at the place they are staying, part of Airbnb’s community of customers will get the magazine, or people can buy it on the newsstands at select bookstores. Will that be the norm for distribution, or are you thinking of building more of a presence on the nation’s newsstands and also of having a subscription base?

Christopher Lukezic: We’re still trying to figure out what the future of the distribution strategy of the magazine will be. You will be able to purchase it and we’ll also distribute it to our community, so both of those ways will continue.

We wanted this initial pilot issue to be a limited edition copy and there are 20,000 copies of this first issue, so we knew that it would be something quite special. We actually gave away a number of copies to our community free as a gift. But we also made them available for sale through very boutique shops and newsstands around the world. We’ll most likely be expanding our circulation into something much larger than it is now. But how we’ll actually distribute the magazine, we haven’t decided on.

Samir Husni: Can you describe for me the relationship between the magazine and Airbnb? Are the two entities separate or is it a two-way street relationship?

Christopher Lukezic: It’s very much a two-way street relationship. This is something that we created and all of the people that we feature in the magazine are from our community. These are all people who are active travelers, who are active hosts in the communities, so we have an incredibly diverse audience who read us and also an incredibly diverse community base who want to contribute to the magazine.

This is really a snapshot of the creative process of the world and I think that we’ve captured the most interesting people from our community and in these cities and brought their stories forward. The real pride of the community and the real pride for me is that the whole magazine is produced with the cooperation and in conjunction with our community. The photographers, the illustrators and all of the people we feature are Airbnb community members.

And the future of this and how it ties into the business and how it relates to our core business, we’re still working on a lot of that, but it will very much be an integral part of the Airbnb experience. Pineapple is our content arm, if you will.

Samir Husni: If a year from now, you and I are sitting down and talking about what Pineapple has accomplished in that year; what would you tell me?

Christopher Lukezic: Our real goal with Pineapple is for people to start to think about it as a place where they can come to plan their trip experience, as well as to book accommodations. So we’re clearly seeing it as a place where people come. Maybe they know where they want to go and they might actually rely on some of our hosts when they get to a destination to figure out what they want to do while they’re there.

We think that there is a real opportunity for content to play an important part in that experience. To help people plan trips and also to help people figure out what they want to do once they get to their destination. For us, that is the real goal of the magazine. We really want to be seen as a source for trusted, travel content.

Picture 37 Samir Husni: Will the frequency stay quarterly or are you planning something different for the future?

Christopher Lukezic: We’ve started issue two and it looks like we’ll launch sometime in the summer. From there, our goal is to continue to produce quarterly.

Samir Husni: Would you like to add anything else?

Christopher Lukezic: This is something that is very exciting for us as a company. It’s a new venture. In terms of a company going into print; I think print is very strong and I think it has changed.

We believe print is a really unique way to experience content and a really unique way to engage with our readers. The tactile quality of the paper that we’re producing the magazine on, the photography; all of it, really comes to life on paper in a way you can’t necessarily get on a digital screen. And for us that is really important. It means that the engagement with the magazine’s content and the relationship that people have with it is going to be much deeper than if we only did it onscreen.

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

Christopher Lukezic: Not much actually. I’m pretty happy with where things are and I’m really excited about the potential for this magazine and the future of it. The only thing that would maybe keep me up at night is not being able to do everything that we want to do. We have to limit the things that we put into the magazine and for me that’s sometimes tough. There are things that we want to feature, write about and cover and produce, but we have a limited team and a limited number of resources we have to work with.

But for me, I’m really excited about where things are and I’m looking forward to the future of the magazine.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Magazine Power In One, Two, Three Mr. Magazine™ Musings…

January 27, 2015

The Power of the Black Cover

The Advocate-21

Oklahoma Today-20

Essence-19

I picked up three magazines recently that I love to follow and read on a regular basis: Essence, The Advocate and Oklahoma Today. The content of these magazines is always stellar and the designs stunning, but my attention this time around was seized by more than the usual attributes these great titles bring to the table. This time I noticed that the covers were all done in black; spectacularly simplistic black.

In addition to the striking approach in design of these covers, the magazines all shared another common denominator that couldn’t be denied: a relevant and important message to their readers.

For Essence and Oklahoma Today, the message is delivered via special issues, while The Advocate dons its black tails for its February/March edition, but whether special or frequency, the impact and power of the print covers is unmistakable. All three grab the customer from the confines of the newsstand, wrestle him or her down, and show the reader the necessity of buying that issue. The dynamic consequences of covers in print emerge in the manifestation of commanded respect of the magazine and its vital information and a deep and abiding satisfaction for the reader. The special message the cover announces not only resonates with the audience, but with media as a whole and does it unlike any other platform out there.

Long live the power of the magazine cover!


“Make It” a Magazine, Please

Make It Vintage-31

Make It Patchwork-29

Make It Over-28

Make it Organized-30

It seems lately there is a common thread weaving its way through some of the titles of new magazines. And with this thread, I may have discovered the secret to the successful naming of a multitude of newborn ink on paper. If so, the ramifications could impact the entire publishing industry. And maybe even Mr. Magazine™ might try his hand at putting out a new title; maybe.

It would appear that two words are all it takes to conceptualize a new magazine in today’s media world “Make It.”

Make It Over
Make It Vintage
Make It Patchwork
Make It Organized…just to name a few of the more recent titles.

The secret formula works like this: Verb+Subject+whatever-your-mind-can-conjure-up. Here are some ideas I’ve been playing with:

Make It Real
Make It Big
Make It Print
Make It Necessary
Make It Relevant
Make It Audience First…OK – it’s apparent Mr. Magazine™ should quickly add the ™ mark to those titles before some folks snatch them for their own use.

Now, I’m not saying the “Make It” trend is a bad thing, just an idea that has suddenly become like a revolving door with many different scenarios parading in and out of it. Remember the phrase discretion is the better part of valor?

Make It Carefully, please!


Will Facebook have an 80th Birthday?

Yankee-8

The Backwoodsman-2

Savannah-10

Interview-6

Easy Riders-1

Country Woman-5

Big City Rythm & Blues-7

Alternative Press-4

Alter Press-3

Longevity is something we’re all looking for; longevity plus good health. How many of us do not want to last for 100 years as long as we can stay in fantastic health?

Magazines are no exception. And there are some out there who have the staying power and stamina of a redwood. Here are some celebratory anniversary issues:

Alternative Press – 30th anniversary
Big City Rhythm & Blues – 20th anniversary
Country Woman – 45th anniversary
Easy Riders – 500th issue
Savannah – 25th anniversary
Interview – 45th anniversary
The Backwoodsman – 35th anniversary
Yankee Magazine – 80th anniversary

In media, magazines definitely have proven themselves when it comes to their staying power; the above titles are testament to that. No other medium can tout an 80th anniversary anything that I know of. No television show, radio program or website, for that matter. Trying to imagine the Internet having anything that remotely outlasts the latest edition of Good Housekeeping is very difficult.

Will Facebook have an 80th anniversary? Or Snapchat? Or Instagram? Or any other platform’s contribution to media? Mr. Magazine™ is going out on a limb here and saying: highly doubtful.

So, let’s celebrate the durability and endurance of these wonderfully-aged titles, because while they do have a few years on them, their content and designs are timeless.

Until the next Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

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The Buzz Factor: Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning

January 26, 2015

FullSizeRender The current issue of Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning is out. This week’s content includes my interviews with Buzz Kanter, publisher of TAM Communications, Ryan Waterfield, co-founder of BigLife magazine, and Tim Kidwell, editor of Drone360 magazine.

