Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor: A Healthy First Quarter And Second Quarter Opens With A Bang…

April 5, 2015

The first quarter of 2015 ended with 191 titles – down 19 titles from the 210 titles appearing in the first quarter of 2014. The largest drop were the titles published with the intention to appear at least four times a year on the nation’s newsstands. The total of new magazines with frequency in 2015 was 45 titles compared to 61 titles in 2014. As for the specials and book-a-zines, the numbers almost ran neck-to-neck with 2015 producing 146 titles compared to the 148 titles from 2014. To see each and every magazine launch click here.

The first chart below illustrates the total number of the titles, average cover price, average subscription price, average number of advertising pages, and average number of pages of the new magazines.

The second chart below compares the top 10 categories of the new launches in 2015 to those in 2014.

Chart One:
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Chart Two:
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And A strong start for Second Quarter:

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The month of April is still in its infancy, but three major new launches are already on the nation’s newsstands with a fourth one arriving soon. Meredith was the first publisher to introduce the quarterly Parents Latina, National Geographic Society followed with the bimonthly National Geographic History, and Bauer Publishing with the monthly Simple Grace. Rodale is getting ready to launch Organic Life in ten days. A strong start for quarter two of 2015 and a good sign of a healthy and hefty spring ahead… and by the way, did I fail to mention that all these new launches are magazine launches, as in ink on paper launches? I guess March showers are indeed bringing in April flowers!

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March New Magazines: A Solid Month For New Titles…

April 2, 2015

The numbers are in for the month of March and they look good. Not as good as March 2014 but as a whole it was a good month for new magazines. Almost two out of every three titles arriving at the newsstands today are either a special issue about a specific topic or a book-a-zine. To see each and every new title arriving to the newsstands for the first time click here.

The first chart below illustrates the total number of the March magazines and how they compare to the previous year. The second chart shows the top ten categories in new launches.

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New Magazine Power By The Numbers: February 2015 Compared To February 2014. A Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive

March 15, 2015

I’ve always said that the vivacity and life’s blood of the magazine industry is in its new launches, as in ink on paper new launches. There is nothing, be it human or otherwise that can continue its species without new birth. And that certainly applies to ink on paper in every way.

The very essence of growth and sustainability is within the confines of creation itself. And Mr. Magazine’s™ Launch Monitor was born from that idea. It is the nursery window where proud parents and relatives or friends of the family can stand and admire the beauty and potential of each newborn ink on paper at their leisure.
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For the year 2015, I have added a new feature to the Launch Monitor: monthly comparisons. From the Top 10 categories to the Average Cover Price – each month will have the numbers for 2015 and 2014 for you to parallel and consider. The numbers will speak for themselves and the information will be available along with the usual new magazine launches and their covers.

The methodology for this new feature is simple. I am a student of the newsstands. I visit the newsstands almost daily and hunt for new magazines. Every new magazine I find I buy. Once bought, my staff code the magazine, scan the cover and add to my 30,000 plus collection of new magazines. I also depend on the folks launching new magazines and mailing me their first issues. If I do not have a physical copy of the magazine it is not in the statistics. Having said that, I am sure that I do not have every single new magazine. So please treat the aforementioned numbers as the minimum number of new launches.

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I hope you enjoy this new feature and I hope it brings another detail of our fascinating world of magazines into a clearer focus and understanding, because it’s a given; we can’t know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been…

It goes without saying that I have each and every one of the magazines posted on the Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor and remember my soon to be trademarked phrase “If It Is Not Ink On Paper, It Is Not A Magazine.”

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The Doctor Is In As Physicians’ Life Magazine Gets Ready To Launch – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Peter Slack, President of Slack Incorporated, Publisher of Physicians’ Life… A Launch Story

March 11, 2015

“The nature of this publication is we want physicians to spend some time away from their practice, getting away, relaxing and curling up with something. And that’s what print does.” Peter Slack

PhysiciansLifecover A lifestyle print magazine targeted for the busy, sometimes stressful world, of clinical practice; Physicians’ Life offers a respite to the maddening world of medical for those overworked men and women who choose to dedicate their lives to others. The magazine aims for a place where doctors can escape from their offices and patients for a while and enjoy getting lost in a world of travel, exercise and connection with other professionals just like themselves. And not only does it aim; it hits its mark quite well.

I have met Peter Slack, president of Slack Incorporated and publisher of Physicians’ Life, and we clicked from the first time we met. In fact, we clicked so much that he hired me to be a publishing consultant on this new magazine launch. So here you have it, truth in reporting, I am a paid consultant for Physicians’ Life but that did not stop me from having a frank conversation with Peter Slack about this new magazine venture. It is a story of a new launch and no one can explain it more than the publisher of the magazine.

I spoke with Peter recently about this brave new world called consumer magazines. Slack has been publishing B to B magazines for years, but this is their first endeavor into the world of consumerism. And while the target audience is physicians, the advertisers won’t necessarily be from the pharmaceutical and health-care worlds. Physicians’ Life will play more toward the affluence of doctor hood, with travel, fashion, auto and luxury being a prime mark for advertisers.

Peter and I talked about the risks; the rewards, and the expense of such a project as this, but he noted that a print component in the consumer world was a very natural extension of what Slack is already doing, and a superb way to grow their market.

So, sit back and relax, the doctor is in and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Peter Slack, President of Slack Incorporated, Publisher of Physicians’ Life…

But first the sound-bites:


Wyanoke-aOn whether he is out of his mind to launch a print magazine in this digital age:
No, I don’t think we are out of our minds. I think it’s a great idea and we’ve done our research. All along the way with our research, we were prepared to change our minds and say no. But the results kept coming back as green lights, and the red lights didn’t pop up.

On why his company is making the move to the consumer side of magazines:
The way it came about is the leadership of our company got together about two years ago and we made the statement that we’re a very healthy company; we know what we’re doing in the professional healthcare media space; what more can we do to expand our company, because if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward in the business climate today.

