Archive for August, 2018

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Weekend Escapes: A New Magazine To Help You Escape Reality For A Relaxing Weekend Getaway – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Monique Reidy, Publisher & Editor In Chief…

August 31, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“I don’t know why people are having this print meltdown; we love magazines; everyone we talk to loves magazines. If you go to any Barnes & Noble or any newsstand, people are sitting around reading magazines. I don’t understand what the hype is all about. I know this is nuts, and maybe I could be way off base, but I think partly us, as a publication community, are partly responsible because we keep talking about it. I think we should just move on and not even make it an issue.” Monique Reidy…

“If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
If you´re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
I´m the love that you´ve looked for, write to me, and escape”…Rupert Holmes

Mr. Holmes probably said it best, but there are times when we all need to “escape.” Whether it’s from the daily grind or simply from the bells and whistles that our non-stop digital connection forces upon us with every millisecond notification we receive. And for just such moments, there is a new magazine on the scene that will help us to do that – Weekend Escapes. And of course, as busy as we all are, sometimes a weekend is all that we can manage and according to Monique Reidy, publisher and editor in chief of the new title, that is exactly the hyper-niche audience she is looking for with her baby.

I spoke with Monique recently and we talked about the new magazine and its target market. The idea “is to take us to a new level of escapism with the beautiful print magazine, tempting us to visit as many of the locations featured as possible, without having to book a two-week vacation. It’s quick, yet magnificent, getaways that hopefully we won’t be able to resist.” The concept is alluring and the first issue very intriguing. Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to seeing more from this new title, published by the same folks who give us the regional Southern California Life.

Monique is a passionate dreamer who believes in print magazines and loves them dearly. Something she has in common with Mr. Magazine™, and she has plans to continue with the stardust by publishing even more titles down the road. So, I hope that you enjoy this momentary “escape” into the world of print dreams in the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Monique Reidy, publisher & editor in chief, Weekend Escapes magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether she believes she is out of her own mind for starting another print magazine: I don’t know why people are having this print meltdown; we love magazines; everyone we talk to loves magazines. If you go to any Barnes & Noble or any newsstand, people are sitting around reading magazines. I don’t understand what the hype is all about. I know this is nuts, and maybe I could be way off base, but I think partly us, as a publication community, are partly responsible because we keep talking about it. I think we should just move on and not even make it an issue.

On the new magazine Weekend Escapes: Our first magazine, Southern California Life, is primarily about where to go and what to do in Southern California. But we were getting so many requests for media trips, stories about travel outside of Southern California, so we started a special section called “The Weekender” in Southern California Life magazine because we thought we should give residents or locals, even the tourists who read our magazine, because we are in-room in numerous hotels, we should give them an opportunity to see what is beyond Southern California in case they want to travel.

On what’s in her future: I’d like to launch more magazines. They say that magazines are dying, we keep hearing that, but I don’t believe that’s true. I do feel that maybe some different themes are maybe contracting, like all of the celebrity magazines, and there’s quite a number of fashion and beauty magazines, but travel is something that peaks the interest of most people. Most people are tired; they’re stressed out; we live in a society now that’s just pushing us forward, making us think about work, think about achievement, about all kinds of things. We just need to relax; we need to go away; we need to spend time away from the hustle and bustle.

On whether it’s always going to be just weekend escapes in the magazine: The one thing that I believe will either make or break a publication is it has to be super-niche now because you can’t just join in and do another finance magazine, there are so many of those. And of course, news magazines are gone because by the time you buy a news magazine, you’ve already got the news on your device. So, I think finding this super-niche that’s lacking out in the marketplace is probably key. I don’t necessarily believe that I’ll have to do a travel publication, but certainly with the next launch it’ll be something that doesn’t exist yet.

On whether her journey from being a student of magazines to a publisher has been a walk in a rose garden:
Oh no, and I think anyone in any of those big publishing houses, if they spent 10 minutes with me they would think I was absolutely nuts because we don’t have a business plan, we fly by the seat of our pants, but you know what, when you have a passion for something and you have determination and you’re going after it like a heat-seeking missile, the resources show up. And I know that’s a whole different mentality than many businesspeople are accustomed to, but truly if you’re determined and you’ve got fire in your veins, it just happens because you just make it happen.

On whether she has any regrets or she is having the time of her life: Well, I’m not going to say it’s a piece of cake, it’s a challenge. Because we’re not funded by anyone, this whole ordeal is self-funded, and it’s not easy. However, it does have its positive points. We don’t have a huge board that we have to consult every time we need to make a decision. I don’t have to run it by several departments every time I need to make a change. We’re small, most of our staff, or I should call them team members because they’re not really staff, they’re freelance, and it works, it really does. And I don’t have any regrets.

On what she would hope to tell someone a year from now when it comes to what she has accomplished: Well, I hope to launch another title. We have a really big office and I plan to fill it up and we’re growing every month. It’s something that I believe I’ll be doing my whole life, so I’m hoping that a year from now we’ll have grown exponentially and have new goals and new things we’re hoping to achieve. It’s an exciting experience for me, where things just show up. Trust me, I know this is very unconventional, but it’s sort of the way we work around here, and it seems to work.

On what she would tell a magazine student if they came to her with an idea for a new magazine:
We do work with one of the professors from Pepperdine University, from the business school, who does, oddly enough, he evaluates business launches. And we had him do a little bit of research for us prior to launching the first publication. I would suggest that a student do a bit of research prior to just launching any old magazine. The other thing I would say is don’t do something that already exists, and then I would suggest that they find funding first. I put my entire life’s savings into this venture, but not everybody has a little stash put away, so find a partner, find someone who will help support the operation, that’s crucial.

On whether she would have done anything differently with her magazines:
I don’t think so. I was so passionate about what I wanted to do that I feel as though if I had a partner who I was just bringing on for financial support, I’d have to start doing what they dictated and I am very driven because I believe in what I’m doing and unless the partner had that same passion, I think there would have been a lot more emotional baggage, so to speak.

On anything she’d like to add: Well, because you’re involved with students, my suggestion would be; if a student has a desire to be involved with magazines at any level, I think getting as many internships as possible prior to graduating would be smart. You know, we’ve had interns come to us who really know nothing about magazines and they are journalism majors. There is a lot more involved to magazine work than just writing, even if you are a writer.

On what keeps her up at night: I get a great night’s sleep every night. I never have sleeping problems. I have a very big faith in God and I believe that this is a business that I was blessed with and if it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen, and no biggie. We just move on to Plan B. But so far we feel really blessed, and again I’ll stress that it’s not without its challenges, because the magazine business is tough, but you have to learn to roll with the punches and that applies to everything outside of business as well. I think anybody looking to make a happy, successful life needs to learn to be adaptable and to not let the small things keep you up at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Monique Reidy, publisher & editor in chief, Weekend Escapes magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me, are you out of your mind, or do you see something others do not see in starting another print publication?

Monique Reidy: I don’t know why people are having this print meltdown; we love magazines; everyone we talk to loves magazines. If you go to any Barnes & Noble or any newsstand, people are sitting around reading magazines. I don’t understand what the hype is all about. I know this is nuts, and maybe I could be way off base, but I think partly us, as a publication community, are partly responsible because we keep talking about it. I think we should just move on and not even make it an issue.

Look at Gwyneth Paltrow, she started Goop magazine, she started online and decided she better have a print publication. And with the quantity of pictures we get from products and services to be included in our print magazine, it’s outrageous. We get at least 400, and we’re a little regional in Southern California, it’s not like we’re a major national magazine. And we get that many pictures a day, I can only imagine what the others get.

But if that were the case, if print was dead, why does everybody want to be featured in a magazine? It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t measure up.

Samir Husni: Tell me about Weekend Escapes, the name is obvious, but tell me more about the concept.

Monique Reidy: Our first magazine, Southern California Life, is primarily about where to go and what to do in Southern California. But we were getting so many requests for media trips, stories about travel outside of Southern California, so we started a special section called “The Weekender” in Southern California Life magazine because we thought we should give residents or locals, even the tourists who read our magazine, because we are in-room in numerous hotels, we should give them an opportunity to see what is beyond Southern California in case they want to travel.

And then we thought that people just don’t have the time to do these week-long or two-week-long trips any longer and it’s pretty pricey now if you want to travel well. But if people want to escape for a long weekend or even a short weekend, it’s refreshing; it’s rejuvenating; people do need to unplug and get away. So, we started doing pieces about places you can go outside of Southern California for a short trip that is just as nice as taking a more extended vacation.

And then we were getting so many requests that we thought we couldn’t possibly include all that content about destinations outside Southern California, it really required its own publication. So, that’s why I launched this new one. And it’s 100 percent travel content.

I took the advice of one of your speakers at one of the ACT Experience conferences, and it hit me pretty hard in the face when they said you should recycle your content, that’s what other magazines do and I decided that we were going to do that too. So, our launch issue is primarily regurgitated articles from our past magazines, but the publication is beautiful and it features back-to-back places that anyone can visit for an extended weekend and have a wonderful time.

Samir Husni: What’s in your future?

Monique Reidy: I’d like to launch more magazines. They say that magazines are dying, we keep hearing that, but I don’t believe that’s true. I do feel that maybe some different themes are maybe contracting, like all of the celebrity magazines, and there’s quite a number of fashion and beauty magazines, but travel is something that peaks the interest of most people. Most people are tired; they’re stressed out; we live in a society now that’s just pushing us forward, making us think about work, think about achievement, about all kinds of things. We just need to relax; we need to go away; we need to spend time away from the hustle and bustle.

Travel isn’t going anywhere, people will need to take a break, and I think that the travel magazines seem to be doing well. I read over the new MPA guide that has the current research and on every level the travel magazines appear to be doing very well. So, I’d like to stick to that theme. It’s a happy magazine and people like happy things.

Samir Husni: Is it always going to be just weekend escapes?

Monique Reidy: The one thing that I believe will either make or break a publication is it has to be super-niche now because you can’t just join in and do another finance magazine, there are so many of those. And of course, news magazines are gone because by the time you buy a news magazine, you’ve already got the news on your device. So, I think finding this super-niche that’s lacking out in the marketplace is probably key. I don’t necessarily believe that I’ll have to do a travel publication, but certainly with the next launch it’ll be something that doesn’t exist yet.

Samir Husni: Since you moved from being a student of magazines to a magazine publisher, how has that journey been? Has it been a walk in a rose garden?

Monique Reidy: Oh no, and I think anyone in any of those big publishing houses, if they spent 10 minutes with me they would think I was absolutely nuts because we don’t have a business plan, we fly by the seat of our pants, but you know what, when you have a passion for something and you have determination and you’re going after it like a heat-seeking missile, the resources show up. And I know that’s a whole different mentality than many businesspeople are accustomed to, but truly if you’re determined and you’ve got fire in your veins, it just happens because you just make it happen.

And we have people who come to us from places that we didn’t anticipate, they just call and ask for an ad, which in a lot of industries that’s unheard of. But I think that’s largely due to providing a product that people like and people need. So, I was helping other friends, to answer your question, to launch their magazine, because magazines are what I know, it’s what I’ve learned, I have a master’s degree in journalism. I just decided why am I helping everyone else launch magazines, I need to be doing my own.