The issue also includes my commentary from Jan. 2013 about magazines and music and where the M is where the similarities end.

To read this issue click here, and to receive Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning free every week click here.

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The Buzz Factor: A Man Who Knows His Niche & Strongly Believes In Print. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Buzz Kanter – Publisher, TAM Communications

January 26, 2015

“We keep hearing: print is dead, print is dead. Well, no, print is not dead. What’s happening is it’s shifting and the people who are on the internet, it’s in their best interests to promote the internet over print and they’re saying it as loud as they can.” Buzz Kanter

Buzz Kanter Buzz Kanter is a third generation print publisher (TAM Communications) and a man who knows his own mind when it comes to the things he believes we can do as an industry to grow our audience and breathe new life back into the print component of magazine media. His grandfather founded Classics Illustrated (comics) in the 1940s. His father worked for him and then left and grew what evolved into Penny Press/Dell puzzle magazines. Buzz worked for him for years and then started TAM Communications (as the thesis for his MBA in 1989). He now runs TAM Communications and its stable of magazines. Along with the reborn RoadBike to Motorcycle Rides & Culture, his list of niche magazines is impressive:

• American Iron Magazine
• American Iron Garage
• Motorcycle Bagger
• Motorcycle magazine
• Classic American Iron forum

With a redesign that lead to over 40% growth in readership and an increase in his magazine frequency to seven times per year instead of just six, his former RoadBike magazine was reborn into Motorcycle Rides & Culture about a year ago. And the response from readers has been phenomenal as the numbers prove.

Motorcycle Rides & Culture shares long-form articles and more exciting art and graphics that appeal to the thinking rider looking for more. And, based on the more than 40% growth in readership in the first year, the “Buzz Kanter” formula appears to be working.

I spoke with Buzz recently and we talked about the industry and the practice of discounting subscription prices to gain more readers, which he believes is not the answer. We talked about enthusiast magazines, such as his and their past, and we talked about the future and how print isn’t dead, no matter what the internet phantoms shout.

So, I hope you enjoy this very special conversation with a man who has a straightforward and clear focus on the future of print media. Sit back, relax and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Buzz Kanter, Publisher, TAM Communications.

But first, the sound-bites:


IMG_8230 On why he thinks his formula is working:
I can’t speak for news magazines because I think that’s a whole different issue. But I can speak for special interest and enthusiast publications and I believe there is still plenty of room for them in print.

On whether he believes it’s the system that’s broken and not ink on paper:
I don’t think it’s black and white. There are a lot of different elements involved. We keep hearing: print is dead, print is dead. Well, no, print is not dead. What’s happening is it’s shifting and the people who are on the internet, it’s in their best interests to promote the internet over print and they’re saying it as loud as they can.

On how he responds to someone shouting: print is dead:
The easy thing to do is create shock value and tell them: no, print is not dead, I’m still in business and we’re doing OK, we’re paying our bills and we’re growing our product.

On the specifics of the Buzz formula:
The “Buzz” formula? (Laughs) My feeling is if a print magazine is just a print version of a digital website; why bother?

On his future publishing plans:
For Motorcycle Rides & Culture we went from 6 issues last year to 7 issues this year. If our growth continues and we get the support from our readers and advertisers, then we’ll continue to increase frequency.

On the outcome of the digital piracy of his magazines:
I think the company was called Issuu. Someone pointed out that my magazines were being offered free to whoever signed up with Issuu, without permission from us and they were current issues, not any they pulled out from the past. We go there once a month or so and check and the onus is on us. We’re not finding our magazines, but we’re finding enormous numbers of magazines out there.

On a major stumbling block he anticipates facing:
I would say the biggest challenge we have is uncertainty of the future. And if I had a really good answer for that, I’d be calling you from my yacht in the Bahamas right now. (Laughs)

On his most pleasant moment in publishing:
It’s very rewarding to produce a product that you’re proud of and that brings value to your audience. And I hope that doesn’t sound cliché.

On facts he’d like to add:
I certainly hope that magazine publishers stop doing foolish things that impact the industry. I think some of them are drawn on us and I think some of them are drawn to us and by us.

On what keeps him up at night:
As a third generation publisher, I question if there is going to be a viable industry for my children to become a 4th generation publisher. And if so, what’s it going to look like?

tam1 And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Buzz Kanter, Publisher, TAM Communications…

Samir Husni: You’re a third generation print person. Why do you think you’re bucking the trends, doing better and enhancing your print product, while others are declining?

Buzz Kanter: I can’t speak for news magazines because I think that’s a whole different issue. But I can speak for special interest and enthusiast publications and I believe there is still plenty of room for them in print.

The problems are pretty widespread and they cross a lot of different areas. The three main revenue streams are single copy, subscriptions and advertising. And all three of them are under attack. Some of the attacks we’re bringing on ourselves and some of them the market is bringing to us. With single copy, the biggest challenge is that the wholesale system is badly flawed and for the most part the magazine wholesalers that are controlling it, and the national distributors that are banking it, are trying to apply the same solutions that haven’t worked for decades. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I hate to say it, but what’s happening is the wholesalers are asking the publishers to subsidize their inefficiencies, rather than finding better ways or smarter solutions. They’re saying that this is the best that they can do and if you want them to carry your product, you’re going to have to pay them more money.

So, the single copy is a distribution issue; it’s not a demand issue or a product issue, it’s predominantly a financial distribution challenge. The wholesalers are basically cannibalizing each other and expecting someone else to subsidize them and make them whole. And it’s a very, very dangerous game because they’re getting farther and farther extended to where the publishers are saying, “You know what, it’s more economical to put an even cheaper price on subscriptions than to deal with the single copy system.”

Samir Husni: Do you believe then that it’s the system that’s broken and not the ink on paper product itself?

images Buzz Kanter: I don’t think it’s black and white. There are a lot of different elements involved. We keep hearing: print is dead, print is dead. Well, no, print is not dead. What’s happening is it’s shifting and the people who are on the internet, it’s in their best interests to promote the internet over print and they’re saying it as loud as they can.

What I find is that people don’t have as much free time or better stated they’re finding ways to use whatever free time they might have. How often have you been out in public and seen people standing at a bus stop or sitting in a restaurant looking at their cell phones? That used to be free time, where they would socialize, converse, think or observe, but now if people have a minute to spare, they pull out their cell phones and go on Facebook or check the stock market, read the latest news or whatever it is they’re doing with their cell phones.

What’s happening is these portable devices are vacuuming up all the spare time. And if that’s the case and it becomes a habit, and it is, I think; then how do you find time to sit down with a print magazine or a book? And I think that’s the issue.

Samir Husni: And we, as the magazine industry, are also to blame because we jumped onto that bandwagon wholeheartedly.

Buzz Kanter: Yes.

Samir Husni: Every time someone tells you either print is in decline or print is dead and you’re living the print process, producing a magazine and increasing circulation; how do you respond to that? What is the reality check?

Buzz Kanter: I guess it depends on what kind of mood I’m in at the time and who the person is I’m talking to. But the easy thing to do is create shock value and tell them: no, print is not dead, I’m still in business and we’re doing OK, we’re paying our bills and we’re growing our product.

What’s happening is most people are parodying what they hear, not necessarily what they’ve thought through carefully. And I think that’s not unusual. Print is not dead; there are still an awful lot of people reading newspapers and buying books and magazines. Go to an airport and look at how many people are on their tablets versus those actually reading magazines and books. Then what happens when you’re in the airplane and you don’t have Wi-Fi? Some people are reading off of Kindles and Nooks or whatever.