On what he envisions his major stumbling block to be and how he plans to overcome it:
The major stumbling block for us is that we’re privately held and we did not go and get outside financing for this publication. We’re still funding it in-house. We’re fortunate that we do have a lot saved up since we spend our money very judiciously. We’re not a public company; we’re not floating a bond and we’re not going to a VC (venture capitalist), so we have a limited budget to do this and it’s a very expensive project.

On his most pleasant moment so far:
The pilot issue came out in early January and we took copies with us to a meeting we had of ophthalmologists in Hawaii. I took several of them (ophthalmologists) aside and gave them copies of the pilot issue and to man, every single one said, “This is tremendous and much-needed. You guys are on the right track.”

On what he expects the next year to bring:
A year from now I hope to tell you that physicians are reading it and advertisers are embracing it.

On why he decided to go with a print publication for consumers:
The nature of this publication is we want physicians to spend some time away from their practice, getting away, relaxing and curling up with something. And that’s what print does.

On the doctors sharing with doctors tagline of the magazine:
Doctors are unique people, just as any professionals are, but doctors do respect each other. They’ve gone through the same schooling and we’ve learned over time that doctors enjoy hearing from other doctors.

On what keeps him up at night: There is so much opportunity right now in healthcare publishing, with the different platforms: print, online, mobile and there’s a lot of substandard information out there because it’s so easy for almost anyone to put information online. What keeps me up at night is making sure that we’re intelligently approaching that opportunity in the most aggressive way that we can and that we’re not missing the boat.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Peter Slack, President of Slack Incorporated, Publisher of Physicians’ Life…

Samir Husni: Are you out of your mind launching a print magazine in this environment that we live in; one where you hear nothing but gloom and doom?

Peter Slack: (Laughs) I knew you’d start with a good question. No, I don’t think we are out of our minds. I think it’s a great idea and we’ve done our research. All along the way with our research, we were prepared to change our minds and say no. But the results kept coming back as green lights, and the red lights didn’t pop up.

And we’re not the only people launching new publications right now. It’s seems like the time is right for this one.

Samir Husni: You’re an established media company that is specialized in B to B magazines; you have a lot of specialty magazines aimed at physicians and all kinds of people in the medical and healthcare field; why are you making the move to the consumer side?

Peter Slack: That’s a great question. The way it came about is the leadership of our company got together about two years ago and we made the statement that we’re a very healthy company; we know what we’re doing in the professional healthcare media space; what more can we do to expand our company, because if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward in the business climate today.

So, I challenged our upper leadership to come back with new ideas that could either be within our current comfort zone or outside it. And the idea of a consumer magazine came back from our chief financial officer, Darrell Blood, whose fiancée is a physician, and he made a strong argument that the time was right for someone who knows physicians and knows what they’re all about, to put together a publication that would meet their needs outside of the daily practice.

And yes, this is outside of what we do, but it’s related to what we do, because what we do 24 hours per day, every day of the year, is we work with physicians. That’s what we do and what we know, and we listen to their lives, both professionally and outside of what they do in their clinical practices.

When Darrell brought up the idea and said that he’d heard about the stresses that physicians were under when he’d attended cocktail parties and dinners with his fiancée and her colleagues; well, we’d been hearing these same things at our editorial boards and dinners that we’d been going to for several years from doctors that we knew very well.

So, yes, we know our marketplace well; we know the professional healthcare publishing world well, and we’re thankful that we’ve done well and continue to do well. But we’re looking for new ways to grow our company. And this seems like a natural fit.

Samir Husni: What do you envision to be the major stumbling block through this consumer journey and what do you plan on doing to overcome it?

Peter Slack: The major stumbling block for us is that we’re privately held and we did not go and get outside financing for this publication. We’re still funding it in-house. We’re fortunate that we do have a lot saved up since we spend our money very judiciously. We’re not a public company; we’re not floating a bond and we’re not going to a VC (venture capitalist), so we have a limited budget to do this and it’s a very expensive project.

We’re fortunate also in that we have around 40 advertising sales reps that sell to the professional marketplace, to pharmaceutical and device companies, and our editors are professional editors in creating professional, peer-reviewed publications and newspapers for physicians and other healthcare practitioners. None of us on the advertising sales side or the editorial side really fully understand the consumer marketplace, or the lifestyle marketplace and so one of the best things that happened to us is we went on a search to find out who could help us and we discovered the James G. Elliott Company in New York and they’ve brought great resources, on both the research side to prove the concept, they introduced us to you, Samir, and you have helped us and consulted with us along the way in this new kind of arena, and you introduced us to Beth Weinhouse who has turned out to be a Godsend on the editorial side.

The Elliott Group are professionals and they know how to reach the luxury marketplace; the consumer marketplace; the affluent marketplace which physicians fall into. Samir, you’ve helped us with the overall consulting of magazine publishing versus professional healthcare publishing, and Beth has jumped in and given us just what we needed to develop the editorial.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment so far, since you’ve launched the pilot issue and until the launch of the first issue; what was the moment that made Peter Slack think: Wow!

Peter Slack: The pilot issue came out in early January and we took copies with us to a meeting we had of ophthalmologists in Hawaii, it’s a meeting every year of about 1,000 ophthalmologists, and we know them very well; we’ve been in ophthalmology forever, so we know many of them that attend extremely well.

So, I took several of them aside and gave them copies of the pilot issue and to man, every single one said, “This is tremendous and much-needed. You guys are on the right track.” That’s an anecdotal way of saying that our research is validated and the concept is good.

Samir Husni: Peter, if I sit down with you a year from now and ask you to reflect on the first year of Physicians’ Life; what would you tell me?

Wyanoke-a Peter Slack: I would tell you that in the past year the factors that we’ve looked at about its success was of course advertising, but before advertising, the support was editorial interest. We’re going to test the first couple of issues to see how well it’s being read. We’re going to test the audience and I hope to tell you that the audience embraces it.

And the second thing that I hope to tell you is that the advertising community has embraced it as well, because that’s essential. There have been publications in the past that have been produced by healthcare publishers that went outside of the clinical realm and provided some of this kind of information and they did well. But the advertising environment changed over that period of time and that’s why we’re going to a different segment this time which we think is going to work.

