Archive for the ‘A Mr. Magazine™ Musing’ Category

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Looking Backward Takes History, Looking Forward Makes History…

October 5, 2022

Magazines: United We Stand; Television, Internet, And Social Media: Divided We Sit. Part Two

Lessons from the past for today’s magazine editors and publishers… “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:9

October 1942, 80 years ago, Harper’s Bazaar was celebrating its 75th anniversary.  On page 32 of that issue there was an ad for Hearst Magazines, publisher of Harper’s Bazaar and seven other magazines back then.  The ad read: 

“Looking backward takes history

For three-quarters of a century, Harper’s Bazaar has brilliantly chronicled, year-by-year, step-by-step, the expanding life of a great nation, the more or less intimate details of burgeoning frontiers in many fields of thought and expression. In similar capacities these seven other magazines of the Hearst Group have reflected in their turning pages, the living history of a people – what they saw and wanted and liked, what they ate and wore and did for a living, what they reasoned and argued about and cared for deeply – as no single historian will ever be able to write it down.  These magazines are an integral portion of the past in the country. No complete picture of that past can really be obtained without consulting them. For they are history.”

“Looking forward makes history

These gratifying records of years of continuous publication and esteemed public service are rooted primarily in the determination and the capacity of these magazines to set the pace. They have made and continue to make history because they accept the challenge of the future – accept it and forecast it and help to shape it. Longevity in magazines is no happen-so, but the carefully considered and earnestly dedicated efforts of their publishers to give them a useful and valiant purpose to contribute workable material to the lives of their readers, to make them an instrument for good in the hands of the people they seek to serve.” Harper’s Bazaar, October 1942, Page 32.

And all what I can add to the above ad is a quote from the Good Book, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

In the first part of this blog I wrote (if you read part one of this blog, you can skip down to Cosmopolitanmagazine, October 1942):

“In 1788, George Washington wrote a letter to Philadelphia publisher Matthew Carey in which he expressed the hope that American magazines would succeed because he considered them “easy vehicles of knowledge” that are “more happily calculated than any other, to preserve the liberty, stimulate the industry and meliorate the morale of an enlightened and free people.” 

John Tebbel, in his book The Magazine In America, commenting on Washington’s letter, noted that magazines were incomparably better purveyors of knowledge than the newspapers of Washington’s time. I agree and would add that magazines are incomparably much better purveyors of knowledge than the internet and social media which, together with television, are becoming the major source of news and information for the people, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.

80 years ago, in 1942, American  consumer and trade magazines led a campaign titled “United We Stand.” Almost every magazine in the country carried the American flag on its July cover and continued with the slogan “United We Stand” until the end of WWII.  This was a coordinated effort by the collective body of magazine publishers of that time.  Unlike  today’s internet and social media, magazines back then were attempting to unite the country, while social media, the internet and television now are allowing the country to live a “virtual civil war” with no end in sight. 

Some of those magazines from 1942 are still alive and kicking. They are still promoting the good things in life, nurturing the many changes that took and are taking place in the country.  For better or worse, magazines and their brands have contributed to the betterment of the country and its people regardless of the prevailing trends.  They were and are innovators, influencers, and educators at the same time.  This is a far cry from what social media is today or what it will be tomorrow.  Indeed, social media, with all its platforms, could be said to be united under one term, “Divided We Sit.”  The majority of magazines adhered to their roles, both social and financial, with great responsibility, unlike today’s social media that only carries the name “social” without any responsibility. In fact, social media is as unsocial as unsocial can be. 

I truly believe that the war of the 1940s was much less dangerous to our country than the “virtual civil war”we are witnessing today.  The magazines of the 1940s united together to help the country stay united and to help the American public survive and thrive in every aspect of  its lives.  What follows are a few randomly selected examples, from the Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni magazine collection, from 1942 of how magazines and their advertisers supported the war effort and helped keep our country united.  The contents and magazine experiences, both in editorial and advertising, were much more than a slogan (“United We Stand”),but rather a way of life and a call to action. 

May the editors and publishers of today’s magazines look at the history of American magazines and  discover  how magazines served their customers first–both advertisers and readers–and never veered from their mission of  editing and publishing for that intended subscriber or newsstand buyer…”

In addition to the aforementioned ad from Harper’s Bazaar above, here is the second set of examples starting in alphabetical order and based on the magazines that I own:

Cosmopolitan, October 1942

In an article by Ralph Barton Perry on page six of the October 1942 issue, he writes, “AN ARMY sergeant remarked after hearing a friend of mine explain where Hitler got his ideas, “That Machiavelli certainly was no cream puff.” He was beginning to see that something was fundamentally wrong with the present state of the world.  As long as two years ago a New Hampshire farmer of my acquaintance, who had been reading the newspapers, said, “Well, I suppose that sooner or later we’ve got to lick that man Hitler; and the sooner we get at it the better.  I’ll be seeing you on the other side.”

