Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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Revealed: The Simple Secret For A Successful Magazine Launch. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Doug Bitto, Principal, Advantage Circulation Consulting.

May 17, 2022

I found my match.  Doug Bitto, the principal of Advantage Circulation Consulting, LLC. is as big of a magazine junkie as I am.  He also is a firm believer that if it is not ink on paper, it is not a magazine. He describes himself as a bit of a pop culture junkie. “Magazines have fascinated me ever since I was very young,” he told me, “so it’s no surprise that I gravitated towards the business.”

Doug’s formula for a successful magazine is relatively simple as he says: “The underlying formula for all successful print magazines is relatively simple: Passion combined with deep knowledge, framed within the greater cultural understanding (i.e. what people actually want to read and buy at this particular moment in time).”

So with that in mind, and after a chat with Doug, here is the Mr. Magazine™ interview: Enjoy.

Samir Husni:  During our chat, I felt I found my match in a person who believes in the power of print, can you please explain why? 

Doug Bitto: When a print magazine is produced and distributed, it is a permanent snapshot of a culture. It cannot be changed, to be reviewed and scrutinized for decades (or even centuries) after being produced. A digital “magazine” on the other hand can be altered and the original message lost forever, including the advertising which is an essential component of cultural understanding. In addition, print is much more effective than digital in conveying a message because more of our senses are used when interacting with print. When was the last time anyone smelled their iPad? 

S.H.:  You run a circulation consulting company, do you mind expanding some of what your company does and your role running it? 

D. B.: We have evolved into an end to end consulting firm over the last 20 years. In addition to the physical nuts and bolts aspects of newsstand distribution and management, we have expanded to include consulting on product development, working very closely with editors and designers. One of our strengths, I believe, is our ability to successfully recognize cultural trends and how they are applicable to our clients.

As far as my role is concerned, I wear many hats. At the end of the day, however, it’s about ensuring that I successfully guide my clients.

S. H.: Small, regional, and new niche magazines are your specialty. Why and do you think there is still room for new magazines in this digital age? 

D. B.: Culture is constantly changing but much like radio, print will always be around. One trend we are seeing post-pandemic is the return to traditional media, as discussed in a recent article by Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2022/04/why-marketers-are-returning-to-traditional-advertising. Personally, I have not “seen” a digital ad in years, much less clicked on it. And if I find myself on a website that has pop-up ads (or worse yet, autoplay ads) I immediately click out without even looking. Not only are they annoying, they can actually create physical stress. Multiple studies have shown this. As the article states, people are becoming “ad blind” digitally due to these factors. 

Print on the other hand is relaxing. And if ads are well curated, they fit seamlessly within a print magazine. I hate to break it to the digital ad folks out there but from a practical standpoint, print ads are far superior. When you turn the page of a print magazine, you HAVE to look on the next page. Ad blindness is almost impossible. 

Advertising aside, magazines are rapidly turning into higher quality, higher dollar items with very little or no advertising. Again, not a new trend, but it is accelerating. And people are willing to pay for this experience. Out of the six new title launches we have recently launched or are launching over the next few months, four fall into this category. All are high quality in content and physical presentation. All are between $12.99-$14.99US, $14.99-$19.99CAN. 

S. H.:   Define a magazine for me. 

D. B.: I take a traditional approach. Mirriam-Webster’s first entry is how I would define a magazine:

Definition of magazine

1a a print periodical containing miscellaneous pieces (such as articles, stories, poems) and often illustrated

A digital publication is not a magazine, even though our culture is now defining many forms of media as a “magazine”. A different term should be used to describe a digital only publication. 

www.advantagecirc.com

S.H.:   Can you share a success story of a new launch that you consulted on, and can you share one that failed? 

D. B.: I would like to speak in general terms first.

The underlying formula for all successful print magazines is relatively simple: Passion combined with deep knowledge, framed within the greater cultural understanding (i.e. what people actually want to read and buy at this particular moment in time). A product that not only informs and inspires, but entertains. Especially with niche and hyper-niche titles, readers are more than likely to be passionate experts in their own right. They are looking for knowledge above and beyond what they possess. The “formula” does not guarantee success but without its understanding, failure is guaranteed. The most successful publishers have an innate understanding of this. 

Regarding a successful launch, we have one title in the Sports Category that was basically a “gear” catalog when first presented to me. At launch it was approximately 40% catalog, not including additional advertising. But the content was excellent. The launch issue sold 51%. They have since expanded their content extensively but to this day their best selling issue of the year is always the “gear review” issue. Again, the publisher is one of the top experts in his field. And readers trust that the message being printed and products being presented are high quality. 

Now for the really bad failure. When I first started consulting over 20 years ago I signed a lifestyle magazine whose only concern was ad dollars, as I came to find out later. Content was secondary. Lowsingle digit sales on the launch issue. And when I say low, I mean LOW…3%. Naturally, they did not last for more than a couple of issues. 

S. H.:  Anything else you would like to add. 

D.B.: It may sound ridiculous in the digital age but nothing has really changed on the newsstand side of the business since its inception. Print magazines are produced and sent through distribution channels to retail. I believe that this industry has in many respects lost sight of the fundamentals. We cannot forget that this is an organic business and the most important people within the distribution channel are the merchandisers. Proper title placement and rotation are absolutely essential.  Without merchandisers who understand how to merchandise magazines as the unique products that they are, the industry suffers.

