h1

No “Fifty Shades Of Grey” For Magazines… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

February 13, 2015

50 Shades1-1When it comes to magazines there is no limit to the number of shades one can find. But when it comes to one specific Shade of Grey one can hardly find a magazine or two reflecting on the movie that opens tomorrow across the United States.

The premier installment of the bestselling novel by the same name is scheduled to be released Valentine’s weekend. The movie hasn’t even been shown, yet there are plans in the works for the next two films in the book’s trilogy: Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Lucky Dakota Johnson (who plays the female main character, Anastasia Steele) and Jamie Dornan (lead male character, Christian Grey); their bank accounts just increased by several zeroes, no doubt.

While the controversy of the book’s plot really comes to light when it’s adapted into a movie; ticket sales have been through the roof for the movie’s debut. And while the hoopla of a good controversy only feeds the desires of most of us to actually go and see what the big deal is all about, the magazine media industry has been a bit more hesitant to dive ink first into this pool of contention.

In the past magazines have always played a great role in reflecting and complementing every other medium, be it a book, a television program or a movie. Magazines are the mirrors of life; they reflect and depict each and every social, moral and news issue in a way nothing else does. The film industry is no exception. From the The Harry Potter series, to the Twilight series, to The Hunger Games and everything before, after and in between; magazines have showcased and related the film’s story, complete with pictures, to a satisfaction that the script sometimes doesn’t even generate with the audience.

However, many times the movies, such as the ones previously mentioned: Twilight and its brethren, are geared toward the younger generation; the much younger generation, as in teenagers. And while that in itself isn’t a bad thing, the premises of some movies are not exactly meant for the teen set. One in particular comes to mind: Fifty Shades of Grey.

Fifty Shades 2-1 How do you get your target audience away from the younger generation when for the most part it’s that generation that will purchase your special issue? In fact, other than Topix Media (which published one magazine when the books came out in 2012 and now published a second title under the Newsweek brand about the movie), Bauer, so far, is the only other publisher who published a title related to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. The magazine, The Complete Story Of The Making Of Fifty Shades of Grey is published under the brands Life Story and Film Fantasy. Titles under those brands from Bauer were mainly aimed at the teen scene including bands like One Direction and movies like Harry Potter.

So why then are there not at least fifty Fifty Shades of Grey magazines on the nation’s newsstands? The answer is simple, very simple. Such magazines are reflectors of the movies. And magazines reflecting a movie, which is touted to have extreme erotica and bondage-type scenes, have been few and far between, if not non-existent. In a book without pictures one can get away with any topic no matter how obscene or insane the topic is. Create a magazine and you will need pictures. There lies the source of the problem. Add to that all the negative publicity the movie is already generating from domestic violence groups and many pastors who are encouraging people to boycott?

The first magazine dates back to 2012.

The first magazine dates back to 2012.

In an article published in the largest paper in my home-state Mississippi, The Clarion-Ledger, the headline screams: Mississippi the most eager state to see ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, the irony of that title is brought to the forefront; not only the irony, but also the factual truth of the statement, when the piece reports that The American Family Association, which has its office in Tupelo, Miss. is urging everyone to not see the movie. Ironic in that, according to the article, the Washington Post’s website reported that the film accounted for 60 percent of all Fandango ticket sales this week, especially in the South and Midwest. That makes it the highest-grossing R-rated movie in pre-release sales on the movie ticket website, and the No. 1 state, Mississippi, nearly four times its average for pre-show ticket sales, with the first city in the state to sellout a theater, Tupelo, where the AFA’s office is.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Go figure.

h1

Magazine Launches: “Magazine Power By The Numbers.” A Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive

February 11, 2015

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

The very essence of growth and sustainability is within the confines of creation itself. And Mr. Magazine’s™ Launch Monitor was born from that idea. It is the nursery window where proud parents and relatives or friends of the family can stand and admire the beauty and potential of each newborn ink on paper at their leisure.

monitor
For the year 2015, I’m adding a new feature to the Launch Monitor: yearly comparisons. From the Top 10 categories to the Average Cover Price – each month will have the numbers for 2015 and 2014 for you to parallel and consider. The numbers will speak for themselves and the information will be available along with the usual new magazine launches and their covers.

jan by category

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

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

h1

Monogamy, Addiction and Storytelling – A Trio That Can’t Be Beat…1,001 Mr. Magazine’s™ Blog Posts Takes A Lesson From 1,001 Nights And Passes It On To Magazines.