So, is print dead? No. Will it become more and more unusual with each generation? Yes, I think so. As the portable devices become better and easier to use, I think they will cut into it, as they already have.

It’s interesting; I talked to some of our advertisers and a number of them a couple of years ago would say, we’re cutting back our print advertising and going to the internet. We’d ask: what will you do on the internet? And they’d say, I don’t know, we’ve just been told we have to be there. We’d ask: how are you going to market there? And they’d respond, I don’t know, but I’m told I have to have a website. I’m told I have to have an internet presence. We’d ask: how are people going to find you? And they’d say, I don’t know. It didn’t matter what our ad department said, these people had to be on the internet and they had a limited ad budget which they’d pulled from print and went to online. Well, once that happened, everyone said print is dead because the advertisers were leaving. Many of the advertisers were leaving, but they didn’t know why or how.

And in the last year they’re starting to come back. They’re saying they tried the internet and it didn’t work. They got lost in the huge volume of data out there. Many of them are now coming back and saying, “Your magazine is focused and aimed at my audience, people who use my products and services.” And many of them are now coming back and pulling their dollars out of the internet because they found it was just overwhelming, whereas we can give them a targeted audience.

Samir Husni: You have a specific niche. Your magazines target a very definitive audience. Your magazine has increased readership, advertising and frequency to 7 times a year; what’s your secret? What’s the “Buzz” formula that’s making this happen?

Buzz Kanter: The “Buzz” formula? (Laughs) My feeling is if a print magazine is just a print version of a digital website; why bother? We can’t do it as well as the websites. I’m seeing a lot of enthusiast publications forcing over a print version of its website. Heavy on the graphics, lots of pictures, lots of charts and graphs, pulled quotes, little factoids and not much meat or substance. And my feeling is the people who pick up the magazine want some substance, they want a good read. If there is an article about something they’re interested in; the reason they bought the magazine in the first place, they don’t want to read five paragraphs and see three photographs like you would on a website.

The delivery of content in print should be more in depth, exciting and interesting for them to sit down for a half hour or an hour to read the article in a magazine. The internet is fabulous for quick information. Does it come in blue? Can I get one overnighted to me? Those types of things are great for the internet. But I personally don’t want to sit down and read a 3,000 word article online. I want to read that in print.

So what we did with our magazine called RoadBike; originally, it was a pretty good general interest magazine about motorcycles, but it couldn’t get traction. Rather than fold it, which we were considering, I said that I wanted to publish a long-form journalism magazine with terrific art and give the articles and the photography all the space they need, rather than try and squeeze it down and condense it like a website. I said let’s try it. If it works great; if not, we can always pull the plug if we have to. Something I was hoping not to have to do.

We renamed it Motorcycle Rides & Culture. Now, I suspected those were good search engine optimization words. (Laughs) But meanwhile, it also tells the reader what the magazine is in print. And instead of putting in 30 short articles in one magazine, we cut it down to 8 or 10 longer articles, with lots of great photos, information, and emotional content and knowing it’s in print and the people who still buy print, we threw in certain cultural things. We have some artists every issue who are involved in the motorcycle world. They might be a painter or a sculptor or a photographer; we do unusual cultural pieces involving motorcycles, beyond the Hollywood bikers and outlaw stuff.

And it seems to have resonated. We’re up 46% year over year. Our newsstand and subscriptions are climbing. I just received a report recently from Wal-Mart, which is the largest seller of magazines in America. And even though we did 6 issues last year; annually we were the 6th bestselling motorcycle magazine in there, outselling several of them that come out monthly, twice the frequency of ours. On an annualized basis, we’re outselling them.

tam2 Samir Husni: What’s the plan for the future? Anything up and coming you’d like to share with us?

Buzz Kanter: For Motorcycle Rides & Culture we went from 6 issues last year to 7 issues this year. If our growth continues and we get the support from our readers and advertisers, then we’ll continue to increase frequency. My feeling is we’re going to move this gradually. If we make a misstep, we want to have time to fix it.

I wish I had a crystal ball, I really do. If I knew where the media industry would be in 3 or 4 years, I’d be way ahead of the curve. But at this point I’m producing a product that we’re all proud of and that the consumers are responding to and we’ll continue to do that. We just have to stay flexible.

One thing we will not do and I’m seeing more and more of this, is the aggressive discounting of subscriptions. Many, many years ago I learned a lesson when I was watching some competitive titles, one was called Cycle and the other was Cycle World, and this was back in the 70s, and then ended up being owned by the same publishing company. And both of them were in a war to build subscriptions. It was a race in pricing and they were getting cheaper and cheaper. Then, as I said, they ended up with the same publisher and then the ad market dropped down. So they had this massive subscription liability with no ad revenue and no sub-revenue. One ended up inhaling the other one and they merged together. It took them years to get financially stable again.

My feeling is I never want to sacrifice the future of the magazine by using aggressive subscription discounts. If the advertising declines, then you’re left holding the bag. I think it’s a very dangerous place to be.

One of the things that we try to do is instead of making money on the newsstands; we try to make money on subscriptions and advertising. Even if it’s a break-even or a small profit, and that way we’re less susceptible to market shifts that could be fatal.

Samir Husni: If my memory serves me right, you tweeted once, and linked me and others to the Tweet, about a certain entity lifting your magazine and putting it onto a digital device without your permission. How did that turn out?

Buzz Kanter: I think the company was called Issuu. Someone pointed out that my magazines were being offered free to whoever signed up with Issuu, without permission from us and they were current issues, not any they pulled out from the past. So we contacted them. We had our intellectual property lawyers contact them and tell them to cease and desist. And they wrote back basically saying they were just a platform and not a policing agency and if we didn’t want our product on their platform, it was our responsibility to identify them and bring it to their attention and they would remove them. They said they were a type of YouTube for magazines, where YouTube isn’t responsible for whatever postings are there.

We go there once a month or so and check and the onus is on us. We’re not finding our magazines, but we’re finding enormous numbers of magazines out there.

Samir Husni: So, who’s posting those magazines; who is putting them on the platform?

Buzz Kanter: I couldn’t say, but many of them seem to be coming from overseas and it’s similar to YouTube. And I don’t know what the motivation is. I could understand if a publisher needed to bolster the circulation numbers or get more responses for advertisers, they could use that as a marketing tool. But I don’t know why someone would do it to my magazines without our permission or knowledge.

Samir Husni: Besides that major problem with the digital devices accessing your property without permission; what is the biggest stumbling block you can see or envision facing TAM and your publications and how do you plan to overcome it?

Buzz Kanter: That’s a good question. I would say the biggest challenge we have is uncertainty of the future. And if I had a really good answer for that, I’d be calling you from my yacht in the Bahamas right now. (Laughs)

As you know, I’m a third generation print publisher. I remember my grandfather’s biggest challenge was movies and black and white TV. They were told that TV sets in the house were going to kill magazines. And yet magazines survived.

My father’s business was Penny Press. His biggest challenge was cable. And they said that magazines weren’t going to survive cable television. And yet he survived the naysayers.

Now my generation has been told the internet is going to kill magazines. And while it’s definitely having its effect on magazines, it’s certainly not killing them. As long as there is a demand for quality print publications, there will be clever publishers who will figure out ways to financially succeed in delivering that content. The challenge is identifying the efficient ways to do that and then growing them. A lot of people are trying a lot of things now, some are putting them online and some aren’t. We have to keep our eyes opened and be flexible because the rules are changing.

tam4 Samir Husni: And to go in the opposite direction; what has been the most pleasant moment in your publishing experience so far?

