Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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For The Love Of Magazines And The People Who Make Them. Mr. Magazine’s™ Two New Books Are Out…

August 18, 2015

Inside 150-4 This week I received the first, hot off the press, copies of my two new books: Inside The Great Minds Of Magazine Makers, published by the Magazine Innovation Center, and printed by Trend Offset; and Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First, published by CQ Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, Inc. and co-authored with two of my colleagues Debora Halpern Wenger and Hank Price.

Practicing what I preach, I sat down with the two books and read every word as if I am the customer and not the author. And, if I may say so, it was a delight. So if you are interested in acquiring either of the two books or both of them, please find below the instructions to do so.

Managing Today's News Media 150-1 Inside The Great Minds Of Magazine Makers can be ordered directly from the Magazine Innovation Center by sending a check or money order for $100 to: Magazine Innovation Center, The University of Mississippi, 114 Farley Hall, University, MS 38655. The book will be shipped to you priority mail, signed by the author if you wish me to do that. For more information about the book click here.

To read more about Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First click here and to order a copy click here.

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July’s Magazine Launches Big, Very Big On Book-a-zines…

August 6, 2015

July 2015 showed strong numbers for new launches, mainly book-a-zines, with 81 titles hitting newsstands; 11 with frequency and 70 specials targeted just for our reading pleasure. Many of the new magazines are promoting the positive and trying to eliminate the negative, which in Mr. Magazine’s™ opinion, has been long overdue.

From The Netherlands’ “Remarkable” and “happinez” to First Descents’ “Out Living It,” people all over the world are putting their best foot forward and looking to the future as something bright and welcomed, rather than an unknown entity out to swallow us up in its unmitigated darkness.

Feel free to check each and every new magazine and book-a-zine arriving on the marketplace last month. Click here to see them all. And see below the latest charts comparing July 2015 to July 2014.

Chart One: Magazine Launches July 2015 vs. July 2014
July 2015 v 2014 pie graph

Chart Two: New Magazine by Category: July 2015 vs. July 2014
July 2015 v 2014 top categories bar graph

Until next month, pick up a magazine or two and enjoy.

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The ‘Take’ On New England’s New Culture – Brought To You By A Magazine That Defines It – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Michael Kusek, Publisher & Lauren Clark, Editor – Take Magazine. A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story.

August 3, 2015

A Mr. Magazine™ Interview.  Photo by Jared Senseman.

A Mr. Magazine™ Interview. Photo by Jared Senseman.

“The biggest challenge has been, with certain people, to counter this belief that print is on its way out, rather than saying that print is evolving. In our Kickstarter video and with people who have these mindsets, we sort of describe ourselves as being the modern magazine. And that what’s going to be interesting is not whether it’s print or digital. We have a print edition and an online edition that work together. You can get certain information from our online source that doesn’t translate into print, like video and audio, and you can get information through our print edition, such as really beautiful photography, stories that demand to be on the printed page, that doesn’t translate digitally. And that’s where this industry is going; print is not going away.” Michael Kusek

“It’s exciting to see your work in both formats, (print & digital) but in different ways. Having said that; I’m not sure how to describe to you how it’s different. I guess the web is more immediate and it generates that immediate, sort of social media response. But seeing your byline in print, on the printed page, it’s like your work is going into a permanent record. And I would think a lot of writers would say the same thing. It’s thrilling in both places for those different reasons.” Lauren Clark

take_001_cover_FINAL Bringing New England’s new culture to a passionate and diverse audience is the mission of Take magazine. From dance to art to theatre to food; Michael Kusek, publisher and Lauren Clark, editor of the magazine, due to debut its first issue in September 2015, are both very determined to make this the ink on paper place to be for people who want to be in the know about New England culture and each state’s distinctive “take” on that enlightenment.

Recently, I spoke with both Michael and Lauren about the upcoming September launch and the conception of the actual idea for Take. Michael took me on an eight year journey of how the magazine was born. From the initial thought way back when (2008) before publishing as we once knew it plummeted into the depths of despair, to a few years later when things once again began to pump up a lung and breathe again.

This is a story of passion and belief in a dream’s concept, so much so that the individual almost wills it into being. Michael is a man filled with that passion and the belief that a magazine that covers the entire New England area, not just one particular section, has a place on the marketplace reserved just for its uniqueness.

And Lauren is a woman with as much passion about the magazine as its publisher and the right person to complement the publication’s leader.

It’s a win/win situation and a total team effort, from designers to photographers, writers to salespeople. It’s a magazine conjoined with its digital counterpart, yet celebrated for its very different “take” on content that just doesn’t seem to be right for the web. It’s a great read and a visual extravaganza. And of course, there are so many twists you can create with the word “Take” that one can’t help but be fascinated by it.