February 10, 2015

There was a story written long ago, that I’m sure many of you remember reading or hearing about, called One Thousand and One Nights, often known in English as Arabian Nights. Now I won’t give you a long, drawn-out refresher course in literature; suffice it to say, the premise of the story was the King, Shahryar, is shocked to discover his sister-in-law has been unfaithful to his brother for quite some time and subsequently finds out his own beloved bride isn’t so lily-white either when it comes to the art of fidelity.

Magazines Magazines and More Magazines Worldwide... Monogamy, Addiction and Storytelling.

Magazines Magazines and More Magazines Worldwide… Monogamy, Addiction and Storytelling.

The King has her executed and becomes bitter toward all women, marrying a succession of virgins, only to execute them one by one due to his mistrust of the fairer sex. Eventually the Vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade, the Vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it; she only leaves him longing for more each night, which does wonders for her ability to stay alive.

And hence, Mr. Magazine’s™ narrative begins where Scheherazade’s left off. Magazines could learn a few things from One Thousand and One Nights. When Digital showed her curvaceous pixels onto the magazine scene, publishing kings were definitely affected by the temptations she offered. And while print was certainly more monogamous than Shahryar’s brother’s wife proved to be; publishing kings were merely chomping at the bit to ‘execute’ their ink on paper spouse and marry every digital maiden that happened along, seeing visions of digital empires and fruitful offspring throughout that new kingdom called cyberspace.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work that way for magazine media, or King Shahryar, for that matter; albeit their situations were slightly reversed, with the kings of publishing trusting their new digital brides just a bit too much.

But while Shahryar was always distrustful of women after his brother’s experience, there was one thing for certain, he was still addicted to the opposite sex and kept coming back for more with as many different young ladies as the Vizier could find.

The addiction must be there. Without the desire and magnetic pull urging and demanding the King to try again or in the magazine’s case, the customer’s habitual return to the product, there would never have been a continuing relationship with Scheherazade for him, or a recurrence of connection and relevance with the audience for the magazine.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the customer being obsessed with your product. In fact, it’s encouraged, just in case someone out there was wondering. A printed magazine is one of the most obsessional items around for human beings who enjoy reading. It’s an experience that plays on all the senses on many levels. So don’t kick it to the curb just because it’s the 21st century. In fact, most publishers today are finding print to be the collectable part of their digital/ink on paper duo, with a lot of digital companies conceiving print components just to add that attribute to their brand. You can’t exactly stick a webpage in the bottom drawer of your grandmother’s antique dresser to pull out later when you have the time to savor it. I suppose you could stick your laptop there, but trust me, the experiences are much different. Not to mention, the computer would most likely be dead anyway, depending on how long it took you to get back to it.

Once you’ve established the addiction factor into your kingdom, never forget the allure and deep satisfaction people have for the art of storytelling. After all, it’s what kept Scheherazade alive every night, that ability that she had to keep the King wanting more.

Weaving enchanting stories into the content of your product will continue that all-important addiction and perpetuate audience connection and repetition in a way that nothing else can.

Just remember that the King’s curiosity about the story Scheherazade told always bought her another day of life. Magazines would do well to remember that lesson.

Monogamy, addiction and storytelling – three points of interest in One Thousand and One Nights and three points of interest in Mr. Magazine’s™ 1,001 blog post. And as it was in Scheherazade’s case, there is always hope when you’re willing to innovate, create and motivate your product to be the best it possibly can.

Until 1,002…

h1

On Magazines And Magazine Making… A Mr. Magazine™ Common Sense Musing.

February 6, 2015

samir2015 It does not take a genius to know that there is no magazine media without magazines and if I may add, there are no magazines without ink on paper. Inherent in the definition of the word magazine since 1731, is the fact that it is a printed bound product made from ink and paper.

Magazines were never referred to as such because of the fact that they are ink on paper publications. The name magazine was a descriptive adjective of a collective printed experience that did not need to be identified by the process of printing or the smell of the ink.

It was not until the dawn of online and digital publishing that we tried to outsmart ourselves and attempt to introduce new definitions of what is and what is not a magazine. We started with replicas and ended with a complete revision of the definition of what a magazine is. In this process of unnecessary change folks started to confuse the definition of a magazine with the many new platforms that started arriving on the scene. And with that confusion we started to move our eye away from the prize, the printed magazine, and began to focus on ways and means to replicate or duplicate what we have in print.