“Mr. Average American doesn’t regard war as a picnic or a great adventure: he can think of lots of things he’d rather be doing. But once he is convinced that there’s a job to be done, he’ll do it and he’ll see it through…”

“So when I am asked what sort of world we want, and I try to speak for other Americans as well as for myself, I say that we want a safe world, and a free world, and a just world. We want safety, freedom and justice; we want them for others, as well as for ourselves and we have come to see that we cannot have them for ourselves unless we share them with others in a common world,  All who would live in such a world must fight for it together along the hard road that ascends through the valley of war to the heights of victory.”

As for the ads, the “United We Stand” could easily be seen in the majority of the ads including this one for Pullman (The Greyhound of the 1940s)… The ad reads:

“There’s room for both…IF !

AS THINGS NOW STAND, there are enough Pullman cars to meet all requirements for troop transportation without seriously affecting civilian passenger service IF… civilian travelers cooperate in making capacity use of cars!

Therefore, you help your own cause by following these simple suggestions whenever you make an overnight trip:

  1. Make reservations as early as possible.
  2. Cancel reservations promptly if your plans change.
  3. Ask your ticket salesman on which days Pullmans are least crowded and try to travel on those days.
  4. Take as little luggage as you can.

And you get the “sleep going” that is so important when you have to “keep going” at all-out wartime pace.”

On final note, every ad page in the magazine had a sentence in the folio of the ad-page, “Keep informed – read Magazine Advertising!”

Esquire, July and October 1942

The July 1942 issue of Esquire had not one, not two, but three American flags on the cover. The main flag appeared on the traditional metallic ink section that was a trademark of Esquire’s right hand side of the cover with a list of the contents of that issue on it.  In an editorial on page 6 of this issue, the editors wrote, “WITH this issue we bid goodbye, for the duration to the metallic ink on the front cover.  Appropriately enough it goes out in a blaze of Old Glory, as it frames the flag that is a front cover feature of virtually all the magazines that are on sale the week of July Fourth this year.  Next month, to mark the transition the flag will stay on our cover, but the metallic ink will be gone…”

“At Pearl Harbor… the light of the world flickered dangerously low for a few dark hours.  But ss this is written, to the accompaniment of a broadcast of Gen. MacArthur’s communiqués concerning the results of the first Battle of the Coral Sea, the flame is rising steadily.” 

And in October 1942, Esquire, “The Magazine for Men”, and “the largest selling fifty cents magazine in the world,” continued its United We Stand campaign and Old Glory draped the content on the cover sans the metallic ink.  Old Glory continued to appear on the cover one more issue and it was retired with the December 1942 cover.

As for the advertisers, and there were plenty, they played their role in the United We Stand campaign.  Here is one example from the October issue from the United States Rubber Company. 

“Thanks for the Rubber that Saved his Life!”

“Already in America any one of a million mothers might have written that line.  Planned is an army of six million, many of them destined for overseas.

On every transport there is life-saving equipment for every man… on every plane that flies far over the water there is a rubber boat.  Such essential protection must not be skimped. It is unthinkable…

Precious life will be sacrificed unless each one of us helps. Will you do your part to the utmost limit? Will you take watchful care of your tires and every other rubber product you own so that they will last for the duration of the war?

Field & Stream, July 1942

Field & Stream, like the majority of the magazines, had a painting of the American flag on the cover together with “United We Stand” and “Buy United States War Savings bonds And Stamps.”  What was unlike the rest of the  magazines  was a spread headlined WHAT WE ARE FIGHTING FOR :

“AS long as deep love of country burns I the hearts of our young men, we need not fear the future. The letter which we here publish speaks for itself. We are proud of this letter and proud to print it. It was written by a young student at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, to his aunt in Columbia, South Carolina.”

The magazine published the letter  and followed it with,

“We believe that no loyal American citizen can read this boy’s letter without getting a lump in his throat.  Our country may mean spruce and juniper and high mesas, or it may mean palmettos and cypress swamps.  The important thing is that it means something deep and stirring to all of us.  These are the things for which we will fight.”

On the ad front, an ad on page 84 asking readers to Give to the USO.  Under the heading The War isn’t fought in Fox Holes alone

“It’s fought in the mind. It’s fought with a will to win.  It’s fought with a belief in a cause worth dying for.

That will, that belief, is known as morale.

Our enemies have had years of indoctrination. They have been conditioned to believe themselves part of a “new order”… to which the contribution of their lives is small but important. They believe themselves cogs in a vast machine.

Our soldiers do not fight that way – because they do not live that way. They believe in the sanctity of the individual. They must be treated as persons…

Now above all times, to make your dollars count, give to the USO!

Harper’s Bazaar, October 1942

It’s the 75th anniversary issue of the magazine that was launched in 1867.  An ad on pages 16 f and 16 g for the New York Dress Institute sums the state of the magazine during the United We Stand efforts.  The ad reads: 

“A Woman’s Right of Choice”

“IN TEN SHORT MONTHS we have been hurled into a strange new world – a world battling to determine whether freedom of choice shall survive. As a people, we have cheerfully chosen to restrict our freedoms nowthat freedom itself might live.

ENTHUSIASTICALLY, we are investing our savings in the greatest cause I history.  Eagerly, we have entered into various war works.  Willingly, we have chosen to share our riches with those who share our hopes. For ours is a land of plenty in a very empty world.

