Archive for the ‘From the Vault’ Category

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So What Is A Magazine? A True And Tested Definition… From The Mr. Magazine™ Vault.

June 1, 2022

Defining a magazine, to some, is a very mercuric issue. To others, it is a clear cut definition. During some recent readings, I came across this definition from the book Magazines In The United States published in 1956. However, the definition is from 1908.

An issue of The Independent from 1910 for illustration purposes only…

What is a magazine?  A definition from The Independent  October 1, 1908

Early in the twentieth century The Independent, at the time a powerful weekly, could say editorially: “Modern American magazines have to a large extent fallen heir to the power formerly exerted by pulpit, by crowds, parliamentary debates and daily newspapers in the molding of public opinion, the development of new issues, and dissemination of information bearing on current questions.”

The Independent editorial writer expanded his argument by specific illustrations: “The magazine represents intellectual activity in its terminal buds. Its function is to work over old plots into new stories; to rewrite biography and history in accordance with the taste of the time, to resurrect forgotten truths, to make sound information palatable, to convert abstract science into applied science, to throw a searchlight into dark corners of the earth and some spots of our civilization, to start new movements and to guide old ones, to wake up people who are asleep by sounding the burglar alarm, to twist around the heads of those who are looking backward over their shoulders; in short, to inspire, to instruct, to interest.”

Quoted from Magazines In The United States, Second Edition, by James Playsted Wood. Published by The Ronald Press Company, New York.  Page 197.

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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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Magazines Done Well… Lessons From Harold Ross, Founder and Editor Of The New Yorker. From the Mr. Magazine™ Vault.

February 12, 2022

Digital has become an easy scapegoat to killing print.  No one will think twice to look at the real reasons for killing a print product because there is a suspect in the wings waiting to be accused: Digital.  

There is nothing new in the world of magazines and their lifecycle.  There has been always a time to be born, a time to die, and a time to be reborn.  It is the cycle of life.  Almost with every invention of a new medium, the new is blamed for the death of the old.  Remember television, the scapegoat of the 1960s?

Well, digging into my magazine collection, I came upon a two parts article about Harold Ross, the founder of The New Yorker, in 48 The Magazine of the Year from (you guessed it) March and April of 1948.  This magazine was published from March 1947 until June 1948 and was owned by a group of writers, artists, and photographers.

The Harold Ross article “Ross of The New Yorker” was written by Henry F. Pringle, a Pulitzer Prize winner.  “Ross, editor of what many consider the most civilized magazine in this country,” writes Pringle.

He goes on to write, “The New Yorker’s circulation is roughly 300,000 (remember this is 1948), but its influence is just about the editors of the really big magazines like to think their influence is. Not merely does it set fashions; it creates and changes ideas.  It has produced a whole school of writers and cartoonists…”

Ross has shaped The New Yorker “into a legend of taste, wit, and comely prose, a hornbook of the intelligentsia, begetter of literary fashions, and source of profits.”

Here are some of the facts that I have learned about Harold Ross, founder and editor of The New Yorker :

Ross “not only read every line of copy that goes into the magazine but wrangles over practically every one of the 50,000 words that make up the average issue.”

“Three editors, including Ross, read separate galley proofs and make detailed suggestions and queries… Before the article goes to press a fourth editor, a fresh mind, attacks the story and turns in final suggestions.  Altogether there are eighteen working copies of each set of proofs of every article…

This may sound overmeticulous, but out of it comes the extraordinarily high standards of style and reporting in the nonfiction pieces. But it also accounts for a certain singleness of tone, which has caused a former employee to remark, testily, that The New Yorker is written by one first-rate writer with a hundred names.”

48 The Magazine of the Year. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.

“Ross actually admires creative people – this is also is rare among “important” editors – and that is why he has gathered so many of them about him… Perhaps it is inexact to say that Ross admires creative people. Really it is their output, not themselves, he cares about. The make up of the magazine is the clue to his approach to writers:  the lack of anything more than a skeleton table of contents, the unpretentious heading, the overly modest byline at the end of each article.”

Ross and his business department speak to one another about as often as Macy’s does to Gimbel’s. Although in the same building, the editorial and advertising offices are separated by two stories… The editor will brook no editorial interference from the business management; and The New Yorker’s advertisers have sometimes come in for pretty severe handling in its columns.”

48 The Magazine of the Year. From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.

“Personally a conservative, Ross has never allowed his social and political convictions to influence the editorial policy of the magazine.  He complained that all the good writers these days are liberals or radicals; but, if they’re good, he prints their stuff.”

And last but not least, “Ross has never allowed his name to appear on the masthead, declines to read anything written about himself, and protested vigorously, though not unamiably, when told that the present article was in prospect.”

Magazines done right.  That’s my only comment.  What say you?

Feel free to comment or email me at samir.husni@gmail.com

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“This Magazine Idea Will Never Work… And Other Myths…” Reader’s Digest At 100. A Mr. Magazine™ Musing.

January 28, 2022

After more than two years of hearing that his magazine idea The Reader’s Digest will never work, DeWitt Wallace, with the help of his wife Lila Bell Acheson, launched the magazine in February 1922. Today the magazine is celebrating its centennial year with the February 2022 issue… and as Paul Harvey used to say, “and now you know the rest of the story.” Enjoy

A replica of the February 1922 issue of Reader’s Digest that was produced in 1972 to celebrate the magazine’s 50th anniversary. From the Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni magazine collection.