I will say the one issue that doesn’t quite translate from being a journalism student to being a publisher is you forget that there is the IRS, there’s the EDD, there’s accounting and HR issues, all of those things for those of us who love magazines might not factor in when you’re first launching, (Laughs) but you learn quickly because you have to. That takes a little bit away from the joy of the whole experience, but if you’re going to be an owner of a magazine, a publisher of a magazine, those are things you have to factor in.

Samir Husni: Any regrets? Or you’re having the time of your life?

Monique Reidy: Well, I’m not going to say it’s a piece of cake, it’s a challenge. Because we’re not funded by anyone, this whole ordeal is self-funded, and it’s not easy. However, it does have its positive points. We don’t have a huge board that we have to consult every time we need to make a decision. I don’t have to run it by several departments every time I need to make a change. We’re small, most of our staff, or I should call them team members because they’re not really staff, they’re freelance, and it works, it really does. And I don’t have any regrets. I think that you do the hard work on the frontend, sort of counting the cost of what you’re looking at. I feel hopeful and encouraged, and I love magazines. I love being a part of it. And everyone on my team loves magazines.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me that you had accomplished in this past year?

Monique Reidy: Well, I hope to launch another title. We have a really big office and I plan to fill it up and we’re growing every month. It’s something that I believe I’ll be doing my whole life, so I’m hoping that a year from now we’ll have grown exponentially and have new goals and new things we’re hoping to achieve. It’s an exciting experience for me, where things just show up. Trust me, I know this is very unconventional, but it’s sort of the way we work around here, and it seems to work.

Samir Husni: As you go through this lifelong adventure, as you called it, if a magazine student came to you with an idea for a new magazine, what would you tell them?

Monique Reidy: We do work with one of the professors from Pepperdine University, from the business school, who does, oddly enough, he evaluates business launches. And we had him do a little bit of research for us prior to launching the first publication. I would suggest that a student do a bit of research prior to just launching any old magazine. The other thing I would say is don’t do something that already exists, and then I would suggest that they find funding first. I put my entire life’s savings into this venture, but not everybody has a little stash put away, so find a partner, find someone who will help support the operation, that’s crucial.

Samir Husni: In your case, would you have done anything differently with your magazines?

Monique Reidy: I don’t think so. I was so passionate about what I wanted to do that I feel as though if I had a partner who I was just bringing on for financial support, I’d have to start doing what they dictated and I am very driven because I believe in what I’m doing and unless the partner had that same passion, I think there would have been a lot more emotional baggage, so to speak.

There are always trade-offs, it would have been easier from a funding standpoint to have a partner, but this way we just move along and we’re flexible. We can adapt and we can do what we believe must be done, and sometimes at the very last minute. We’ve changed covers just before we go to press, and that would probably be a much more daunting task if there were more people involved.

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

Monique Reidy: Well, because you’re involved with students, my suggestion would be; if a student has a desire to be involved with magazines at any level, I think getting as many internships as possible prior to graduating would be smart. You know, we’ve had interns come to us who really know nothing about magazines and they are journalism majors. There is a lot more involved to magazine work than just writing, even if you are a writer.

You need to learn to interview correctly; how to research and how to fact-check. I’m going to guess that you do that, because when I had Eden (Eden Sandlin – a Mr. Magazine™ service journalism magazine student) here as an intern, she seemed to already know, but we get students from other schools who know how to write a piece, but that’s where it all stops. And in order to be marketable in the magazine industry, you have to be pretty well-rounded. And my advice to students would be to get as much of an education as possible while you can.

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

Monique Reidy: I get a great night’s sleep every night. I never have sleeping problems. I have a very big faith in God and I believe that this is a business that I was blessed with and if it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen, and no biggie. We just move on to Plan B. But so far we feel really blessed, and again I’ll stress that it’s not without its challenges, because the magazine business is tough, but you have to learn to roll with the punches and that applies to everything outside of business as well. I think anybody looking to make a happy, successful life needs to learn to be adaptable and to not let the small things keep you up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Farmhouse Style: A New Quarterly Title That Transports You Easily To The Downhome Comforts Of The Farm – From The Publishers Of Country Sampler Magazine – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Susan Wagner, Editor…

August 27, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“If you’re looking for quick information; if you’re looking for lists of things or some simple stuff or you just want to look up some quick things, online is great for that. Quick ideas there are wonderful. If you want to relax and take a moment to yourself and see these beautiful four-color pictures spread out in front of you, there is nothing like print for that. You can’t really curl up with your computer the same way that you can with a print magazine. You can’t sit on the porch drinking lemonade and page through there and envision yourself in that home and dog-ear the pages and just enjoy the feel of reading a beautiful magazine when you’re scrolling through webpages.” Susan Wagner…

Available on newsstands and by subscription, Farmhouse Style celebrates the casual, comfortable appeal of today’s popular farmhouse decorating and lifestyle movement. From the folks who bring you Country Sampler, Farmhouse Style is a new quarterly title that celebrates step-by-step DIY projects and fully illustrated decorating tips to create an authentic farmhouse-style look.

Susan Wagner is editor of the magazine and special projects director at Annie’s Publishing, the company that owns Country Sampler, Farmhouse Style, Good Old Days and a variety of titles in crochet, knitting, quilting and cross stitch. But when it comes to their latest offering, Farmhouse Style, they’re “crowing” loudly about its downhome and easy style.

I spoke with Susan recently and we talked about the new magazine and about its $9.99 cover price, something that Susan said reflected the quality content and overall aesthetic of the magazine. With around 50 DIY projects in each issue, complete with full instructions on how to do them, she believes the magazine is worth every penny paid for by their readers. And from the initial response of its audience, the people must agree.

Susan said the tangible product of print had to be the cornerstone of the new brand. While all of the digital components are in place: website and social media, the laid back experience the reader gets from the print foundation is irreplaceable. And the beautiful photographs could only be justified in ink on paper.

So, sit back, relax, and get ready to enjoy a moment in the “Farmhouse” as we take a walk around the place with our tour guide, Susan Wagner in the Mr. Magazine™ interview.

But first the sound-bites:

On why Farmhouse Style as a quarterly and why now: We have done Country Sampler for years, we started that in the eighties and that has always been our niche publication, country decorating, it’s our strongest suit and where our expertise lies. Through the years we have also done some other publications and SIPs that were more of a DIY kind of decorating and so we have a lot of staff members with a strong talent in that area as well. We were always keeping an eye on which SIPs might morph into a subscription and then once we started working on the autumn issue for the Farmhouse again, we had a great response and we knew that was what we wanted to do. And we started doing some surveys and some early marketing research to see what kind of response we would get, talked with our newsstand people and everything and it was all very positive and the early predicted numbers showed that it seemed like it would be a success. So, we decided to go ahead and put all of our effort into it and turn it into a subscription.

On a letter from a reader begging them not to change anything inside the magazine: And she is one of many. Recently, I was reading something that somebody had sent to us and it’s the same thing. There are so many of them that love that look and they just reach out to us and say that they love everything, don’t change anything about the magazine. And whenever we ask questions about what we can do to improve, they always tell us more issues, publish it more often, which we’d love to do, but finances have to be there.

On why print for the magazine: That’s always a thought with print magazines; people will ask, especially in the home décor and DIY end, can’t you just get that off of Pinterest or can’t you just find all of that information online? I truly feel that all the different media that we have all serves a different purpose.

On the $10 cover price and why people are willing to pay it: A $10 cover price for a certain age-range of people is accepted, especially with some magazines being $3.99 or $4.99, but it’s not untypical, we see that in a lot of publishers. What we do is to say to ourselves, for a $10.99 cover price are we giving them that strong value in content. It’s a curated thing.

On the future and if she expects to add a younger, more active audience to Farmhouse Style that will also add to Country Sampler’s readership: Some of our early analysis of the people subscribing and those we have email addresses for after they bought it online, those are tracking a bit younger than the Country Sampler audience and that was always one of our goals in trying to develop another subscription-based title, which was to reach that younger audience. And so definitely that’s a goal with Farmhouse Style, when we create the content that goes in there we’re doing so with the idea of it reaching out to somebody in their thirties or some range such as that.

On what other “style” might be in store for Country Sampler: We’re always looking at what might work. But what we also have discovered, and this is one area where our Farmhouse Style is a little different than some of the other farmhouse publications out there, our audience is very much a middle-America, common man kind of audience.

On anything she’d like to add: As I was talking about our look with Farmhouse, you had asked if there was another style we were looking into; what was in the future. What I wanted to wrap that around was that we’re always looking at styles like a prairie style or the farmhouse style that is this casual, relaxed comfortable kind of decorating. So, maybe sometime in the future, maybe a waterfront thing, where it’s lakes and streams and stuff like that, instead of coastal looks.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: (Laughs) I rarely am ever unwinding from a full day of work. I’ll find myself on my computer at 11:00 p.m. just browsing Pinterest or maybe I’m looking up something for myself and I come across farmhouse-related things or other things that I think might be a good idea for the magazine. And I’ll save them or something. But me personally, as far as unwinding from work, I like to be involved in crafting and things like that, so I myself do a lot of DIY home décor type things and I enjoy doing that. But I also like to be outdoors and I’ve been doing a lot of kayaking and hiking and things like that too.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: What I would like them to remember and what I would also like the people I work with and the people I play with to have in their minds is that Susan Wagner is always thinking of new and exciting things to do and will jump in with both feet.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Deadlines. I think honestly the one thing that keeps me up, especially in the magazine world or in the print world, is just the idea of always staying relevant, because home décor changes with the times, businesses change with the times, trends change with the times. We’re very much aware that Farmhouse is enjoying a great level of interest right now, but where will we be five years from now, 10 years from now, so, I think what keeps me up at night is just making sure that we are always moving in a direction where we’re looking for new things. I’d hate to be involved in a company where they just sat back and said this has always worked for us, we’re just going to keep it that way.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Susan Wagner, editor, Farmhouse Style.

Samir Husni: You decided after one test issue to go ahead with Farmhouse Style and publish it as a quarterly magazine, give me some background on this decision. I know you’ve done Country Sampler for years, but why now and why Farmhouse Style?

Susan Wagner: As you said, we have done Country Sampler for years, we started that in the eighties and that has always been our niche publication, country decorating, it’s our strongest suit and where our expertise lies.

Through the years we have also done some other publications and SIPs that were more of a DIY kind of decorating and so we have a lot of staff members with a strong talent in that area as well. We started a few years back, in 2014, doing some SIPs that were focusing a little bit more on DIY decorating, where Country Sampler really is more home tours and this unique kind of magalog area in the back, with these SIPs we did more of an individualized kind of decorating styles and more of these DIY angles.

We did some Christmas ones; we did prairie-style ones; we did different kinds of genres. Last year we decided we would do a farmhouse SIP that would come out in January 2018 and that particular SIP pretty much blew all of the other SIPs away, that one did really well when we compared it to our newsstand figures and our advertising revenue for the other SIPs. It was comparable to when we put out the first Christmas issue, which did really well.