On the publishing side, I foresee almost all of the large publishers eventually going digital with print being reserved for special issues, and small independent publishers launching at an increasing rate. This movement started more than a decade ago but it will accelerate and become more prevalent in the future. Driven, ironically enough, by the digital age and the increasing ease of publishing in print.   

S. H.: What keeps Doug up at night these days? 

D. B.: Without question, the health of the newsstand distribution industry. With costs rising and large publishers continuing to go digital only, all levels are being squeezed. That being said, I am actually very positive about the future of newsstand. There will undoubtedly be more pain to come, but I believe that this industry will survive. 

S. H.: Thank you.

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

May 3, 2022

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

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

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

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

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

samir.husni@gmail.com

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The Intimate Nature Of New Magazines And Their Creators…

April 13, 2022

Welcome to the wonderful world of new magazines.  And by world, I mean literally, the world.  Here are four new magazines from Canada, China, England, and France, all in English and all are a clear testimony of the intimacy of the ink on paper and their creators.  Thanks are in order to my friends at www.magculture.com who on a regular basis supply me with a host of new magazines from their store in the UK.

It used to be said that ideas come by the dozen and they are worth a dime; it is the execution of the ideas that count.  Here are four very well executed ideas as introduced by their creators:

Chicken + Bread 

From The United Kingdom

Editor in Chief Hope Cunningham writes in the intro of the first issue:

Chicken + Bread is a platform created to document food stories and histories that centre people of colour, especially those in the UK. Our contributions to food continue to change what we perceive to be “English” and this is certainly the case for various communities around the world and throughout history…

And this issue you in your hands is rooted in nostalgia too; fulfilling my lifelong dream of creating my own magazine.  After many years of doubting, I’ve finally done it.  I hope you enjoy, or, as the French say, bone apple tea.

Check it out at chickenandbread.com

Serviette

From Canada

Founder and Editor at Large Max Meighen writes in the intro of the first issue:

Hello and welcome to the inaugural issue of Serviette Magazine. For those who are unfamiliar with word “serviette”, it’s Canadian vernacular for a napkin… Whatever the circumstances, you can be certain that wherever there’s food, a serviette is close by.

To that same sentiment, Serviette is a magazine about food, but not just about the food we eat. It’s about the themes, ideas, conversations, an connectivity around the cycle of our food: the language, culture and transformative possibilities of the future of our food; the journey it takes from seed to stomach, and all of the people who helped it along its way.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting independent publishing. We wouldn’t exist without you.

Check it out at serviettemag.com

Overseas 

From France

Editorial Director Andrea Casati writes in the note To Our Readers:

It all started with the waves. The waves of desire, the waves of passion.  Overseas is a journey inspired by a challenge, a vision, a will: to tell the story of basketball from perspectives different than the canonical North American narrative.  It wasn’t easy to start-out and sail, it wasn’t easy to face the fear of the unknown.  But moving from port to port, from meeting to meeting, we understood that the route was the right one, yet not obvious.

Overseas is a pilgrimage in a basketball rooted I local cultures, an immersion int eh sea of superficiality and generalisation that continues to impoverish a movement with infinite facets, infinite meanings, infinite connections.  Addition over subtractions. Complexity over banality…

Thank you for riding the wave of curiosity with us.

Check the magazine out at overseas-mag.com

Noisé

From China

Editor in Chief and Creative Director Tang Siyu writes in the intro of the first issue:

Noisé is a dream and an urge.

It’s about good stories that last.

It’s about visions and sensations that do not diminish.

It’s about true beauty, whether inside or outside.

It’s about trusting our instincts and breaking the rules.

It’s about our faith that people with a gift and people with a dream will shine.

It’s our new chapter, let’s make a Noisé.

Check the magazine out at http://www.noise-magazine.com

So what are you waiting for? Head to your nearest magazine store and pick up a copy of a brand new magazine. There is no more intimacy than holding an ink on paper magazine in your hands. Wake up and smell the ink on paper. It is divine. Enjoy.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Magazine Media Center

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28 New Titles (And One Returning)Arrive To The Marketplace 1st Quarter 2022

April 1, 2022

Keeping on track with the first quarter of 2021, a total of 29 magazines were available at the marketplace (whether at the newsstands or available via digital newsstands selling print). The magazines were as diverse in their subject matter and content as anyone can imagine.

Those new titles ranged in topics from Divorcing Well to In Her Garden, from Aspiring who launched its first national issue after being a regional magazine, to Al-Hayya a bilingual magazine in Arabic and English aimed at Arab women all over the globe. Ebony made its return to print with a special issue and Bavual made its debut after a preview issue earlier last Fall. Hills Views & Valleys is attempting to redefine luxury, while Reed is attempting to redefine design.

Of note the return of sex magazines to the marketplace. Nine of the 29 titles were sex titles as you can see in the pictures below. 

Keep in mind that if it is not ink on paper, it is not a magazine in my book, and if I do not have a physical copy of the magazine it is not on the list.