So, sit down and “take” 15 minutes or so to read this new magazine’s contemporary “take” on New England culture; it’s sure to enlighten and entertain you. And “take” my word for it; you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Kusek, Publisher and Lauren Clark, Editor-In-Chief, Take magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

Michael Kusek and Lauren Clark. Photo by Dominic Perry.

Michael Kusek and Lauren Clark. Photo by Dominic Perry.

On why it took Michael eight years to actually launch Take magazine:
That’s a good question. When I started I was working at an alternative newsweekly here in western Massachusetts. I had made plans then to leave and start Take magazine, but I decided to go on a vacation first and was traveling overseas when the entire U.S. market went into the toilet. I came back and that’s when so many magazines were folding and it didn’t seem like a great time to go out and seek investors, so I put it on the backburner for a little while, until it looked like the industry was changing and getting a bit healthier.

On whether Lauren thought he was out of his mind when he asked her to be the editor of a print magazine in today’s digital world:
At first I said, wow, that’s really exciting. Yes, I’d love to be involved. And then as we started really talking about it and it became more serious, I thought to myself, is this idea crazy? (Laughs again) But the more I looked at a lot of the things that Michael just told you, and the more we talked together; he really helped to enlighten me, because like a lot of people nowadays, I do read a lot of things online. But I also still read print.

On the concept of Take and what Michael is trying to accomplish with the magazine:
Take magazine is a publication about culture-makers who live in the New England area. So, unlike your standard “arts” magazine that would just cover, say, fine art or maybe just theatre; we’re taking a really broad look at culture in the region. And that includes things like fine art and theatre, but it also includes design, food, literature and dance; just many areas of cultural interest.

On how Michael came up with the name “Take” for the magazine:
It’s simply our “take” on things. It’s our lens on the creative community here in New England.

On whether Michael’s decision to cover the entire New England area was a business or editorial one:
It was a little of both. We can really talk about how we’re tackling it from the editorial side. Having worked for a very regional, localized newspaper that covered three counties and had a small arts magazine that covered western Massachusetts; I saw the limitations in audience, in terms of the business side. But the other part of that was the last sort of all-New England-magazine to launch was in the late 80s, early 90s, at least from my research; I haven’t been able to find anything any later than that time frame and it was New England Monthly.

On the process Lauren used to put together the first issue of Take which will launch in September:
Some of the content will be updated material from the prototype, but the first issue is a much bigger one that that. The first things we do are try to get stories from a diversity of disciplines and from every state in the region. So, we want content that has geographic diversity and disciplinary diversity. We need a designer from Rhode Island; we need a writer from New Hampshire, so that’s how I’m planning every issue, sort of making this grid of how do we cover the entire region so that everybody in New England feels like this is their magazine.

On how Lauren decided what the cover of the premier issue should be:
Well, we were actually thinking about having six covers at first, to represent each state. (Laughs) But that was just a little too ambitious for the first issue. So, we decided on three different covers instead. We had some terrific feature stories that had fantastic imagery.

On the biggest stumbling block Michael faced after starting the magazine and how he overcame it:
I think one of the biggest challenges has been that people have bought into this idea that print is dead or print is on its way out. And these are things I’ve heard from potential advertisers and certainly from some potential investors. They’re skeptical about the future of print. And that has been the biggest challenge because for somebody who’s in it, you can look at all of the great independent magazines that are coming out and you can see that there are a lot of dynamic things happening from all of the legacy publishers of magazines as well, and you wonder where that mindset comes from.

On where Lauren feels more accomplished in her work, online or in print, or is it the same experience for her in either format: I think it’s the same. It’s exciting to see your work in both formats, but in different ways. Having said that; I’m not sure how to describe to you how it’s different. I guess the web is more immediate and it generates that immediate, sort of social media response. But seeing your byline in print, on the printed page, it’s like your work is going into a permanent record.

On what makes Lauren tick and click and motivates her to get out of bed in the mornings: The amount of work I need to get done. (Laughs again) The amount of tasks that I have to do and the people I need to get in touch with; articles I have to assign. That’s the nuts and bolts, but I’m attached to this project because I think Michael is the guy to do it, frankly. And I’m not the only one who thinks that either. He has a really good intellect about these sorts of things and he has a super professional and personal network and he’s very persuasive. (Laughs)

On what makes Michael click and tick and motivates him to get out of bed in the mornings:
I’m an incredibly lucky guy and I work with an amazing group of people every day. And I’m so lucky that when I was putting things together, I had this dream team in my head, and when Lauren and I met and became friends, there was that epiphany one time where I just turned to her at a party and said you have to be my editor. And I’m so happy that she agreed.