So, we knew that it was a genre and a magazine that resonated very much with our current subscriber base, the people who enjoy Country Sampler, but were also looking to refresh and brighten their homes a little bit more, because the Farmhouse issue is a lighter kind of country and it’s more typical of the type of country decorating we’re seeing or showing up in Today’s Homeowner, a little bit more of the younger and more urban crowd, and a lot of what the shows on the DIY Network and things like that are airing.

That hit really well, so we combined it with our unique look that we’ve created for the SIPs, where we had some home tours of farmhouse decorating, but then we also had our designers work on DIY projects, so we were able to incorporate that. And I think that’s what makes our magazine definitely different than some of the other SIPs or other publications that touch on this look as well. We have that project DIY base in there so that people who love this style can not only see how others are decorating, but they can also create things for themselves to put in their own homes for this style.

So, that first SIP issue did really well for us. As I said, it came out in January 2018 and our sales team had a great success selling it and it had wonderful crossover with our existing subscriber database, plus we had also picked up a lot of new people from the newsstands.

With the success of that first we figured we would do another SIP. And once we started working on the second one for 2018, we just continued to get way above what our plan was as far as the newsstand sales and a lot more advertiser encouragement and we knew that this was an area where we wanted to expand. As a company, we had been looking to see if there was an SIP or title that we could turn into another subscription because we wanted to have an additional subscription besides Country Sampler that could also work within that country decorating realm.

We were always keeping an eye on which SIPs might morph into a subscription and then once we started working on the autumn issue for the Farmhouse again, we had a great response and we knew that was what we wanted to do.

And we started doing some surveys and some early marketing research to see what kind of response we would get, talked with our newsstand people and everything and it was all very positive and the early predicted numbers showed that it seemed like it would be a success. So, we decided to go ahead and put all of our effort into it and turn it into a subscription. And it seems that we were on target with what we did because we’ve been marketing it now, as far as some direct mail pieces and to our existing subscribers for Country Sampler, some ads in the other publications we do, and we have a big chunk of subscribers so far.

And then we have a big direct mail piece that we’ll be sending to outside lists at the end of September. Right now, the early results and the subscriptions that we’re happy with so far that we’ve gotten, have all come from internal outlets. So, we’re expecting of course, once we reach out even farther, to increase that even more.

Samir Husni: I was reading your editorial in the autumn issue and you singled out one reader from Arizona, Kay Connelly, where she is technically begging you to not change a thing in the magazine.

Susan Wagner: And she is one of many. Recently, I was reading something that somebody had sent to us and it’s the same thing. There are so many of them that love that look and they just reach out to us and say that they love everything, don’t change anything about the magazine. And whenever we ask questions about what we can do to improve, they always tell us more issues, publish it more often, which we’d love to do, but finances have to be there.

Samir Husni: Can you in reality hear the crunch of hay under your feet, feel the fresh breeze in your hair and smell those cinnamon buns rising on the stove in any other form than print? Can you do the same thing in digital? Why print?

Susan Wagner: That’s always a thought with print magazines; people will ask, especially in the home décor and DIY end, can’t you just get that off of Pinterest or can’t you just find all of that information online? I truly feel that all the different media that we have all serves a different purpose.

If you’re looking for quick information; if you’re looking for lists of things or some simple stuff or you just want to look up some quick things, online is great for that. Quick ideas there are wonderful. If you want to relax and take a moment to yourself and see these beautiful four-color pictures spread out in front of you, there is nothing like print for that. You can’t really curl up with your computer the same way that you can with a print magazine. You can’t sit on the porch drinking lemonade and page through there and envision yourself in that home and dog-ear the pages and just enjoy the feel of reading a beautiful magazine when you’re scrolling through webpages.

Samir Husni: How do you explain the audience who’s engaging with the magazine and willing to pay the $10 cover price?

Susan Wagner: A $10 cover price for a certain age-range of people is accepted, especially with some magazines being $3.99 or $4.99, but it’s not untypical, we see that in a lot of publishers. What we do is to say to ourselves, for a $10.99 cover price are we giving them that strong value in content. It’s a curated thing.

If you’re browsing on the web and trying to find items for decorating your home and you’re all over the place, but if you know and you trust the Country Sampler editor to give you what you’re looking for because you follow them along and you know they’re really hitting the target, you’ll get that all in that one magazine. And it saves you time, you’re not browsing and browsing online for hours or you’re not getting a magazine somewhere else for $5.99 or $6.99 and maybe one or two articles apply to you.

For a $9.99 price we have a whole section of DIY projects and we’re typically looking at 50 different projects with complete instructions and that’s a lot of content right there. Plus we have the traditional home tours and things that are great to look at. And then we have recipes; various articles, such as growing your own organic produce or raising backyard chickens, things like that.

So, all of that is combined into our Farmhouse Style magazine. And when you think of all of that pulled together, to me, that is definitely worth the $9.99 cover price. And I think nowadays people, if something really resonates with them and they feel like it’s something they can get right in their hands without having to run around all over the place for that, they will pay that higher price point. We definitely see where people are paying a bit of a higher price point for a convenience or something that is really targeted completely to them.

Samir Husni: As you look forward, if you and I are having this conversation a year from now, do you think would you tell me you were able to acquire a younger, more active millennial audience for Farmhouse Style that added to the Country Sampler or do you envision the same audience as Country Sampler?

Susan Wagner: Some of our early analysis of the people subscribing and those we have email addresses for after they bought it online, those are tracking a bit younger than the Country Sampler audience and that was always one of our goals in trying to develop another subscription-based title, which was to reach that younger audience. And so definitely that’s a goal with Farmhouse Style, when we create the content that goes in there we’re doing so with the idea of it reaching out to somebody in their thirties or some range such as that.

In the whole general trend of farmhouse decorating, like urban homesteading and things like that, it is a millennial thing. It is a younger audience. It’s people who want to grow their own fruits and vegetables and they want to have fresh eggs in their backyard. If you look at the blogger world and home decorating, it’s a lot of the younger people who are decorating and are out in the blogosphere and showing things.

In fact, in our spring issue we’re doing an article about these two men who used to live in Philadelphia, Penn., in more of an urban area, and they wanted to raise chickens and were getting pushback from the city, and finally that was kind of the impetus they needed to say, okay, we’re definitely moving to the farm, which was something they had always wanted to do. So, they ended up buying some land up in Vermont and now they run an organic flower farm. One of the guys does the organic flower farm and the other one does a bakery, foods and catering. And we’re seeing that a lot. People moving out of the cities or buying land in areas where they can have chickens in their backyards or raise goats or grow fruits and vegetables.

Samir Husni: You have Prairie Style that you still publish on a quarterly basis, so what other style is in store for Country Sampler?

Susan Wagner: We’re always looking at what might work. But what we also have discovered, and this is one area where our Farmhouse Style is a little different than some of the other farmhouse publications out there, our audience is very much a middle-America, common man kind of audience.

Having said that, there are definitely some people in the Chicago area, the urban areas, Indianapolis, places like that, who are more of the un-urban dweller, but we are a smaller town, we’re more middle America; we’re not an L.A., New York kind of audience.

And I think some of the other farmhouse SIPs or some of the other magazines that will touch on farmhouse style, and even some of the TV shows, it ends up being a little more of an upscale kind of farmhouse, where somebody maybe took an old barn and they brought in a designer and paid the designer $500,000 to revamp it for them. And ours is more of a casual, easygoing, relax, this is a place where you can decorate in that look and still have your four little children running around and not worry about them messing something up or breaking something. So, it’s a very approachable, very easy look and I think that’s what makes who our audience is and who we’re reaching with that little difference than some of the others.

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

Susan Wagner: As I was talking about our look with Farmhouse, you had asked if there was another style we were looking into; what was in the future. What I wanted to wrap that around was that we’re always looking at styles like a prairie style or the farmhouse style that is this casual, relaxed comfortable kind of decorating.

So, maybe sometime in the future, maybe a waterfront thing, where it’s lakes and streams and stuff like that, instead of coastal looks. Or maybe it could be more of a Southern look or we’ve talked around the idea of doing an SIP that would be American bungalows or something. It would all be very much the casual, common man with a DIY aspect to it. More so than the designer look of that style.

As far as anything else, we are very much putting everything behind this Farmhouse Style. We’ve created a website; we have the social media sites out there, we have Pinterest, Instagram and a Facebook page for it. We will be doing some additional work with it, because nowadays I feel like print media is not solely print only and I’m sure all the other publishing companies would agree. But what we’re providing to our readers is decorating ideas, decorating styles, inspiration, for this and they can get them in a variety of ways. They can be inspired by looking at the magazine; they can hit an emotional chord by looking at the magazine, they can love the beautiful pictures.

But we can also provide them quick tips and maybe some ideas and some links to other blogs through our website. We’re thinking of doing an editor’s blog where we talk about more of the day-to-day farmhouse related topics and bring in other people. Bring in people to share their memories. With the older crowd we see that people love that about the Farmhouse look, they like being able to share their memories about how they were doing blueberries in their grandmother’s kitchen or something like that.

So, we do have a lot of this in the works, as far as putting more on the website, doing more social media, where we’re really connecting with the readers in a lot more ways. We definitely want to incorporate events, we’ve talked about that, doing different contests and just really trying to connect with them on their level, so it’s not so much just us giving them info, but more of a feel that we’re all part of this Farmhouse family together.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Susan Wagner: (Laughs) I rarely am ever unwinding from a full day of work. I’ll find myself on my computer at 11:00 p.m. just browsing Pinterest or maybe I’m looking up something for myself and I come across farmhouse-related things or other things that I think might be a good idea for the magazine. And I’ll save them or something. But me personally, as far as unwinding from work, I like to be involved in crafting and things like that, so I myself do a lot of DIY home décor type things and I enjoy doing that. But I also like to be outdoors and I’ve been doing a lot of kayaking and hiking and things like that too.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Susan Wagner: What I would like them to remember and what I would also like the people I work with and the people I play with to have in their minds is that Susan Wagner is always thinking of new and exciting things to do and will jump in with both feet.

I want to have something interesting to create or work on or to do, whether it’s a new project we’re doing at work and I’m really excited about it, or whether it’s planning a get together for the afternoon with my friends, such as a scavenger hunt that’s really cool. So, she was always coming up with new ideas and very enthusiastically implementing them in a way that got everyone else excited about the project or event as well.

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

Susan Wagner: (Laughs) Deadlines. I think honestly the one thing that keeps me up, especially in the magazine world or in the print world, is just the idea of always staying relevant, because home décor changes with the times, businesses change with the times, trends change with the times. We’re very much aware that Farmhouse is enjoying a great level of interest right now, but where will we be five years from now, 10 years from now, so, I think what keeps me up at night is just making sure that we are always moving in a direction where we’re looking for new things. I’d hate to be involved in a company where they just sat back and said this has always worked for us, we’re just going to keep it that way.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The Wonderful Wonderful World Of New Magazines… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

August 24, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Spin the globe of this wonderful planet we live on and at any point of stop – almost surely you’ll find a new magazine’s homeland. From China to Latvia, Lebanon to the U.S., new titles are being born and welcomed onto newsstands. Each and every one is a beautiful edition to the world of print and offers another voice into the magazine conversation. The following titles are ones that I discovered being published in English. I hope you enjoy their beautiful covers!