Here are the titles that I was able to find in the first Quarter of 2022. Enjoy.

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Divorcing Well: A New Magazine Landing On The Stands Valentine’s Day… A Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Monique Reidy, Founder & Publisher.

February 6, 2022

“Magazines have an element of magic – they capture a reader’s attention and keep them engaged for a longer period than their digital counterparts.” Monique Reidy, founder and publisher, Divorcing Well.

“Launching Divorcing Well magazine on newsstands on Valentine’s Day is a proclamation that being single and happy in one’s own skin is a celebration regardless of romantic attachment.” M.R.

“A successful divorce is much better than a failed marriage,” my late brother used to tell us after he and his wife divorced. I was reminded of his statement once I learned that Monique Reidy, the publisher and president of Southern California Life is getting ready to launch her newest magazine, Divorcing Well.

Others have tried to publish divorce magazines, but needless to say they failed after an issue or two. The beauty of Ms. Reidy newest magazine is the Well part of Divorcing… It is like lighting a candle rather than cursing the dark. The new magazine aims to help the divorcee to thrive emotionally, physically, and financially. A tall order, but Ms. Reidy is sure the magazine is going to fulfill.

Judging by the selection of the articles and the design of the magazine, it seems that Ms. Reidy is on the right track. The magazine will hit the newsstands in the state of California on Valentine’s Day and I will leave to Ms. Reidy to explain to you why did she choose this specific day to publish the magazine.

So, here is the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Monique Reidy, founder and publisher of Divorcing Well magazine:

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni:  This is your third magazine launch, why are you still a believer in print in this digital age?

Monique Reidy: People still love magazines because they can read at their own pace and they’re able to enjoy the images and content in a relaxed manner. While digital information can be accessed instantaneously, it can be a challenge to get through an article online with the multitude of intrusive ads and continual distractions. Affiliate ads are now everywhere on the internet, luring readers to click links that hijack them away from what they’re reading to some sort of retail trap. I can’t get through an article about foods that could potentially be poisonous to my dogs without being led shoe shopping (thank you programmatic advertising).

I’m still a believer in print because the medium holds more credibility than the internet in the eyes of most consumers. Magazines have an element of magic – they capture a reader’s attention and keep them engaged for a longer period than their digital counterparts. Studies have shown that a digital piece will attract a person for 10 minutes while readers can linger for 30 minutes or more with a print magazine. It’s rewarding to hear that people enjoy our publications and that they’ve been informed and inspired. 

S.H.: You mentioned you want the magazine to be out in times of Valentine’s, what are you celebrating?

M.R.: February 14th is traditionally a couple’s celebration of their romantic relationship. While it’s a worthwhile occasion, singles can sometimes feel left out because they don’t have a partner with whom to mark the event. Valentine’s day is another reminder to singles that they are in fact … single. And for those who wish to be in an amorous relationship, it’s just rubbing salt into that emotional wound. A newly separated person, particularly one whose spouse left the marriage to be with someone else, could spend a lonely Valentine’s Day marinating in anxious thoughts about how the “ex” is enjoying the evening in the arms of another. 

Launching Divorcing Well magazine on newsstands on Valentine’s Day is a proclamation that being single and happy in one’s own skin is a celebration regardless of romantic attachment. The magazine underscores the importance of self-care and self-worth and that it doesn’t take another human to make one feel worthwhile. Our objective is to inspire readers to love who they are enough to fix what’s broken emotionally and aspire to create a happier life on their own terms. 

S.H.:  What has been the biggest hurdle that you were able to overcome with this launch?

M.R.: Since our first launch of Southern California Life magazine eight years ago, I’ve had to listen to a lot of snarky opinions about why this or that idea won’t work. (And trust me, there’s never a shortage of people who want to hold a storm cloud over your head if you’re on a momentous mission.)  I was vulnerable and easily influenced in those early days, so the pessimists and naysayers sometimes caused me to second guess my goals. Learning to listen to opinions without allowing them to steer me off track has been one of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome. 

When you have a vision and you are focused on a specific target, you better not take your eyes off that mark and just keep moving forward. That’s not to discount getting advice from other professionals, but at the end of the day the backseat drivers can tell you where they think you should go, but you’re the one at the wheel, pressing the gas pedal. 

S.H.:  What was the most pleasant surprise?

M.R.: As a magazine publisher I can imagine about a dozen topics a day that would make a good magazine – but not all of them would make sense. But after I went through a difficult divorce the first time and a bloodbath the second, I decided a magazine offering support to people working through that messy dissolution process would be helpful. The most pleasant surprise has been the overwhelming positive feedback from both divorce professionals as well as individuals currently going through marital divorce. While books can certainly be valuable, a magazine with smaller “get to the point” advice can be much more useful. Every issue will cover how to stay well emotionally, physically, financially, and legally through the arduous divorce process. The objective is to have readers feel encouraged, motivated, and hopeful with every read. The most perplexing part about the project is why no one had thought of this concept before. 

S.H.:  Divorce laws differ from state to state, how are you going to cover all the states and their laws in the magazine?  Are you starting regional (like California first) and then expanding to the rest of the country?

