Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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Bella Grace New Generation Magazine: Inspiring A “New Generation” Of Print With A Different Kind Of Teen Magazine – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Christen Hammons, Director of Publishing/Editor In Chief, Bella Grace New Generation…

April 5, 2018

“Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something.” Christen Hammons…

“I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.” Christen Hammons (on print’s role in a digital age)…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Stampington & Company have been producing niche, enthusiast magazines for almost a quarter of a century. When it comes to arts and crafts, no one knows the space better than Stampington. But almost four years ago, the company stepped out of its comfort zone and launched a beautiful lifestyle magazine for women called Bella Grace. The first issue was filled with photographs and beautifully-penned stories that touched the heart and soul of the reader.

And now Bella Grace has given birth to a daughter, New Generation, a new teen magazine from Stampington geared toward 12-19 year old girls. Christen Hammons is director of publishing and editor in chief at Stampington & Company and is excited to send out birth announcements for the latest infant of the Bella Grace brand, a teen magazine that is proud to be different and offers girls places within its pages to journal, doodle, or just be themselves. A unique magazine for the individual teen with a need to find and share her voice, something New Generation encourages as over half of the magazine’s content is teen-contributed, with an ultimate goal of much more to come.

I spoke with Christen recently and we talked about the firm print foothold that the company still believes in so strongly, something that is obvious with every new title launched. But she and the company also believe in the digital presence of a brand too and definitely feel there is room for both, as she mentions in our conversation. Print Proud is an obvious fact with Stampington, but Digital Smart is also a part of its DNA, however, never a follower, Stampington & Company does digital its own way.

So, I hope that you enjoy this fascinating conversation with a woman who isn’t afraid to step out of the box and explore new frontiers, just as the company she works for isn’t, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christen Hammons, director of publishing/editor in chief, Bella Grace New Generation.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether Stampington and Company is out of its mind for starting a print publication for teenagers in this digital age: I really don’t think so. Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something. It sounds a little scary, but we thought it was worth a shot. There’s really nothing out there for that age group, especially the type of magazine that we’ve put out, where it is not focused on beauty or celebrities or anything like that.

On New Generation being a spinoff of Bella Grace, only for the younger Bella’s: Exactly. That’s exactly what the hope was. We call it, not even a sister publication, we’re almost calling it the mother publication because we had quite a bit of teenagers, although they were in the upper age range of what we’re featuring in New Generation, but we were having 18 and 19 year olds writing in to Bella Grace, submitting some really amazing stories. And we realized that we had a market already there, so it just seemed logical to do this.

On the non-political tone of the magazine: We’re trying to keep it a little bit on the lighter side. We are trying to keep it to where it will appeal to a variety of people. For example, I know Teen Vogue has taken a very strong political stance, but we want to make sure that there’s a place where they can take a break from all that’s going on in the world, because every day it’s something new for them to deal with, so it’s nice to have something that is all about them.

On the smaller size of New Generation: We’re trying to keep Bella Grace as the mother publication and the gold standard, where it has the book jacket cover, a very heavy cover and it’s a large magazine. This one is a little fun and whimsical and we made it a little bit smaller so you can throw it into your purse or in your bag or your backpack. We just think it’s fun to do things a little bit different and that not a lot of people do.

On what role she thinks print plays in a digital age: I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.

On the high cover price: What we’re doing is creating an experience. We’ve always been known for having higher-end magazines. We use the best paper we can find; we use really thick paper. And on all of our magazines, we keep a limit on outside advertising that we include. We’re really committed to making sure our magazines across the board, even some of our art magazines, are more of an experience, not just stories and articles, but we’re trying to make them more interactive and things that you can’t find online or digitally.

On Facebook’s CEO buying ads in print newspapers to make his public apology about the recent data breach: We’ve been seeing an uptick in some of our advertising sales. I mean, we do limit that, we have a set number of pages that we allow, but we’re starting to see a little bit of a revitalization of some print advertising, which is hard to do because so much of advertising has changed now to product placement online or sponsorships and affiliate programs. But it’s been nice seeing a little bit of a revival of print advertising, because making magazines is very expensive, so it does help support the cost of producing them.

On how she plans on ensuring that the Stampington & Company brand grows and becomes even “brandier”: What we’re trying to do with our brand is stay true to just putting out what’s fresh and really trying to make sure that we aren’t holding onto titles that are maybe a little boring or dated, so we’re trying to stay with what we’ve become known for, which is putting out new stuff all of the time. And that’s hard to find at times too, because sometimes you think you can’t come up with a new idea, but we’ve managed to. We have some more titles coming out in the next year that will really show how we’re always trying to push the envelope when it comes to what a magazine can be.

On the lifecycle of a magazine and how nothing is supposed to live forever: That’s been hard for us. We just looked at some of the titles that we’ve had for a long time and realized they’re not selling as well anymore. What could we put out there that people will want to buy? It’s hard, but because we have worked on these magazines for a long time, they can get a little tedious, they’re fun, but over time, anything can get a little boring to work on, so it’s been fun to revitalize the company and everyone is excited about new stuff when we put it out. Then the readers also get excited, and you have to keep your readers interested in what you’re doing. And keep it fresh for the readers, because obviously, that’s who we make these for.