On who Michael thinks the magazine’s audience is and how he defines Take’s team when it comes to delivering the best of New England’s culture to that targeted group:
I think that’s really our audience; our audience is really a New Englander first and our audience is somebody who works in the creative economy and secondarily are people who are cultural consumers and I think that if you add those groups together, you have a sizably potential audience for this as a magazine. And who are we, the people who are going to bring it to you? I think at the core it’s really our amazing staff of people who work on Take.

On anything else Michael would like to add:
Viva print!

On anything else Lauren would like to add:
We want to get the people in New England to think of themselves as New Englanders, not just “I’m from Providence,” but “I’m from New England” and there’s a lot of great contemporary culture in the region to explore and they don’t have to take the train to New York to see great culture.

On what keeps Michael up at night:
It’s making sure that my staff is taken care of and that we have the resources to keep moving forward.

On what keeps Lauren up at night:
What keeps me up at night is the haunting feeling that I need to have more information coming out of New Hampshire. (Laughs)

And now the lightly edited transcription of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Michael Kusek, Publisher and Lauren Clark, Editor-In-Chief, Take magazine.

Samir Husni: Why did it take you eight years to launch Take magazine?

Michael Kusek: (Laughs) That’s a good question. When I started I was working at an alternative newsweekly here in western Massachusetts. We had started a small regional magazine and I saw what we had done there and I was getting ready to end my time with them and that was at the very end of 2008.

I had made plans then to leave and start Take magazine, but I decided to go on a vacation first and was traveling overseas when the entire U.S. market went into the toilet. I came back and that’s when so many magazines were folding and it didn’t seem like a great time to go out and seek investors, so I put it on the backburner for a little while, until it looked like the industry was changing and getting a bit healthier.

In that period of time, the iPad was born. And everyone was going to buy millions of magazines on their iPad. (Laughs) And it was that mindset that got me to look at the magazine again. I had gone back into doing public relations and communications, which had been my professional background for a very long time. But I began to look at the magazine again and at a different source of revenue for it, and while that hasn’t necessarily worn itself out, it definitely got me back into the swing of trying to start Take magazine. So, this was sort of my little side project for a number of years.

At the beginning of 2014, I was sitting with a business consultant friend of mine having a beer and he asked me when on earth are you ever going to start the magazine that you’ve been talking about trying to start for a very long time, and I said to him that I would love to start it except I’m having a horrible time trying to write the business plan. So, he pulled together a group of people and helped me write the business plan over the course of last spring and summer.

In that period of time, I had been talking with Lauren about being my editor-in-chief when we started to get some seed money to make things happen. And then in the fall of 2014, we created our prototype and soft-launched it in January 2015.

So, to make a long story longer, there have been lots of years of research and watching the market and deciding that now was exactly the right time to start it.

Samir Husni: Lauren, when Michael approached you about becoming the editor of a print magazine, did you ask him was he out of his mind?

Lauren Clark: (Laughs) No, not at first.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Lauren Clark: At first I said, wow, that’s really exciting. Yes, I’d love to be involved. And then as we started really talking about it and it became more serious, I asked myself, is this idea crazy? (Laughs again)

But the more I looked at a lot of the things that Michael just told you, and the more we talked together; he really helped to enlighten me, because like a lot of people nowadays, I do read a lot of things online. But I also still read print. And what we’re doing with Take magazine is pretty specific for a pretty targeted audience and a specific topic, which I think lends itself pretty well to print, so I’m onboard with that.

Samir Husni: Michael, tell me the concept of Take; what are you trying to do with the magazine?

Michael Kusek: Take magazine is a publication about culture-makers who live in the New England area. So, unlike your standard “arts” magazine that would just cover, say, fine art or maybe just theatre; we’re taking a really broad look at culture in the region. And that includes things like fine art and theatre, but it also includes design, food, literature and dance; just many areas of cultural interest.

This is a region rich with people making things and there wasn’t one cohesive publication that covered this entire region. And our goal is to be that magazine that ties everything that is happening here altogether.

Samir Husni: And what is the background on the name “Take?” One of the hardest things for people who are starting a new magazine to come up with is the title. How was the name “Take” conceived?

Michael Kusek: It’s simply our “take” on things. It’s our lens on the creative community here in New England. And the other part of the reason I chose Take is as a marketer, as a person who comes out of marketing and communications, there are about a million different ways that you can use the word “take” to generate a hook and to generate interest.