M.R.: The largest sector heading to court are the 50 + year-olds. The divorce rate in the State of California is now at 60% and climbing. I launched Divorcing Well first in California because this is where I live and I’m most familiar with the laws governing dissolution within my State, having just gone through the experience. But while divorce laws differ from State to State within the U.S., some things remain the same, regardless of region. 

For example, when we suffer a marital betrayal, the tools to help us through those feelings of loss and abandonment are not bound by geography. Some of us may have at some point felt like we want to accidentally run over our ex’s new girlfriend. We all feel similar feelings and most of the magazine tackles issues pertaining to staying well on every level (including why running over the girlfriend is a stupid idea). Some of the articles, specifically those that address legal strategies, must be modified based on the laws that apply to each State. Divorcing Well can easily expand to other States as most of the content is universally meaningful. The pieces that address divorce laws would have to be modified to adapt to the laws governing divorce in each State.

S.H.: My typical last question is what keeps Monique up at night these days?

M.R.: Nothing keeps me up at night. I believe in a good and gracious God who keeps my family safe and helps me at every turn. I have many friends who have trouble sleeping — I tell them they should learn to trust God or invest in an effective sleeping pill. 

S.H.: Any additional things you’d like to add or I failed to ask you…

Divorce really does suck. And those going through one that is complicated and contentious need a lot of support from friends, family, psychotherapists, divorce coaches and whomever else they can find to dispense constant encouragement. I hope our publication can be a resource to help breathe life to the heartbroken and tired individuals going through this hardship. Our company is a mostly female group and many of us have experienced divorce. We are putting our hearts and souls into helping readers get through divorce and do it well. 

S.H.: Congratulations on the new launch and thank you.

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Link2Us Magazine: The Intersection Of Faith And Popular Culture: The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor-in-Chief Judith Manigault.

January 12, 2022

“Although we have an online presence (and our culture does thrive on the immediacy of online engagement), there’s nothing like the print experience: sitting down with a great magazine and being transported via images, various stories, and content that teaches and inspires. Print is altogether a different thing – an actual real experience.” Judith Manigault, Editor-in-Chief, Link2Us.

Link2Us Premiere Issue Winter 2022

“At the intersection of faith and popular culture lies Link2Us, a new lifestyle publication providing readers with a blueprint for living their best and most authentic lives. The new magazine delivers fresh and engaging content, including health and wellness news, finance tips, style trends and more, with faith and inspiration at its core,” so says the press release for the last new magazine launch of 2021.  The first issue of the magazine arrived late in December at the nation’s bookstores featuring cover star and ABC’s The Bachelor alum, Madison Prewett. 

The digital entity was launched in 2019 and migrated from the womb of digital to the reality world of ink on paper.  I had the opportunity to chat with Editor-in-Chief, Judith Manigault “who birthed the magazine’s concept while on a quest to find faith-based content that spoke to the issues of everyday life in a contemporary and relevant way.”  Judith noticed a lack in print offerings that filled this faith-based contend, and decided to do something about it.

And thus, Link2Us was born. Please enjoy this conversation with Judith Manigault, founder and editor-in-chief, Link2Us.

Judith Manigault, founder and editor in chief, Link2Us magazine

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni:  Congratulations on the launch of Link2Us newsstands’ debut. Can you please tell me about the idea behind the magazine and why did you decide to launch it in print on the newsstands now?

Judith Manigault : As a new publication, we fill a most overlooked niche: a culture hub for the 70% of adult Americans who consider themselves Christians. Historically, faith-based publications have centered their reach on ALL things spiritual but overlook prominent themes covered in mainstream outlets: note-worthy inspirational personalities, entertainment, food, fashion, travel, and more.

A few years ago, I noticed this missing link as I combed through an airport newsstand. Not one magazine bridged the gap between a world of faith and inspiration (which we all need now more than ever) and the everyday lifestyle topics that make our world a more vibrant place. So, we went to work and created a beautiful hybrid we believe millions will enjoy.

Although we have an online presence (and our culture does thrive on the immediacy of online engagement), there’s nothing like the print experience: sitting down with a great magazine and being transported via images, various stories, and content that teaches and inspires. Print is altogether a different thing – an actual real experience. It has the power to slow us down, make us pause, pay attention—and so we thought, what better time to engage the culture with a physical magazine? 

S.H.: The brand was founded in 2019. How did it evolve and what was the most challenging aspect of creating this brand?

J.M.: Well, the evolution of the brand was relatively seamless. We listened to our readers, expanded on what worked, and took the limits off of what is generally considered faith-based content. We meet the reader where they are and bring a fresh perspective to the conversation. You’d be surprised at how many folks search for a better way of thinking, being, and doing life.

S.H.: What was the most pleasant moment during this experience?

J.M.: As a promotional tactic, we asked our readers around the country to find us at their local Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, and airports. Their posts and videos have been fantastic. Knowing that we have made the leap, and they can now find us across the U.S. – from California to NYC (and now Canada) – is exhilarating!

S.H.: What is the role of print in a digital age, and where does the print edition of Link2Us fit in the brand formula?