On the Bella Grace brand being such a shift in focus for the company and how that journey has been: It was very nerve-wracking. We’ve been known so long for just primarily being arts and crafts magazines, so to put something out there that’s more of a lifestyle was very scary, but it’s been so well-received. We’ve had so many people to thank us for launching it, because there’s nothing like it out there. So many women’s magazines seem to all focus on the same thing that we thought, we have amazing writers that we work with, we’re all about supporting women, so it’s just been so well-received.

On whether there might be a “son” of Bella Grace in the future instead of just being a women’s magazine: We’ve thought about that. We’re definitely always open to the idea of that. It’s just for now we feel like it’s such a good time to empower and support women. We have had occasional male contributors, but we haven’t really dove in to see if there’s an interest on the male side of things.

On the major stumbling block facing New Generation: I think it’s the matter of getting it into their hands. Whether it be a parent; our hope is that the original Bella Grace reader will see that we have something for the younger crowd and they get excited and pick it up. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, but we have ideas for reaching out to schools and English teachers to see if we can get them copies, maybe even wholesale copies, just to get it into their hands. That’s the first thing.

On the Audrey Hepburn quote in the first issue of New Generation and whether she thinks teens will relate: I think it’s just the message that it conveys and we know how popular beautifully-designed quotes are. If you spend any time on Pinterest, that’s what the majority of people are sharing on there, these types of quotes. And I think the one we used of Audrey Hepburn’s is a timeless quote.

On how she is integrating the print New Generation magazine with a digital presence: Our model has been, for the most part, to wait on producing anything digitally from our titles until the print version has sold out. So, once it has sold out we make it available digitally, so we do not have to do a reprint and a rerun of the magazines. What we’re trying to do is create a nice community online for the readers. With our Bella Grace Instagram, we really try to make an effort. We use Instagram quite a bit, as well as Facebook, of course, but it seems a lot of people are spending large amounts of time on Instagram now, and it’s really great to see the community that’s emerging from our readers. They’ll have conversations back and forth.

On what she would hope to tell someone about the magazine and its journey one year from now: I hope if we talk a year from now to tell you that the demand has been so great that we were able to increase the magazine’s frequency to as frequent as Bella Grace’s, which is quarterly. And we’re hoping by that time, I would love to have 90 percent of the contributors be within the age range that we’re reaching out to for New Generation. Right now, we have a little over half of the girls are within that age range. I would love to have almost the entire magazine made up of that, because we say on the back of the magazine that we believe everyone has a voice and a story to tell, and we really want to help them tell their stories.

On whether she feels they are more experience makers or journalists at Stampington & Company: I would say that we’re more makers than anything. We don’t report on news; I feel like we’re makers in this company and we’re trying to showcase the work of our peers at the end of the day, whether they’re writers, photographers. I think we’re makers because we’re putting out a product that we’re truly proud of, with a lot of content and a lot of just emotion.

On whether the last issue produced is always her favorite magazine: I’d like to think that each one is better and it’s my favorite, but it’s hard because I’m already looking at the next one. I finish one and my mind is already on the next one. It’s a good reminder to step back and look at what you’ve accomplished, because by the time we get our print copies back, I’m already knee-deep in the next issue and I have maybe a few minutes to flip through it and appreciate what we’ve done.

On anything she’d like to add: This is one of those magazines that we’re so passionate about and that’s not to say that we don’t connect with the artwork that we publish in our other magazines, but there’s really an emotional tie from myself, from our publisher, from our designers, when we work on Bella Grace, that it’s just something we’re so passionate about doing and we’re so proud of it. It’s a different kind of fulfillment that we get from working on these titles over our art magazines.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: I would hope that they would think of authenticity and honesty.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: At the end of the day you’ll likely find me watching hockey; I’m a huge hockey fan; I have season tickets, so my husband and I are huge hockey fans. We’re a little obsessive and it’s just a great way to unwind. If you’re watching a game, you have no choice but to focus on the game, your mind doesn’t wander whatsoever. But I am also a veracious reader, I think last year I read 55 books. I’m a little more than a book a week, so those are my two passions. Watching hockey, but also reading. I love reading and I like stepping away from the computer at the end of the day.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Just having so many ideas and not having the time to execute things. Sometimes I have these ideas that I’d love to do and I just look at my daily schedule and it’s sometimes not feasible.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christen Hammons, director of publishing & editor in chief, Bella Grace’s New Generation magazine.

Samir Husni: Are you out of your mind starting a print publication for ages 12-19 in this digital age?

Christen Hammons: I really don’t think so. Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something. It sounds a little scary, but we thought it was worth a shot. There’s really nothing out there for that age group, especially the type of magazine that we’ve put out, where it is not focused on beauty or celebrities or anything like that.

It’s hard for teenagers sometimes, going through life, and we wanted to put something out there that really helped reaffirm who they are. And we think by combining it with the worksheet style, it provides something that was definitely worth picking up in print, because no other magazine has the worksheets and prompts for the kids to write in their book. So, we thought that was a key component for making sure that the print edition was worthwhile.

Samir Husni: Stampington, as a company, has been grounded in publishing all kinds of journals, from crafts to your latest, Bella Grace. And New Generation is a spinoff of Bella Grace, for the younger Bella’s.