Buzz Kanter: Other than talking to you today?

Samir Husni: (Laughs) Yes, other than that.

Buzz Kanter: It’s very rewarding to produce a product that you’re proud of and that brings value to your audience. And I hope that doesn’t sound cliché. I started my first motorcycle magazine in 1989 and it was out of a spare bedroom in my house. It was basically a classified ad magazine for old motorcycles and parts. This was before the internet, before Craig’s List or eBay or anything, and I launched it because I was rebuilding and riding old motorcycles and I couldn’t find a source for parts and information. In my youth, back in ’89, I started this magazine. It never really amounted to much, but it gave me a platform to then grow my business into enthusiast’s books.

To this day I have people say: wow, Old Bike Journal, yes I love it. I bought a bike here, the parts there. It’s very rewarding to hear how it helped people with similar interests to mine. I still get a kick out of meeting readers who say they read something in my magazine or they thank me and tell me how something in it helped them. It just made my passions that much stronger and better.

As a publisher of an enthusiast magazine, it’s wonderful to get feedback from people saying that what we do makes a difference.

Samir Husni: Anything you’d like to add?

Buzz Kanter: I certainly hope that magazine publishers stop doing foolish things that impact the industry. I think some of them are drawn on us and I think some of them are drawn to us and by us. These deeply discounted subscription deals are silly. Flooding product into the newsstand racks that has little chance of selling is silly. Too many publishers’ long-term strategies are I can hold my breath longer than my competitor. And I think that’s both dangerous and foolish.

Samir Husni: I agree, but sometimes you feel as though you’re a profit in the wilderness.

Buzz Kanter: I’m used to people telling me that I’m nuts or that it makes sense, but it’ll never happen. I spoke on a PBAA panel years ago and I said the future of our industry is to sell more copies of fewer magazines and that we’re pushing too much product through a system that can’t handle it. And everyone basically told me I was nuts.

Years later I gave basically the same presentation and everyone told me I was brilliant. But nothing has really happened. How can we justify distributing product that doesn’t meet some minimum criteria of sales efficiency or profitability.

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

Buzz Kanter: Really good television shows? (Laughs) As a third generation publisher, I question if there is going to be a viable industry for my children to become a 4th generation publisher. And if so, what’s it going to look like?

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane – No, It’s A Drone! The Skies & Newsstands Are Making Room For The Latest Buzz – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Tim Kidwell, Editor-In-Chief, Drone 360

January 22, 2015

“I am not one of those people who think print is dead; I think print has a place and a role in publishing.” Tim Kidwell

Drone360 cover They are an unknown quantity in so many ways, yet becoming more and more used each and every day. From law enforcement to agriculture, photographers to a fascinated public; drones are captivating common interests all across the country.

Drone 360 is a new launch from Kalmbach Publishing, the company that brings us the science-based magazine Discover and a host of hobbyist magazines. Drone 360 pays tribute to the compelling world of multirotor aircraft and attempts to assist in answering some of the tougher issues about the flying machines, such as how the FAA plans on regulating their commercial use. While the magazine is only scheduled for this premiere issue, Editor-in-Chief Tim Kidwell is hopeful the special interest ink on paper product does well and he’s given the green light to fly his drone again, many times. But for now, the first issue will land on the nation’s newsstands on March 24.

I reached out to Tim recently to talk about the engaging world of drones and we discussed the many facets of the aircraft. From the hobbyists whose enthusiasm comes from a different level of curiosity, to the commercial world that would love to uncover the vast array of possibilities drones offer; Tim talked with an enthusiasm of his own about the aircraft.

So, sit back, relax and enter a world of alternative flight as you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Tim Kidwell, Editor, Drone 360.

But first, the sound-bites:

On the genesis of Drone 360: I guess by now drones have become a part of everyday life. They’re affecting our culture and pushing technology. They’re becoming a part of our businesses as people try and figure out how they can use them for all sorts of commercial and scientific efforts. They’re everywhere.

On the concept behind the magazine:
Right now it’s a special interest publication that we’re putting out in conjunction with Discover. We really thought that it was the perfect time for us to get in there and talk about a lot of the issues.

On the intended audience of the magazine:
The people that this (magazine) will probably interest the most are men, aged 18 to 39; I think that’s probably where the sweet spot is. However, when we were putting the magazine together I told our team that while 18 to 39 year old men might be where the sweet spot is, I want this magazine to be easily read by anyone who is interested in tech and gear.

On the major stumbling block he faces in launching the magazine:
Our biggest challenge to me is just making sure that we get market penetration and eyes on the magazine. If we can get eyes on the magazine I think that it will go.

On why print was the best format for the magazine’s message:
I am not one of those people who think print is dead; I think print has a place and a role in publishing. I believe there are ways to still get information out there on the internet, but I think the internet is very good at disseminating information but it’s all up to the reader when it comes to trying to cull down and decide what’s good and what’s bad.

On the most pleasant moment he had when putting the magazine together:
The coolest thing so far, I think, has been when we came up with the feature story list. We said the stories on that list were what we wanted to see happen. And what we started to see were these threads, these concerns and comments that were linking all of these stories together and it really made the entire magazine gel.

On what keeps him up at night:
If I had to pick one thing; I really love tech, but I worry about how tech is used. And that’s what keeps me up at night.

Screen shot 2015-01-21 at 7.14.47 PM And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Tim Kidwell, Editor, Drone 360…

Samir Husni: My first question to you is why did you decide to launch your magazine now? Do you believe drones are going to be a more integral part of our near future? Tell me about the genesis of Drone 360.

Tim Kidwell: I guess by now drones have become a part of everyday life. They’re affecting our culture and pushing technology. They’re becoming a part of our businesses as people try and figure out how they can use them for all sorts of commercial and scientific efforts. They’re everywhere.

And as far as whether it’s a fad or not, I don’t think that drones are a fad in the sense that I believe we’re going to see them used more frequently for law enforcement and in commercial endeavors. I think maybe we’ll see a drop off in their popularity as something that the hobbyist would use. What we’re seeing right now is, especially with quadcopters, they’re a lot easier to fly than fixed wing or traditional helicopters in RC circles. So, we’re seeing this surge of, “Wow, I too can fly something and it doesn’t take very much for me to get it into the air.”

We’re seeing a real fervor behind that, but I also think that will die back a little. I’m not saying it’s going to disappear, but I don’t think it’s going to remain as hot and as trendy for hobbyists as it is right now. Something else will come along and take that up. But for the foreseeable future, drones, multirotor aircraft, these sorts of things are here to stay.

Samir Husni: What is the vision behind Drone 360.

Tim Kidwell: Well, right now it’s a special interest publication that we’re putting out in conjunction with Discover. We really thought that it was the perfect time for us to get in there and talk about a lot of the issues, not only on the hobby side, because I think there is some space there for us to talk about beginning hobbyists and how they can get into multirotor aircraft and how they can fly safely, those sort of things.

But we also thought that, again, there is so much going on with the science end of tins and culturally with law enforcement that we really needed to get in there and touch on these different topics.

The other thing that really spurred us was the FAA was coming out with rules in 2015, so we thought this was the perfect time to get in there and start really talking about them and giving balanced coverage. You can get a lot of rhetoric on both sides, where they are extremely pro or extremely against, and I thought what we needed to do was come in and give a balanced approach and say there are some valid opinions on both sides and let’s explore both as we move along.

Samir Husni: Who is the intended audience; whom are you trying to reach with the printed magazine?