Samir Husni: You mention in the intro of the prototype issue, the pilot issue from January, that it’s the entire area of New England. And while I know that regional magazines are doing much better than the general interest magazines, was that a business decision or a reflection of the editorial content and you felt that the rest of us all over the country didn’t have a need to read about the culture of New England? (Laughs)

Michael Kusek: (Laughs too) It was a little of both. We can really talk about how we’re tackling it from the editorial side. Having worked for a very regional, localized newspaper that covered three counties and had a small arts magazine that covered western Massachusetts; I saw the limitations in audience, in terms of the business side. To develop a critical mass of readership, I needed to think bigger when we were looking at the business plan.

But the other part of that was the last sort of all-New England-magazine to launch was in the late 80s, early 90s, at least from my research; I haven’t been able to find anything any later than that time frame and it was New England Monthly. New England Monthly was late 80s, early 90s and was very successful. It was kind of a Harper’s/Atlantic, but for the whole region. And that was also based here in Northampton where I am.

New England Monthly’s footprints here in western Massachusetts, even though it hasn’t been around for a long time; it’s footprints still has some influence here today, and I think that also got me to look, from a business sense, at the entire region.

Samir Husni: Are you still on target to launch the first issue in September?

Lauren Clark: Yes, our first issue is at the printer now.

Samir Husni: Lauren, tell me about the process; how did you put together that first issue? Did you sit down with your team, alone, or with Michael; what was the conception mode of the content of the first issue?

take_001_cover_FINAL2 Lauren Clark: Some of the content will be updated material from the prototype, but the first issue is a much bigger one that that. The first things we do are try to get stories from a diversity of disciplines and from every state in the region. So, we want content that has geographic diversity and disciplinary diversity. We need a designer from Rhode Island; we need a writer from New Hampshire, so that’s how I’m planning every issue, sort of making this grid of how do we cover the entire region so that everybody in New England feels like this is their magazine; so that the creative people in New England feel like we really are covering the entire region and all the cool stuff that’s going on throughout all the New England states.

So, that was the starting point. Then it was just a matter of tapping into a lot of the really talented contributors that are in this region. We have a photo editor who helps us out from the Boston area and he knows people all over the region. So, we had some great photography, fantastic writers, which a lot of them started out writing for us on the website.

And we have writers from all over the region. We have some great ones in Rhode Island, in Maine and Vermont, some people out of Boston; we’re trying to get the contributors of our content to be all over the region as well. It’s really important to us to not just be Northampton-centric or Boston-centric, but to really spread ourselves out content and contributor-wise.

Samir Husni: And how did you make the decision about what went onto the cover of the premier issue?

Lauren Clark: Well, we were actually thinking about having six covers at first, to represent each state. (Laughs) But that was just a little too ambitious for the first issue. So, we decided on three different covers instead. We had some terrific feature stories that had fantastic imagery. And we featured some original artwork from one of our feature subjects, the artist Eben Kling, who lives in Connecticut, so that’s one of our covers, original artwork by him and it’s just fantastic.

And the other two are photographs from our photo editor, Izzy Berdan. So, it’s going to be exciting when these covers come out, because people are just going to kind of randomly get whatever cover they get and they’ll be able to compare their issue with somebody who received a different cover.

Samir Husni: Michael, what has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve had to face since actually starting the magazine and how did you overcome it?

Michael Kusek: I think one of the biggest challenges has been that people have bought into this idea that print is dead or print is on its way out. And these are things I’ve heard from potential advertisers and certainly from some potential investors. They’re skeptical about the future of print. And that has been the biggest challenge because for somebody who’s in it, you can look at all of the great independent magazines that are coming out and you can see that there are a lot of dynamic things happening from all of the legacy publishers of magazines as well, and you wonder where that mindset comes from.

Some of the people we connect with a lot, such as some of our younger contributors, even people on our staff here at the magazine are all very much into analog. They buy vinyl, they like photographing with film cameras, and they also buy books. And we see that.

The biggest challenge has been, with certain people, to counter this belief that print is on its way out, rather than saying that print is evolving. In our Kickstarter video and with people who have these mindsets, we sort of describe ourselves as being the modern magazine. And that what’s going to be interesting is not whether it’s print or digital. We have a print edition and an online edition that work together. You can get certain information from our online source that doesn’t translate into print, like video and audio, and you can get information through our print edition, such as really beautiful photography, stories that demand to be on the printed page, that doesn’t translate digitally. And that’s where this industry is going; print is not going away.

That’s always been the biggest challenge, particularly when it comes to us accessing resources to grow as a business.

Samir Husni: Lauren, where do you value your work more? Do you feel that you’ve accomplished more when you see your work in print or when it’s in a digital format or is it the same thing for you?

take_001_cover_FINAL3 Lauren Clark: I think it’s the same. It’s exciting to see your work in both formats, but in different ways. Having said that; I’m not sure how to describe to you how it’s different. I guess the web is more immediate and it generates that immediate, sort of social media response. But seeing your byline in print, on the printed page, it’s like your work is going into a permanent record. And I would think a lot of writers would say the same thing. It’s thrilling in both places for those different reasons.