Christen Hammons: Exactly. That’s exactly what the hope was. We call it, not even a sister publication, we’re almost calling it the mother publication because we had quite a bit of teenagers, although they were in the upper age range of what we’re featuring in New Generation, but we were having 18 and 19 year olds writing in to Bella Grace, submitting some really amazing stories. And we realized that we had a market already there, so it just seemed logical to do this.

Our hope is that the mothers will pick up this book for their daughters. Or grandmothers or aunts will pick this up for the younger girls in their lives and show them that there is something completely different out there for them. And hopefully it will reaffirm who they are during this really tough transition in their lives.

Growing up is not the same as it used to be. (Laughs) At least, when I did it. I just can’t imagine being a teenager these days. I think back to when I was a teenager and at the core, I think everyone struggles with the same issues and is looking for the same sort of validation in their lives. I would have loved something like this when I was growing up.

I was the girl who stayed home and wanted to read Jane Austen, instead of going out with friends. I was a homebody; I was a reader. I was a little bookish, so we’ve tried to open this up to all types of teenagers who have a wide variety of interests. I think sometimes that generation is underestimated, they get a lot of unfair criticism at times. They are a generation of substance and they’re smart. And we’re just hoping that by having their moms pick it up and putting it in their hands, that they’ll fall in love with it the way we have as we worked on it.

What’s really interesting too is that we’ve seen a couple of teen magazines launch recently, but this is one where at least half of the content is written by girls that are ages 12-19, which is really unique. There are some really incredible, talented children out there, teenagers out there, and I think that really sets it apart. They’re writing these stories for their classmates and their friends, and their own generation, so that’s what’s been fun, getting these incredible stories from these girls. I think our youngest contributor is 12 in this issue and it just gives them a voice. I think all anyone really wants is to be heard. So, we’ve been really proud to be able to provide them with their own voice.

Samir Husni: I’ve noticed that you have avoided any political aspects in the magazine?

Christen Hammons: We’re trying to keep it a little bit on the lighter side. We are trying to keep it to where it will appeal to a variety of people. For example, I know Teen Vogue has taken a very strong political stance, but we want to make sure that there’s a place where they can take a break from all that’s going on in the world, because every day it’s something new for them to deal with, so it’s nice to have something that is all about them. And something that just supports who they are and hopefully helps to give them a little more confidence, or lets them know that there’s other girls out there just like them that are committed to the same things in life.

Samir Husni: You’ve also managed to create a new size for the magazine, different than the rest of your titles. Tell me more about the idea of having a compact size print magazine.

Christen Hammons: In August 2017, we actually launched the first spinoff of Bella Grace, and that was our Field Guide, which is a whole workbook, full of prompts to write in and all of that. And we thought it would be fun to set it apart by making it a smaller size. So, it’s even smaller than New Generation, but we just thought it was a good size to tuck into your bag. It’s a nice distinction from Bella Grace.

We’re trying to keep Bella Grace as the mother publication and the gold standard, where it has the book jacket cover, a very heavy cover and it’s a large magazine. This one is a little fun and whimsical and we made it a little bit smaller so you can throw it into your purse or in your bag or your backpack. We just think it’s fun to do things a little bit different and that not a lot of people do.

Samir Husni: In your opinion, what role does print play in a digital age?

Christen Hammons: I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.

We have a couple of coloring pages in New Generation. We’ve got over 16 worksheets that give girls a little fun prompt to write, and it encourages them to either write or doodle, things like that. And you can’t do that with digital. And we think that’s what’s really fun about it. But I do think there’s a place for both.

Samir Husni: For the price of one issue of New Generation, you can subscribe to an entire year of some other magazines.

Christen Hammons: What we’re doing is creating an experience. We’ve always been known for having higher-end magazines. We use the best paper we can find; we use really thick paper. And on all of our magazines, we keep a limit on outside advertising that we include. We’re really committed to making sure our magazines across the board, even some of our art magazines, are more of an experience, not just stories and articles, but we’re trying to make them more interactive and things that you can’t find online or digitally.

Samir Husni: Recently, a friend of mine reminded me that when Facebook’s CEO apologized for the data breach, he didn’t use Facebook or any digital device, he actually bought ads in print newspapers.

Christen Hammons: We’ve been seeing an uptick in some of our advertising sales. I mean, we do limit that, we have a set number of pages that we allow, but we’re starting to see a little bit of a revitalization of some print advertising, which is hard to do because so much of advertising has changed now to product placement online or sponsorships and affiliate programs. But it’s been nice seeing a little bit of a revival of print advertising, because making magazines is very expensive, so it does help support the cost of producing them.

Samir Husni: You’ve been making magazines for some time now and you’ve created your own niche in the marketplace, where even if your name is not on the magazine as Stampington & Company, people directly know that it’s a Stampington & Company magazine. How are you ensuring that your brand will continue to grow and that it becomes actually “brandier” as print has become “printier?”