Speaking of Latvia, since leaving the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has grown and developed with a wealth of new energy in different art forms – and a new title called Jezga is showcasing many of those new talents. Welcome Jezga to the family!

And from the U.K comes A Profound Waste of Time, a new independent title inspired by videogames that are celebrated as an art form. It’s a richly designed title gamers and magazine lovers alike will enjoy! Welcome!

Another Gaze, a feminist film journal also from the U.K., was established to highlight the gender inequality of the film industry and amplify the voices of great, often overlooked, filmmakers who identify as women.

Journal du Thé is another U.K. title that invites the reader to explore contemporary tea culture while it wows you with great stories. The magazine wants us to learn about the universe that revolves around our favorite beverage. Welcome aboard!

More or Less is a new magazine from the U.K. that is a beautiful, oversized coffee table title that seeks to provoke thought about the decisions we make when we buy clothes – factoring in the realities of cost and consumption. Welcome!

And the United Kingdom is really blossoming with new titles as Drugstore Culture, a magazine that’s mission is to define and defend all that is best in our culture – particularly film, but also art, music, literature and politics. The almost pocket-sized magazine is an interesting concept.

For is a new magazine that highlights issues facing humanity with a positive, optimistic attitude. It focuses on people who are improving the lives of others and our common humanity. Using a theme each issue, the new title’s first is all about maturing. This magazine should age gracefully!

Plantain Papers comes to us from England and is an independent bi-annual magazine which expresses stories and cultural experiences involving people who love plaintains. From Ghana to Detroit each piece brings together lovers of the fruit from around the world. As you can see – niche is still the name of the game!

And then there’s Be Water Journal, which was founded in 2017, by a group of professional editors, photographers, designers etc. in Guangzhou City, China. The name “Be Water” comes from a famous quote by Bruce Lee and the publication is just as intriguing. The magazine describes its mission as narrowing the focus on “person,” capturing the “Cultural Creatives” from around the world, people that immerse themselves in creation and life. With a website and an annual bookazine, this Eastern offering seems to be in it for the long haul. Welcome to to the world of magazines!

From the people behind The Outpost comes a Dance Mag, a global dance magazine that transcends differences, distances, and disciplines to tell the stories of people from all over the world, who are dancing their lives and giving their bodies a voice. From Beirut, Lebanon this new title is as beautifully done as it is captivating.

Desired Landscapes is a title from Greece and explores the sense of a place and the problem of the representation of the urban experience through graphic design, mapping, poetic observations, the vernacular and ephemera.

The Adventure Handbook is an independent collective of creators, brought together by redefining travel writing and the meaning of ‘adventure.’ A photography magazine about modern exploration, The Adventure Handbook is one of Australia’s latest offerings and a beautiful edition to newsstands.

PTSD Journal is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferers and their loved ones. It shines a light on the awareness, diagnosis and treatment of a disorder affecting more than 30 million Americans, their families, and loved ones. A great new title from the good old U.S.A.

And for good measure, a new comic book called It Came Out On A Wednesday, a new title from New England’s Alterna Comics and the first of their bi-monthly anthology series. It is chock full of snippets, interviews, contests, and much more.

As Mr. Magazine™ continues to travel the globe (albeit most times from the newsstands) looking for these amazing new delicacies, keep an eye out for my next installation of The Wonderful World of Magazines, it’s sure to be worthy of the cover of a magazine!

Until next time…

See you at the newsstands…

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Kalmbach Media’s Strange Science (Magazine): Reverse Engineering Creates And Curates A Digital-To-Print Platform – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Steve George, Vice President – Content, Kalmbach Media…

August 23, 2018

“Coming back to some fundamentals that we who love magazines have been talking about for years. I think there’s a physical, tangible reality to magazines that you don’t get online. There’s a durability there in a print product and to a certain extent, there’s a promise that the time and effort that would go into creating and editing and vetting that content in a more durable form, whereas I think online, and we’re seeing this, it’s a voracious beast, where you have to constantly be cranking out new content.” Steve George…

Kalmbach Media (formerly Kalmbach Publishing) has been around for more than 80 years, offering niche titles such as Model Railroader, Discover, Bead & Button, Classic Toy Trains, and Astronomy, plus many more. The science group of magazines expanded its family recently with a digital-to-print, digest-sized special issue publication called Strange Science, featuring more than 50 strange-but-true stories from every field of scientific inquiry.

I spoke with Steve George, vice president of content at Kalmbach, recently and we talked about this digital-to-print publication that curates popular digital content in a convenient digest print format. Steve is a firm believer in print magazines permanently joining the definition of the word multiplatform. After all, how can you be across all platforms without print. And that’s Kalmbach’s mission, to meet their reader and customer everywhere they want to consume content. And with the digest-sized format of Strange Science, Kalmbach is hoping that science enthusiasts and those of us out there who might not consider ourselves science readers will enjoy the convenience and just outright fun of the magazine.

So, come along with Mr. Magazine™ as we discover the strange world of science together from the man who guides those unusual stories onto the printed page and onto the screen, the Mr. Magazine ™ interview with Steve George, vice president – content, Kalmbach Media.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether the industry is suddenly moving from digital back to print: You’ve said it yourself, it’s not about print versus digital anymore, it’s about delivering what your audience wants on the platform where they want to engage with it. And like so many other publishers, we’re striving to serve up more and more digital content, but we know there is a place for print and we’re still very committed to print and we’re seeing a desire across all demographics to engage with print magazines.

On what has been the early reaction from the audience to the digital-to-print concept: It was pretty strong. In fact, recently we sat down to put together the framework for the second of those SIPs. We know there was a strong response and we definitely saw people who we normally hadn’t seen coming to the site and taking a look, so I think the response has been very favorable for us.

On the changes at Kalmbach, including a new CEO: We’ve certainly seen a lot of changes in the past year with Dan (Hickey) aboard as our CEO, and obviously one thing that he has always emphasized is magazines are going to continue to be a critical part of our business, it’s a strong and profitable area for us, particularly in our hobby magazines, which still contribute hugely to our profits, but we are phase of dramatic digital growth. We have to be, like a lot of publishers. And this is especially true in our science group. I’m sure you’ve seen the magazine media fact book, the MPA numbers; science and technology is the number one growth area by content category. And we’re well-positioned to serve that category, it’s a growth area for us and Dan has identified that as such and we’re pushing hard to grow that category.

On why he thinks the category of science is growing: I think there are several reasons. One overarching factor is that people are looking for great, vetted, factual information, and I think there are a lot of questions about different kinds of science. We’ve seen this at all levels, at the national level. There is a lot of information out there that people aren’t sure about, in terms of the environment or honorary matters of science, so I think that there always has been an interest in science content, but I would say that folks have become keener to find reliable, vetted, well-sourced information and get it in a format in which they want to consume it.

On what role he thinks magazines play in the art of creation and curation of trusted information: Coming back to some fundamentals that we who love magazines have been talking about for years. I think there’s a physical, tangible reality to magazines that you don’t get online. There’s a durability there in a print product and to a certain extent, there’s a promise that the time and effort that would go into creating and editing and vetting that content in a more durable form, whereas I think online, and we’re seeing this, it’s a voracious beast, where you have to constantly be cranking out new content.

On which he enjoys more, the art of creation or the art of curation: I have a role now where I do a little less creation, and for that matter a little less curation, working with all of the content team who do that. I would say that it’s both. In my younger days when I was mostly a writer, I would said creating, but it’s equally challenging, in some cases, more challenging to edit and curate, find the right mix of content to strengthen your relationship with your readers. And so they both have their joys and their frustrations, but mostly joy. I find both equally rewarding.

On one reason someone should go to the newsstand and buy a copy of Strange Science: One reason? Because it’s fun. It’s a great way to get great science content and if you don’t think of yourself as a reader of science content, this might change your mind. It’s engaging; it’s not highbrow, like a medical journal; it’s very much written for the layperson, but it’s not dumb downed. It’s pure entertainment as well as information and that’s what we want, we want to both inform and delight. So, why wouldn’t you? (Laughs)

On whether there will be more digest-sized titles coming from Kalmbach: I would say that anything is possible, this is really the first digest format that we’ve done. I used to work in digest titles; I was at Prevention for several years and it was one of the great technical challenges, to make a small magazine feel big. I certainly think we managed to do that and we thought it would be a great format to try. As they say, it’s convenient, you can throw it in a bag or practically stick it in your pocket. We just wanted to make it easy and convenient. I can see us doing more in the future. It’s really going to depend on what the content is and what we think the audience will enjoy.

On anything he’d like to add: From the digital-to-print side, we’re just looking for ways to deliver great content to the audience in whatever platform they want. I would say for us, for science, it’s particularly important, as I mentioned, because that’s a big growth area for us, especially for our science group, which is really Discover and Astronomy and we have an ecommerce store that’s My Science Shop. It’s a big growth area for us and we intend to offer marketing institutions a large science media platform, coupled with new and exciting ways to engage with science enthusiasts and thought-leaders.

On what keeps him up at night: What doesn’t keep me up at night? (Laughs) I’m a champion worrywart. I always worry about doing enough for readers and our customers. I think a lot about my content team, trying to give them the resources and support they need. Content is the lifeblood of what we do and so my teams and our readers are eminently worth worrying about.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Steve George, vice president – content, Kalmbach Media.

Samir Husni: Are we suddenly seeing this move from digital to print? Is the industry getting smarter, utilizing all of that free content that was once on digital, and now selling it between the pages of print?

Steve George: (Laughs) Well, I’d like to think so. You’ve said it yourself, it’s not about print versus digital anymore, it’s about delivering what your audience wants on the platform where they want to engage with it. And like so many other publishers, we’re striving to serve up more and more digital content, but we know there is a place for print and we’re still very committed to print and we’re seeing a desire across all demographics to engage with print magazines. Especially one you can just toss into your beach bag and not worry about dropping it into the sand or trying to read it in direct sunlight. As a lean-back experience it’s still a great form of entertainment and information for lots of people.

So, for us, we have content that we have online and some of it is part of a paid subscription, some of it, as you say, is out there in the wild for free, but we wanted to curate some of that and put it into a print format that folks would engage with. Strange Science is our first for science brands, for Discover, but this is something that we’ve also done in our hobby titles. Back in May we had another digital-to-print product with a model railroading SIP, Model Railroading – The Ultimate Guide and that was content that was originally video content curated from our subscription site, Model Railroader Video Plus.

From there, the opportunity was again to engage with our readers in a format that they would enjoy, but also to create a relationship with them, where we could entice them to see what else we have to offer online. And in that particular case with Model Railroading, we had strong links from that print content back to videos on the site, and our goal there was to hopefully get them to see what else we had to offer and become subscribers to that video service.