Tim Kidwell: If we’re going to be honest, the people that this will probably interest the most are men, aged 18 to 39; I think that’s probably where the sweet spot is. However, when we were putting the magazine together I told our team that while 18 to 39 year old men might be where the sweet spot is, I want this magazine to be easily read by anyone who is interested in tech and gear and RC, even casually, and who just want to find out what is going on with the drones. We wanted it to be open and accessible to everyone, but we do understand that our target audience is men, 18 to 39.

Samir Husni: Tim, what do you anticipate to be the major stumbling block when it comes to the launch of the magazine and how are you planning to overcome it?

Tim Kidwell: The major stumbling block is where magazine publishing and publishing in general is right now. It’s going to be penetration into the market and getting seen that will be our biggest challenge. I think the content and subject matter is great and I believe it’s pertinent and exciting. So, our biggest challenge to me is just making sure that we get market penetration and eyes on the magazine. If we can get eyes on the magazine I think that it will go.

Samir Husni: Do you think print is the best vehicle to reach that audience today?

Tim Kidwell: I am not one of those people who think print is dead; I think print has a place and a role in publishing. I believe there are ways to still get information out there on the internet, but I think the internet is very good at disseminating information but it’s all up to the reader when it comes to trying to cull down and decide what’s good and what’s bad, whereas I think a magazine like what we’re doing here, you have to be very judicious in putting together what stories we do. We only have so many pages; in this case, we have 92. We only have 92 pages, so we have to make sure those stories are as concise and as good as we can possibly do them. And a printed magazine is a great way to get that information out.

Samir Husni: As you were putting this magazine together; what was the most pleasant moment that you had? Or the “aha” moment as you were putting this first issue together.

Tim Kidwell: The coolest thing so far, I think, has been when we came up with the feature story list. We said the stories on that list were what we wanted to see happen. And then we began getting them assigned and as they started to come back in and we were reading through them, we started to notice common threads developing. And that was the neatest thing.

On one of the initial stories it was maybe just a reference or two to something like situational awareness. Then we see in another story that situational awareness come up again, but somebody else has a different take on it. And what we started to see were these threads, these concerns and comments that were linking all of these stories together and it really made the entire magazine gel.

Samir Husni: How often do you plan to publish Drone 360?

Tim Kidwell: We hope that there are going to be more of these. Like I said earlier, it’s a special-issue publication that we’re doing in conjunction with Discover. So, right now this is the one, this is our premiere; we hope we’ll get the green light to do more. But right now this is the only one that’s planned currently. We’ll see how well it does and if it does well, then we will consider what we can do next.

Samir Husni: Looking at the cover; this magazine is rooted in science; it’s rooted in Discover and it’s rooted in a company known in the field of special interest publications, connectivity to its audience and hobbyists in different realms of things.

Tim Kidwell: Yes, we’re pushing it in conjunction with Discover, so it’s going off of Discover’s bipad. However, we aren’t necessarily targeting just Discover’s audience. We’re looking at a broader mix of hobbyists and general interest, people who are interested in drones or people who are interested in the tech of drones or those interested in getting into the hobby of quadcopters or multirotor aircraft. So, we’re looking at a much broader audience than just the science end, which would be more of an interest for the Discover audience.

Samir Husni: Anything else you’d like to add about Drone 360? Is it going to be delivered via drone? (Laughs)

Tim Kidwell: (Laughs too) It will not be delivered via drone because we’re still waiting on the FAA decision on how to use them commercially. (Laughs) All I want to say is that we’ve been extremely excited about this project. We put it together and turned it around very fast and it’s been a great experience for all of us. Drones are here to stay and they are something that we’re going to have to live and cope with and figure out just where they fit in when it comes to our everyday life.

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

Tim Kidwell: What keeps me up at night? (Laughs) I have a lot of things that keep me up at night. I have a new baby on the way, so worrying about that keeps me up. (Laughs)

If I had to pick one thing; I really love tech, but I worry about how tech is used. And that’s what keeps me up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Love Life; Live Big: It’s All In BigLife Magazine! The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Ryan Waterfield – Co-Founder, BigLife Magazine…

January 21, 2015

“I love print magazines and I will never give up the fight or the belief that I have in their value. I was just at the beach with my family and everyone that I saw there had a print magazine. I mean, you just don’t read on an iPad when you’re at the beach.” Ryan Waterfield

big life-1 Fun – just think about the word for a minute and the images it conjures up in your own mind. Everybody’s “fun” is a little different, but the emotion is the same: a carefree sunshiny day and the passion of a child filling your heart, causing it to beat out of your chest with expectation of what the day might bring.

When you pick up the magazine BigLife for the first time and each subsequent moment thereafter, that’s the response you feel from the virgin touch. It’s alive with fun and passion and content so dynamic it fairly reaches out from between the pages and grabs you along for the ride.

BigLife could be described no better than in the words of the woman who co-founded it and also serves as its editor-in-chief, Ryan Waterfield:

“I like to tell my friends (or anyone with a sense of humor) to imagine BigLife this way: Garden & Gun and Esquire meet in a dark bar. They have a torrid one-night stand. One-night stand results in a love (lust) child. Love child moves west and sets up shop in a mountain town. Falls in love with the ways of the West and starts a magazine. That’s BigLife (at least our idealized version of ourselves b/c I love G&G and Esquire. We have fewer nearly-naked chicks telling funny jokes and less of the garden stuff, more of the backcountry skiing stuff. But, you get the idea.)”

And that, my friends, sums up BigLife very well. The passion that ignited this love (lust) child comes from deep within Ryan Waterfield. Wife and mother of two; Ryan had a dream to turn her Sun Valley Focus magazine into something bigger, something that displayed the type of larger-than-life environment in which she lived. And after seeing and feeling the ink on paper product of that dream, Mr. Magazine™ is impressed. Very impressed.

This is a magazine where you can actually feel the emotions of each page, each word and each photograph emanate in a resounding fashion. And the element of mischievous fun is never farther than the masthead – where Ryan tongue-in-cheek pokes fun at the Hemingway-approved way of getting the creative juices flowing: alcoholic libations, while her creative director Britt Johnston just dreams of having the time to clean her house. Each member of the BigLife team has their own humorous blurb designed just for them. It’s unique and it’s fun. Just like the magazine itself.

So, sit back, mentally dig up your snow skies, and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Ryan Waterfield, Co-founder & Editor-in-Chief, BigLife magazine

Ryan Waterfield with her son Townes Van Der Meulen (5). Ryan writes " my wonderfully stubborn and inventive son... and has an under-documented 18-month old sister."

Ryan Waterfield with her son Townes Van Der Meulen (5). Ryan writes ” my wonderfully stubborn and inventive son… Townes has an under-documented 18-month old sister.”

But first the sound-bites:

On what she was thinking to launch a print magazine in this day and age: I love print magazines and I will never give up the fight or the belief that I have in their value. And there are a lot of places where you don’t want to read a magazine on a digital device. So I believe in print.

On the concept of BigLife:
BigLife was born from this idea that in the mountain west, there really isn’t a magazine that captures the big life that we live here. There are magazines that do a great job of capturing the adventure side of it, but there is so much more to living in the mountain west. It’s a very rich life with commitments to causes and with a hunger for its culture.

On her own description of BigLife as the love child of Garden & Gun and Esquire: You’ll probably think it wasn’t such a one night stand between those two; I mean, Vanity Fair played a big role. I’m a huge reader of magazines, so there are so many that have inspired me over the years.