So, a year from now I hope to tell you that physicians are reading it and advertisers are embracing it.

Samir Husni: You are launching, as far as I know, the largest consumer magazine launch in 2015; you’re launching with almost 350,000 in controlled circulation, magazines mailed to the physicians, and another 150,000 copies to distribute at conventions. Technically, you may end up with half a million copies. Does that make you tremble a little or have some doubts about launching the largest new magazine launch of 2015?

Peter Slack: It’s exciting, isn’t it? (Laughs) I think the answer to that question is that the physicians who are going to be receiving this publication; we already have a relationship with. As a company we mail or reach electronically or in some way, 450,000 physicians every month. So the list of 350,000 that we’re going to be mailing Physicians’ Life to is culled from that same list of 450,000 that receive something from us every month. So, they know us. They know who Slack is.

And there is this confidence that when it arrives in the mail to them, and I’m not saying the first issue is going to be read by every single one of them, but there is this confidence that when they ask who’s behind this publication and they see it’s us, they’re going to recognize it as something they should spend a little more time with.

And the copies that are distributed at conventions, and they’re going to be distributed from our booths, we exhibit at 70 to 80 medical conventions each year, and right on the booth it’s going to read Slack Publishing and Physicians’ Life is going to be there and they’ll make that connection as well.

So, you’re right; it’s going to be an expensive proposition; you know what it costs to print and mail 350,000 copies, plus now we have the additional 150,000; it’s an expensive proposition. But this is the risk that we have decided to take.

Samir Husni: I know people will understand the reason that you decided to go with print because you’re working with me. (Laughs)

Peter Slack: (Laughs too) I’m glad that you believe in print too.

Samir Husni: So, if you take me out of the equation; why did you decide to go with a print publication for these physicians?

Peter Slack: The nature of this publication is we want physicians to spend some time away from their practice, getting away, relaxing and curling up with something. And that’s what print does.

Right now they have a big stack of peer-reviewed publications and they read some of them and maybe they read them just when they need to or when they have the time. They go online and they search for information and Google brings it to them; they’re used to that kind of quick information; that quick hit, to go in when they need something and find it.

This is different. This is not go to Google and put in: where do I want to go on vacation, or I wonder if there are other physicians doing what I’m doing or if they enjoy wine or if they have the same challenges I do in getting a workout in. This is something they can pick up in one place and read it in their home or on the airplane, have it in their hands and flip the pages and actually get a feeling that they’ve escaped their professional world for a little while. And print does that.

We will have a website and it will operate under the same premise: this is a place that you can go and escape. And this is interesting; we’re not even going to have a search function on the website. We don’t want them to go to the website and put in search words; the front page is going to have categories that they can go to and clock on and over time, when the articles build up, there will be a reservoir of articles, but we don’t want them to go in and search and immediately go to a little nugget of information; we want them to really experience what we’ve put together to help them escape from their practice.

So, there’ll be a website and it’ll do that and it’s going to be restricted to physicians only. We plan on having a forum set up where they can share ideas with each other on the website.

But the print in this case really fits and really works because we’re going to have a front cover and a back cover and everything in between. It’s information that’s going to be developed by us and our physicians’ editors. And we think it is important for them to get in one place and actually pick it up and spend some time with it.

Samir Husni: I noticed your tagline: doctors sharing with doctors. Tell me a little about that tagline and about the importance of that personal connection with each other for the physicians, rather than just journalists sharing with doctors.

Peter Slack: Doctors are unique people, just as any professionals are, but doctors do respect each other. They’ve gone through the same schooling and we’ve learned over time that doctors enjoy hearing from other doctors. So, what we’ve done, and our research bore this out too and it was very clear, if this was written and directed by doctors to other doctors and doctors were on the editorial board and the editorship that it would make a difference. So, every article is going to have a spin on it to make it directed toward doctors and written by doctors. There might be an article there about working out, but this is going to be about how physicians have very difficult schedules, so how do you get your workout in because you’re a physician? Just those kinds of things. The general topic can generally be found anywhere across the many, many magazines on the newsstands, but these articles are going to be written in the direction of physicians only, written by our staff, which are directed by physicians.

Samir Husni: Anything else you’d like to add?

Peter Slack: Nothing, other than the fact that this is something that is really a natural extension of us. You made the great point that it’s somewhat out of our comfort zone, but it really is a natural extension. And it’s something that we’re very excited about.

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

Peter Slack: Probably two things: getting a good putting stroke going; that’s probably the number one thing. (Laughs) And number two is there is so much opportunity right now in healthcare publishing, with the different platforms: print, online, mobile and there’s a lot of substandard information out there because it’s so easy for almost anyone to put information online. There is such a great opportunity for legitimate publishers to approach the marketplace now.

So, what keeps me up at night is making sure that we’re intelligently approaching that opportunity in the most aggressive way that we can and that we’re not missing the boat, because I really think that this is a tremendous opportunity, the time right now, for legitimate publishers to put out quality information and to gain the interest of their audience.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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New Magazine Launches: A February To Remember

March 2, 2015

While most of us have had a ‘Frozen’ February and had to ‘Sift’ through quite bit of snow and ice; new magazines have kept right up with Mother Nature’s upheavals. From Disney’s new children’s bi-monthly magazine, Frozen, to the epicurean delight of Sift; new titles offered a warm haven to escape to during a cold winter month that for most of us went beyond the mere chill of wintry winds and cold temperatures.

February 2015 saw 65 new titles hit newsstands, with 16 of those launches promising regular frequency. Specials were once again diversely niche, offering everything from March Madness to The Sound of Music. Cooking and eating healthy remained a strong voice in new magazines and also book-a-zines devoted to notable topics such as The Civil Rights Movement, Science & Entertainment.

So, I hope you enjoy the beautiful covers for February 2015 and are getting ready for spring renewal with warmer temperatures and sunshiny days and more new magazines to discover in the marvelous month of March!

To check and see each and everyone of the February magazine launches click here.