Christen Hammons: What we’re trying to do with our brand is stay true to just putting out what’s fresh and really trying to make sure that we aren’t holding onto titles that are maybe a little boring or dated, so we’re trying to stay with what we’ve become known for, which is putting out new stuff all of the time. And that’s hard to find at times too, because sometimes you think you can’t come up with a new idea, but we’ve managed to. We have some more titles coming out in the next year that will really show how we’re always trying to push the envelope when it comes to what a magazine can be.

And what’s been fun with Bella Grace is that we’ve really embraced that as a brand. We’ve embraced it as a lifestyle, by having Bella Grace and then having the sister publications coming off of that and the daughter publications, it’s really strengthening our brand and becoming really well known. We’re hoping to maybe look into maybe product lines that support it, that really fit within the Bella Grace feel.

We’ve really just become committed to keeping our brand fresh and exciting and launching things off of that to really enforce what our brand is, because we have a couple of other special publications that will be coming from the Bella Grace name. So, we’ll keep playing with ways to keep that brand exciting, but at the same time we still have our Stampington brand as well, which we have another handful of stuff coming out in the next year in place of titles that aren’t working so well anymore. Sometimes people have seen enough copies of something and it’s time to maybe either reduce the frequency or just to shift focus onto something else that maybe people haven’t seen so much of.

Samir Husni: You’re actually living the lifecycle of magazines. This is one of the things that I tell people; when a magazine dies or a magazine is born, that’s the natural lifecycle. Nobody is supposed to live forever.

Christen Hammons: Right, and that’s been hard for us. We just looked at some of the titles that we’ve had for a long time and realized they’re not selling as well anymore. What could we put out there that people will want to buy? It’s hard, but because we have worked on these magazines for a long time, they can get a little tedious, they’re fun, but over time, anything can get a little boring to work on, so it’s been fun to revitalize the company and everyone is excited about new stuff when we put it out. Then the readers also get excited, and you have to keep your readers interested in what you’re doing. And keep it fresh for the readers, because obviously, that’s who we make these for. But it has been hard to say goodbye to a few titles though.

Samir Husni: The last time we spoke, it was when you launched Bella Grace and it was a major shift from the titles that you had. When we spoke then, you were testing the waters with something very different. How has that journey been for the company?

Christen Hammons: It was very nerve-wracking. We’ve been known so long for just primarily being arts and crafts magazines, so to put something out there that’s more of a lifestyle was very scary, but it’s been so well-received. We’ve had so many people to thank us for launching it, because there’s nothing like it out there. So many women’s magazines seem to all focus on the same thing that we thought, we have amazing writers that we work with, we’re all about supporting women, so it’s just been so well-received. I’m glad we were nervous, because it made it exciting. Being that excited should make you nervous, but it really has been well-received.

Samir Husni: Any thoughts about having any “sons” of Bella Grace instead of daughters, or you’re going to just be a women’s lifestyle magazine?

Christen Hammons: We’ve thought about that. We’re definitely always open to the idea of that. It’s just for now we feel like it’s such a good time to empower and support women. We have had occasional male contributors, but we haven’t really dove in to see if there’s an interest on the male side of things.

Samir Husni: What do you think will be the major stumbling block facing New Generation?

Christen Hammons: I think it’s the matter of getting it into their hands. Whether it be a parent; our hope is that the original Bella Grace reader will see that we have something for the younger crowd and they get excited and pick it up. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, but we have ideas for reaching out to schools and English teachers to see if we can get them copies, maybe even wholesale copies, just to get it into their hands. That’s the first thing.

Samir Husni: On the last page of the magazine, there’s a quote from Audrey Hepburn. One of my students, who is a senior and graduating this May, her magazine idea is a magazine called Hepburn, after Audrey Hepburn. And she is a reader of Bella Grace. And she knew that New Generation was coming out before I did, I guess. Do you think this generation will relate or why Audrey Hepburn for these 12-19 year olds?

Christen Hammons: I think it’s just the message that it conveys and we know how popular beautifully-designed quotes are. If you spend any time on Pinterest, that’s what the majority of people are sharing on there, these types of quotes. And I think the one we used of Audrey Hepburn’s is a timeless quote. I thought it would be a challenge coming up with quotes.

A large part of Bella Grace and New Generation are these quotes that are laid out on photography. And I thought it would be challenging to find quotes that would relate to the age group for New Generation. But it was actually really easy, because the themes are universal, I think, for the most part. And so we really tried to keep in mind that having these quotes in there; maybe the girls would rip them out of the magazine and put them on their walls.

We were just looking for something that would appeal to the wide range of girls that are in this. And that’s a very well-known quote from Audrey Hepburn. And at the end of the day, these girls may not know who Audrey Hepburn is, but they’ll like the message she’s sharing.

Samir Husni: As we look at this “New Generation” of print, and recently my new book came out, Print Proud Digital Smart, you said earlier that we have to have both today, print and digital. How are you integrating this proud print product with the digital presence?

Christen Hammons: Our model has been, for the most part, to wait on producing anything digitally from our titles until the print version has sold out. So, once it has sold out we make it available digitally, so we do not have to do a reprint and a rerun of the magazines. What we’re trying to do is create a nice community online for the readers. With our Bella Grace Instagram, we really try to make an effort. We use Instagram quite a bit, as well as Facebook, of course, but it seems a lot of people are spending large amounts of time on Instagram now, and it’s really great to see the community that’s emerging from our readers. They’ll have conversations back and forth.