On the biggest stumbling block she had to face:
As for stumbling blocks; I’m a teacher by trade and I experienced 15 years in the classroom. I don’t have a background in publishing, but I have a love of magazines. So, the stumbling block for me is that I’m a novice in many ways.

On her most pleasant and surprising moment: The thing that was the most surprising and the most pleasant and the most encouraging was the amount of people I heard from. I heard from so many people that I knew and didn’t know.

On what she would tell someone who wanted to launch a new magazine:
I’d say: number 1 – make sure that you have a team that is willing to jump off the cliff with you and doesn’t mind figuring out how to fly on your way down together

On what keeps her up at night: I am so excited about what we’re doing that I can’t sleep because of that excitement. And then of course there is the terror of things like: do I have the right stuff in this issue of the magazine; have I talked to everybody I needed to talk to.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Ryan Waterfield, Co-Founder, BigLife magazine…

Samir Husni: My first question to you has to be are you out of your mind launching a print magazine in this day and age and with the added responsibilities of a family?

Ryan Waterfield: Absolutely, yes. (Laughs) That’s something my husband asks me all the time; what are you doing? Are you sure this is something that you want to do? I was laughing the other day because I moved to Sun Valley from Kentucky when I was 22-years-old. I had a job as a teacher at private school and took a very safe route for most of my life. And I loved teaching while I did it, but I always had this desire to write and to do something creative. Not that teaching isn’t creative, it definitely is. But writing was something that I wanted to do that was different. I got into writing and then the magazines came after that.

I love print magazines and I will never give up the fight or the belief that I have in their value. I was just at the beach with my family and everyone that I saw there had a print magazine. I mean, you just don’t read on an iPad when you’re at the beach. And there are a lot of places where you don’t want to read a magazine on a digital device. So I believe in print.

Samir Husni: Tell me a little about your new magazine, BigLife.

Picture 31 Ryan Waterfield: BigLife was born from this idea that in the mountain west, there really isn’t a magazine that captures the big life that we live here. There are magazines that do a great job of capturing the adventure side of it, some are very specific; they capture the skiing or the mountain biking side of it. “Powder” and “Outside” magazines are very adventure-based and they have wonderful writing and just do a great job.

But there is so much more to living in the mountain west. It’s a very rich life with commitments to causes and with a hunger for its culture. There is great architecture and design, especially now that the architecture scene is so exciting. There’s just so much going on.

And there seemed to be such a lack when it came to a magazine that encompassed all that. I just couldn’t find one that showcased the kind of life we live here. So, that’s what I wanted to do with BigLife.

Samir Husni: With BigLife, it seems as though you’re combining the power of photography with typography. Did you have a magazine in mind when you were creating yours?

Ryan Waterfield: A very good friend of mine, Britt Johnston, is the art director for BigLife. She and I worked together for three years on a property-based magazine here in Sun Valley; we weren’t the owners, but we helped the publisher launch the magazine. And she and I just had this great creative energy together.

So, when we started talking about what we wanted to do with the magazine BigLife; she brings the design and I bring the voice, to me the magazine reading experience is very elliptical, it’s not just the words. I mean, I love reading Harper’s and Atlantic Monthly for the articles, but I don’t get much in the way of design from those magazines. So we really wanted to put together smart, sassy editorial with a really great, energetic design.

Samir Husni: There are a few unique things that I’ve noticed in the magazine, including the way that you introduce your team and yourself.

Ryan Waterfield: It’s funny that you mention that – I wanted to do something like that with the property-based magazine that we did before, but we were kept on a much tighter leash. But since this is our own magazine and we don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves, we just thought we’d have a lot of fun with it. And I have to say that I’m a big fan of McSweeney’s and Dave Eggers and I used to use Dave Eggers’ books in the classroom when I was teaching and just loved how playful he got with the copyright page and it was something that I had always wanted to do.

Reading is such an intimate experience; why not get to know the people who are putting the magazine together for you.

Samir Husni: In your description about yourself, it sounds as though you’re trying to channel Hemingway’s drinking lifestyle. (Laughs)

Ryan Waterfield: (Laughs) Yes, I’m mostly joking about that, although I’ll have an occasional drink here and there. (Laughs again)

Initially, we did two issues of a magazine called Sun Valley Focus and they were basically our test magazines. We wanted to make sure that our idea had legs and that advertisers would get behind it and readers would enjoy it. So we did the two test issues, only distributed in Sun Valley and only written about things going on in Sun Valley. But very similar to what we have going on with BigLife. And the response was overwhelmingly positive.

When we decided to make the move to cover our entire region and go after our natural audience, we obviously extended the editorial scope. There are so many things that tie people who choose to live in these towns, or who dream about visiting them, or just visit them on a regular basis. There is definitely a sense of adventure and a commitment to causes and an appetite for the culture. And I wanted all of these things in the magazine. And when it came to establishing a voice, I wanted to express a sense of playfulness to people as well.

When I think about our ideal reader, I don’t think of an age. Our reader is somewhat ageless. But what they do have is a sense of adventure and a sense of fun. And we try to play to that in everything we do.

Picture 33 Samir Husni: If we can go back for a minute to that moment of magazine conception, when, as you told me in your email, Garden & Gun met Esquire in a dark bar and had a torrid one night stand (Laughs); can you tell me a bit more about that one night stand and how this love/lust child called BigLife was born?

Ryan Waterfield: (Laughs) You’ll probably think it wasn’t such a one night stand between those two; I mean, Vanity Fair played a big role. I’m a huge reader of magazines, so there are so many that have inspired me over the years. But, as I said, I was a disgruntled reader for a while because there just hasn’t been a magazine that spoke to what I felt the experience was living in the mountain west.

And when I thought about what magazines I was always fascinated by as a teen, Esquire was definitely one. I’m not a guy, but I loved reading Esquire, I would always steal my brother’s copy. Eventually, he made me get my own subscription. And GQ was another one; I loved their tone of voice and their sense of style.

Picture 35 But Garden & Gun was one that I discovered late. I was from the south and I’m always homesick for the south, even though I love living here. My husband shared an office with a southerner at one point and in their backroom was an issue of Garden & Gun and I found it. And that was really when I thought about that kind of magazine was something that we didn’t have in our area. A magazine that focuses on this region and the wealth of things going on here, not just the skiing and mountain biking, but one that focused on how rich our lives are and how big our lives are.

So, that’s when Garden & Gun came into the equation and somehow gave me a vision and showed me that we could do what it does out here too, of course, obviously differently. Having been born and raised in the south and moving to the west; the west is definitely not the south, that’s where the difference in the voice and the look comes in for us.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me between that moment of conception, that “aha” moment, and giving birth; what has been the biggest stumbling block that faced you before the magazine was born?

Picture 34 Ryan Waterfield: That’s a really good question. One of the first things that I was really lucky about was to have found a partner in Britt Johnson. She and I have both lived here forever and knew each other peripherally, and this is a very small town. We knew each other peripherally for years, but just never connected. And then we had our first children within months of each other and they ended up at the same daycare. We were both full-time working moms and would pick up our kids at the same time. Before you knew it, pick up time became a glass of wine here and there and we had a common spirit and felt a common creative energy. And Britt really helped give me the courage to quit teaching and try something different in my professional life. I was very lucky to fall in with her and find someone with such creative energy that matched my own.

That was the first really lucky think to have happened and then we hooked up with two other partners, Dan Willett and Diane Moberg, who had worked on another publication in this valley called Western Home Journal and it was a very different publication . It’s a home, architecture, design resource magazine.

But Dan and Diane have been in six other resort markets so they know those markets well too and we also work really well together. They are two more reasons we have to feel really lucky about.