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Making Digital Permanent OffScreen: The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Founder/Editor Kai Barch. A Launch Story

February 26, 2015

“There were a number of reasons (he chose print) and one of the first was really quite selfish. I was doing web designs for clients and I got really tired of producing something that didn’t last very long; whenever you create a website or some other digital design, it lives as long as the next release cycle or the next version number.” Kai Brach

Issue 10 of Offscreen magazine.

Issue 10 of Offscreen magazine.

There is absolutely no doubt that we live in a digital age. From our laptops to our smartphones; being onscreen is a way of life for humans these days. But who are the people out there molding the web and building these virtual worlds that we all so embrace? Where are their stories; their tales of success and failure? Finally there’s a magazine that points to that place on the map; that continent called Cyber.

Offscreen is a print magazine all about people who use the internet and technology to be creative, solve problems, and build successful businesses. It’s an ink on paper that embraces digital – some might say integration at its best.

Kai Brach is a one man operation of Offscreen; he is the publisher, editor and art director for the publication. For ten years he was a web designer before he decided that he needed something more tangible than the virtual worlds of the internet to fulfill him. He needed to feel his work would last beyond mere pixels; he needed the collectability of print. He needed more than a software update; he needed the final version.

I spoke with Kai recently through Skype from his home in Melbourne, Australia. We talked about the life of a web-designer-turned-print-publisher; the fact that he taught himself InDesign and the basics of Magazines 101. Kai is an extremely ingenious and talented young man who knew what it would take to lift him to the next level of his creativity – from pixels to print – he found fulfillment in the printed word.

So sit back and enjoy this unique conversation with a man who learned for the first time what the phrase ‘final version’ truly means – a printed magazine – the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Kai Brach, Publisher & Editor, Offscreen…

But first the sound-bites:


On why a web designer would choose a printed product:
There were a number of reasons and one of the first was really quite selfish. I was doing web designs for clients and I got really tired of producing something that didn’t last very long; whenever you create a website or some other digital design, it lives as long as the next release cycle or the next version number.

On the launch of Offscreen:
It was a weird feeling because you send it off and a few weeks later this product, this magazine, comes back; especially for someone who hasn’t ever done anything in print before; it was a pretty amazing experience.

On his major stumbling block with the launch:
On the editorial side, and I still find this really challenging, working with 40 or 50 different contributors and getting them to give you what you want when you need it. That was and still is the biggest challenge of making any magazine; it’s working with the contributors.

On his most pleasant surprise:
The good thing was when I got the first issue in the mail, that was great, but what was even better was seeing other people get it in the mail and talk about it on Twitter and put the photos on Instagram, letting me know that opening the mail smelled amazing and that they had completely forgotten that print had these other multi-sensory experiences that they don’t get when they sit in front of a screen all day.

On whether he would ever work in the digital realms again:
Sure. I think everything has an expiration date and every project we do comes to an end at some point and I would never say I would not go back to digital.

On what keeps him up at night:
I think most of my worries that give me sleepless nights relate to contributors who are not getting back to me or are being late or telling me that they can’t do something at the last minute. Contributor worries definitely keep me up at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Kai Brach, Publisher & Editor, Offscreen…


Samir Husni: I was fascinated with your own personal digital background and the content of your magazine is all about the web and digital. Why did you choose print for your magazine?

Kai Brach, founder, editor and publisher Offscreen magazine.

Kai Brach, founder, editor and publisher Offscreen magazine.

Kai Brach: There were a number of reasons and one of the first was really quite selfish. I was doing web designs for clients and I got really tired of producing something that didn’t last very long; whenever you create a website or some other digital design, it lives as long as the next release cycle or the next version number. So you produce something and it’s online now and two weeks later it’s already changed or it’s gone and disappeared into the ether that is the internet.

This process was not fulfilling at all and I really wanted to produce something that lasted longer than the average website. I wanted to create something that I could put on my shelf and say, look, this is what I made, and it will last as long as I have it on my shelf.

That was one of the reasons that I decided I was going to stop doing client work and try my hand at something completely different. If it turned out OK – I knew that I would be proud of it.

The other reason was there’s so much stuff being produced online. I personally find myself either reading something on my Kindle, iPad or my iPhone, which I don’t have an iPad any longer, but when I read something on any of my mobile devices, I get probably 10 minutes of read time before I’m interrupted by an email or some other notification. Or I’ll try to scan over articles or longer reads, but I find myself never engaging with them properly. And I noticed that whenever I read a book or a magazine on my travels, when I’m on the train or on the plane, that’s when I actually enjoy reading. So, I thought that it would be nice to have the things that I care about, reading about the web and how people build companies and how people are creative with technology, to read about that in a format that I actually absorb properly and not just scan through or quickly run over because I have another 15 messages to answer.

And so print was becoming almost like this island where I could go and relax and discover the actual process of reading again. It was really nice and calming. And that was the other reason; I just wanted to create something that people would not find distracting and that they wouldn’t feel pressured to read on the go.

So those were the main reasons, I guess. And then, of course, it’s hard to charge money for digital content, where you can put it in a magazine and provide a nice product experience; you make it something people want to keep, a collectable item, it’s then easier to charge people for it. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that you make a lot of money with it, because in publishing, and I’m sure you can attest to this fact, it’s really hard to actually make a lot of money, especially when it comes to independent publishing.

Samir Husni: Tell me the story of the launch; were you in Germany or had you already moved to Australia when you came up with the idea? Briefly, recount for me the launch of Offscreen.

Kai Brach: I was already in Australia and working as a web designer, but then I decided to stop doing that and gave myself six months to figure out what I wanted to do. I started traveling for those six months. I went to Europe and the U.S. and a few other places and I actually met up with quite a few people that I knew from the web industry.

It was during that time that I actually started to enjoy the stories that happened behind the scenes. We talked to a start-up guy who was very successful, but when you talk to him personally, you realize he went through a lot of failed attempts before he became successful and those stories that I was hearing from different people while I was traveling, encouraged me to somehow put them in a book or e-book or podcast, somewhere I could publish them.