IN MAKING SUCH A CHOICE, we have deliberately limited the quantity of many times essential to the war effort. This is as it should be. But, there are other goods and many workers which cannot be absorbed into war industries. These industries must be kept earning that they, too, can contribute their share to the war economy in taxes and bonds…”

And the ad concludes, 

“SO BUY YOUR FULL QUOTA OF WAR BONDS – more if you can. Then, erase every doubt that you are being unpatriotic when you choose fashions to keep you lovely.”

To be continued…

Samir “Mr. Magazine™”Husni

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

Preserving the Past, Present, and Future of Magazine Media

samir.husni@gmail.com

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Protecting Your Brand. A Mr. Magazine™ Musing… From The Vault.

May 10, 2022

The following is a column I wrote for Content magazine back in 2008. Although it has been 14 years since I wrote it, I still stand by every word in it. Enjoy this journey through the Mr. Magazine™ Vault.

Protecting the Brand
Six (plus one) easy ways to know your customer’s customer

Content Magazine Issue 03 Spring 2008

The most essential objective on the mind of any marketing director or head of a company is protecting the brand. This is paramount because companies must ensure their brand is not tarnished. That challenge becomes a huge responsibility on the shoulders for any individuals launching custom publications. If you fail to understand and help promote your customer’s brand in the proper way, the only thing the future holds for you, your marketing director or your media company is disaster. 

There is no better way to protect and promote a brand than by understanding the customer’s customer. Knowing the people your custom publication targets is important to your success as a custom publisher, but success can only be guaranteed if you know the advertisers that are targeting your audience as well. 

One of the simple questions I always ask people is, “Who is your audience?” Without really knowing who it is you are trying to reach, it is impossible to be successful at custom publishing. When I hear clients telling me that “everybody” is their audience, I know they haven’t even begun to do their homework. Before you attempt to create a custom publication, here are six plus one easy steps to consider:

1. Know the brand. This may sound elementary, but if the brand becomes unclear or gets diluted, it will lead to failure of the brand across the board and media outlets. You must know the brand inside out, upside down, forward and backward. It’s not enough to just know the brand you are working with from a marketer’s standpoint. You have to know it from the customer’s standpoint as well. Become a user of the brand, and if you aren’t the target demographic, find someone in your company who is.

2. Humanize the brand. You know the brand front and back; the next step is to make it warmer and more approachable than a concept. Imagine that soft drink, that pair of shoes, whatever product it may be, as a human being. Is it young or old? Rich or poor? Male or female? If you have taken my advice and have worked to know your audience better, then you should be able to identify the exact demographic and psychographic information about the human being that your brand has transformed into. Who does this human being want to have a conversation with? Once you have humanized your brand, it is much easier to create a voice for it. 

3. Identify the voice. By combining the vision and the value of the brand, it becomes easier to create its voice. Is the voice preaching? Teaching? Conversational? Confrontational? Storytelling? You name it. Humanizing the brand isn’t enough. You have to take it further and come to a realization of how to protect the voice of the brand. 

4. Identify the prototype person (if there is such a thing). Now that you have identified the voice of the brand, you need to identify who will be carrying on a conversation with it. A good way to think about it is if the humanized pair of shoes or the humanized soft drink came knocking on the door, would you welcome it in? You have to identify who will respond to the product. It will be easier to pair advertisers with your customers if you know who is involved in this conversation and exactly what they are like.

5. Think of the conversation that will take place. Once you have the humanized brand and the prototype person that will be holding a conversation, you need to think about the conversation that will take place. What will they talk about? Custom publishing has multifaceted goals, from the creation and retention of customers to the engagement of customers. Which of these facets applies? Also, how long will the conversation take?

6. Find the addictive elements of the conversation. What makes the prototype customer ask the humanized brand more questions? What aspects of their conversation make the customer more engaged? Find out what will make that prototype customer come back for more. In this day of brand dilution, not providing your customers with an addictive, exclusive and timely yet timeless conversation will do nothing but make the engagement between the brand and the customer brief. And when that happens, customers have no other choice but to look other places for the conversation they need, want and desire. 

7. And above all, a dash of good luck. Why seven steps and not six? Because I believe seven is a much better number than six. Hope your next project will excel with these easy seven steps.

Until next time… all my best

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

Preserving the Past, Present, and Future of Magazine Media

samir.husni@gmail.com

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

May 3, 2022

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

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

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

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

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

samir.husni@gmail.com

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Newborns And The Life Cycle Of Magazines. A Grandpa Perspective… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing.

May 1, 2022

Today, I am the proud grandpa of seven bundles of joy. The youngest, Sophia, just turned one and the oldest Elliott is now 14. When Michael, my second grandchild, was born I wrote a blog on April 26, 2011 that is as true today as it was 11 years ago… here is a repost of that blog. Enjoy.

I am sure you’ve heard this simile before: “Launching a new magazine is like giving a birth to a new baby.” 

Well, I had the opportunity to put this simile to the test this month, and I promise this will be one of the very few times I bring personal and family issues to the blog. But as long as it is relevant, I figured why not?