Samir Husni: What has been the early reception from the audience to that whole digital-to-print concept?

Steve George: It was pretty strong. In fact, recently we sat down to put together the framework for the second of those SIPs. We know there was a strong response and we definitely saw people who we normally hadn’t seen coming to the site and taking a look, so I think the response has been very favorable for us.

Obviously, with Strange Science it’s very early days. We have the digital edition and that’s pretty inception level stuff, digital-to-print-to-digital edition. The newsstand copy just came out and so we’re expecting that people are going to respond to it. Not just our core readers, but with Strange Science we wanted to satisfy all of our readers, insatiable curiosity. And go beyond our base to create relationships with new readers, including younger readers who might not self-identify as science readers, but who’d be into the wild mix of topics that we present. And with something like Strange Science being engaging enough to start a relationship with them so they might come and see what else we have to offer both online and on our other platforms throughout the brands that we have in our science category.

Samir Husni: Since the last time you and I chatted, a lot has happened at your company, including a new CEO.

Steve George: We’ve certainly seen a lot of changes in the past year with Dan (Hickey) aboard as our CEO, and obviously one thing that he has always emphasized is magazines are going to continue to be a critical part of our business, it’s a strong and profitable area for us, particularly in our hobby magazines, which still contribute hugely to our profits, but we are phase of dramatic digital growth. We have to be, like a lot of publishers.

And this is especially true in our science group. I’m sure you’ve seen the magazine media fact book, the MPA numbers; science and technology is the number one growth area by content category. And we’re well-positioned to serve that category, it’s a growth area for us and Dan has identified that as such and we’re pushing hard to grow that category.

Samir Husni: As someone who has worked in that category for the last six-plus years, can you identify one or two areas in that specific category that would point out why it is growing so much?

Steve George: I think there are several reasons. One overarching factor is that people are looking for great, vetted, factual information, and I think there are a lot of questions about different kinds of science. We’ve seen this at all levels, at the national level. There is a lot of information out there that people aren’t sure about, in terms of the environment or honorary matters of science, so I think that there always has been an interest in science content, but I would say that folks have become keener to find reliable, vetted, well-sourced information and get it in a format in which they want to consume it.

And from my own experience, and I’ve done science writing, especially on the medical side, for the better part of two decades, in many ways as a reader you see that interest continue to grow. People want to know more about the latest advancements not only in terms of just medicine overall, but in regards to their own personal health and wellbeing. We see that interest growing year over year.

Beyond that, I think people are naturally curious and I don’t think that diminishes over time, so we want to find ways that we can satisfy that curiosity across a variety of platforms, including this new SIP we’re just putting out.

Samir Husni: I was looking at some of the statistics that were released recently that show magazines are the most trusted news media out there, with 80 percent of the people trusting magazines more than any other outlet, including television and radio. And it drops all the way to 38 percent for social media. What role do you think magazines play in that art of creation and curation of that trusted information?

Steve George: Coming back to some fundamentals that we who love magazines have been talking about for years. I think there’s a physical, tangible reality to magazines that you don’t get online. There’s a durability there in a print product and to a certain extent, there’s a promise that the time and effort that would go into creating and editing and vetting that content in a more durable form, whereas I think online, and we’re seeing this, it’s a voracious beast, where you have to constantly be cranking out new content.

Then you end up having a lot of content that just flies through people’s feeds very quickly and some of it is not accurate. You don’t know who the source is necessarily, you don’t know what their agenda is, if they have one, and I think folks are more cognitive of that. And once again, I think with magazines there is a durability and an implied commitment to quality, which we certainly strive to fulfill. And not just in the science content. Across our hobby titles we have the leading experts in those different areas of passion. And we don’t skimp on finding and creating the best possible information to help people satisfy their passions. There is an authenticity that, certainly for Kalmbach, we have more than 80 years of commitment to. That’s an important part of who we are and we’re not going to diminish it or lose that.

Samir Husni: Which of the two do you enjoy more, the art of creation or the art of curation?

Steve George: I have a role now where I do a little less creation, and for that matter a little less curation, working with all of the content team who do that. I would say that it’s both. In my younger days when I was mostly a writer, I would said creating, but it’s equally challenging, in some cases, more challenging to edit and curate, find the right mix of content to strengthen your relationship with your readers. And so they both have their joys and their frustrations, but mostly joy. I find both equally rewarding.

Samir Husni: Give me one reason why I should go to the newsstands and buy a copy of Strange Science.

Steve George: One reason? Because it’s fun. It’s a great way to get great science content and if you don’t think of yourself as a reader of science content, this might change your mind. It’s engaging; it’s not highbrow, like a medical journal; it’s very much written for the layperson, but it’s not dumb downed. It’s pure entertainment as well as information and that’s what we want, we want to both inform and delight. So, why wouldn’t you? (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Are we going to see more of those digest-sized titles coming from Kalmbach?

Steve George: I would say that anything is possible, this is really the first digest format that we’ve done. I used to work in digest titles; I was at Prevention for several years and it was one of the great technical challenges, to make a small magazine feel big. I certainly think we managed to do that and we thought it would be a great format to try. As they say, it’s convenient, you can throw it in a bag or practically stick it in your pocket. We just wanted to make it easy and convenient. I can see us doing more in the future. It’s really going to depend on what the content is and what we think the audience will enjoy.

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

Steve George: From the digital-to-print side, we’re just looking for ways to deliver great content to the audience in whatever platform they want. I would say for us, for science, it’s particularly important, as I mentioned, because that’s a big growth area for us, especially for our science group, which is really Discover and Astronomy and we have an ecommerce store that’s My Science Shop. It’s a big growth area for us and we intend to offer marketing institutions a large science media platform, coupled with new and exciting ways to engage with science enthusiasts and thought-leaders.

From a content perspective we have a lot of stuff that’s digital-first, but our overarching goal is going to be to create multiplatform content that’s engaging to readers and attractive to advertisers. And that is something that we’re committed to on the science side, we’re committed to bringing back national advertisers to Discover and the key to that is a multiplatform approach that includes print as well as native and sponsored content. We’re already seeing some real successes there, but we’re going to continue to grow. We’re going to look at everything from acquisitions to new product launches in order to reach and grow those audiences, both in the science and the hobby space.

For us that means we’re creating a customer journey. We’re going to build and strengthen relationships. Someone will start on the newsstand with a product like Strange Science or Model Railroading, and then they could purchase a paid video product or maybe it’s a subscription box. It’s an exciting time for us and for our current and future customers. That’s where a lot of us are spending our energies right now, making that journey a successful and satisfying one, and strengthening those relationships, which we as a company have had a very long and distinguished career at building and maintaining.

Samir Husni: Last time we spoke I asked you what kept you up at night and you said that you were wondering if you were doing enough for readers and your customers. Is that still keeping you up at night?

Steve George: What doesn’t keep me up at night? (Laughs) I’m a champion worrywart. I always worry about doing enough for readers and our customers. I think a lot about my content team, trying to give them the resources and support they need. Content is the lifeblood of what we do and so my teams and our readers are eminently worth worrying about.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Welcome Back: A Magazine Relaunch Musing…

August 22, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

It never ceases to amaze me that when a magazine announces it’s folding its print edition, some people in the media world are quick to jump on the bandwagon, sending the lifeless body of the title to the cemetery barely before it has taken its last breath of ink.

For example, when Meredith announced it was stopping the publication of Country Home in 2009, the stories abounded about the demise of print and the poor, sickly titles that were on their last legs and probably on the way out too.

The oddity about this entire process is how quiet the response is when that same magazine comes back to life. While the death celebration was raucous, the resurrection is subdued.

From the editor of the newly-reborn Country Home:

We’re thrilled to report that Country Home magazine is now available four times a year. As always, it’s on newsstands everywhere. Plus we’ve added a subscription option so you don’t miss a single issue. Visit themeredithstore.com to sign up today.


And from our friends in the North, Canada’s Skunk Magazine, a year since they’ve printed the magazine “an awkward silence during a time when cannabis became teh number one topic around the world.” After a year of not being on newsstands, it’s back, but with a modicum of herbal fanfare as its editor in chief thanks the people who stood behind the title. The editor-in-chief writes:

Rather than being a footnote in history, our magazine is now needed more than ever because we will tell you what you don’t want to hear while telling you what you need to know.

And then there’s Vogue’s L’UOMO, the Italian men’s version of the magazine, which launched in 1967 and closed a year or so ago. Condé Nast Italia is relaunching the title just in time for its 50th anniversary. The new incarnation of L’Uomo Vogue will publish twice in 2018, and will be available on newsstands and initially bundled with Vogue Italia subscriptions. It will also be available in English throughout with Italian translations.

Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Emanuele Farneti writes in his editor’s letter:

Every magazine that emerges, or re-emerges, is a small piece of good news: a voice that is added to the conversation, or freshly returned to it. This issue is for all those people – men and women – who have let us know L’Uomo was something they’ve been missing.

It really makes no sense that some in the media world shout loudly when they hear the death knell of a magazine and barely mention the wonder of its rebirth. It makes Mr. Magazine™ muse…

What’s wrong with that picture?

Until next time…

See you at the newsstands….

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Showstopper Magazine: Celebrating Its First Anniversary With 40 Years Of Teen Dance History & Experience Behind It – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Founder, Debbie Roberts & Editor In Chief, Holly Childs…

August 20, 2018

“One thing that stands out to me, and one thing that made me really want to do the magazine is we’re not just full of ads. And many of the others are so heavy into ads. We’re trying to honor dancers; we’re trying to get as many kids as we can into each issue. We’re trying to look and look, study and study, and reach out to find which kids have great stories and get them in the magazine. We want them to be honored.” Debbie Roberts…

“We combined the digital element with it, with our app and our VIP site and it’s basically the online version of the magazine where we can push people with QR codes to video content and behind-the-scenes footage and extended interviews, plus extra content as well. So, we mixed both the print and the digital because teens aren’t normally drawn so much to print, but I think with the distribution method of the shows and Barnes & Noble and mixing it with the digital it really comes together.” Holly Childs…

A magazine devoted to dance, teenaged dance, that is; Showstopper magazine is celebrating its first anniversary in print, but the powers-that-be behind the colorful, photo-packed title are far from newbies when it comes to the world of teen dance. Debbie Roberts and her husband, David have been honoring and promoting dancers through their competition shows and sincere caring of the teens for 40 years. Showstopper events for them are more than a career, it has been a way of life for decades. And now they have brought that same excitement and care to print.

I spoke with Debbie and editor in chief, Holly Childs (a former Showstopper dance talent herself) recently and we talked about the magazine and its mission for the world of teen dance. It means so much to these two ladies as it represents the kids that are so important to them both, which is the one of the main reasons that Debbie wanted to start the magazine, to have a vivid place to showcase these teen dance stories and bring them to life within the pages of print. And from the beautiful photographs to the stories themselves, it’s a venue that Debbie hopes fulfills her mission: to honor the dancers.