And then as for stumbling blocks; I’m a teacher by trade and I experienced 15 years in the classroom. I don’t have a background in publishing, but I have a love of magazines. So, the stumbling block for me is that I’m a novice in many ways, but I did one magazine for three years and I was a very quick study. And I took it very seriously. And I feel like, in terms of life experience, in between when I quit my job and decided to become an editor of a magazine, I have basically gained my master’s in literature. (Laughs)

So, my inexperience would be my first stumbling block, but I’m definitely committed to solving that problem. And the second stumbling block is money. It’s an expensive endeavor. We’re very lucky in that a lot of the people who write for us are our friends, my former students, and a lot of the photographers are people we have known and have a great relationship with. And they have a commitment to quality editorial and beautiful magazines as well.

But money is a huge stumbling block. I’m in the process of writing a business plan and seeing what happens. I think we probably put the cart before the horse in a lot of ways because we had such energy for this vision and we just went and did it. And we’re writing the business plan after the fact. Now we’re going to work on getting investors. And that’s another stumbling block, I would say.

Samir Husni: What was the most pleasant or surprising moment in this whole creation process?

Ryan Waterfield: The most pleasant and surprising, I think, was to write. I am one of those writers who draft a lot; I am like Hemingway, I guess. I’ll write a draft and my first draft is always over the top and, God help me if anybody else sees it. Then I usually rein myself in a little bit and by the time I put it into print, it still has a little edge to it and not something just anybody would publish.

The thing that was the most surprising and the most pleasant and the most encouraging was the amount of people I heard from. I heard from so many people that I knew and didn’t know.

One of the things that we’re doing right now is putting together an advisory board of pros in the industry, people who know publishing and circulation; people who know the ins and outs that I don’t know.

And one of those people we’re putting on the advisory board reached out to me. She happened to get a copy of our launch issue of Focus, it came out summer 2014, and she called me up out of the blue and said, I love what you’re doing, now what do you want to do with it? I shared my vision and she and I have been talking a lot and she has been a great mentor.

The fact that people loved the voice, loved the energetic look and the sense of style, have been really encouraging things.

Samir Husni: If someone came to you and said, “Ryan, I want to start a new magazine,” what would you tell them?

Ryan Waterfield: (Laughs) Write your business plan first.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) So, the opposite of what you did?

Ryan Waterfield: I’d say: number 1 – make sure that you have a team that is willing to jump off the cliff with you and doesn’t mind figuring out how to fly on your way down together. Number 2 – believe in your vision and be really excited. I was talking to one of my friends recently and I talk more about my magazine than I do my two children. And she said, “Wow, it’s like you just had another child.” And that’s true; this one is getting a lot of my attention right now.

I’d tell them to definitely have a team that’s willing to take risks with them and know that they can have a lot of fun together doing it. And always believe in their vision.

Samir Husni: Are you going to have national distribution, or limit it to your area?

Ryan Waterfield: It’s going to be a magazine that writes about our region and covers our region, but with national and international distribution. It’s BigLife, I have big dreams. (Laughs) We’re distributing right now in Sun Valley, Jackson Hole and Park City, but we certainly want to grow that. And we want to start with a good readership base in these mountain towns.

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

Ryan Waterfield: I am so excited about what we’re doing that I can’t sleep because of that excitement. And then of course there is the terror of things like: do I have the right stuff in this issue of the magazine; have I talked to everybody I needed to talk to. I’m constantly making lists of people that I think would want to support something like this because they believe that this magazine could be really good for a mountain town. I think that we live in a world where really smart, educated, cultured people choose to live in these towns and at the same time there is a lack of really great jobs for people in these towns. And I think something like BigLife, if it makes it, could really shine the local light on these towns.

So, one of the things that keeps me up is that I want to do something really good for Sun Valley; I want to do something really good for the mountain west and I want to be able to speak to why this is a great place to invest in and to visit, and the excitement of all that definitely keeps me up at night. Of course, the idea of finding investors keeps me up too.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Putting Some “Simple Grace” In Our Lives, Bauer Prepares To Launch Its Newest Magazine For 2015. The Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive Interview With Carol Brooks, Editor-in-Chief, & Ian Scott, President/Publisher.

January 16, 2015

“Simple Grace, Your Daily Dose Of Hope. It’s Actually Something Different From Anything Bauer Is Doing Locally and Globally. It’s Very New In The Magazine Space.” Simple Grace Magazine’s Launch Story. A Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive.

simple grace In my office hangs a sign that reads: there’s always hope, a simple phrase that holds a wealth of meaning. And in a few short months Bauer Media Group U.S. will have their own message of hope in the form of their newest print launch: Simple Grace. A message of hope that is two-fold and backed-up completely by proven successes, both from the inimitable Bauer Publishing and the sentiment itself which is preached from every Christian pulpit in the country: there is always hope.

A monthly devotional magazine with daily inspirational Bible quotes and content that is geared toward the love, kindness and support of God; Simple Grace is the first digest-sized, devotional magazine, targeting a mass audience on the nation’s stands, of its kind in the United States.

Simple Grace will be released in mid-April and is the brainchild of Carol Brooks, editor-in-chief for the past 13 years of First for Women. I spoke with Carol recently and Ian Scott, president/publisher, Bauer Media U.S. The concept behind the magazine is a unique one, a character trait of most of Bauer’s original launches, past and present. Being first and going somewhere no one else dares to go, is something Bauer firmly believes in; that is, when they firmly believe in the product. And Simple Grace is something that is near and dear to their heart and has the company’s full support.

But Carol said they didn’t go into this category without doing their homework. Between readers’ response from First for Women and the intense research on the market and what was and was not out there; Simple Grace was born from their reader’s desire to include God more as a part of their daily lives. Audience first is not only a Mr. Magazine™ mantra, but a Bauer one as well.

I hope you enjoy this refreshingly “hopeful” interview with Carol & Ian as we talk about a magazine that is filled with a “Simple Grace.”

But first, the sound-bites:


Carol Brooks

Carol Brooks

On defining Simple Grace: The tagline we’re talking about is “Your Daily Dose of Hope.” It’s going to be a digest-sized, primarily monthly, devotional magazine.

On whether a monthly magazine that targets a daily read will have a different approach with advertisers:
I think that our approach for one is that this is something that no one has done before; it’s totally new and a fresh aspect on the devotional.

On the moment of conception for the magazine:
I observed something through my readership; I’ve been editor-in-chief of First for Women for 13 years and when we queried our readership we found that God is a big part of their lives and we’ve just been surprised in different ways when we’ve heard from the First for Women readers how important God is in her daily life.

On Bauer’s ability to make the never-done-before a success:
How do I answer that? I think that we’re not afraid to try new things and I think we’ve shown that over the years.

On the launch plan for Simple Grace:
Our goal is to get it into as many stores as possible for the long-term. On the short-term, we’re going to be heavily-targeted at Wal-Mart and we’re going to be putting out in total about 200,000 copies of the first issue.

On the major stumbling block with launching the magazine: I guess the thing that is very different about it, in terms of even how book publishing works in this country, and it’s surprising honestly, is that there aren’t a lot of people speaking cross-denominationally to the Christian groups.

On the launch date of the magazine:
The first issue coming out for sale will be cover-dated May and will hit the newsstands mid-April.

On what keeps Carol up at night: Not wanting to unintentionally offend anybody or step on anyone’s toes. It’s a little bit daunting to enter an arena that is religious, because as much as you really don’t want to offend, maybe you might stumble into something.