My second grandson was born April 8. Baby Michael had difficulty breathing on his own (which meant we all had difficulty breathing). So, for ten days or so, the joys of birth turned into the agony of survival; and that my friends, is what led to this particular topic — the life cycle of new magazines.

When I have heard people use the aforementioned simile, I used to take it for granted. 

However, I gave it a lot of thought during the past three weeks, and decided to compare human life with the life of a new magazine. After all, I have been preaching and teaching the importance to humanize media, particularly print, for years now. Without any further delay, here are the life cycles of a new magazine:

The Joys and Pleasures of Conception
Consider the A-HA! moment when you get the idea for a new magazine and the pleasure you feel, the joy that makes you rush and share the news about your idea with others. It is the same as the pleasures of making love hoping to conceive and have a baby. 

It is the act of conceiving that brings all the joy and pleasure to the couple, the same as the act of coming up with an idea you think is going to be worth a million bucks! Many folks call me or email me daily with ideas they just conceived and want to share the news, seek advice or start the planning process of the “birth” of this new baby. It is rare during this stage that any negative thoughts come to mind. It is all about new beginnings and the joy of the moment at hand.

The Pains of Labor
Giving birth is not as much fun as conceiving. It does not take a genius or even a man to understand that. Women know it and feel it. Giving birth is hard labor, but the pains of labor are an important part of the life cycle of that newborn, whether a human or a magazine. After months of nurturing and tender loving, the time comes to give birth. 

The pains of labor are well-documented and need no explanation. Getting that first issue out, meeting the deadlines and hoping all is A-OK are all part of the life cycle. It is the same with the mother and baby. You have to go through the pains of labor before you are able to enjoy and celebrate the birth, which leads us to the next stage of the life cycle of new magazines.

The Celebration of Birth
While the pleasures of conception may last a few moments, the celebration of birth is supposed to last a lifetime. With a new birth, you are only thinking positive thoughts, happy thoughts. Excitement is in the air and all around you. You are so proud of your new baby, new magazine. 

You check every part of the baby; you check every page of the magazine. In most cases, you are there at the printer waiting for that first signature to come out from the presses. You hold it in your hands exactly like a mother holds the baby for the first time. Birth means celebration. Your future freezes at the present moment and the world gets reduced to your surroundings and the new creature (baby or magazine) at hand. You do not want any interruptions of that moment of celebration. 

Then, as if lightning strikes, reality hits — and all of a sudden, you are not alone. You discover that the joy of celebration is just the beginning to the next step of the life cycle of the newborn — the fight for survival. 

The Fight for Survival
It is a jungle out there. There are so many magazines and there are so many babies in the world. You have to carve your own niche. If the baby can’t breathe on his or her own, your entire world stops. You change course and plans. Your new magazine is out, but now you have to put it in the hands of the distributors. The tender, loving care you’ve given your new creation is no longer in your hands. Someone else is in charge. 

You feel like you are losing control, and the doctors — the distributors — are in charge of that newborn. The baby must fight for survival. The new magazine must fight for survival. 

The big difference here is new babies, thank God, have a much higher survival rate that new magazines. Here is where the similarities end: Survival rate for new magazines is less than two in 10 after four years of publishing. 

Thank goodness for human life. We age much better than magazines, but in both cases we have to start the journey of life.

The Journey of Life

As in any creation, life does not stop at birth. Life continues, day after day, issue after issue. The journey of new magazine launches starts slow, very slow, and progresses as those new magazines try to develop customers who count, thus giving the magazine a long journey in life. 

Folks in our publishing industry now plan their new launches around the 11-to-13-year life span: Three years to establish the magazine and lose money in the process of building the magazine base; four years of solid growth and money making; three to five years of reaching a plateau and one final year to prepare the demise of the publication.

Thank God the journey of life for new babies is not the same as the journey of life for magazines. The simile ends with the beginning of life. The journey, my friends, is a completely different story. Let the never-ending story begins. 

For the record, this blog has been approved by Mr. Magazine Jr.™ and big brother to baby Michael, Mr. Elliott himself.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

samir.husni@gmail.com
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March 8: It’s My Birthday… Reliving The Past

March 6, 2022

March 8 is my birthday. At age 10 I fell in love with magazines. The rest is history. A history that you will read about it soon in the book I am working on The Magazines And I. What follows is part of the book’s introduction. Hope you will enjoy…

The Beginning

Addictions can manifest in many shapes and forms. They take over your life. They can start at any age. Imagine being a 10-year-old junkie. Addicted to something with no control. If you can’t imagine it, allow me to step into your mind and help you envision it. 

In order to help you fully understand, I have to start at the very beginning. I was born and raised in Tripoli, Lebanon. I can vividly recall the two things that really impacted my young life: my dad’s storytelling from the Bible and my grandpa’s reading from it. It’s the only book I ever remember my father telling me stories from, and it made a definite impression on me and how I viewed my life. It was my first interaction with ink on paper and the power it possessed.