J.M.: Print is a media format that will continue to thrive as long as people have stories to tell. Readers everywhere still love to curl up with their favorite book at home, or bring their daily newspaper to their local coffee shop for a skim. Turning the pages to see what’s next (in a story, or what’s next in fashion, for example) is still incredibly exciting. Learning about the next trend or finding inspiration for the weeks ahead, especially at this particular time in our lives, is a basic human need and Link2Us is here to meet it.

S.H.: Your tagline is Link2Us and be inspired… and your motto is Next Level Faith… Can you please expand?

J.M.: “Link2Us and be inspired” was simply a way to convey our mission to inspire the masses. “Next level faith” grapples with how we see ourselves as people of faith in the world, and challenges our readers to reach new heights and create a life of faith that is more dynamic, appealing, and compelling.

S.H.: Is there anything else you’d like to add.

J.M.: While we are living in times marked by cultural, political, and social divides, the reality is that we do need each other to survive. It is my hope that Link2Us will serve as a common ground, where conversations revolve around the things that connect us, and not what separates us.

S.H.: My typical last question is what keeps you up at night?

J.M.: Believe it or not, that would be expansion. For us, the ability to talk to and reach a broader audience is of utmost importance. Launching at retail is a major step in connecting with the masses, and we are thrilled. 

S.H.: Congratulations again and thank you.

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Alan Katz Heads To The Mountains…Seven Questions With The Mountains’ Founder & CEO. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

December 21, 2021

With The Mountains, we’re bringing world-class photography and service journalism to an audience that has “decentralized luxury” and is tricky for advertisers to reach.” Alan Katz, Founder and CEO, The Mountains.

Then in my adult life, I gave the Hamptons a shot, but it wasn’t my vibe. Pun intended, I just thought it was so much cooler in the mountains!” Alan Katz

What can a “dynamic, highly connected sales and marketing executive with over 20 years experience driving growth and developing new businesses and brand extensions across diverse media platforms — from print to digital to e-commerce,” do next? Well, for the man who held top executive jobs in the magazine media world for almost a quarter century, there is nothing else to do but head to The Mountains, (pun intended). Alan Katz, the former publisher of Cargo, Vanity Fair, Interview, and New York magazines, and the former CEO of AKA Media and Chief Revenue Officer of DuJour Media, is ready to be his own boss and ready to launch a new venture called, you guessed it, The Mountains: the magazine that tags itself as the magazine “from to the Catskills to the Berkshires.”

I had the opportunity to ask Alan seven questions regarding his new venture, so without any further ado, here is the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Alan Katz, Founder and CEO, The Mountains.

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni:  The late Steve Florio once described entrepreneurs launching magazines as “terribly naive about what it takes to make a magazine successful,” yet he was kind enough to call this group of future publishers “the romantics.”  As a former Condé Nast executive and publisher, do you consider the entrepreneurial launch of your new magazine The Mountains a romantic affair or a genuine new media business?

Alan Katz, Founder and CEO, The Mountains

Alan Katz: Both. Steve hired me in 2003 to launch Cargo, a terrific men’s magazine. It was both a romantic notion and a genuine new media business–as is The Mountains.  

To me, the word “mountains” itself is romantic; it’s what my parents called the Catskills back in the day. A magical oasis from the big city, where you could find fantastical hotels and retreats.

I chose the name both for its nostalgia and because it’s so relevant to our mission: to be the exciting new resource for the residents, weekenders and visitors of the region from the Catskills to the Berkshires. What’s more romantic than that? We all LOVE this region. It’s gorgeous, bucolic, adventure-filled, rooted in community.

But make no mistake…this is a genuine business. The region is BOOMING—4 of the top 10 zip codes in the U.S. with the biggest growth in net migration 2019 to 2020 were in our geography. Real estate and new businesses are off the charts. The pandemic fueled a “rebalancing” between cities and more rural areas that was already underway. The result is a more sophisticated audience not being served by the existing media in the area. 

With The Mountains, we’re bringing world-class photography and service journalism to an audience that has “decentralized luxury” and is tricky for advertisers to reach. 

S.H.:  How do you approach the launch of The Mountains as opposed to the launch of Cargo?

A.K.: Back to Steve, he famously said at my first team meeting, “There’s nothing like a Condé Nast launch,” and in 2003 he was so right!

The main difference is fundraising. We’ve chosen to seek investment from strategic partners who care about the community and want to support fantastic writers and creative talent that will help bring this region to life, uncover hidden gems and inspire new discovery. 

S.H.:  What is the genesis of The Mountains?

A.K.: I’ve always loved the area. In my childhood, I experienced it all: a bungalow colony, sleepaway camp and fine hotels, all in the Catskills. I even had my prom at Grossinger’s. From “A Walk on the Moon” to “Dirty Dancing: to “Meatballs” (and these day, “The Marvelous Ms Maisel”), I’ve enjoyed it all!!

Then in my adult life, I gave the Hamptons a shot, but it wasn’t my vibe. Pun intended, I just thought it was so much cooler in the mountains! 

So after 25 years as a weekender and homeowner in Columbia County, traveling  around the Catskills and Berkshires and randomly seeing the various media, I was often left wanting more. More original photography. More insightful writing. More useful advice. I’d worked at New York MagazineCargoVanity FairAndy Warhol’s Interview and DuJour, to name a few. My standards were understandably high, but I believed someone should attempt to deliver the best for the market. Then one day, I finally realized that person should be me.