And we’ve heard from people that they’ve made friends with the people that they have interacted with on Instagram, just through our account. So, we’re just trying to build an online community that’s apart from the magazine, but is still a digital presence online.

Samir Husni: As you look toward the future, if you and I are chatting a year from now, what would you hope to tell me about New Generation?

Christen Hammons: I hope if we talk a year from now to tell you that the demand has been so great that we were able to increase the magazine’s frequency to as frequent as Bella Grace’s, which is quarterly. And we’re hoping by that time, I would love to have 90 percent of the contributors be within the age range that we’re reaching out to for New Generation. Right now, we have a little over half of the girls are within that age range. I would love to have almost the entire magazine made up of that, because we say on the back of the magazine that we believe everyone has a voice and a story to tell, and we really want to help them tell their stories.

Samir Husni: Do you consider yourself more of an experience maker or a journalist?

Christen Hammons: I would say that we’re more makers than anything. We don’t report on news; I feel like we’re makers in this company and we’re trying to showcase the work of our peers at the end of the day, whether they’re writers, photographers. I think we’re makers because we’re putting out a product that we’re truly proud of, with a lot of content and a lot of just emotion.

Samir Husni: And is the last issue always your favorite magazine you produce from any magazine?

Christen Hammons: I have favorites. That’s funny because when you work on a magazine, each one has its backstory, and maybe this one was more difficult for whatever reason. We’ve had some things just happen within the company that has almost been laughable, where we’re right on track and then something happens and we’re totally thrown off and then we’re behind. So, sometimes you have those personal ties to the magazines that you’ll associate with that particular magazine.

I’d like to think that each one is better and it’s my favorite, but it’s hard because I’m already looking at the next one. I finish one and my mind is already on the next one. It’s a good reminder to step back and look at what you’ve accomplished, because by the time we get our print copies back, I’m already knee-deep in the next issue and I have maybe a few minutes to flip through it and appreciate what we’ve done.

Samir Husni: Is there anything that you’d like to add?

Christen Hammons: This is one of those magazines that we’re so passionate about and that’s not to say that we don’t connect with the artwork that we publish in our other magazines, but there’s really an emotional tie from myself, from our publisher, from our designers, when we work on Bella Grace, that it’s just something we’re so passionate about doing and we’re so proud of it. It’s a different kind of fulfillment that we get from working on these titles over our art magazines.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Christen Hammons: I would hope that they would think of authenticity and honesty.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else?

Christen Hammons: At the end of the day you’ll likely find me watching hockey; I’m a huge hockey fan; I have season tickets, so my husband and I are huge hockey fans. We’re a little obsessive and it’s just a great way to unwind. If you’re watching a game, you have no choice but to focus on the game, your mind doesn’t wander whatsoever. But I am also a veracious reader, I think last year I read 55 books. I’m a little more than a book a week, so those are my two passions. Watching hockey, but also reading. I love reading and I like stepping away from the computer at the end of the day.

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

Christen Hammons: (Laughs) Just having so many ideas and not having the time to execute things. Sometimes I have these ideas that I’d love to do and I just look at my daily schedule and it’s sometimes not feasible.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Your Brain On Print/Your Brain On Digital – Day Two Of The Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience Promises To Be Extraordinary!

March 21, 2018

ACT 8 Experience Day Two
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 beginning at 8:15 a.m.

The Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience’s theme this year is Print Proud Digital Smart, and we invite you to register today and discover how appropriate that theme is to both our ACT 8 Experience and in our media world today. Contemporary success in magazines and magazine media and in communications in general is dependent upon both the printed word and the online pixel. In the 21st century, there is no excuse for any member of any audience having to choose. And our guests on Day Two will exemplify that fact.

Daniel Dejan

Liz Vaccariello


From Liz Vaccariello, Editorial Director, Parents Network, Meredith, to Daniel Dejan, ETC Print Creative Manager, Sappi, North America, you will hear how the two technologies go together like simpatico in motion.

Joe Hyrkin

Joe Hyrkin, CEO of the digital publishing platform, issuu, a medium that enables anyone — from independent creators to global brands — to distribute, measure and monetize their digital content, will also share his expertise.

Mona Hidayet, Executive Director, Clients & Products, Advantage CS, invites you to “Be Scholarly, Think Like a Shoemaker” with her presentation; Deborah Corn, Principal, Chief Blogger, and Intergalactic Ambassador to The PrinterverseTM – Print Media Centr, will give a lively discussion; and Erik van Erp, Founder and Editor, Print Media News, The Netherlands, follows with an internaitonal perspective on media.

On a Print Proud Digital Smart discussion panel happening right before lunch, Joseph Ballarini, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Tail Fly Fishing magazine; Tony Frost, Senior Vice President, TVGM LLC, TV Guide; Mark Potts, Managing Editor, Alta The Journal of Alta California; Jen Ripple, Founder and Editor in Chief, DUN magazine; and John Thames, Founder & Publisher, Covey Rise Magazine, will come together to showcase how each brand’s print component is enriched and enhanced by its digital counterpart. The panel will be moderated by Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing & Sales Consultant, Joseph Berger Associates. You don’t want to miss this dynamic discussion.