The Box of Wonders

In those times, it was safe to go out in the neighborhood and play with friends for hours. We would interact with all sorts of people in the city. One of those people was a peddler who used to ply his wares on the streets of Tripoli. He had a container that was referred to as the “viewer’s box.” It was this big, giant viewfinder, the kind you can still buy today in the toy department at Wal-Mart, only a much, much larger version. The peddler would go around the streets of the city with a monkey sitting on top of his shoulder, and when he came into our neighborhood he would call to my friends and me to “look” into the box. He would have around ten strips inside that would tell a story. The viewer was 3D and had three openings where you could place your eyes to watch, and as we watched the slides click by, the man would verbally unfold the riveting tale while we watched.

After the short show, we would laugh and clap with delight as the monkey would come out and collect the money the man charged for the afternoon diversion. 

These small glimpses, teases, into a world of visual and verbal stimulation, would be a slight spark in a very young boy’s life that would grow to an inferno when that boy became a man.

Remembering that long-ago afternoon with the peddler’s homemade viewfinder now, I realize that that was the moment in time when I learned that the visuals can make the story. The entire tale he shared with us was based upon the pictures. 

And I suppose that was the very beginning, the first pebble that would put me on the road to my destiny. 

The Man of Steel

In 1962, we had just gotten our first television set. It was a large brown box with an oval-shaped screen that only showed pictures in black and white. In the 1960s, television in Lebanon was not available 24 hours a day. The first programming started at 6:30 p.m.  The first hour was reserved for children’s programming and then the rest of the programming was for adults, and went until 10:30 or 11:00 pm. By no means did television rule or dictate your day.

What mainly attracted us (my friends and I) to the children’s programming, were these characters: Mighty Mouse, Popeye, and Casper. Then, when I was 10 years old, we started seeing advertising touting the phrase: “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Superman.”

It was a new magazine. Back then, in Lebanon, we called all the comic books magazines. The combination of the ad and the storyline was so fascinating. It made all the kids where I lived – in a 10-apartment complex – say, “Wow, I need to see this!”

When the magazine hit the newsstands, I knew I had to have it. Back then, my allowance was 40 cents a week. The magazine cost 40 cents. It was fate.

When I held the magazine in my hands for the first time, ran the pads of my fingers across the shiny cover, I felt an indescribable sensation that felt similar to an adrenaline rush. At that moment, I truly believe I was ordained, my life’s path had been chosen before I was born and at the age of 10, I was at last privy to a glimpse of my future; that day, my heart stopped pumping blood and began to pump ink.

The most important facet of the “Superman” transformation to me was the fact that it was my magazine. Mine. It wasn’t borrowed. No one was going to read it to me and not finish it. I would be able to absorb it, cover to cover, at my leisure. That was what was mesmerizingly unbelievable to me.

Without even knowing where all this would lead, or even what it really meant at the age of 10, I began the journey. I think the transformation unwittingly molded me into the person I am now as an adult: one of those people who believe it’s not as important to see the end destination as it is to be on the right track. You have to be on the right track, even if the bright path before you narrows into a dark, small tunnel. If you are, then God will make sure your end destination is beyond your wildest dreams.

And I think that’s what put me on the right track – the fascination that suddenly I was in control of the show and tell, of the story, of the imagination, of everything. 

The Art of Show & Tell

Before too long, I was designing and creating content for my own little creations. Crayon and marker magazines that became my escape into a world foreign, yet so vivid and familiar, it was as though I had known it from the womb.

Little did I know that addiction starts out this way, it was such an extreme that I would get so immersed in reading that I could not even eat without a magazine at the table next to me. I could not drink without a magazine next to me. That is, until I got married and the magazine was banned from the breakfast table or the lunch table.

I was always reading. If I was on a bus, I was reading a magazine. If I was walking down the sidewalk, I was reading a magazine. It was as though I couldn’t function normally if a magazine wasn’t with me. Addiction at its best (or worst, however you might look at it).

A funny story – I don’t know if it was funny at the time – but my dad used to be a foreman in a refinery in Tripoli, Lebanon,  and there was a private beach on the Mediterranean for the employees’ children. Every summer, a bus would run hourly and collect the employees’ children and their friends, and then bring them back home in the evening. It was approximately a 15-minute ride to the beach. One time, on the way home from the beach, I was so engrossed in reading a magazine that I was paying no attention to my surroundings and assumed that the bus had reached our apartment. Unlike the U.S., buses operated with their doors open and without seatbelts of any kind, this was the 1960s after all. As I continued reading my magazine, I stepped off the bus at what I believed to be my apartment stop. The problem was it was not my apartment stop and the bus was still in motion when I stepped off. 

Addiction or Fascination

I remember the incident vividly, as if it were yesterday, it was like something was restraining me, pressing back against my body and then fast and hard, it pushed me all the way down against the asphalt. Boom, gone. I woke up in the hospital. I saw my mom and the first thing I asked for was my magazine. I don’t know if the accident messed up my brain that day, but it seemed a good sign that the obsession, the addiction, the gift, or whatever you want to call it, clearly was in full force by that age. 

I wish I could say that after I grew up I changed my habits, but I remember as an adult, driving from my office when I was working at a newspaper, reading and flipping through a magazine that was lying on the seat next to me, not paying any attention until the sounds of car horns alerted me to look up and I realized that I had almost driven into a utility pole. At that point, I promised myself I’d never again read a magazine when I was driving. I started putting the magazines on the back seat instead of the front, but like any promises an addict makes to himself, it only lasted a week or two.