S.H.:  You are launching both in print and digital, what is the plan?

A.K.: Yes, the plan is to launch with both seasonal print and daily digital in Spring 2022. This is a market that doesn’t have the best digital or cable service. It’s a thing. Hopefully that will improve, but until then, a high-quality magazine is what business owners and consumers want and need. They like to lean back and enjoy great writing and cool finds. Print has a certain credibility and luxury, plus it’s power outage-proof!

Our readers come to the mountains to be disconnected, yet want to stay connected, so we’ll fill in the timely facts with daily digital, email newsletters, social media and future video series and podcasts.

S.H.:  Tell me about the team working with you and the goals you expect to achieve prior to the Spring 2022 launch.

A.K.: We’ve hit the ground running with super-talented and connected editors, writers, designers, sellers, marketers and financial folks. They have deep roots in the community and have worked at some of the best brand in the business such as; New York MagazineUS Weekly,Vanity Fair, Apple, AirbnbArchitectural Digest, 1stdibs, Complex, Travel & LeisureDepartures and The New Yorker.

Prior to 2022 we are building the team and the content strategy, uncovering the fun facts and relationships that will enhance our platforms. And seeking advertising support from local and national businesses, brands and service providers, as well as financial and strategic investment partners.

I’m thrilled to say, both are going exceedingly well!

S.H.:  Anything else you’d like to add…

A.K.: I can’t express how much fun this has been, and how welcoming and collaborative the community has been. Everyone says it’s a long time coming, and appreciates our bringing the counties together under The Mountains moniker. Some of our first advertisers are signing on for 2-year schedules!

S.H.:  My typical final question, what keeps you up at night these days?

A.K.: What keeps me up at night these days is two kids in college, one just starting her first great job and the uncertainty of this global pandemic.

As per The Mountains, every aspect of the business tends to keep me up–my mind is racing with new ideas and ways to improve the media landscape for our audience and marketing partners. I mean it. Let’s go!!

S.H.: Thank you and good luck.

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“Print Magazines, Not Money” & 27 Other Reasons For The Power Print In Bitcoin Magazine…

December 6, 2021

The relaunched Bitcoin magazine (Fall 2021) published a team letter from the publisher celebrating the necessity of print and why print is needed today more than ever. I rarely reprint someone’s else work, but in this case I am going to make an exception and reprint some of Bitcoin magazine’s the power of print reasons… Enjoy.

You can read the entire reasons for the power of print by clicking on the image below, but here are three of my favorites:

“Every revolution had a magazine.” Mike Germano

“Like proof of work, a paper magazine inextricably links a negatively digital innovation with the physical world, supporting a technology built with humanity in mine.” David Zel

“With the print magazine, all the worlds most important stories on bitcoin can be held in your hand and in your possession. Unhampered and uncensored by the internet.” Will Heckman

And what is good for Bitcoin magazine in print is good for the majority of the magazines out there. So, head to the nearest newsstand or bookstore and pick up a magazine or two and feel the power of print in your hands…

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RACEWKND magazine: Delivering the Culture & Lifestyle of Formula 1 to Your Home. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Magnus Greaves, Founder And Publisher.

November 18, 2021

“So a beautiful, oversized print product that is delivered to your home can have the effect of connecting you to the sport.” Magnus Greaves, Publisher, RACEWKND

Never give up trying new ideas. The aforementioned can easily describe Magnus Greaves, the man coming from the world of finance and an entire Wall Street driven media magazine venture, Double Down Media, that went belly up when the entire market, and the American magazine business model that was based on that market, went belly up too! Magnus, the ever-dreaming and planning financier, found yet another way in this digital age to enhance print and ensure its success in a completely different way than his previous ventures at Double Down Media, MyMag, and Rev.

In 2021 Magnus Greaves founded RACEWKND, a magazine that celebrates the culture and lifestyle of Formula 1 and delivers the racing experience right into your home.

I asked Magnus seven questions about his new venture. My questions and his answers are below. Enjoy…

Q1:  In a nutshell, tell me what is RACEWKND?  When was it started and how often it is going to be published?
RACEWKND celebrates the culture and lifestyle of Formula 1, the highest level of motorsport which is also seen as one of the world’s most glamorous sports. Back in 2015 I started a similar magazine called Rev Journal but was inspired during the pandemic to make significant changes to the branding, packaging, distribution and overall business model. This resulted in RACEWKND which has been extremely well received and we are now on a schedule to publish four issues per year. 

Q2:  How is this launch different from your previous venture MyMag?
MYMAG was a personal publishing platform for famous people but was sadly a bit ahead of it’s time (which I know sounds odd for a print product!) The innovation was in how we worked with the individual and I’m actually revisiting that concept again as I feel it ties in extremely well with social media. RACEWKND is much different as the original premise was more about filling a void in the market (this sexy global sport had no media product that celebrated its sexiness) and the innovation this time comes through the business model and distribution plan. 