So, I came back from my travels six months later and I decided at that point that I wanted to make a print magazine. I didn’t really know where to start, but I contacted some other magazines that I had sitting on my desk and asked them very simple questions about how to get started; what tools do you use; what production companies do you use; what printer do you use; just lots of questions.

Then I emailed a lot of printers in Germany and Australia, because I know German and the Germans know a thing or two about the printing press. (Laughs) I contacted various printers and asked them quotes based on very random numbers that I thought would make sense. I asked for a quote for 3,000 copies in the beginning and then I compared quotes and pretty much decided; OK, Germany is the only place where it makes financial sense to produce a magazine because in Australia it was extremely expensive. The cost of living is really high here.

From there, I decided to make a magazine based on the quote that I had. I had a quote based on 96 pages and I knew that was my limit. I put together a spreadsheet of people that I wanted to have in the first issue. Some of the people that I met during my travels were in the first issue, but also people that I knew through Twitter and Facebook were in there too.

Basically, I emailed a lot of people just asking them questions such as whether they would be interested in doing an interview with me and have that conversation printed in a magazine.

Of course, if you ask a web designer or some other digital person if they want to do an interview for an exclusive print magazine, you usually get some frowns and some weird looks, but once they saw the first issue, they really appreciated the magazine as well.

So, I pretty much taught myself just like when I did web design. Then, I jumped online and I actually did a course on a website called linda.com, which is an online tutorial where you pay $25 and you can watch videos of people using InDesign and preparing things for print and using color management; all those sorts of things. I taught myself how to use InDesign in a couple of weeks and of course, I used a lot of magazines that were sitting on my desk as a source of inspiration. I copied a bit here and there, but tried to be creative in other ways and after three months or so I did the PDF version of the first magazine and sent that to the printer in Germany and then I waited for four weeks or so and pretty much camped in front of my mailbox for the first issue to arrive.

It was a weird feeling because you send it off and a few weeks later this product, this magazine, comes back; especially for someone who hasn’t ever done anything in print before; it was a pretty amazing experience.

Samir Husni: What was the major stumbling block with this launch and how did you overcome it?

Kai  Brach, bringing virtual to reality.

Kai Brach, bringing virtual to reality.

Kai Brach: There’s the production side and then there’s the editorial side. The production side is, of course, figuring out how to avoid typographic issues, making the writing good, issues such as that. And that was a big challenge for me, because as a web designer I’m not used to creating something that has a final version. As a web designer, you produce something; you put it online and then you iterate and iterate and iterate until it’s as good as it can be. Coming to that final version was a big challenge for me on the production side.

On the editorial side, and I still find this really challenging, working with 40 or 50 different contributors and getting them to give you what you want when you need it. That was and still is the biggest challenge of making any magazine; it’s working with the contributors, especially if you’re trying to interview really busy people and get them to sit down and do a lengthy interview with you.

On top of that, keep in mind that I’m the only person behind Offscreen, so there’s no team. I do all the editorial, design, publishing and distribution myself. Every day I put on all these different hats and sometimes you get stuck in a certain area and it just doesn’t move forward.

So production was difficult because I was a web designer before I was a print magazine publisher and it was really hard to come to that final version and send it to the printer and be happy with it.

And the biggest challenge on creating the editorial side of it was dealing with so many different people at the same time and you have all these deadlines lined up.

Samir Husni: What was the most pleasant surprise?

Kai Brach: I think getting the magazine in the mail; the first issue, especially, was amazing. Unfortunately, other issues you get after that; you always see the things you can improve upon, instead of the things that you’ve done right. If you ask any publisher, he’ll always tell you that most of the time they always see things that are wrong with it, instead of the great things about it.

The good thing was when I got the first issue in the mail, that was great, but what was even better was seeing other people get it in the mail and talk about it on Twitter and put the photos on Instagram, letting me know that opening the mail smelled amazing and that they had completely forgotten that print had these other multi-sensory experiences that they don’t get when they sit in front of a screen all day.

Hearing the feedback from people with every single issue is what I live on and what I look forward to.

Samir Husni: Do you ever see yourself going back to web design and working within the digital sphere again?

Kai Brach: Sure. I think everything has an expiration date and every project we do comes to an end at some point and I would never say I would not go back to digital. At the same time, I’m still part of digital. I’m interviewing all these people and I also design and run my own website and I do a lot of social media activity. So, I’m still a part of digital and working within the digital industry as much as I am working in print.

But who knows what the future holds? Print is a great project and I really enjoy it, but I think every publication has a point in time where it either completely reinvents itself or it just stops. The makers or the publishers try their luck with something else.

Samir Husni: I hope you have a long life with Offscreen because the concept itself and the stories you’re telling, the people you’re profiling, is our world today. We live in a digital age, nobody can deny that. But very few people actually know those stories and I think you’re not only doing a great favor for the printed magazine industry, but also the digital world. You’re taking the fantasy out of digital and the virtual out of digital and bringing it to reality.

Kai Brach: I think there’s a lot of content that’s similar to what I do in the magazine that exists online. But for a lot of people when you put it into a magazine; first of all, it reaches a different category of readers. With magazines there is a category of readers that like to discover new things. When they go to shops or they see a magazine on a coffee table somewhere else, it’s a different type of reader that gets excited; you can’t really compare them with someone who subscribes to a certain blog or follows someone on Twitter.

But at the same time the content online is similar, there are a lot of interviews on podcasts and in e-books that everyone can listen to. Of course, my housemate who’s an architect probably wouldn’t listen to a two hour podcast about a digital product. So, for those people, they will discover that world through a magazine that they stumble upon. Would they stumble upon a podcast? Not really. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Tell me a bit about your background. Are you originally from Germany, or did you grow up in Germany? And what’s the link between Germany and Australia?

Kai Brach: I’m German. I grew up there and lived there until 2002. I moved to Australia and settled here about six years ago. I was working as a web designer and I also did a lot of traveling and spent a few months in New York and went to other places around the world. I worked while I was on the go. I think that was one of the things that I was worried about when I started the magazine: would I be able to maintain that nomadic work pattern that I had, because I love being flexible and being able to go anywhere and work from my laptop. Luckily, I can still do that, but there are a few reasons I need to establish an address and be at home for, in terms of publishing. But 90% of it I can still do on the road, so I still travel.