After the first issue of Superman came out, everyone was fascinated with the “Man of Steel” and the flying cape. Still to this day, I remember hearing rumors of people trying to jump out of windows when Superman first appeared on the scene. There saving grace was that they lived on the first floors of their buildings. 

As Superman became more popular, it also increased in price. And something major happened 19 weeks later when issue 19 came out on June 11, 1964. It came with a gift – a Superman emblem that you could stitch to your shirt. But as with most magazines, when something like that happens, the price is increased. The price for that issue was 70 piasters, and of course, my allowance was 40 piasters. I could not buy the magazine immediately. I asked my dad for another 30 piasters. I told him it was to buy my Superman magazine and he said he wasn’t going to give me money to waste on paper, and that I didn’t need that “stuff”; little did he know that I needed that stuff very badly. Nothing can stand between an addict and his addiction, much less a little thing like money.

In Lebanon, there were grocery stores on the corner every few blocks, one of which was located directly across the street from my apartment. You could buy sugar, milk, coffee, magazines, newspapers, and other items on a daily basis – it wasn’t a time when you could do all your shopping for the week at once. The owner of the store kept a little notebook where he would compile a tab of your family’s groceries that you would settle with him at the end of every month. One afternoon as I entered the store, my pockets 30 cents shy of the amount I needed for the issue, I wondered how in the world I was going to get that special copy without the rest of the money. I walked up to the owner.

“I would like my Superman magazine, please,” I told him, my mind churning with ideas on how I was going to pull this one off.

“The price for this issue is almost double, 70 ,” the owner said.

“Just put it on my dad’s tab,” I told him.

The minute the words flew out of my mouth, I knew there was no taking them back. And I didn’t even want to. I had to have that issue.

Needless to say, my dad saw the cost of the copy on his bill at the end of the month and I got punished with a good spanking. But…I still got my magazine.

It is Physical

I soon realized that it was the actual, physical presence of the magazine itself that grabbed me more than the content of what I was reading. Even at that young age, I knew there was more to it than just Superman. I felt that no matter how much I loved the Man of Steel, I loved the idea of the magazine more, holding it, reading the story, flipping the pages incessantly. Because I was really not as fascinated by the superhero himself as all my friends were, it was very easy for me to move on from getting every issue of Superman to getting other new magazines. I began to buy first issues of others. At that stage, it was still all comics.

Once I had a little more allowance, if I saw a magazine that I liked, I would buy it. In junior high, I used to watch my friends buying a Pepsi and a piece of cake during recess, but I would hold my 50 cents because I wasn’t going to waste it on Pepsi. I could at least buy something lasting, a magazine. That fascination was always there. I became obsessed with buying first editions. It was like some higher power put me on this track, one issue at a time. And it’s funny, when I remember sitting down to compare and evaluate those magazines, I would compare all those first editions and daydream about cover stories and what they were going to be. At that time, I was completely convinced that what I had found was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Along with my magazine addiction, I also revered education. I remember my early childhood, crying at the door, wanting to go to school with my sister and brother. I still remember on my own first day, I ran out of my new class trying to find my sister’s class. I was fascinated by the idea of school, but even more fascinated with creating my own imaginary class. I would create exams and tests for imaginary students that I would grade. I would create grade books for those imaginary students. I would lecture about different topics, and I would hold discussions with students on how they could enhance their grade. 

Today, those childhood practices seem eerily familiar.

So it begins

When I finally came to the realization that I could not buy every magazine because I didn’t have the funds, I started trying to find little jobs. In high school, I even befriended the wholesaler in town, so I could see the magazines before they were distributed that morning.

One day the wholesaler said, “Kid, why don’t you go on to school and start coming here in the evenings? I will let you see what magazines we are going to distribute in the morning and I’ll let you buy them from here.”

I was like a kid in a candy store. To be able to get the magazines before anybody else in town, the night before, regardless of the magazine, was utopia to me. 

To be continued…

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center: To preserve the past, present, and future of magazine media.

samir.husni@gmail.com

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“Cover Testing” Is Nothing New In The Magazine Media World… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

January 24, 2022

In the 1990s I wrote a column for Folio: magazine entitled Double Vision: The Split Covers Trend. Little I knew then, that the split cover trend was anything but new at that time. I was reminded of my column when I saw Woman’s Day utilizing a split cover with its most recent issue.

For its Jan/Feb issue the magazine utilized a split cover. One with the traditional nameplate and the other with a very small Woman’s Day and a big Celebrate nameplate. In addition, a skyline cover line is missing from one of the two covers. Take a look:

But, as I mentioned earlier, cover testing I found out, is nothing new. Digging through my magazine collection I found two examples dating as far back as 1955 and 1963 respectively. Good Times, the Samuel Roth magazine, tested two different cover pictures with the same cover line, while Sexology magazine tested a new name Personal with the exact same cover lines. Take a look:

In short, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to magazines and magazine media. What’s new is the ability to dig through the treasure of those printed magazines and show case them to help preserve the past, present and future of the magazine media (more on that at a later date).