Q3:  Who is the audience of RACEWKND and how to you plan to reach them?
Formula 1 has been extremely popular globally for decades but it’s never been able to crack the US market. In recent years the sport was also having a very hard time attracting new fans. That all changed quite dramatically with the Netflix show “Drive to Survive” which explores Formula 1 through the personalities, drama and locations. As a result, F1 is now exploding in the USA and is attracting a far more diverse audience. RACEWKND is created to appeal to this new audience as our editorial approach and design sensibility is a perfect next step for these new fans which, given the size of Netflix, now outnumber the size of the old-school F1 fan base. 

Q4:  What are some of the obstacles, if any,  facing you with this venture and how do you plan to overcome them?
The biggest obstacle we face is in connecting with the American F1 fan base in an efficient way. I will never, ever go down the newsstand route again and that simply wouldn’t be effective with this audience anyway, particularly in the USA. And unlike sports such as basketball, there are no stadiums that host multiple home games and no chains like Foot Locker that sell team merchandise, snaking it hard to find alternative channels to fans. So we had to come up with a completely new plan and that lead to a genuine breakthrough- RACEWKND has adopted the modern direct-to-consumer business/distribution model that’s been so successfully implemented for products such as eyeglasses, clothing, mattresses, etc. I figured if this approach works for mattresses, then certainly a light, flat product like a magazine should be perfect and the results have been amazing. We start the process with targeted advertising and affiliate partnerships which connect us to F1 fans. We then sell every subscription on our Shopify platform and send magazines out very efficiently using AmazonFBA. In fact, I’m thinking about working with other magazines to show them how to implement this great business model which brings so many benefits. 

Q5:  Some say we don’t have a print problem, we have a business model problem in the magazine media industry, what do you think?  What is the role of print in today’s media landscape?  What is the future of print?
Well I 100% agree with this statement!! Per my answer above, studying the direct-to-consumer business model (as well as the subscription box business model) completely changed how I perceive the magazine business, and it’s completely changed the economics of running a magazine company. As for the role of print, I feel it’s more relevant than ever for publishers that use it in a way that truly takes advantage of the medium, which unfortunately not many do. But the flip side of that is that many publishers have done an amazing job of adapting their offering to beautiful new tablets, so growth for magazine brands can come in many forms. As for RACEWKND, a tangible print product has enormous value as Formula 1 hosts 23 races in 23 different countries resulting in 95%+ of fans not attending a race during the season. So a beautiful, oversized print product that is delivered to your home can have the effect of connecting you to the sport. When there is only one shop in the USA that is dedicated to selling F1 merchandise, having a product like RACEWKND come to your house is a nice experience that is hard to replicate. 

Magnus Greaves, publisher, RACEWKND

Q6:  Anything else you’d like to add before my typical last question?
Operating in this new direct-to-consumer business environment has really highlighted to me the value of print as a product in a fresh way as well as the need to create a brand that reflects your overall goals rather than simply what you aim to achieve with a magazine. As a result, I feel less exposed to the various direct threats of the traditional publishing industry and more connected to the innovative companies that are being launched and celebrated in different arenas. And you will have noticed there is not one ad in our magazines- this new business approach eliminates that hassle!!

Q7:  What keeps Magnus up at night?
I go to sleep every night thinking of new ways to connect with the potential RACEWKND audience and making sure that we are doing a good job communicating the attributes of our great print product across digital channels. The tools are in place to achieve all of this but you have to continuously seek out best practices (from outside the publishing industry!) to stay on top of it all. 

Indeed, and thank you…

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A “Mr. Magazine™” Conversation With Tom Florio, Founder And CEO Of ENTtech Media Group. Part 1.

November 4, 2021

The News: “PAPER and Google Shopping have partnered to transform the trends of 2021 into an innovative shoppable magazine. Celebrities and influencers Jennifer Coolidge, Bella Poarch, Bretman Rock, Bia and Law Roach are featured. The shoppable magazine packages 21 of the most boundary-pushing trends in an editorial feature conceived by cultural disruptor PAPER. The trend list, including ‘cottagecore’ and TikTok Beauty was curated based on Google trends data.”

The Interview: Having seen the aforementioned press release, I decided to reach out to Tom Florio, of Vogue & Condé Nast’s fame and currently the founder & CEO of ENTtech Media Group LLC, which owns PAPER, and engaged in a Mr. Magazine™ conversation about ENTtech Media Group, 21of21 Shoppable magazine, the past, present and future of magazines and media brands.  Here is part one from our conversation presented in a new Mr. Magazine™ interviews format. Hope you will enjoy…

The concept of ENTtech Media Group: I don’t approach what I do with the parameters of a magazine or not a magazine. I think that what we’ve built is an entertainment technology company (ENTtech Media Group). The foundation of the company is the distribution part, right? Like you talk about magazines, you have content, you have distribution and you have an audience. And I think when you come from the media world with that point of view, you create content for an audience, as opposed to what we see a lot of. Many brands and many agencies think they’re in the content business, but they’re not really creating content to bring in an audience. They’re creating content with a brand in mind to communicate to an audience like a group of people, a consumer. 