And later that day Tony Silber, magazine-media expert, founder of M10 Magazine and president of Long Hill Media, will lead a panel discussion on Magazines at Retail with industry leaders: Jerry Lynch, President, Magazine And Books, Retail Association; William Michalopoulos, Vice President, Retail, Sales & Marketing, PubWorX; Sebastian Raatz, Publisher/Co-founder, Centennial Media: Ray Shaw, Executive Vice President/Managing Director, MagNet; Dave Forsman, EVP of Sales, TNG. The discussion should be provocative and informative, so Day Two will certainly be memorable.

Then we’ll have a “View from Abroad” with panelists: Zenebe Likyeleh Beyene, Instructional Assistant Professor of Journalism Instruction and Director of International Programs, Meek School of Journalism & New Media; Natashia Gregoire, Reputation Manager, Editor, Access magazine, Fed Ex; Abdulsalam Haykal, Founder and Publisher, Harvard Business Review Arabic, United Arab Emirates; Monique de Ruiter, Former Editor Diversity magazine and VTWonen, The Netherlands; and Franska Stuy, Founder & Editor, Franska.NL, The Netherlands. This internationally flavored conversation will be followed by an informative presentation entitled “Millennials and Media Today: Research Findings” by Marisa Davis, Associate Director, Product Marketing – MNI Targeted Media.

Newell Turner

Then the University of Mississippi will present its Silver Em Award to the very deserving Newell Turner, Editorial Director, Hearst Design Group. So, it’s a day and an evening that you do not want to miss!

See you at the ACT 8 Experience! Space is very limited, so click here to register and ensure your place at those two and half days of magazine and magazine media bliss and click here to view the agenda.

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Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor: February Arrived And So Did 20 New Titles To The Marketplace…

March 3, 2018

The month of love brought us 20 new titles to keep close to our heart. From the French fashion magazine, L’Officiel, which delivered two magazines (albeit, with the same content) to American shores, to the once online-only Scandinavian fashion, art, and design title, Nordic Style, that now, according to the magazine’s editor in chief who writes in the premier issue’s editor’s letter, exists in the real world, the month of February was a chocolate heart wrapped in shiny red foil for magazine lovers. Seeing another example of Print Proud Digital Smart brought to life does a heart good, namely Mr. Magazine’s™. What a Valentine’s gift!

And Mr. Magazine™ would be remiss if he didn’t call to attention Food Network’s own, Valerie Bertinelli, who joins the ranks of other celebrities to bring her culinary talents to the pages of a new magazine. Valerie’s Home Cooking takes the wonderfully successful television show by the same name to ink on paper and allows fans to have Valerie with them 24/7. Print has that amazing quality of permanence that just doesn’t happen with any other medium. While the magazine is labeled a “Special Edition,” Mr. Magazine™ has little doubt that we will see more of these popular verticals in the marketplace. Could Mr. Magazine™ have coined a new phrase – a “special frequency” title? Hmm, we shall see.

Then there’s the new title, Jez, by photographer and entrepreneur, Ezequiel De La Rosa, proving yet again, that dreams do come true in the world of magazines. And these are just a few of the very special treats the month of February has for us.

Now, we look forward to a magnificent March! But first enjoy our beautiful February covers. See you next month…or at the newsstands.

******And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time.

For previous months’ launches click here.

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“Two If By Sea” – L’Officiel Joins America’s Newsstands

February 26, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Yesterday, I visited one of my most favorite places in the world – the newsstand. As I stood there marveling at the latest new arrivals, I spotted a European title that I of course recognized, but was not expecting to see on this side of the Great Pond especially with three very prominent letters after its title: USA. The magazine in question L’Officiel.

L’Officiel is owned by Jalou Media Group, which is a family-owned media group based in Paris. With 27 international editions, L’Officiel has a presence across over 80 countries— the USA being the most recent addition to the family.

What Mr. Magazine™ found extremely fascinating about this beautiful magazine, other than its exquisite covers (yes, I said covers plural) is that as this print title came across the sea, it hit America’s shores in two different iterations. We have the same magazine, but with two different titles, something Mr. Magazine™ is quite sure has never happened before. We have L’Officiel Hommes, for the gentlemen, and L’Officiel without any designated gender for the ladies. But both magazines have the exact same content, only two different titles.

And in typical European style, this first issue is being sold at the ridiculously low introductory price of $1. So, of course, Mr. Magazine™ had to have both copies, but truthfully, I would have had to have both regardless of the price.


In Joseph Akel’s editor’s letter, he addresses the obvious question: Why launch a magazine, especially in this day and age, given the state of publishing? The resounding response in part was: the need for a voice that is informed, inclusive, and open to creative expression is needed, perhaps now more than ever.

Mr. Magazine™ couldn’t agree more…welcome to America, L’Officiel!