And with no ads, its success is dependent on that hope, as distribution ranges from newsstand to the competition shows, where Debbie says the differentiation factor of the title from others out there, is born. The shows provide the Roberts’ with a venue that allows them to connect with the teens and get their input for content, something Debbie believes gives them a very high leg-up on magazines who maybe don’t have that type of interaction.

So, grab your sequined dance uniform and some confetti and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with two women who are “showstoppers” themselves, as they take us into the world of teen dance, Debbie Roberts, founder and Holly Childs, editor in chief, Showstopper magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On how she got the idea for Showstopper and when she decided to actually do it (Debbie Roberts): I was actually always very interested in journalism, even in high school. I was editor of the yearbook and just had a great journalism teacher. And I had always wanted to start a magazine. I read Seventeen magazine all of the time and I just thought it was an incredible way to communicate. So, at age 16 I really wanted to do it. And when I met Holly I thought if I ever did it she would be the person who could help me make it come true, because she is such a go-getter.

On whether they both dance (Debbie Roberts): Dance has been my whole life. I had a dance studio for 25 years. I actually started teaching when I was 16, so that’s 50 years that I’ve been working, not 40. But no, not anymore, now I just work, work, work.

On whether they both dance (Holly Childs): I danced from age two to about 14 and I danced at Showstopper’s, so when I got the job, almost three and a half years ago, it was coming full circle for me because I used to attend their competitions when I was around nine-years-old.

On why they thought teenaged readers in today’s day and age would want a print magazine (Holly Childs): We also combined the digital element with it, with our app and our VIP site, which is http://www.showstopper.vip, and it’s basically the online version of the magazine where we can push people with QR codes to video content and behind-the-scenes footage and extended interviews, plus extra content as well. So, we mixed both the print and the digital because teens aren’t normally drawn so much to print, but I think with the distribution method of the shows and Barnes & Noble and mixing it with the digital it really comes together.

On how they are curating Showstopper’s 40-year history with teen dance, with what’s happening today (Holly Childs): We’re always working on curating the history with what’s happening today in a better way in each and every edition. And in this upcoming one we’re really focusing on telling the story of Showstopper and focusing a lot more heavily on dance, just to make sure that’s really seen on almost every page. I think we’ve realized as we’ve gone forward that the reach has really extended beyond our in-person shows and so it’s more important with every edition to tell Showstopper’s story and history, and also what’s happening with the brand today.

On Holly’s ability to write, edit and design and whether she has a favorite of the three (Holly Childs): Design, for sure, I have to say. It’s just the most creatively and aesthetically pleasing; it’s just very fulfilling to see the design of an artist. I love writing too and that was actually my major in college, English, but graphic design is always changing and can always be made better, so definitely design. But I love the other two as well.

On Showstopper’s point of differentiation (Debbie Roberts): One thing that stands out to me, and one thing that made me really want to do the magazine is we’re not just full of ads. And many of the others are so heavy into ads. We’re trying to honor dancers; we’re trying to get as many kids as we can into each issue. We’re trying to look and look, study and study, and reach out to find which kids have great stories and get them in the magazine. We want them to be honored.

On the biggest stumbling block they’ve faced this year and how they overcame it (Debbie Roberts): Both Holly and I can tackle a lot. I’m used to handling problems; I’ve had 40 years of a lot of challenges and I would say that we don’t have a lot of big stumbling blocks, because when something happens we just regroup and go on and do something else. We don’t let anything become a stumbling block more than just a couple of minutes.

On what has been the most pleasant moment (Debbie Roberts): I would say our photo shoots are just so inspiring because you get all of these kids together and they’re so excited that they are going to be honored for what they’ve done. These are kids who are hardcore dancers and they’ve worked themselves to the bone. They take seven days a week to dance. They just love it and they’re willing to do it as a career and they don’t even care if they make money. They’re just giving everything a million percent and that’s every photo shoot that we have.

On what has been the most pleasant moment (Holly Childs): Another amazing moment is seeing the pictures of the dancers holding up the magazine when they get it in the mail or see it in Barnes & Noble, that’s another amazing moment.

On what they would hope to say the magazine has accomplished if they were talking to someone about it one year from now (Debbie Roberts): I would say that we strive, just like we do in the show, to be better than we were before. Every article to be better than it was the last issue just to try and give more to kids. And maybe to make the magazine 20 pages bigger to honor more kids or more dancers, just to always be better and always have more quality. We’re so learning right now and we’ve seen mistakes that we’ve made and just try to go on and do better next time. Every magazine is so exciting and we just strive for the next one to be better.

On anything either of them would like to add (Holly Childs): One thing to add is that we also have a theme around each edition, the last one was the gold edition and the next is the explore/adventure edition. Exploring new genres of dance and new hobbies and new travel locations. We always try to have a theme around each edition.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her (Debbie Roberts): I would say that we always did the very best and when we hit the best we said that we could do better. We just always want to be better and give more, that’s our philosophy.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her (Holly Childs): I like that too. That’s perfect; I wouldn’t add a thing to that. Never be satisfied.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Holly Childs): Planning the next day of work. (Laughs)

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home (Debbie Roberts): You’d find me working on the magazine, that’s my very fun thing to do and because it’s a lot of research. I’d be looking at YouTube videos or at letters that kids have written to us about maybe why they want to be in the magazine, those kinds of things. Researching new trends or old trends that are coming back; who’s doing what; those are things that I’d be doing.

On what keeps them up at night (Debbie Roberts): Definitely the magazine. It’s not work at all, it’s just fun to gather up ideas, and after 40 years of really working hard loading trucks and working in a warehouse, getting everything ready for a show, now the magazine is just my sheer fun. Just giving back through the magazine and then seeing the end result. So, it’s definitely the magazine that keeps me up at night, no doubt about that.

On what keeps them up at night (Holly Childs): I agree. I am always thinking about how we can make things better. We’re both never satisfied with the last thing we did, which is why I think a year from now, if you were to ask us, it’s going to be 10 times better than right now because we’re never satisfied. We’re always thinking about how we can improve and what we can do different; what are the latest trends that we can do for the next photo shoot, things like that. It’s more of a morning and afternoon thought for me, but if I think of a photo shoot idea in the middle of the night, I grab my phone and write it down.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Debbie Roberts, founder and Holly Childs, editor in chief, Showstopper Magazine.

Samir Husni: Showstopper magazine is celebrating its first anniversary; tell me a little bit about the conception of the magazine. When did you get the idea and decide that you were actually going to do it?

Debbie Roberts: I was actually always very interested in journalism, even in high school. I was editor of the yearbook and just had a great journalism teacher. And I had always wanted to start a magazine. I read Seventeen magazine all of the time and I just thought it was an incredible way to communicate. So, at age 16 I really wanted to do it. And when I met Holly I thought if I ever did it she would be the person who could help me make it come true, because she is such a go-getter.

So, I just woke up one day and said to myself, I’m 65-years-old and it’s either now or never, somehow or someway it’s going to happen. And I talked to Holly and she said yes, absolutely let’s do it. And we both kind of dove in and just said we don’t know what it’s going to take, but we’re going to learn. So, we started learning and digging in and that’s how it all started.

Samir Husni: And do you both dance?

Debbie Roberts: Dance has been my whole life. I had a dance studio for 25 years. I actually started teaching when I was 16, so that’s 50 years that I’ve been working, not 40. But no, not anymore, now I just work, work, work.

Holly Childs: I danced from age two to about 14 and I danced at Showstopper’s, so when I got the job, almost three and a half years ago, it was coming full circle for me because I used to attend their competitions when I was around nine-years-old.

Samir Husni: Why do you think teenaged dancers in today’s day and age want a print magazine?

Holly Childs: Debbie and David Roberts started Showstopper, which are national dance competitions, and they have regional and finals competitions and dance conventions all over the U.S. and now the world, including Japan. The history of Showstopper Dance Competitions began 40 years ago and they’re celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. They have so many in-person events that it’s a perfect distribution method for something that teens can relate to and hear other teen dancers’ stories, which is really the primary reason I feel that Debbie started the magazine, to tell all of the stories that were heard nationwide for 40 years.

We also combined the digital element with it, with our app and our VIP site, which is http://www.showstopper.vip, and it’s basically the online version of the magazine where we can push people with QR codes to video content and behind-the-scenes footage and extended interviews, plus extra content as well. So, we mixed both the print and the digital because teens aren’t normally drawn so much to print, but I think with the distribution method of the shows and Barnes & Noble and mixing it with the digital it really comes together.

Debbie Roberts: To go back a little bit, every weekend of my life I’m with dancers, and all of these young kids at all different levels, and I was thinking that these kids are so inspiring that we had to do more stories about them. With their heart and soul, they just love dance and they’re so excited about dance. So, I wanted to take that to another level, and we said that this is the time; this is the time to do it. And I was very discouraged with some magazines that were just ads, that’s really basically all they are. So, we really don’t do ads, we just want to honor dancers and their hard work. And inspire other dancers.

Samir Husni: Just from looking at this current issue, it seems as though you’re documenting teen dance. From 40 years until now, that involvement with the teen lifestyle and the teen dance really shines through. How are you curating Debbie’s 40-year history with teen dance, with what’s happening today?

Holly Childs: We’re always working on curating the history with what’s happening today in a better way in each and every edition. And in this upcoming one we’re really focusing on telling the story of Showstopper and focusing a lot more heavily on dance, just to make sure that’s really seen on almost every page. I think we’ve realized as we’ve gone forward that the reach has really extended beyond our in-person shows and so it’s more important with every edition to tell Showstopper’s story and history, and also what’s happening with the brand today.

Samir Husni: Holly, you write, edit, and you design; any favorite child among those three?

Holly Childs: Design, for sure, I have to say. It’s just the most creatively and aesthetically pleasing; it’s just very fulfilling to see the design of an artist. I love writing too and that was actually my major in college, English, but graphic design is always changing and can always be made better, so definitely design. But I love the other two as well.

Samir Husni: There are other dance magazines in the marketplace; what is Showstopper’s point of differentiation, besides you and David starting Showstopper Dance Competitions 40 years ago?

Debbie Roberts: One thing that stands out to me, and one thing that made me really want to do the magazine is we’re not just full of ads. And many of the others are so heavy into ads. We’re trying to honor dancers; we’re trying to get as many kids as we can into each issue. We’re trying to look and look, study and study, and reach out to find which kids have great stories and get them in the magazine. We want them to be honored. And I know for sure that they don’t have that passion now, because we’re not worried about selling ads and making money and they are. We’re just worried about having an incredible magazine that gives back to teenagers and we’ve expanded more into the dance lifestyle, such as what would they wear to school, so we have a bit of fashion, fashion that’s maybe been inspired by dance. Just give kids more than a magazine that’s filled with a lot of ads and just a few articles.

Holly Childs: We focus very heavily on the well-rounded approach of showing everything dancers are interested in, from healthy snacks to fashion, inspired by dance, and to technique and the inspirational stories. We’re not just focusing on people who have the strongest technique and who have made it, of course we love those people, but also in each edition we really tell a story about someone who has overcame something or who has struggled and made it through and can inspire other dancers who might also be going through something similar. We just focus on capturing all facets of a team dancer, not just a dancer.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block for you this year and how did you overcome it?