Samir Husni: And you’re based in Melbourne now, right?

Kai Brach: Yes, in Melbourne. I spend a bit of time every year in Berlin, maybe one or two months. There is a lot of activity, in terms of independent publishing in Europe at the moment. I attend a lot of conferences and it seems for independent publishing; Europe is the place to be at the moment.

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

Kai Brach: (Laughs) What doesn’t keep me up at night? Today I actually woke up at 4:00 a.m. Not because I was worried, but because I woke up for something and then I started thinking about my emails and how I had confirmed most of the interviewees for the next issue.

I think most of my worries that give me sleepless nights relate to contributors who are not getting back to me or are being late or telling me that they can’t do something at the last minute. Contributor worries definitely keep me up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

A “Collective Quarterly” Show And Tell Travel + Design Magazine. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editorial Director Seth Putnam. A Launch Story.

February 24, 2015

“When I deal with the internet, I don’t feel there’s a sense of accomplishment necessarily or permanence with it; it’s so fleeting. And I wonder if that’s something that my generation is responding to, in terms of something tangible. When I finish reading a book or a magazine; I can look at it and say, I finished that, rather than just moving on to the next click or page.” Seth Putnam

Issue Zero of The Collective Quarterly

Issue Zero of The Collective Quarterly

Bohemian destinations and creative accomplices who revel in the art of the uncommon, if that description seems unique and intriguing, then the magazine Collective Quarterly is calling to you.

Each issue of the magazine follows select craftspeople to an offbeat location, where they design uncommon objects while the cameras and writers capture their creative processes. It’s a journey deeply rooted in the heritages of the destinations that they visit. And they are the ‘Collective.’

Seth Putnam is the editorial director of Collective Quarterly and Jesse Lenz, an accomplished illustrator, is his business partner and creative director for the magazine. The two together have spawned an absolutely brilliant and well-done printed magazine that is both aesthetically pleasing and reader-satisfying with its rich and original content.

I recently spoke with Seth about the magazine. We touched on everything from the concept to the cover price, $25, and the fact that both he and his partner are digital natives who felt the need for a printed product to bring their audience a deeper and more meaningful engagement. The conversation was fascinatingly diverse and interesting.

I hope you enjoy this trip into a world where creativity in design and travel is the focal point for everything and the motivation behind two young men’s dream – the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Seth Putnam, Editorial Director for Collective Quarterly.

But first the sound-bites:

Seth Putnam, co-founder and editorial director, The Collective Quarterly magazine.

Seth Putnam, co-founder and editorial director, The Collective Quarterly magazine.

On the background of Collective Quarterly: It basically became a travel and design magazine where the travel portion is covered by each issue focusing on one location; one region. And then the design portion is covered by the fact that we bring with us a group of artists or craftspeople and we put together an experiential, inspiration trip for them, almost like an artist’s residency.

On why as digital natives, he and his partner decided they needed a printed magazine to connect with their audience:
Some parts of our business we approach with great research and thought, and then some we do simply out of a passion for something or a gut feeling. We decided to do print because, while yes, magazine subscriptions are falling and certain titles are closing, more titles are opening, particularly in independent, boutique niche genres’.

On the hefty cover price of the magazine – $25:
We landed on that price based on the cost to print a thousand copies of the issue 0 – we looked at it as an experiment. And it was very expensive.

On his opinion of why the digital natives of today are finding an endurable quality in the printed product:
When I deal with the internet, I don’t feel there’s a sense of accomplishment necessarily or permanence with it; it’s so fleeting. And I wonder if that’s something that my generation is responding to, in terms of something tangible.

On knowing who his target audience is:
Demographically, we haven’t run a lot of surveys or specific numbers, but I would say our audience skews younger, probably that 21 to 35 age-range, with a fairly even split of men and women, from the orders that I see coming in.

On how they came up with the name Collective Quarterly:
We were thinking of it as a place where, not only we could bring together really talented artists and craftspeople to go on these trips because each time the cast of characters is rotating, but also use our platform and voice as a medium for our readers to get involved as well. So, we had a sort of inclusive mindset and that’s why we ended up calling it the Collective Quarterly.

On how they decide on the destinations of each issue:
Usually it’s a collaborative decision between me and Jesse, the creative director, but we try and do a pretty good job of soliciting ideas at least from the other five or six people on our team or people that we’ve met on the ground in locations that we’ve visited.

On the biggest stumbling block he had to overcome:
Everything we have done so far has paid for itself and that’s been really exciting for us, but the challenge has been cash flow, for sure. Trying to make sure that when you’re working on two or three issues at a time, there’s enough money in the bank to pay your bills.

On his most pleasant moment:
The reason I got into journalism is because I have a very strong attachment to hearing other people’s stories. Oddly enough; that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s been really gratifying to see that we’re sort of living in a brave new world where if you’ve got a good idea and an internet connection, you can create your own platform for doing that kind of storytelling.

On advice he would give to students who are about to graduate and start their publishing careers:
If you have a story to tell, or if you want to tell someone else’s story, but there’s no obvious path to be able to do that through traditional media, then just do it; do it yourself.

On what keeps him up at night:
Just making sure that we’re doing good work and we’re treating people well, our sources and our team members, and that we’re doing a better job this time than last time.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Seth Putnam, Editorial Director, Collective Quarterly…

Samir Husni: Give me some background on Collective Quarterly.

The first issue of The Collective Quarterly.

The first issue of The Collective Quarterly.

Seth Putnam: We’ve been working in earnest on it since January. 2013. My business partner and I met through the social networking site Instagram. I was working as a magazine writer in Chicago and he’s an editorial illustrator who has created covers for everyone from The New York Times Magazine to GQ to Money, and I think he actually did the Planet Hillary cover for The New York Times Magazine last year and then also the 10th anniversary of September 11th for the cover of Newsweek as well, so he’s a very accomplished illustrator.