Samir Husni: Lauren, what makes you tick and click and motivates you to get out of bed in the mornings?

Lauren Clark: (Laughs) The amount of work I need to get done. (Laughs again) The amount of tasks that I have to do and the people I need to get in touch with; articles I have to assign. That’s the nuts and bolts, but I’m attached to this project because I think Michael is the guy to do it, frankly. And I’m not the only one who thinks that either. He has a really good intellect about these sorts of things and he has a super professional and personal network and he’s very persuasive. (Laughs)

And the rest of the people on our team feel the same way and they’re all talented in their backgrounds. And some of their backgrounds are not necessarily conventional when it comes to working on a magazine, but that kind of puts them in a better position to react and be flexible to anything that’s thrown their way in this start-up.

Samir Husni: And Michael, what makes you tick and click and motivates you to get out of bed in the mornings?

Michael Kusek: I’m an incredibly lucky guy and I work with an amazing group of people every day. And I’m so lucky that when I was putting things together, I had this dream team in my head, and when Lauren and I met and became friends, there was that epiphany one time where I just turned to her at a party and said you have to be my editor. And I’m so happy that she agreed.

It’s the people that I work with. And it’s an incredible amount of work; it’s an always-on type of proposition; you always have to be on and working. We soft-launched in January and received 200 pitches, and 400 people went to our website within a month and said that they wanted to freelance for us.

We just sent our first press release out at the beginning of July. We really went public with this whole idea and we’ve been able to sell close to 600 subscriptions, just in terms of people coming to our website or responding to what we’ve been putting out on social media. With every event we do, people are genuinely excited and this is a project. I get very little negatives, such as this is never going to work. People are just overwhelmingly positive and what to see this happen and that gets me out of bed in the mornings. I know we’re on the right path.

Samir Husni: That’s great. One of my new books coming out in the middle of August is called “Audience First” and I’m reading your last paragraph in the prototype’s publisher’s letter and you say: I believe that there’s an audience out there for a new, well-written and beautifully designed magazine on paper about New England. I think we’re just the people to bring it to you. Tell me who is that audience and who are you?

TAKE cover-1 Michael Kusek: That audience is culturally adventurous people and that audience member is a person who is not only interested in what’s happening in their hometown here in New England, but they have a willingness to hop in their car and drive around to see who else is in the rest of the neighborhood.

I think that’s really our audience; our audience is really a New Englander first and our audience is somebody who works in the creative economy and secondarily are people who are cultural consumers and I think that if you add those groups together, you have a sizably potential audience for this as a magazine.

And who are we, the people who are going to bring it to you? I think at the core it’s really our amazing staff of people who work on Take: my editor, my photo editor and our art director and our web guy; we just have an amazing team. It’s our circulation people who are helping us out; it’s our sales folks. So far this year, we’ve probably worked with almost 50 different freelancers from all over the region and we’re finding them to be as equally committed to us and very excited about this idea of bringing a new look to New England culture. And I think that team may look small on the masthead now, but that team is actually just going to grow larger over time.

Samir Husni: Are you still planning on 10 issues per year?

Michael Kusek: Yes, we are.

Samir Husni: Any final “take” you’d like to add about anything we’ve discussed or haven’t discussed? Pun intended. (Laughs)

Michael Kusek: (Laughs too) Viva print! That’s my final thought on magazines.

Samir Husni: Indeed.

Lauren Clark: My final Take would be it’s just something about New England. As I said at the beginning of my editor’s letter, yes, New England’s new culture is a “thing.” We want to get the people in New England to think of themselves as New Englanders, not just “I’m from Providence,” but “I’m from New England” and there’s a lot of great contemporary culture in the region to explore and they don’t have to take the train to New York to see great culture.

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

Michael Kusek: (Laughs) What keeps me up at night? When I do stay up at night it’s usually because I’m exhausted. (Laughs again) No, it’s making sure that my staff is taken care of and that we have the resources to keep moving forward.

Samir Husni: And Lauren?

Lauren Clark: What keeps me up at night is the haunting feeling that I need to have more information coming out of New Hampshire. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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

July 30, 2015

From Lebanon With Love.