As always, I welcome any comments, corrections, additions to this blog entry or any other blog entires on the Mr. Magazine’s™ blog or website. Until the next entry, go buy a magazine or two and enjoy the experience that only magazines can provide. All the best,

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

samir.husni@gmail.com

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Reader’s Digest, The Ring, Better Homes & Gardens, Harvard Business Review & The Magazine Antiques Join The Magazine Media Centennial Club. A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

January 17, 2022

Celebrating The Magazine Media Centennial Club… Mr. Magazine™ Identifies 54 Magazine Media Brands That Are Now 100 Years or Older.

How many media brands you know of are celebrating at least one hundred years of existence? Four magazines join the magazine media centennial club this year: Reader’s Digest (started Feb. 1922), The Ring and The Magazine Antiques that were also started in January of 1922, and Better Homes & Gardens which started as Fruit, Garden And Home in July 1922, and Harvard Business Review that celebrates its centennial in October of this year.

I have compiled a list of 54 magazine media brands that are at least 100 years old. Some are even 200 years plus. To be included in my list the magazine must still be published in print and is still available for the general public to subscribe to it or to buy it on the newsstands. All the magazines listed are United States of American based and published magazines.

Here is what I call the Magazine Media Centennial Club in alphabetical order:

Magazine Name Year It Was Founded

  1. American Cinematographer 1920
  2. American Legion 1919
  3. Architectural Digest 1920
  4. Barron’s 1921
  5. Bed Times 1917
  6. Better Homes & Gardens 1922
  7. Billboard 1894
  8. Bowlers Journal International 1913
  9. Cosmopolitan 1886
  10. Farm Journal 1877
  11. Forbes 1917
  12. Good Housekeeping 1885
  13. Harper’s 1850
  14. Harper’s Bazaar 1867
  15. Harvard Business Review 1922
  16. House Beautiful 1896
  17. National Defense 1920
  18. National Geographic 1888
  19. New Jersey League of Municipalities 1917
  20. Philadelphia magazine 1908
  21. Popular Mechanics 1902
  22. Popular Science 1872
  23. Progressive Farmer 1866
  24. Reader’s Digest 1922
  25. San Diego magazine 1886
  26. Scholastic 1920
  27. Scientific American 1845
  28. Signs of the Times 1874
  29. Scout Life (Boys Life) 1911
  30. Scouting 1913
  31. Success 1897
  32. Successful Farming 1902
  33. Sunset 1898
  34. The Atlantic 1857
  35. The Crisis 1910
  36. The Furrow 1895
  37. The Magazine Antiques 1922
  38. The Nation 1865
  39. The New Republic 1914
  40. The New York Times Magazine 1896
  41. The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1792
  42. The Progressive 1909
  43. The Ring 1922
  44. The Rotarian 1911
  45. The Saturday Evening Post 1821
  46. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1893
  47. The Watchtower 1879
  48. Town & Country 1846
  49. Vanity Fair 1913
  50. Variety 1905
  51. Vogue 1892
  52. Westways 1909
  53. Writer’s Digest 1920
  54. Yachting 1907

I welcome any additions, notes, or corrections regarding my attempt to document the Magazine Media Centennial Club. Feel free to email me at samir.husni@gmail.com Last update Jan. 28, 2022

Until next time, join me wishing Reader’s Digest, The Ring, The Magazine Antiques, Harvard Business Review, and Better Homes & Gardens a happy 100th birthday and Success magazine a happy 125th birthday. Onward and forward.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

samir.husni@gmail.com

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A Magazine Is Worth 1,000 Websites: A Mr. Magazine™ Celebration Of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Memorial Day. From The Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni Magazine Collection.

January 16, 2022
Jet magazine. Issues from 1953 to 1969. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022 will be observed on Monday, Jan. 17. As a magazine person, the only way I know how to celebrate any event, holiday, birthday, is through going into my boxes of magazines and finding reasons to celebrate. MLK’s birthday is no exception. I am working on my collection of pocket magazines of the 40s, 50s, and 60s of the last century. Pocket magazines are the little tiny magazines (4×6) that were inspired by the mini devotional magazines like Daily Word and The Upper Room and were made popular by Fleur Cowles who helped launch Quick magazine in 1949. More than 70 other titles followed Quick, including but not limited to Jet, Tempo, Focus, Picture Week, and many others.

For this blog I searched my collection of pocket magazines and decided to showcase my collection of African American pocket magazines and the magazines that carried African Americans on their covers back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s of the last century. It should be noted that Quick magazine (1949 – 1953) carried 10 covers from its 200+ covers with African American on their front page.

Quick magazine (1949 -1953). The African American Covers. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.

Join me on a pictorial journey in time as we look at those covers and keep in mind if it is not ink on paper, it is not a magazine.

The Negro Review, then the New Review 1954. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni
The variety of African American magazines that were published in the 50s. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.
A Pocket Celebrity Scrapbook magazine celebrating Nat King Cole and Lena Horne. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.
Tempo magazine’s solo African American cover in my collection. Tempo was launched June 8, 1953 that was launched right after Quick stopped publishing on June 1, 1953. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.