As we looked at each other’s work on the social media sites, we became intrigued and decided to set up a call. During that call he told me that he’d like to start a magazine, so I asked him what he wanted it to be about and he asked: how about the creative process? I said that’s a little bit abstract to do an entire magazine about; how are we going to focus that?

We landed on the idea of travel, because we’ve found personally that the trips that we take and the people that we meet in these unseen, often, off the beaten path hideaways are certainly extremely inspiring to us and our passion for stories.

It basically became a travel and design magazine where the travel portion is covered by each issue focusing on one location; one region. And then the design portion is covered by the fact that we bring with us a group of artists or craftspeople and we put together an experiential, inspiration trip for them, almost like an artist’s residency. And then they go home and make something in their discipline, based on their time there, the things that they saw, and the people that they met. We chronicle those experiences and their design processes in the completed product and it’s available through our website as well.

Those are the two hooks of the magazine.

Samir Husni: When did you graduate from the University of Missouri?

Seth Putnam: 2010 – so, five years ago.

Samir Husni: You’re in your twenties?

Seth Putnam: Yes, I’m 26, as is my business partner.

Samir Husni: So, you’re a digital native; why print? When everyone is telling us that the future is digital and you even met your business partner via Instagram; why did you decide to go with print?

Seth Putnam: I guess we’re just young and foolish. (Laughs) Some parts of our business we approach with great research and thought, and then some we do simply out of a passion for something or a gut feeling. We decided to do print because, while yes, magazine subscriptions are falling and certain titles are closing, more titles are opening, particularly in independent, boutique niche genres’.

And much like we’re seeing people return to vinyl records, we’re seeing a love or an appreciation for tangible lifestyle, human interest coverage. So, sure newsweeklies and titles that rely on breaking events are probably suffering because of the immediacy of the internet, but I think that there’s definitely a market out there of people who are willing to put their dollars toward an experience or deeper stories that form another entertainment bucket for them.

But for us; it’s the beauty of being able to hold it; it’s the beauty of sending, as often as possible, reporters, writers and photographers places so that they can tell the stories in person; it’s a little hard to do sometimes, but it makes a better story. And I think the same is true for print versus consuming content on the web.

For the first few issues or the first couple of years, we focused entirely on print, whereas now we’re about to launch a journal on our website so that we can provide more daily stories for our readers, but print has definitely been the thing that we have thrown most of our energy into.

Samir Husni: I noticed that you have a hefty cover price for the print magazine.

Seth Putnam: (Laughs) That’s true. We landed on that price based on the cost to print a thousand copies of the issue 0 – we looked at it as an experiment. And it was very expensive.

What we’ve done is put out a second issue and we’re actually going for a third and we have negotiated a new deal with our printer that will hopefully allow us to get that cover price down in the $19 or $20 region, maybe not by the next issue, but in the not too distant future.

We’re finding that many of the magazines in our similar niche are charging in the $15 to $25 and sometimes up to $30 range, which is a luxury price point for sure. And we want to try and get that down as much as possible because we’ve seen that the magazines that are sticking around have come down somewhat from their original price point.

But again, when you’re printing a thousand copies, of course, we’re printing more than that now, but in the beginning we were doing a 1,000; the price per copy is exponentially higher than if you were printing 10,000 or 15,000 copies.

Samir Husni: I’m seeing more and more new magazines following your approach. The digital generation is finding some love for print or some enduring aspect of the printed product.

Jesse Lenz, co-founder and creative director, The Collective Quarterly

Jesse Lenz,
co-founder and creative director, The Collective Quarterly

Seth Putnam: Yes, I agree. When I deal with the internet, I don’t feel there’s a sense of accomplishment necessarily or permanence with it; it’s so fleeting. And I wonder if that’s something that my generation is responding to, in terms of something tangible. When I finish reading a book or a magazine; I can look at it and say, I finished that, rather than just moving on to the next click or page.

Samir Husni: And who do you view as your audience? Who bought that first issue and who’s buying the second? Do you have a sense of your target audience?

Seth Putnam: We’re beginning to get a better sense. I think the audience that adopts a magazine like Collective Quarterly in the beginning is definitely one that is sort of trend-focused; they care about travel and the story behind the destination and they might be the kind of people who shop at anthropology or urban outfitters, for example, which are some of the retailers we work with.

Demographically, we haven’t run a lot of surveys or specific numbers, but I would say our audience skews younger, probably that 21 to 35 age-range, with a fairly even split of men and women, from the orders that I see coming in.

But definitely people who have more than just one income and are able to purchase a magazine of that price point and also buy the products inside and maybe even take the trips that we’re recommending.

I suppose it’s an affluent audience, which raises some questions for us as far as how we want to make ourselves accessible to others as well.

Samir Husni: How did you come up with the name: the Collective Quarterly?

Seth Putnam: We put together a big Google document at the very beginning of our trip and the initial idea was much more focused on artists and makers than it currently is; I think we’ve achieved a little bit of balance there. We were thinking of it as a place where, not only we could bring together really talented artists and craftspeople to go on these trips because each time the cast of characters is rotating, but also use our platform and voice as a medium for our readers to get involved as well. So, we had a sort of inclusive mindset and that’s why we ended up calling it the Collective Quarterly. We toyed around with a lot of different names, but that one just seemed to fit.

Of course, since then we found out a lot of things are called collective. (Laughs) That raises some challenges for sure.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) I noticed on the website that you refer to you and your team as ‘the Collective.’

Seth Putnam: Yes, definitely. That’s designed to create a sense of inclusion and to make it more about the group as a whole.

For example, there are certain titles out there, particularly in the independent niche genre, where they’re very much connected to a specific person, whether that’s Ben Ashby’s Folk magazine or Nathan Williams’ Kinfolk; they’re synonymous with one individual oftentimes. We wanted to start out at least by being a place where people could rise; the particular people that we find along the way and that we feature, and we’re hoping to be as active an organization as possible to help these people and give them success as well.

Samir Husni: The decisions to go to these places, whether it’s Texas or Montana or wherever you find those offbeat locations that the magazine focuses on; are they collectively decided on or are they just sudden ideas, someone saying, hey, why don’t we go to Texas?