From Lebanon With Love.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Blog 8-8

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

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

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

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

International Blog 5-5

International Blog 4-4

International Blog 3-3

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International Blog 1-1

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

International Blog 12-12International Blog 11-11International Blog 10-10

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

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A Revival In the Business of New Magazine Launches… The First Six Months Of 2015 Official Mr. Magazine™ Numbers

July 1, 2015

Contrary to what you may have read or seen in some media reports, the growth in the magazine industry is not done, in fact the opposite is true. So here is my tally of new magazine launches for the first six months of 2015 compared with those from the first six months of 2014. Chart one compares the numbers of the first six months, chart two compares the number of the June launches, and chart three compares the different categories from June. (I do have each and every one of those magazines in my possession. Nothing gets coded, counted, or scanned unless I have a physical copy of the magazine).

While the numbers are down by 5 magazines in the frequency titles, what is worth noting is that every major magazine and magazine media company has launched a new magazine during the first half of 2015. A first in a long long time. And the same holds true for the publishers of bookazines. It’s a very good sign indeed when the big players are taking note of the power of print once again and breathing new life back into their ink on paper entities. Some magazine and magazine media companies are putting out three to four new bookazines on a weekly basis.

So, the numbers are good, the health of the industry is good and the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to look like the light and not the train coming…

So here are the charts comparing the first six months, followed by the June charts, and a few magazine covers of the last six months.

Chart One
New Magazine Launches First Six Months 2015 and 2014

Picture 7

Chart Two
Magazine Launches in June 2015 by Numbers

Picture 5


Chart Three
Magazine Launches in June 2016 by Category

Picture 6

And for your eyes only, here are some of the recently published new magazines. To see the entire set of new magazines please visit my sister blog www.launchmonitor.wordpress.com

Ballistic-7BigLife-24Bugout-12Catster-6Dogster-7Enjoy Every Day-6Organic Life-5Parents Latina-3Simple Grace-5Smithsonian Journeys-1Tapas-12National Geographic History-7

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Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor: A Very HOT, HOT, HOT May…

June 2, 2015

May turned in some very serious numbers for 2015 – 28 new titles with frequency & 53 specials – 81 new magazine launches total. An absolutely beautiful way to kick off the upcoming summer months. And from every indication Mr. Magazine™ has; it’s going to be a sizzling-hot summer for magazines and magazine media.

May showed us once again print’s stamina and its ability to showcase content the way no other media can. Frequency titles tempted us to sit back and relax with everything from tips on genealogy to 3D printing. And the special issues were just as entertaining and diverse; from the party of the year; Vogue’s Met Gala, to American’s Most Notorious Criminals – and no, none on that list attended the Gala; at least, I hope not.

Check the numbers below and click here to see each and every new magazine cover on the Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor.

Chart Number 1: New Magazines May 2015 vs. New Magazines May 2014
Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 10.35.07 AM

Chart Number 2: New Magazines by Categories May 2015 vs. New Magazines by Categories May 2014
Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 10.35.28 AM

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Mornings With Jesus Magazine Joins Guideposts In ‘Guiding’ The Way Spiritually; A New Launch From The Folks Who Brought Hope And Inspiration To Millions – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With John Temple, President & CEO, Guideposts

June 2, 2015

“The industry has gone through some peaks and valleys. I can remember when some of the people, where I serve on the board; some of the people there would say well, print is dead. We have to shift to digital; we have to get out because of postage and paper and all of these kinds of things. We don’t have to do that anymore. People understand that there is a very valuable role for print. And people like the tactile feel. In my view, print is never going to go away. It’s never going to go away.” John Temple

The Mr. Magazine™ Reports from the IMAG conference.

A prototype cover of the new magazine Mornings with JESUS.

A prototype cover of the new magazine Mornings with JESUS.

In a world oftentimes filled with frenetic and spiraling conflicts, cataclysmic happenings and mayhem in general, it seems natural and spontaneous that people would begin a quest for a more peaceful and even-keeled existence, where life becomes more inspirational and there is a meaning and a method to the madness. And one place the masses are turning to for that piece of spirituality and comfort is magazines and magazine media. The trend is becoming one of the most popular in the industry today and with good reason.

For 70 years Guideposts has been leading the pack when it comes to content that is encouraging, uplifting and inspirational and the brand shows no sign of slowing down now, with the upcoming launch of a new magazine in the wings and a deep commitment to both their print and digital platforms. My own memories of Guideposts date back to 1979 when my first feature writing professor in the United States, Ben Peterson, was one of the magazine’s senior editors. I was able to learn a lot about Guideposts, the magazine, first hand from him, and until now, my learning about this inspirational magazine has never ceased.