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The Magnolia Journal: 2017 Magazine Launch Of The Year…

February 9, 2018

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 06: Doug Olson, president, Meredith Magazines accepting The Launch of the Year Award from Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni at the American Magazine Media Conference 2018 on February 6 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for The Association of Magazine Media)

And The Winner Is…

The Magnolia Journal took top honors at the American Magazine Media Conference in NYC on February 6 for the 2017 Launch of the Year award. Yours truly and the MPA: The Association of Magazine Media presented the award to the Meredith title. From a field of 212 new magazines launched with a regular frequency between Oct. 2016 and Dec. 2017, we selected 20, and then we carefully brought that 20 down to 10 finalists for the top honor of 2017 Launch of the Year. We are all pleased to see Meredith and The Magnolia Journal receive this award.

Why The Magnolia Journal you may ask? Well for one, the magazine will launch its spring issue on February 13th with a 1.2 million rate base. And as I told the press:

“It’s been a long time since a magazine has generated as much buzz in the marketplace as The Magnolia Journal has. The connectivity of the content and the design made and continues to make this magazine fly off the shelves. Under the leadership of editor in chief Joanna Gaines, this print product creates a very interactive experience for readers. “All in all, The Magnolia Journal burst onto the scene, and in less than a year, floated to the top, deserving the Launch of the Year award–an honor well-deserved.”

I asked Doug Olson, president of Meredith Magazines, his thoughts about this award. Here’s what he had to say:

And here’s a quick reminder on who were the top 10 finalist:

Looking forward to the 2018 Launch of the Year… Keep those new magazines coming.

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January Brought Us 19 New Titles For The New Year & Some Very Honorable Mentions…

January 31, 2018

When wintry winds blow fierce and cold, what’s a person to do? Why, curl up with a good magazine, of course. And January certainly brought us an exceptional array to choose from. Magazines who discovered the print life after being digital only, like “Dun” magazine, and companies like Away luggage that there is life “Here” as you travel there.

Also there were “Bursts of Color” for the New Year, and “Gin” for those of us who needed a little warming from the inside-out. From the “Hungry Girl, ” Lisa Lillien’s own kitchen filled with recipes and advice, to “Kitchen Toke,” where one could spend the first long winter month of the year learning how to cook with cannabis; these new batch of titles January cooked up were deliciously diverse.

And for those who love the world of watches, and how things such as collectible cars, architecture, travel and style revolve around the face of “time” like a second hand, there’s a new title from Hodinkee, the website that has become one of the most articulate voices in the industry, called – you guessed it – “Hodinkee.” The premier launch also includes 500 limited editions copies with a special black matte cover. (As shown below)

And two honorable mentions, “Reputation”, a magazine in two volumes for the ultimate Taylor Swift fan, and “Paul Ryan,” an unofficial title all about, who else, Paul Ryan, follow our January list. And while not frequency titles, these deserve to be highlighted because the power of the printed word and the dynamic effectiveness of a magazine’s cover spans the spectrum from celebrity-hood to politics (unofficial though that political title may be).

So, enjoy these great new magazines that gave us hours of reading pleasure during the cold days of January, and will continue to entertain us for many months to come.

See you soon for a Fabulous February!

******And please remember, if Mr. Magazine™ can’t physically hold, touch and purchase the magazine, it does not enter the monthly counts. And counts now include only the titles with a regular frequency that are either new or arriving to the national newsstands for the first time.

And now our “Honorable Mentions”

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Hottest Magazine Launches Of The Year: Announcing The 10 Finalist…

January 24, 2018

As long as we have new magazines, hope springs eternal for the magazine media industry. There is no better indicator about the industry than the continued faith in the medium through the launch of new magazines.

It is once again time to honor and celebrate those new titles that were born this past year. This time “The Launch of the Year” is being selected from all of the new magazines that were started from October 2016 (the cutoff date for the previous magazine of the year event that was hosted by Mr. Magazine™ and min) through December 2017. Beginning in 2018, we will be following the calendar year, with magazines launched between January 2018 and December 2018.

To honor and celebrate those new magazines, Mr. Magazine™ and MPA: The Association of Magazine Media will come together to pay tribute to “The Launch of the Year” during the American Magazine Media Conference in New York City on February 6.

By the end of December 2017 a total of 212 new magazine titles arrived on the scene with the intent to publish on a regular frequency, and you can add to that another 600+ bookazines and specials that are not included in this selection. You can view all the new titles at the Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor here.

The criteria for the selection process is as follows:

• We must have actual physical copies of them.

• The number one criteria point is the audience’s reaction to that magazine. How did the overall marketplace react and how did its intended audience respond to it? And just as important; how did the industry behave toward it? These questions are the first thing I ask upon selection of “The Launch of the Year.”

• Major industry leaders’ launching new print magazines certainly is something that must be recognized because it speaks of the power of the medium. These people aren’t in the business of wasting dollars on something that has no value. In the past there have been new offerings from publishing giants such as Hearst, Condé Nast, Meredith and the southern-born Hoffman Media. For companies as distinguished and successful as these to create and bring new titles into this digital world signifies the good health and power of print.

• And then there are the entrepreneurs, with their vision and determination to launch their magazine no matter the cost to their wallets and their emotions; they are no less amazing. Some of the best titles we’ve seen in a long time have been from relatively unknown publishers who are not without experience, just without the stolid names that audiences know so well.

• The criteria for selection is based on factors that include creativity and audience reaction first and foremost, and then industry trends and as always, those rogue wildcards out there that just won’t be denied and seem to make some of the best magazines around.