Reader’s Digest is 100, or should I say The Reader’s Digest is 100.  In reality, The Reader’s Digest is 102 years old.  The founder, DeWitt Wallace produced his first issue in January of 1920 and shopped it around with all the major magazine publishers in New York City.  The response was, with no exception, this magazine will never work.  

The mission of The Reader’s Digest, as he called it back then, was summed up on the cover of the magazine and in his very first editorial.  On the cover of the January 1920 issue the concept of the magazine was stated clearly:  

“31 articles each month from leading magazines.  Each article of enduring value and interest. In condensed and permanent form.”

A replica of the January 1920 issue of Reader’s Digest that was produced in 1972 to celebrate the magazine’s 50th anniversary. From the Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni magazine collection.

The manifesto of the magazine was published on the very first page of the magazine.  It read:

The Reader’s Digest:

  1. The easiest way in which to learn something really worth while every day.
  2. Because of its “boiled down” interest and pocket size – the most practical and pleasant means of utilizing old moments.
  3. The one magazine containing articles only of such permanent and popular interest that each issue will be of a great value a year or two hence, as on the date of its publication.
  4. The Magazine of 100% Educational Interest – no fiction, no advertisements, no articles on purely transient topics and no articles of limited or specialized appeal.
  5. The Reader’s Digest in condensing its articles, eliminates the unessential and less interesting “filler” which is found in many magazine articles—often simply that reading matter may accompany the advertisements.
  6. The one magazine that is preeminently worth keeping—and binding—for future reference and enjoyment. If it is desired to remove any article, this is an easy matter, there being but one article on a page.
  7. The biggest magazine value – regardless of price – on the market. You find one or two articles, perhaps, of enduring interest in the ordinary magazine.  The Reader’s Digest contains 31 such articles in each issue – “one a day” – each one a “feature” article digested from some periodical.
  8. The Reader’s Digest believes that a thing really worth reading is worth remembering – which is possible in most cases only if the article is kept for occasional reference in the future.  For this purpose, the numbered sub-heads at the beginning of the articles will be found helpful.  Many of the “popular” magazines are too bulky to preserve – and not worth it for the little good matter which they contain.

Needless to say, all the aforementioned reasons to why The Reader’s Digest is a good proposed magazine, did not convince the major publishing houses in New York City to give it the green light.  Disappointed, DeWitt Wallace decided to give up his idea and shelved the January 1920 issue of the magazine.

In 1921 he married Lila Bell Acheson, a sister of one of his college classmates, and she happened, as the story goes, to see the copy of The Reader’s Digest DeWitt produced.  She loved the idea and convinced her newly married husband to publish the magazine on their own with some financial help from her brother.  The first regularly published issue of The Reader’s Digest came out in February 1922.  A new tag line was added to the magazine, “The Little Magazine.” 

Instead of DeWitt Wallace as Editor alone, the masthead carried four names as editors in the following order:  Lila Bell Acheson, DeWitt Wallace, Louise M. Patterson, and Hazel J. Cubberley.  The issue carried an editorial signed by Lila Bell Acheson in which she showed her skills of condensing the eight points DeWitt Wallace wrote in that preview issue to only four points.  She wrote under the heading A Word of Thanks:

“The Reader’s Digest has been made possible by you, and by other charter subscribers who have responded during the past four months to a letter telling of our proposed plan.

            In behalf, not only of ourselves, but of all those who have felt that the fulfillment of our plan would fill a very general need, we thank you.  Without your advance support – and that of other charter subscribers – this magazine could not have materialized.

            We believe you will find The Reader’s Digest of even greater value and interest than you had anticipated. These features will no doubt appeal particularly:

  1. Thirty-one articles each month – “one a day” – condensed from leading periodicals.
  2. Each article of enduring value and interest – today, next month, or a year hence; such articles as one talks about and wishes to remember.
  3. Compact form; easy to carry in the pocket and to keep for permanent reference.
  4. A most convenient means of “keeping one’s information account open” – of reading stimulating articles on a wide variety of subject.

In 1972, The Reader’s Digest, in celebration of its 50th anniversary reprinted both first issues of the magazine and housed them in a nice blue box with gold ink touting The First Of Fifty Years.   Today Reader’s Digest celebrates its Centennial Issue celebrating the “first of 100 years” with many more to come.

I guess the moto of this story is when someone tells you this idea will never work, take that as a good sign that this idea will not only work, but it work very well indeed.

The Centennial issue of Reader’s Digest Feb. 1922

Congratulations Reader’s Digest and here’s to the next 100 years.

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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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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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A Century Of Treasures And A Call For Action: The American Legion Weekly Jan. 6, 1922. From The Mr. Magazine™ Vault…

January 5, 2022

On this day, Jan. 6, 1922, The American Legion Weekly magazine, then starting its fourth year in publishing, carried an amazing call for action on its cover with the word YOU centered and bold. In it was an urgent call to the ex-service men and women. It stated: “You are the strength of The American Legion. It will be just as strong as you build it… To keep America the way you fought for it to be — America.”

From the collection of Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni collection. The American Legion Weekly, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 6, 1922.

The call for action continues, “No man can doubt our right to speak; for if any man has earned his citizenship, if any man has a first lien upon his country, it is the man who has offered it his life; no man can be more interested in its welfare or more jealous for its future integrity and prosperity.”

Treasures only found in ink on paper magazines… enjoy, reflect, and ponder.

Until my next blog, all the best…

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni

samir.husni@gmail.com

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