So, during the IMAG Annual Conference, which took place May 18th to 20th in Boulder, Colorado; I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with John Temple, president and CEO of Guideposts, to talk about the magazine and the brand. From the spiritual movement which seems to be sweeping the land and the magazine industry, to the strategy Guideposts is implementing to fulfill and keep up with its audience’s needs; John and I talked the spectrum about the magazine, the brand and the new launch: Mornings with Jesus. It was as informative a discussion as the conference itself was. I thoroughly enjoyed John’s take on the subject matter and was excited to hear about yet another new title we can all welcome into the fold.

So, sit back and be inspired and encouraged by the Guideposts brand, which has been providing those comforts for generations as you read the Mr. Magazine™ reports from the IMAG conference with John Temple, President & CEO, Guideposts.

But first, the sound-bites:


IMG_6730 On his opinion about the sudden spirituality trend in magazine media:
I think the country is changing. The country is getting older and the baby boomers are getting older, so they start thinking about things that maybe they didn’t think about when they were young and building careers and having children and all of these kinds of things. I think there’s a natural progression to faith and religion and some of the other things. It may manifest itself in different ways because people aren’t so much going to church as they used to. But I don’t think that they’re any less spiritual than they were.

On his strategy for leading the company in today’s digital world:
In my view, this is the best of all times. I’ve been in this business a long, long time and I’ve never seen the opportunities so great for companies like ours, media companies, content companies, inspirational and religious companies, because we can now use the digital environment to build communities and talk to different groups in ways that we could never do it before.

On how he plans to double the company’s digital revenue: We’re going to do it really by leveraging digital and brands and making sure that we use a lot of the digital content and the digital audiences that we have. We have 800,000 people on Facebook, and they really are our friends, and yet we don’t do anything with them now. We don’t tell them about anything that we’re doing.

On the launch of the new title, Mornings with Jesus:
When I came back two years ago, they had this book that they had created in 2010 called Mornings with Jesus, it was daily devotionals. And I looked at it and I said wow; I love that brand. It’s a tremendous brand. And you can just see a young mother in her kitchen, the sun’s shining through, she’s got a cup of coffee there; the kids have gone to school; she hasn’t gone to work yet and she opens up this magazine called Mornings with Jesus. And it’s just really, really powerful.

On the fact that the company is moving toward a more Christian perspective, rather than the Judeo-Christian views the brand was founded upon:
The reason for that is we haven’t left the Judeo-Christian point-of-view with Guideposts and others, but we’re broadening the reach. So, we’re reaching into people who want a little more than what we had provided, because there’s a connection there, a kind of funnel. You bring in a whole bunch of people through Guideposts and the faith and inspiration, but as you go down the funnel there are people who want more and more of the religious component. So, we’re providing that.

On whether the new magazine, Mornings with Jesus, will be ad-free:
It’s going to be ad-free for a while. We have to see how this thing is going to work and we’re going to grow it organically.

On the new title’s circulation base: We’re looking for 100,000 at the end of the fiscal year within the next 12 months. But we’re going to do a lot of testing.

On whether he sees today’s market as a return to the ‘power-of-print’ days:
Absolutely. The industry has gone through some peaks and valleys. I can remember when some of the people, where I serve on the board; some of the people there would say well, print is dead. We have to shift to digital; we have to get out because of postage and paper and all of these kinds of things. We don’t have to do that anymore. People understand that there is a very valuable role for print.

On the major stumbling block he’s had to face and overcome since becoming CEO of Guideposts:
The digital component has to sit at the same table with print; it has to. So that when you talk about a new idea; it isn’t just a print idea, it can be a digital idea or a digital handprint as well. And that’s the biggest task, to get people to understand that and kind of unlearn old habits.

On what keeps him up at night:
I do worry; I’m taking such a big transformation risk and I’ll kind of wake up in the middle of the night and ask myself, am I right? Do I really have the vision right? I do worry a little about that.

And now the lightly edited transcription of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with John Temple, President & CEO, Guideposts.

Samir Husni: Suddenly, there seems to be a resurgence of spiritual-like magazines. We saw this recently with Simple Grace and the many bookazines about Jesus, Mary and the Bible. Of course, Guideposts has been doing this for 70 years or so. What do you think about this trend? Is the country changing; is the overall mood changing, or are people simply looking for some kind of relief?

John Temple: Yes, I think the country is changing. The country is getting older and the baby boomers are getting older, so they start thinking about things that maybe they didn’t think about when they were young and building careers and having children and all of these kinds of things. I think there’s a natural progression to faith and religion and some of the other things. It may manifest itself in different ways because people aren’t so much going to church as they used to. But I don’t think that they’re any less spiritual than they were.

The other area which I find very exciting is the new millennials. These people are coming along and they have a commitment; a social commitment; a spiritual commitment and it’s not manifested in the same old ways, but it’s there and I have great hopes for that generation, and for the changes that they’ll bring about in this country.