Debbie Roberts: Both Holly and I can tackle a lot. I’m used to handling problems; I’ve had 40 years of a lot of challenges and I would say that we don’t have a lot of big stumbling blocks, because when something happens we just regroup and go on and do something else. We don’t let anything become a stumbling block more than just a couple of minutes.

Holly Childs: I think the only “challenge” is since our magazine is in stores a lot longer than other magazines, we have to make sure that we’re not just doing that viral, happening right now, content. It has to be content that’s going to be relevant from February to May or from June until August, which that really helps us to tell more in depth stories or talk about things that aren’t just going to be irrelevant a week from now. You could pick up that magazine five years from now and the things inside would still be interesting because they’re not time sensitive.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment?

Debbie Roberts: I would say our photo shoots are just so inspiring because you get all of these kids together and they’re so excited that they are going to be honored for what they’ve done. These are kids who are hardcore dancers and they’ve worked themselves to the bone. They take seven days a week to dance. They just love it and they’re willing to do it as a career and they don’t even care if they make money. They’re just giving everything a million percent and that’s every photo shoot that we have. You see these kids on paper and I meet them quickly, maybe at a show, but then to work with them for a whole day is really fun. And I know a lot of magazines don’t even do photo shoots, they just get pictures from the kids. But we do a long photo shoot where everybody interacts and it’s a lot of work. Holly puts all of that together and it’s so rewarding.

Holly Childs: We do a big group photo shoot where it’s like one big fun day. We have some photo shoots where there are just one or two kids, but our main photo shoot is with the group we call “The Circle Society” who are the featured group for that issue of the magazine. They are a group of talented and inspiring dancers and we get them all together for one to two days and it’s one of the most inspiring times, just seeing all of the talent and hard work come together.

Another amazing moment is seeing the pictures of the dancers holding up the magazine when they get it in the mail or when they see it in Barnes & Noble, that’s another amazing moment.

Samir Husni: If we’re having this conversation a year from now, what would you hope to tell me about Showstopper magazine and what it has accomplished?

Debbie Roberts: I would say that we strive, just like we do in the show, to be better than we were before. Every article to be better than it was the last issue just to try and give more to kids. And maybe to make the magazine 20 pages bigger to honor more kids or more dancers, just to always be better and always have more quality. We’re so learning right now and we’ve seen mistakes that we’ve made and just try to go on and do better next time. Every magazine is so exciting and we just strive for the next one to be better.

We try to do focus groups at our shows, and that’s the big thing at our shows that nobody has but us; we see probably 5,000 kids per weekend, so we can set up a little booth and ask the kids what they want to see in the magazine. I can put someone there for the whole day and ask the kids these things and nobody else can do that because we’re so connected with the competition and with these kids.

We can ask them what they want to see and what they don’t want to see. We have a whole survey that we do and we try to really stay with the kids, with the dancers, at all times. And nobody else can do that; nobody can touch us. They’re in an office in New York, not that that’s a bad thing, but they’re in an office and they never really meet any of the dancers. Anyone else’s main goal is to sell advertising and the magazine is secondary. And we’re just not that way, not that that’s a bad thing because that’s how they run their business and make money, but that’s not how we run things and make money. The bottom line would be the interaction with the kids. And it’s our lives.

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

Holly Childs: And one thing to add is that we also have a theme around each edition, the last one was the gold edition and the next is the explore/adventure edition. Exploring new genres of dance and new hobbies and new travel locations. We always try to have a theme around each edition.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Debbie Roberts: I would say that we always did the very best and when we hit the best we said that we could do better. We just always want to be better and give more, that’s our philosophy.

Holly Childs: I like that too. That’s perfect; I wouldn’t add a thing to that. Never be satisfied.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Holly Childs: Planning the next day of work. (Laughs)

Debbie Roberts: You’d find me working on the magazine, that’s my very fun thing to do and because it’s a lot of research. I’d be looking at YouTube videos or at letters that kids have written to us about maybe why they want to be in the magazine, those kinds of things. Researching new trends or old trends that are coming back; who’s doing what; those are things that I’d be doing.

Holly Childs: I agree that no matter what we’re doing, whether on social media, or like Debbie said, on YouTube or flipping through magazines, watching commercials; it’s always in the back of our minds how we can use things that we’re drawn to in the magazine. So, even if we are relaxing, we’re always thinking too. (Laughs)

Debbie Roberts: Photo shoot ideas too; I’ll have a stack of magazines and go through them and say, if we could just get one big, wow photo shoot in every magazine. And the next issue is really cool because we have an elephant, so one big, wow photo shoot and how we can pull that off. What are the ideas; just all of those kinds of things. That’s it and it’s totally my life.

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

Debbie Roberts: Definitely the magazine. It’s not work at all, it’s just fun to gather up ideas, and after 40 years of really working hard loading trucks and working in a warehouse, getting everything ready for a show, now the magazine is just my sheer fun. Just giving back through the magazine and then seeing the end result. So, it’s definitely the magazine that keeps me up at night, no doubt about that.

And Holly is a newlywed, so that’s a whole different thing. (Laughs)

Holly Childs: (Laughs too) I agree. I am always thinking about how we can make things better. We’re both never satisfied with the last thing we did, which is why I think a year from now, if you were to ask us, it’s going to be 10 times better than right now because we’re never satisfied. We’re always thinking about how we can improve and what we can do different; what are the latest trends that we can do for the next photo shoot, things like that. It’s more of a morning and afternoon thought for me, but if I think of a photo shoot idea in the middle of the night, I grab my phone and write it down.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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Retro Fan Magazine: A Nostalgic & Evocative Look Back At The Pop Culture Of Yesterday With A Tagline That Reads “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With” & The Magazine Does Not Disappoint – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Michael Eury, Editor, Retro Fan Magazine…

August 15, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.” Michael Eury…

From television’s “The Incredible Hulk,” to the highly popular Mr. Microphone, Ronco’s answer to the wireless device of the ‘70s, pop culture has seen many points of era interest come down the pike. The ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s are chocked full of “retro” fads that just cannot be forgotten or ignored, especially now that there’s an exciting new magazine on newsstands to jog our memories. Retro Fan magazine is published by TwoMorrows Publishing and is an ultimate handbook for all things retro and fun, from tattoos in bubble gum packs to our favorite Saturday morning cartoons.

Micahel Eury is editor of the magazine and is also a comic book historian, author and editor and a man who sees the cultural importance of fads, ideas and the things of the past that still impact us today. I spoke with Michael recently and we talked about Retro Fan and the societal reverberations that pop culture brings to all of our lives.

The magazine is filled with these things that still play an important part of our lives: The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek (how many of us grew up on Captain Kirk and Spock), an article with Lou Ferrigno (TV’s Hulk), and fun sitcom quotes, along with much, much more. It’s a great magazine jam-packed with information, and as Michael added, that all-important unpredictable factor that makes it unique.

So, sit back, relax, grab your Slinky for old times’ sake and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Eury, editor, Retro Fan magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why a print, retro-type magazine now, in today’s market: This is a natural outgrowth for the publisher himself. For 20 + years now, TwoMorrows has published a growing line of retro magazines that target comic book history and comic fandom. Over the past few years the publisher has experimented with a few books that branch out beyond comics into the broader popular culture. As far as yours truly is concerned, I have been working in the comic book industry for decades now. I used to be an editor and writer for comics and then overtime, as I got older, I sort of steered my career or it was steered by fate, toward being a comics historian. And since television and toys; collectibles and the moon-landing, and other pop culture events of my past, we’re also part of that pop culture tapestry that we pull from. It just felt like the right time to do this.

On the tagline “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With” and the audience that the magazine is targeting: To very specifically define it, and I’ll say this because this is our target audience I’m about to define, but I don’t necessarily want to anchor it exclusively to that. I’d like to have some flexibility as the magazine grows, but nonetheless it’s ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s popular culture. So, that obviously creates a demographic of a reader who would probably be in his or her forties and up, because again, that’s their childhood that we’re talking about.

On whether he feels a reader can get the same history of pop culture in any other medium other than the printed publication: Well, I think you can. If you are prone to investigate that level of history, you certainly can, but we sort of do the searching for you and the gathering of the information for this. And also, with the involvement of people who are behind the creation of certain toys or comic books or TV shows; just whenever we do celebrity interviews to get their thought processes involved, I think that adds another layer for the audience as they’re reading the publication. Out of all of TwoMorrows’ publications, the others are largely targeted toward the comic book distribution network, meaning that most people who would buy the publication would either buy it off the stands or order it on a subscription list through their comic book shop or from the publisher itself.

On what he would hope to tell someone about Retro Fan one year from now: One year from now, I would hope that we are still on the newsstand. I think that in this particular age, as you know and as you are intimating from your questions, print is diminishing. I think that we have seen though that all of the deaf cries of the print medium that we’ve been hearing, and I’ve been in the publishing industry on and off for a good 30 years now, and people have been attempting to bury it for a long time, but it just isn’t quite going away. There are still readers, and perhaps they’re readers of a certain age who are aging and fading away (Laughs), but they still want to hold something in their hands that isn’t an electronic device. Given the demographic that we largely target, I think that our readers are going to prefer a print publication.

On the statement that today there is no war between print and digital, that it’s up to the reader to decide where they want to consume their content: I think that’s very well said and it’s very, very true. Print has held on in the past few years, and again, we also agree that the print runs are smaller than they have been in the past, but there still seems to be this balance between the two platforms, digital and print. If you were to talk to me about this 10 years from now, we may be fully digital at that point. I do think that there will be a continuing transition, but it’s not happening as rapidly as some of the doomsayers some 10 or 15 years ago were anticipating.

On whether he thinks that as long as we have human beings, we will have print: I hope that’s the case. That’s my interpretation as well. I think that someone half my age might disagree with me, but there’s a value to print. To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.

On anything he’d like to add: The magazine is going to have an eclectic feel. It’s not going to be about one thing. It’s different from the comics history magazine that I edit, “Back Issue!” which is thematically-structured. Every issue of “Back Issue!” is centered around a given theme. And that has provided me editorial structure there. I really like Retro Fan to be more of just a really fun, almost unpredictable, grab bag of content. The second issue has a loose Halloween theme, but that’s a pretty broad subject when you really think about it, especially when couched within the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: I’ve never been asked that before, that’s really a challenging question. I would hope that people would smile when they think of me in the future. Maybe through the work I have done with Retro Fan or other publications, because I know at the end of the day, I’m working on magazines and I also write books about comics and pop culture history. Is it the most important thing in the world to record the oral history of a comic book or animation artist? Or write about how the afro became a fashion sensation in the ‘70s? When you compare it to saving people’s lives on an operating table; no, but when you look at it from a broader perspective of just being a nice window into some of the pleasures and interesting things of our past, yes it does have some importance and I’m honored to be a part of this mechanism of recording these stories. So, if people think of me with a smile, wherever I am in the afterlife (Laughs) that will hopefully make me smile as well.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I probably would be watching a little TV or reading a book. I’m finding now that I am editing a second magazine about pop culture that I’m spending less of my free time immersed in pop culture, because largely what has been my hobby in the past is my vocation, which is a really wonderful thing that a lot of people would wish for. So, it’s a blessing for me I believe, to be able to do this kind of work. I enjoy it. But I’m reading a murder mystery at night now, which has nothing to do with anything I do for my job.