Ian Scott

Ian Scott

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Carol Brooks, Editor-in-Chief, First for Women & Simple Grace magazines and Ian Scott, President/Publisher, Bauer Media U.S.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the magazine, Simple Grace. This is something completely different from any other Bauer publication that you have in the United States.

Carol Brooks: It’s actually something different from anything globally. It’s very new in the magazine space. So, yes, it’s a definite departure.

Samir Husni: Would you briefly define Simple Grace?

Carol Brooks: The tagline we’re talking about is “Your Daily Dose of Hope.” It’s going to be a digest-sized, primarily monthly, devotional magazine. The devotional category out there is generally books, but Simple Grace will be something that you read every day for about five minutes and it’s kind of divvied into every day of the month sections. It has an inspirational reading that the reader can spend five or ten minutes with each day.

Devotionals are really big business in the book market, but haven’t really been explored, in terms of periodicals and magazines.

Samir Husni: At least, on the newsstands. I know that there are a lot of devotional publications out there that different churches give to their parishioners, but nothing as major as Bauer is doing with Simple Grace.

Carol Brooks: Right, nothing on the newsstands like it.

Ian Scott: I think that one of the great things about this is I believe this is the first time any publisher has brought a magazine of this kind to mass retail in the United States, where the reader will be out doing his/her shopping, grocery and otherwise, and there the magazine will be for them to pick up. I think most of the other titles are on a subscription model of distribution. So, this is going to be something that is obviously very new as well.

Samir Husni: Ian, Carol just mentioned that this is a magazine that people will be using or interacting with for at least five or ten minutes each day, so that there is a repeat pick-up of the magazine on a very regular basis. Will that give you a different approach with advertisers for the magazine?

Ian Scott: I think that our approach for one is that this is something that no one has done before; it’s totally new and a fresh aspect on the devotional. We’re very, very excited about the whole thing.

Another thing is that the magazine is digest-sized, so it’s all about making it easily accessible, both in where you can buy it and also easily accessible to you, the consumer, where it can be pulled out of a briefcase or a purse and can be referred to because it’s a size that can be carried around.

And I think another one of the unique things that we’re doing with this magazine is on the inside front cover, when you open the magazine there’s going to be a detachable bookmark. The reader can literally pull it out and use it to mark their place in the magazine, so they’ll know where they are.

A lot of these magazines that I’ve seen recently appear to be quite flimsy, but this is a magazine that’s going to be 144 pages, perfect bound and it’s going to have a glossy cover with another four pages on top of that.

Samir Husni: Carol or Ian, can you describe that moment of conception? Who brought the idea to Bauer and when did that “aha” moment occur, when everyone realized that Simple Grace was something special?

Picture 27 Carol Brooks: I observed something through my readership; I’ve been editor-in-chief of First for Women for 13 years and when we queried our readership we found that God is a big part of their lives and we’ve just been surprised in different ways when we’ve heard from the First for Women readers how important God is in her daily life. So, when we looked into that we found that there is currently 250 million Christians in the U.S. and out of 80% of Americans, two-thirds pray daily.

So, we’re talking about people, “OK, this is a person that we’re reaching in terms of women’s service, but she has this other dimension in her life that doesn’t really fit within the boundaries of what we talk about in First for Women, but it’s a really important dimension.”

Also, there is a book called “Jesus Calling” that has now sold 13 million units, of the original book and other pieces of its franchise, and it has been a huge publishing success. So we took a look at it and saw that this is something that works in print; it’s a hardcover book and it’s really, really well-loved. And it continues to grow. It was published in 2004 and last year it sold 700,000 units. It’s something that has staying power and it’s desirable. And when we looked at it, we saw that it was a certain kind of devotional, but it’s a book that gives you a day, but it’s not the day of your year. For example, if you read it on a holiday such as Good Friday, it doesn’t reflect that it’s Good Friday.

So we thought, wow, if we could do a magazine we could combine beautiful visuals and make each entry very specific for that exact day of the week, year, or signify a certain holiday; even things going on in the news. We could do a similar kind of devotional, but with more immediacy.

Samir Husni: You may think I’m making this up, but my daughter and her husband were with me at Books-A-Million last week and actually bought “Jesus Calling” for their daily devotions.

Carol Brooks: Really? That’s interesting.

Picture 30 Ian Scott: This is something that Carol and everyone on the team have been working on now for nearly two years. So, it’s been a long time and a lot of work and research has gone into it before we got to the point we’re at today, where we’re ready to go forward with the magazine. Like any business you have to make sure that you have something that is wanted by the consumers that are out there and in a format that you think they’re going to love.

Samir Husni: Since the early 80s it seems as though Bauer keeps pulling these rabbits from their magic hat and putting titles on the marketplace that are revolutionary, meaning there is nothing like them already out there. When Woman’s World magazine was introduced, there were no weekly magazines for women on the newsstands. And when First for Women was announced it was a massive launch; so what makes Bauer click and tick when it comes to all of these new magazines?

Ian Scott: How do I answer that? I think that we’re not afraid to try new things and I think we’ve shown that over the years. We’re a company of individuals that are smart, we know publishing and we’ve never been afraid of trying the new and different and going out into the market where other people are maybe afraid to go. And I believe that’s testament to our commitment to the entire magazine industry.

Carol Brooks: And I think the reason that we came up with some of these ideas is because we’re very, very trained on the consumer. We know our readers, study and listen to them. The real genesis of this happened years ago when we heard from our First for Women readers. We pay special attention to what our readers tell us that they want and we really do our homework and research these things before we go forward. But we’re very profoundly consumer-driven.

Samir Husni: Can you describe the process of launching Simple Grace and will it be nationwide on all the newsstands?

Picture 28 Ian Scott: Our goal is to get it into as many stores as possible for the long-term. On the short-term, we’re going to be heavily-targeted at Wal-Mart and we’re going to be putting out in total about 200,000 copies of the first issue. We’re also looking into Barnes & Noble and obviously Christian bookstores and other places we can get distribution.

Like anything, we roll it out, but we want to be in a prominent position such as checkouts; we want to be right in front of the consumer’s eye so that it does capture their attention. Obviously, for us it’s a huge investment certainly to be in those prominent spots, but to us that’s the most important way to promote these products.

Samir Husni: Carol, what do you think will be the major stumbling block you’ll face in launching this magazine and how do you plan on overcoming it?

Carol Brooks: I guess the thing that is very different about it, in terms of even how book publishing works in this country, and it’s surprising honestly, is that there aren’t a lot of people speaking cross-denominationally to the Christian groups. There is evangelical publishing, catholic publishing, but there’s not as much cross-denominational talk. We’ve done a lot of market research and we’ve done a lot of looking at how the different denominations view different kinds of content and we feel very confident that we’ve hit on an approach that is extremely appealing and non-polarizing across denominations.

And I think that’s been the biggest challenge just because there are not a lot of people doing that intentionally.

Samir Husni: And when is the launch date for Simple Grace?

Ian Scott: The first issue coming out for sale will be cover-dated May and will hit the newsstands mid-April. And it will be a monthly magazine, priced at $3.99, digest-sized, with 144 pages; plus, as I said earlier, the four page cover and perfect bound.

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

Picture 29 Carol Brooks: Not wanting to unintentionally offend anybody or step on anyone’s toes. It’s a little bit daunting to enter an arena that is religious, because as much as you really don’t want to offend, maybe you might stumble into something.

I would say I’m reading a lot from the Christian space and looking at a lot online and reading the comments. I’m just trying to calibrate myself so that I don’t upset anyone or offend anyone.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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