• Also, something has to grab our attention to be selected as “The Launch of the Year,” based on the comparative analysis.

Based on that criteria we were able to bring the nominations down from 212 to 20 titles and now to 10 titles that will compete for “The Launch of the Year.” The winner will be announced during the American Magazine Media Conference that will take place Feb. 6 in New York City.

This is an exciting time in the world of magazines and magazine media; print is indeed the new new media, the possibilities are endless! And so, without further ado, Mr. Magazine™ gives you the 10 remaining nominees:

Airbnb Magazine
Airbnb Magazine – published by Hearst Magazines, 300 W. 57th Street, New York, New York. 10019 https://airbnbmag.com

Airbnbmag is an example of a travel-destination website taking a leap into print to further humanize their digital brand. With tantalizing art and content of exotic, domestic and international escapes to complement, this magazine makes taking a vacation more of a unique experience than your budget or schedule might allow.

Alta
Alta – published by Journal of Alta California, 765 Market St., Suite 34-D, San Francisco, Calif. 94103 https://altaonline.com

This William Hearst III magazine (and not a Hearst magazine as he likes to remind everyone) details the different facets of life in California for — you guessed it — Californians. Whether it’s the current political discourse, musicians in the Valley, or a yarn spun of Californians past, this magazine will keep you up-to-date in West Coast trials and tribulations.

Girls’ World Bake it Up!
Bake It Up – published by Bauer Media, 58 West 40th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10018, https://kidstir.com/girls-world-bake/

What little girl doesn’t remember piping dough, mixing flour and topping freshly-baked cookies with sprinkles while listening to Brittney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” in their childhood home? Fast forward 20 years and Girls’ World Bake it Up! is a direct representation of that. This celebrity, food mashup, combines recipes, art projects and other fun activities preteen girls will drop their cell phones for.

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street
Milk Street – published by CPK Media LLC, 177 Milk Street, Boston, Mass. 02109, https://www.177milkstreet.com

You may have seen Chris Kimball on late-night TV testing recipes to perfection on America’s Test Kitchen. Since leaving America’s Test Kitchen, he started his own magazine. Milk Street is a cultural cooking oddity that presents the reader with a take on food not yet previously explored. It’s the blending of cultures, ingredients, art and content in a perfect concoction of a magazine.

Goop
Goop – published by Condé Nast, 1 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007, https://goop.com

Goop is another example of a digital entity discovering print and securing a major partnership between celebrity and publisher. Gwyneth Paltrow serves as editor (and go-to model) for Goop. This chic lifestyle magazine expresses the need for six much-needed distinctions in life: wellness, travel, food, beauty, style and work.

The Golfer’s Journal
The Golfer’s Journal – published by The Golfer’s Journal, 191 Avenida La Pata, San Clemente, Calif. 92673. https://www.golfersjournal.com

There’s more to golf than hitting a small, dimpled ball in, around or near a hole. Golfing is a lifestyle full of luxury and hardships that can only be experienced by those who’ve invested time and money into the sport. Detailed stories, accompanied by beautiful photos teeming with green, will satiate your golfing mind into a clear escape to the fairway.

The Magnolia Journal
The Magnolia Journal – published by Meredith, 1716 Locust St., Des Moines, IA 50309-3023. https://magnoliamarket.com/journal/

Chip and Joanna Gaines have won the hearts of many television viewers with their shiplap and all-white interior lifestyles, and now they’re winning the hearts of readers, too. Magnolia Journal is yet another example of a brand taking print form and taking the newsstand by storm. You’ll find stunning centerpiece designs, interior makeovers, farm-friendly recipes and even a sighting of the four Gaines’ children in each issue.

The National
The National – published by Ink, 1375 Spring St., Atlanta, Ga. 30309, http://www.amtrakthenational.com

Airline magazines can be read in-flight, but can this new railroad magazine be read in-rail? Of course it can — and anywhere else for that matter. This anecdotal publication was born from the heart, mind and soul of America’s railways and features content along each and every potential stop. If you have a minute to spare, climb aboard The National for an unforgettable reading and viewing experience.

The Pioneer Woman
The Pioneer Woman – published by Hearst Magazines, 300 W. 57th St., New York, New York, 10019, http://thepioneerwoman.com

Ree Drummond is a mainstay on morning television screens across the nation. She’s a fan of what most country cooks are, too — real food. Her brand mantra translates into the new Pioneer Woman magazine. You’ll get more hearty recipes, more Oklahoma prairie views and more of hunky husband, Ladd, in this stunning magazine of life on the ranch.

Type
Type – published by Type Magazine, 801 Third St. S., St. Petersburg, Fla. 33701, https://www.typemag.org

Renowned designer Roger Black is back with a vengeance in his new magazine Type. If you’re not hopping on the typography bandwagon, just know you’ll soon be left behind in a cloud of Comic Sans and Papyrus. The magazine displays stunning representations of typography and allows the reader a pairing of applicable content to complement.

Stay tuned for the naming of the top 10 finalist to be announced the third week of January 2018 and looking forward to seeing you at the American Magazine Media Conference in New York City on Feb. 6, 2018. Click here for more information about the AMMC.

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