On what keeps him up at night: (Laughs) Nothing keeps me up at night, but what gets me up at night is, and I can’t say this without sounding off color, but it’s having to go to the bathroom. (Laughs again) I am a man in my sixties. So, there is that. (Continues laughing) I’m really not that worried about things. I mean, there are plenty of things to be worried about. I could lose sleep at night over hatred; it does bother me when I really think about it. How, after all of the wonderful advances that I’ve seen throughout my lifetime; I grew up on Star Trek, which had this vision of the future where all cultures were working together as one. And you didn’t think about the fact that this person was from that culture or that planet.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Eury, editor, Retro Fan magazine.

Samir Husni: I understand you have your own publishing company: TwoMorrows Publishing. So, tell me, why a print magazine; why a retro magazine; and why now?

Michael Eury: This is a natural outgrowth for the publisher himself. For 20 + years now, TwoMorrows has published a growing line of retro magazines that target comic book history and comic fandom. Over the past few years the publisher has experimented with a few books that branch out beyond comics into the broader popular culture. One that came out last year, this is by an author named Mark Voger, and the book is called “Groovy.” And it’s essentially looking at the hippie and the flower-power culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s. And there were a number of celebrity interviews, such as with The Brady Bunch kids and people like that. So, this is just a natural growth for him.

As far as yours truly is concerned, I have been working in the comic book industry for decades now. I used to be an editor and writer for comics and then overtime, as I got older, I sort of steered my career or it was steered by fate, toward being a comics historian. And since television and toys; collectibles and the moon-landing, and other pop culture events of my past, we’re also part of that pop culture tapestry that we pull from. It just felt like the right time to do this.

Samir Husni: The tagline of the magazine, “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With,” is sort of like you’re identifying your audience. Tell me more about that audience and how you want Retro Fan to connect with those of us that grew up in that crazy cool culture.

Michael Eury: To very specifically define it, and I’ll say this because this is our target audience I’m about to define, but I don’t necessarily want to anchor it exclusively to that. I’d like to have some flexibility as the magazine grows, but nonetheless it’s ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s popular culture. So, that obviously creates a demographic of a reader who would probably be in his or her forties and up, because again, that’s their childhood that we’re talking about.

And the types of things that we’re carrying over from other TwoMorrows Publications and the other one that I edit is a magazine called “Back Issue!” It’s a comics history magazine that largely surveys the history of comics and related culture from the ‘70s forward, but mostly the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The thing that we bring over to this, to Retro Fan, is it’s not just nostalgia, although there is a really healthy dose of nostalgia here. There’s also a level of inquisitiveness. It’s essentially looking at all of this fun stuff that we all loved as kids, and looking at it through the lens of adulthood and whatever wisdom that we’ve garnered.

So, when we do an article about, for example, Lou Ferrigno, TV’s Incredible Hulk; obviously, there will be some basic Hulk questions that are asked of him, but also some other questions about his life and his personality to paint a broader picture of him as a person, beyond just him as the celebrity.

When we look at a certain toy or fad that was there at a certain time, yes, there’s a flashback aspect of it. But then we sort of want to analyze for us as a adults why it happened, why it happened at a certain time, and what repercussions do we experience today.

I wrote a one-page Retro fad article in the first issue, which you’ve read, about Mr. Microphone and as I was really looking back at that, beyond just the cheesiness of the marketing campaign (Laughs) and the fact that those things were so popular during their time, I realized that it was one of the very first mass-produced popular wireless devices and look at our culture today. And then secondly it was perhaps the first very popular device that really put the spotlight on the individual and now we live in an era of people carrying Smartphones and taking selfies, with a certain level of self-interest that has grown out of our attachment to these devices. Taking it back historically, Mr. Microphone was more than just this gimmick that a lot of people bought into. It was really a precursor of things to come.

Samir Husni: Do you feel that the magazines, the printed publications, or the books, are the best reflectors of that pop culture? Can you get that history of pop culture at your fingertips in any better medium?

Michael Eury: Well, I think you can. If you are prone to investigate that level of history, you certainly can, but we sort of do the searching for you and the gathering of the information for this. And also, with the involvement of people who are behind the creation of certain toys or comic books or TV shows; just whenever we do celebrity interviews to get their thought processes involved, I think that adds another layer for the audience as they’re reading the publication. Out of all of TwoMorrows’ publications, the others are largely targeted toward the comic book distribution network, meaning that most people who would buy the publication would either buy it off the stands or order it on a subscription list through their comic book shop or from the publisher itself.

With Retro Fan, we felt that there is an audience out there that is not typed in to that distribution network and by having it newsstand distributed, and it is a riskier and more expensive venture obviously to produce enough copies to distribute them in that fashion, we’re hoping to find individuals who are not connected to that distribution network I mentioned just a moment ago. And presumably you’re one of them, and I have gotten a lot of emails from people who have discovered the magazine on the newsstand, which is very encouraging.

To maybe anticipate a question; will that be enough to sustain its publication on the newsstand for months to come, I don’t know, it’s still too early to know. But it’s something that we felt strongly enough about, because I think there are just thousands of people out there who love the stuff that we grew up with. And we’re trying to find them.

Samir Husni: If you and I are chatting one year from now, what would you hope to tell me about Retro Fan?

Michael Eury: One year from now, I would hope that we are still on the newsstand. I think that in this particular age, as you know and as you are intimating from your questions, print is diminishing. I think that we have seen though that all of the deaf cries of the print medium that we’ve been hearing, and I’ve been in the publishing industry on and off for a good 30 years now, and people have been attempting to bury it for a long time, but it just isn’t quite going away. There are still readers, and perhaps they’re readers of a certain age who are aging and fading away (Laughs), but they still want to hold something in their hands that isn’t an electronic device. Given the demographic that we largely target, I think that our readers are going to prefer a print publication.

A year from now I still do hope that we will have a larger newsstand distributed print presence. If we find that the newsstand sales don’t warrant that cost, I think that due to the very strong reaction that we’ve had to the first issue and the anticipation for the future issues that the magazine will continue, but it would be distributed through the comic book world and through the publisher’s website. And we also publish it in the digital edition, so you can download it as well to bypass the print edition. And some people will do that, even older people who might prefer print, but they’ve got a houseful of books and magazines and sometimes you reach a certain point where there’s no more shelf space. (Laughs) But we’re going to continue to publish it as long as we can.

Samir Husni: I just gave an interview with a publication in South Africa and one of the things that I told them was the war between print and digital is long over, it’s up to the people to decide which platform they want to consume their content.

Michael Eury: I think that’s very well said and it’s very, very true. Print has held on in the past few years, and again, we also agree that the print runs are smaller than they have been in the past, but there still seems to be this balance between the two platforms, digital and print. If you were to talk to me about this 10 years from now, we may be fully digital at that point. I do think that there will be a continuing transition, but it’s not happening as rapidly as some of the doomsayers some 10 or 15 years ago were anticipating.

Samir Husni: I am one of those people who believe that as long as we have human beings we will have print.

Michael Eury: I hope that’s the case. That’s my interpretation as well. I think that someone half my age might disagree with me, but there’s a value to print. To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.

I also understand though that someone who is 20-years-old, someone who has grown up with an electronic device in his or her hand is going to have an obviously very different look at reality and of how they enjoy their information. Anyone that would be of the age of a child or grandchild of mine would have a different perspective more than likely.

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

Michael Eury: The magazine is going to have an eclectic feel. It’s not going to be about one thing. It’s different from the comics history magazine that I edit, “Back Issue!” which is thematically-structured. Every issue of “Back Issue!” is centered around a given theme. And that has provided me editorial structure there. I really like Retro Fan to be more of just a really fun, almost unpredictable, grab bag of content. The second issue has a loose Halloween theme, but that’s a pretty broad subject when you really think about it, especially when couched within the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

In the second issue, which comes out in September, you’ll have an article about the emergence of the horror movie host on television. There will be an interview with Elvira, and then I interviewed one of the sons of the Ben Cooper Halloween Costume company, who for kids of the ‘50s through the ‘80s, they were the number one manufacturer of these inexpensive, vinyl masked costumes that tied in the back, with all of the characters that you would expect from pop culture. From Mickey Mouse to the Six Million Dollar Man, and some weird things in between. Like Jaws – the shark. (Laughs) Anything that was popular in pop culture, you could dress up like for Halloween. So, I interviewed the son of one of the two founders and it has some very valuable insight and a lot of fun information there. And we look back at cartoon shows and such, so there is always going to be an unpredictable factor to the magazine. But a certain level of quality and intellectual curiosity will always be there.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Michael Eury: I’ve never been asked that before, that’s really a challenging question. I would hope that people would smile when they think of me in the future. Maybe through the work I have done with Retro Fan or other publications, because I know at the end of the day, I’m working on magazines and I also write books about comics and pop culture history. Is it the most important thing in the world to record the oral history of a comic book or animation artist? Or write about how the afro became a fashion sensation in the ‘70s? When you compare it to saving people’s lives on an operating table; no, but when you look at it from a broader perspective of just being a nice window into some of the pleasures and interesting things of our past, yes it does have some importance and I’m honored to be a part of this mechanism of recording these stories. So, if people think of me with a smile, wherever I am in the afterlife (Laughs) that will hopefully make me smile as well.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Michael Eury: I probably would be watching a little TV or reading a book. I’m finding now that I am editing a second magazine about pop culture that I’m spending less of my free time immersed in pop culture, because largely what has been my hobby in the past is my vocation, which is a really wonderful thing that a lot of people would wish for. So, it’s a blessing for me I believe, to be able to do this kind of work. I enjoy it. But I’m reading a murder mystery at night now, which has nothing to do with anything I do for my job.

Often, I do watch old television shows and movies, because I have a great appreciation for them. So, sometimes you would find me watching the Andy Griffith Show. I am from North Carolina, by the way, so that is gospel here. (Laughs)

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

Michael Eury: (Laughs) Nothing keeps me up at night, but what gets me up at night is, and I can’t say this without sounding off color, but it’s having to go to the bathroom. (Laughs again) I am a man in my sixties. So, there is that. (Continues laughing) I’m really not that worried about things. I mean, there are plenty of things to be worried about. I could lose sleep at night over hatred; it does bother me when I really think about it. How, after all of the wonderful advances that I’ve seen throughout my lifetime; I grew up on Star Trek, which had this vision of the future where all cultures were working together as one. And you didn’t think about the fact that this person was from that culture or that planet.

We just had the Charlottesville, Va. anniversary and I went to see Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” recently and just to see the level of hatred in this country is something that would keep me up at night, but I think maybe I’m cushioned a bit by the nostalgia and the warm, fuzzy feelings of my youth to not allow it to affect me to my core. But I still carry it with me in my desire to try and be a good person every day and just treat people with respect.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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