Until the next blog, be sure to head to a newsstand near you and pick up a magazine or two. You will be living and holding history in your hands, one magazine at a time. All the best…

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

samir.husni@gmail.com

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From Content Providers To Experience Makers In Seven Easy Steps… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing.

December 3, 2021

Almost every magazine and magazine media company today has a Chief Content Officer and Chief Revenue Officer.  I think those media companies need to have a Chief Experience Maker instead.  Don’t misunderstand me, content is important. I will venture to say revenue is even more important.  However, if you are in, and plan to stay in, the magazine media business, you will need to, without delay, appoint a Chief Experience Maker.

Magazines have always been experience makers. Take a look at some of the titles of the “mini pocket magazines” of the 1950s. Experience making at its best. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

What role does the Chief Experience Maker play?  Here are my seven steps to change from a content provider to an experience maker:

Step 1:  Know your audience. Let me be clear: really know your audience.  We live in the digital age; that means the audience data is at your fingertips.  Study the data, make it priority number one.  Find out everything and anything about the audience your brand is going to engage with and carry on a long-lasting relationship.  Audience first means your audience is your customers. Customers always want to be heard, whether right or wrong, so study and analyze the data. Experience makers are matchmakers.

Step 2:  Humanize your magazine media brand.  Your brand needs to be much more than ink on paper or pixels on a screen.  Your brand needs to be humanized, i.e., having the magic touch that changes the brand to a living breathing human being.  If your brand is a human being, who will it be?  What type of person will it be?  Determine the voice, the values, and the vision that person has in mind.  People engage with people.  It will make the experience much easier to start, continue and last for a good amount of time.

Step 3:  Create and curate habitual addictive content that is edited, vetted, and presented in a time and energy saving manner.  This is where the editor, a good editor, is needed to combine the creation with the curation. As I always advise my clients and anyone else who is willing to listen, “If your audience can find the information on Google, that piece of information does not belong in your magazine media.”

Step 4:  Focus on what I call the MVP of the magazine media business:  meet and exceed the audience expectation, validate all the information, and preview the near future to them.  Achieving that expectation through the creating and curating will help you take a step in the right direction of becoming an experience maker.

Step 5:  Make sure that your content is relevant to the audience, necessary to the audience, and on top of it all, sufficient to the audience.  Your audience should not need another brand or platform to finish, fulfill, or lose themselves in that experience.  No one would enjoy a movie if you keep asking them every few minutes to change from theater 1 to theater 3 and then back to 1 or 4.

Step 6:  Once the aforementioned steps are secured, you can start with step 6:  Dating your audience.  No relationship or experience exists in vacuum, and in order to start an experience or a relationship, you need to think about it as if you are dating.  Start with one date, then another, and once the relationship develops, you are ready now for your engagement, and long-lasting partnership.  The experience making is just starting.

Step 7:  What is an experience without a dash of luck?  Well, you always need that dash of luck in any relationship and in any experience.  So, here’s some good luck wishes to you and yours. We look forward to a great magazine media experience making business that only the Chief Experience Maker can deliver.  Are you ready?  

So, what are you waiting for?  Go for it, you can easily be the Chief Experience Maker.  Good luck!

Questions or comments, feel free to reach out to Mr. Magazine™ at samir.husni@gmail.com

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What If Digital Was First And Print Became The Revolution? A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

November 19, 2021

What if… 

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

What if I tell you that regardless of what area you’re interested in, I can save you time, money, effort, energy, and provide you with all the information you want at your fingertips? What if I tell you that I can save you an entire week of Googling and digitally searching and sifting through all kinds of information to give you what you’re looking for? 

What if I tell you that there’s an invention that will put all the information that you’re looking for at your fingertips at a fraction of the cost that you would pay for an iPad or an iPhone or any other smart digital device? 

What if I tell you that this invention needs no batteries, no electrical connections, no solar power; nothing whatsoever except your hands to activate its power? What if I tell you that this new device is portable; it will fit in your purse or your coat pocket and you can take it anywhere with you? You can engage with it without worrying about losing power or anything else. 

What if I tell you that with this device you can mark it, clip it, tear it, read it and use it at your own pace? What if I tell you that this device is so innovative that it can surprise you with even more information than you originally wanted to know about? It will not only give you what you need and what you want, but also will give you things you didn’t know you needed or wanted. 

What if I tell you that once you engage with this device, you will have the time of your life because you’ll lose yourself, you’ll escape into a world that immerses you? There will be no popup moments; no uninvited content, everything in this device will be coherent and relevant, necessary and sufficient. 

What if I tell you that this device will become a longtime friend, something that you have been anticipating forever? So enough with the What Ifs, I can tell you now that this device is already here and it’s called a magazine? You can name the subject that you’re interested in and you will find a title on that topic with this new device, this magazine. It will answer and provide everything you’re looking for on that subject matter and so much more.

Is it a dream of the future? Lucky for you, no it’s not. It’s actually something current; something that is now and available. So what are you waiting for? Head to the newsstand, pick up a magazine, sit down and enjoy. Then let me know your thoughts on what if magazines were not invented until after the digital age…don’t you think print would start a revolution?

Mr. Magazine™ sits, reading a magazine, and waiting on your response…

Until the next time…

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