Samir Husni: How do you think Guideposts is adapting to all of these changes? Is it benefiting from these changes, especially since we now live in a digital age and you’re reaching both the millennials and the baby boomers? What’s your strategy; how are you leading the company now in this digital age?

IMG_6731 John Temple: In my view, this is the best of all times. I’ve been in this business a long, long time and I’ve never seen the opportunities so great for companies like ours, media companies, content companies, inspirational and religious companies, because we can now use the digital environment to build communities and talk to different groups in ways that we could never do it before.

Samir Husni: And you mentioned in your speech that you’re hoping to double your digital revenue; how are you going to do that?

John Temple: We’re going to do it really by leveraging digital and brands and making sure that we use a lot of the digital content and the digital audiences that we have. We have 800,000 people on Facebook, and they really are our friends, and yet we don’t do anything with them now. We don’t tell them about anything that we’re doing. We’re launching this new magazine next month and we’re going to tell them; we’re going to say hey, come to the Guideposts website because we have a new magazine that we think you would really be interested in. So, there’s going to be a lot of cross-fertilization between digital, promotion and print and just everything else that we’re doing.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me a little bit about the new magazine?

John Temple: It’s called Mornings with Jesus. When I came back two years ago, they had this book that they had created in 2010 called Mornings with Jesus, it was daily devotionals. And I looked at it and I said wow; I love that brand. It’s a tremendous brand. And you can just see a young mother in her kitchen, the sun’s shining through, she’s got a cup of coffee there; the kids have gone to school; she hasn’t gone to work yet and she opens up this magazine called Mornings with Jesus. And it’s just really, really powerful.

And what we’ve found is the test results are spectacular. They’re just wonderful. And we’ve tested some outside lists and things like that and it’s going to lists that we don’t normally mail. We tested a whole bunch of different ideas; we tested the donor’s campaign; we tested the fundraising club and we tested the magazine; all three of them worked.

Samir Husni: With Mornings with Jesus; you’re taking the company one more step toward Christianity, rather than the Judeo-Christian principles that were what Guideposts was based on.

image.aspx John Temple: That’s very astute. Yes and the reason for that is we haven’t left the Judeo-Christian point-of-view with Guideposts and others, but we’re broadening the reach. So, we’re reaching into people who want a little more than what we had provided, because there’s a connection there, a kind of funnel. You bring in a whole bunch of people through Guideposts and the faith and inspiration, but as you go down the funnel there are people who want more and more of the religious component. So, we’re providing that.

Samir Husni: And is it going to be ad-free, or are you going to be depending on advertising, circulation and digital?

John Temple: It’s going to be ad-free for a while. We have to see how this thing is going to work and we’re going to grow it organically. We’ll see about ads as time goes on.

Samir Husni: Any idea about the circulation?

John Temple: We’re looking for 100,000 at the end of the fiscal year within the next 12 months. But we’re going to do a lot of testing. So, within the next year we’ll know where this magazine is going.

Samir Husni: Any newsstands or just subscriptions for now?

John Temple: Not yet, just subscriptions.

Samir Husni: So, I need to know how to get my copy then. (Laughs)

John Temple: (Laughs too) We’ll send you one.

Samir Husni: It seems that suddenly we are seeing almost every media company in this country going back to print. How has your experience been with Guideposts; it was one of the largest magazines in the country and I’m sure you suffered when everybody else suffered. So, are you seeing the power of print coming back now?

John Temple: Absolutely. The industry has gone through some peaks and valleys. I can remember when some of the people, where I serve on the board; some of the people there would say well, print is dead. We have to shift to digital; we have to get out because of postage and paper and all of these kinds of things. We don’t have to do that anymore. People understand that there is a very valuable role for print. And people like the tactile feel. In my view, print is never going to go away. It’s never going to go away.

Samir Husni: Since you became the CEO of Guideposts; what has been the major stumbling block that you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?

John Temple: The major stumbling block was, as I said in my speech today, was to really get people to understand about digital. And I used the expression ‘infused Guideposts with a digital soul’ which really means putting the digital component into the DNA of the company. The digital component has to sit at the same table with print; it has to. So that when you talk about a new idea; it isn’t just a print idea, it can be a digital idea or a digital handprint as well. And that’s the biggest task, to get people to understand that and kind of unlearn old habits.

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

John Temple: (Laughs) I just get very excited about everything. I wake up in the middle of the night and I have things on my mind and I just can’t go back to sleep. And some of my best ideas come at 3:00 a.m.

But I do worry; I’m taking such a big transformation risk and I’ll kind of wake up in the middle of the night and ask myself, am I right? Do I really have the vision right? I do worry a little about that.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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