Defining a magazine: So my answer to your question is magazines have a connection with a consumer base and they’re creating content for that consumer base to, to accept, to take it in. So, I think that the first step is there needs to be a content strategy and there needs to be an audience. Then, with some regularity, you’re communicating with that audience, but that could also apply to Tik Tok, right? You have multiple infinite numbers of creators that have created an audience, but they’re not magazines, like the D’Amelio girls have 25 million followers bigger than Vogue, you know? But to me, when I approach a magazine, it’s to create content for like-minded people, and to communicate it with a certain curated informed point of view. That’s the idea of ENTtech Media Group. It is to let the creative process drive the content, but to use technology, to identify and distribute the content. 

Circulation vs. Advertising:  Unlike the old days of magazines, where you basically bought your audience with the lowest price, a dollar a name, and we know how it worked. You sell a bunch to the airlines and the airlines would send you a check. You create a circulation base and then you charge a CPM against that circulation base with the rare situations of like the People magazines of the world, or like The New Yorker, which I actually was the one who pushed The New Yorker from $16 a subscription where we were losing $16, because it costs $33 initially to break even on that subscription, to $50. Right. And this is back in 1995, The New Yorker was able to actually raise the subscription price and not lose any circulation at all. 

Usually, as you know, there is a relationship between how much you raise the subscription price and the fall out in circulation. There was none.  But if you looked at that field, looked at the circulation of The New Yorker, pre Tina (Brown), people like up here who has been subscribing for 10 plus years, and we drop the subscription to $16 to bring in all these other people over here because they wanted to make it cool and like a Condé Nast magazine. Right. But, in reality, the consumer should always pay for The New Yorker and the advertising should be secondary. So you have The New Yorker, you have People magazine, you have a handful of publications that were making money on circulation, but most weren’t.

The genesis of ENTtech Media Group: So what I wanted to do is to use technology to identify audiences and serve audiences messages based on their interests. And you don’t need a subscription strategy to do that. I took the team out of a company called The Audience. 

The Audience was a social architecture company, started by Sean Parker, Ari Emanuel and Oliver Lockett. The Audience was one of the first social media companies that could identify groups of people and serve them messages via social media, like using Facebook and such. What they wanted to do then was build these audiences around celebrities for the purpose, not of today’s influencer marketing was way too soon, but to drive movie viewership and things like that.

The approach that they used ended up failing. Not the technology, but the approach and I took the team out of that and were actually one of the founders of ENTtech. So my idea was if I could create a content strategy that’s highly creative and curated, and now I could identify people out there in the world, I could just push my content out to these people and then build my website. And that what was interesting about Paper specifically when I acquired it. Paper had just broken the internet with that famous Kim Kardashian cover. In fact “break the internet” is now a phrase trademarked by Paper. So I had seen that while I was interested in this new business model for media. And I was like, well, that was interesting because if we look at Paper’s Kim cover versus the Vogue’s Kim cover that was shot by Annie Leibovitz, which was four months apart. Let’s say that the Vogue cover cost $200,000 because it is Annie’s, right. Jean-Paul Goude shot the Paper cover for $10,000. The Vogue cover generated 750,000 uniques to the Vogue website. The Paper cover generated 30 million uniques to the Paper site, which nobody knew about Paper.

What I found to be very interesting is, here’s this social architecture that is really not being exploited across media properties. You had politicians using it very successfully, as we saw for this last election, you had brands buying it and using it on Facebook, but you really didn’t have media properties going in and using it to find audiences. So, I had this Paper that knew how to make content for the internet, which was really low budget content that would go viral.  The idea of ENTtech was to bring these two things together and to use it that way and to see if we could repeat it. And we did.

The changing business model: The print magazine, which I would have closed anyway, even without COVID, was more like marketing and merchandising PR, but nobody is buying print advertising really. It didn’t make sense and it wasn’t part of the strategy. It didn’t matter how much circulation Paper had or even its three and a half million uniques across our social platforms. 

Take for example AT&T; they were sponsoring the Jennifer Lopez Super Bowl Saturday concert. We just created all the meme marketing around it, and white labeled our social architecture. We went into the market by doing AB testing and everything else with our content. We went back to AT&T and said I know you are using this other company out there to do your social buying, a very big one that also does Procter & Gamble. I said, but I can tell you right now, Jennifer’s real fans are not going to tune in to Super Bowl Saturday on Facebook at 10 o’clock at night and watch her video. And they were like, what are you talking about? And we came up with this whole strategy that was kind of content. And then using our social architecture and with a $2 million budget delivered 7 million live streams, bigger than Taylor swift the year before who had a big social presence and actually gave AT&T a million dollars back. And they were like, wait a minute. Guess what, I did it with three people. 

So that’s when I knew we were onto something. That’s when we first launched ENTtech; it was three months into the company. And they were like, wait a minute. You know, like this other company, you outperform them two to one. And, and so we as a brand, the Paperbrand sits at this intersection of internet culture and pop cultureWe amplify internet culture in a pop culture way. So, for example, Paper covered Billie Eilish five years ago and then it pushed that content out through the internet. So now we get to this project and we, this long history of doing this including all the social media for the BTS concert in Riyadh globally.  We also did the social media for the 20th anniversary of Target and delivered 16 million live streams, bigger than CNN’s Trump debate. 

To be continued…

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