Seth Putnam: Within our internal office structure, which is sort of a misnomer, because no one is in the same place; we have people in different cities: San Francisco, Phoenix and Chicago, also in West Virginia and Minneapolis; I don’t think any one of us is in the same city.

So, there is no office, so to speak, but within our decision-making structure there are definitely those who provide the drive and motivation and the pushing, and others who provide the steering, for sure. Usually it’s a collaborative decision between me and Jesse, the creative director, but we try and do a pretty good job of soliciting ideas at least from the other five or six people on our team or people that we’ve met on the ground in locations that we’ve visited. See what works with our schedules and our interests and then we go and scout those places to see if they have the kind of story quality that we’re looking for.

Samir Husni: When you graduated in 2010; did you ever think that you’d be doing what you’re doing now?

Seth Putnam: I had no idea. Usually people graduating from college aren’t sure about the next job they’re getting, much less what their long-term ambitions are. When the first issue came out I spoke through Skype to a class from the University of Missouri and I just did another one after the Montana issue came out and that first time I told them that I sure wished that I had taken magazine publishing because I didn’t have the first clue about making a magazine. There’s been a lot of trial and error, to be certain.

I spent the last four or five years freelancing and there’s a lot of isolation that comes with that when you’re working for yourself or rather, for 15 or 16 different editors or publications at a time, but you’re doing it from the comfort of your own home. So, I spent a long time as an individual rather than a manager or part of a team and I think that has been a really exciting challenge, and also transitioning from thinking that I’m not someone’s employee anymore, I’m a boss or an owner. That quick wired a definite mindset shift that I didn’t predict when I was in college.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block since launching Collective Quarterly and how were you able to overcome it?

Seth Putnam: When we all went to Texas, there were about eight or nine people on the trip, and everyone who was there paid their own way; we covered our own lodging costs and expenses, because as I said earlier, sometimes we make decisions without doing all the research that we could have. We started the magazine with no funding and we just paid our own way.

When we had gathered all of the content for stories and the photographs, and it became time to actually take it to print, we knew that we couldn’t foot that bill ourselves, so we considered whether or not we should do a Kickstarter. But we decided that if we were going to be a magazine that sells for that cover price, we wanted to establish ourselves less as needing help and more as something people would want to get in on early and be the first to get a copy.

We made a video and sort of styled it after a Kickstarter campaign and we ran that through our own website and we sold pre-orders rather than donations. And with what we earned in the first month or two, we were able to take it to print and the sales from that issue covered many of those expenses that we had paid out of our own pockets for the next one. So, it covered travel costs and lodging and some meals here and there.

Everything we have done so far has paid for itself and that’s been really exciting for us, but the challenge has been cash flow, for sure. Trying to make sure that when you’re working on two or three issues at a time, there’s enough money in the bank to pay your bills.

I think that’s one of the things that come along with not taking funding at the very beginning and obviously, there are tradeoffs. If you take funding then your investor owns part of your company and you lose a little control, but if you keep that control you may not have the liquidity to be able to do some of the things that you’d like to. We’re very much in that challenge mode right now and trying to figure it out; we’ve put out two issues now and we’re about to do a third; how do we stick around long enough to be able to keep this going for a while?

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment?

Seth Putnam: The reason I got into journalism is because I have a very strong attachment to hearing other people’s stories. I kept track of how many days I was on the road between this magazine and my other assignments last year, I was on the road for about 125 days, and most of the time was spent going to small hamlets around the country.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Georgia Rambler; he was an Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist a few years ago, but he would go to small towns in Georgia and find someone and then ask them who was the most unforgettable person they knew. Then he would go and write about that person.

It’s funny because I corresponded with him; his name is Charles Salter, after hearing him on This American Life a few years ago; actually, when I was working in Mississippi, and we corresponded a little bit and I asked him as a naïve 21-year-old: how do I get a job like yours? And he said there aren’t that many out there anymore because you would need to be on a newspaper staff for 15 or 20 years to gain the experience, credibility and cache which would allow your editor to say: OK, go do this column. And then you’d have to write a daily column in the newspaper and the bottom is falling out of newspapers and that’s just not possible anymore.

But oddly enough; that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s been really gratifying to see that we’re sort of living in a brave new world where if you’ve got a good idea and an internet connection, you can create your own platform for doing that kind of storytelling.

Samir Husni: What advice would you give to students now who are reaching the graduation stage?

Seth Putnam: That’s a great question. I don’t generally have one go-to piece of advice where I say: if you’re a young journalism student, you need to know this, but one of the things that I really loved about my education, and still see at the University of Missouri when I go back and talk to students there, is that there are no limits on what they think is possible. And I think that’s worth reminding ourselves and them about to. If you have a story to tell, or if you want to tell someone else’s story, but there’s no obvious path to be able to do that through traditional media, then just do it; do it yourself.

Start a website or start some sort of platform online that allows you to tell that story and realize that it’s highly possible that you may have to do it for free because as a young student no one may be willing to pay you to do that.

But I think it’s a really powerful truth that when there’s something a person feels compelled to do or a story that someone feels compelled to tell, that’s inside and just has to come out, doing it on your own and doing it well; eventually, somebody is going to find a way to pay you for it. It’s an exciting time because there have never been fewer barriers to those of us in the storytelling industry to be able to seek our own path.

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

Seth Putnam: Right now what’s been waking me up at 3:00 a.m. is the closing week of our Vermont issue. As I said; I’ve always worked as an individual and now I have a team of writers and colleagues and they’re depending on me to get things done, on time, and make sure all of the loose ends are neatly tied up, particularly when you’re about to send it to print. There are a lot of things that appear to be falling through the cracks and need your attention.

Just making sure that we’re doing good work and we’re treating people well, our sources and our team members, and that we’re doing a better job this time than last time.

It’s such a beautiful magazine and I am in such awe of our photographers and designers and the guys that are making sure it all happens. Another thing, from my standpoint, that sometimes keeps me up at night is trying to figure out how to elevate the quality of the writing, for sure, and to get people involved with us that are much better than we are, and can lift us to greater heights with the actual content.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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