Without magazines there is no magazine media. Yes it is true, that magazines alone may not be the “cup of tea” for some of our audiences, but it should not and must not be true to our publishers and media companies who were/are too quick to jump ship and attempt to change the definition of what a magazine or a magazine company is or is not.

When Coca-Cola introduced the non-caffeinated drink Sprite, it did not change the name of the company. When Apple introduced the Mac, it did not change the name of the company. Magazine companies should and must introduce new products and new platforms to their mix of goodies, but they at the same time, should adhere and respect their history and brand name.

Changing the Coke Company to Coke and Sprite does not only dilute the company as a whole, but also introduces confusion into the marketplace. A magazine company that introduces new magazines, new videos, and new apps is still a magazine company. We should take pride in our history as we introduce new products and invent digital components the same way our predecessors invented printed magazines.

When I went to journalism school I was never taught the art of printing. I was taught the art of journalism. I was in the business of filling the pages with great stories and great content for that very specific product that is called a magazine or a newspaper. Never once did I learn anything about the making of ink or the making of paper.

That same creativity and curiosity must be adhered to when we are inventing new products from our magazine companies to the market place. We should not replicate or duplicate any or all of our products. A new medium requires new ways of presenting and engaging our audience. Digital products require digital thinking and digital creativity. Digital does not mean shoving print onto the screens of our digital devices. It is a completely different experience.

Magazines are not dead or dying. Some have committed suicide and some are attempting to do so. But a lot of others are doing very well, thank you. A whole lot more are arriving at the marketplace worldwide. They are not offering nor do they care to offer excuses of why they are arriving in a printed format. They know they are not publishing a magazine if they are not printed, and their audience knows that too…

No one can or should argue that we do not live in a digital age, but just living in a digital age does not mean we have to ignore the other media out there. Digital watches did not kill analog watches. In f act after a few years of digital watches’ advancement on the marketplace, analog watches made a strong, very strong comeback. Magazines are going to do the same.

As I mentioned in my Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto for 2015, pundits are no longer talking about the death of print, but rather the decline of print… Five years from now they will be talking about the power of print, the power of digital and the power of whatever else is going to be invented.

Magazines survived throughout their almost 300 year history because they were always first to innovate, adapt, adjust and engage with their audience and customers without changing their names from a black and white magazine to a four color magazine to a glossy magazine, etc. If we keep that in mind and continue to innovate in print and in the way we interact with our readers and customers we will be celebrating another 300 great years of magazines and magazine making.

Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale Inc. said it best, “ We as an industry have undervalued our products and overvalued ourselves.”

Amen to that!

h1

Jimon – The Man & His Magazine – A Five Year Anniversary Of High Fashion Photography With An Artful Design – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jimon Aframian, Editor-In-Chief, Jimon Magazine

February 4, 2015

“The magazine is an outlet. We all need something to inspire us and if it’s going to inspire other people, so much the better. I get emails from people telling me they cry when they look through the magazine or they tense up. And when I read that I say, wow, it’s not just me. There are other people who appreciate what I’m doing.” Jimon Aframian

me From photographing beautiful models for Playboy in Europe to starting up his own sleek, oversized high fashion and art magazine; Jimon Aframian is a visionary who refuses to sell his soul to the minions of celebrity success and popularity.

Jimon – the magazine, is celebrating five years of publishing perspective and while Jimon – the man, said that through those years there were many times he had asked himself why he was still doing the magazine, he always found a reason and the tenacity to go on.

The magazine is filled with different photographers’ muses and displays high fashion in an artful and creative way. When he could have bolstered the magazine’s acclaim and public approval by putting well known notables onto the covers and within the magazine’s pages, Jimon chose to stay true to his vision and the content of the magazine.

And by doing so, the magazine – Jimon is a true extension of the man – Jimon and brings clarity and a maxim of genuineness that cannot be ignored. It is a must-have for your coffee table conversation pieces.

Also a must-have is the limited edition, signed book Jimon is publishing of all 10 issues of the magazine that he has produced over the last five years. But as I said, it’s a limited edition and the copies are numbered. So, get your copy reserved quickly. Mr. Magazine™ is definitely looking forward to his. You can order on Jimon’s Facebook page.

I hope you enjoy this lively celebration of five years in the publishing industry with a man who stubbornly believed in his dream and continues to do so today. It’s a Mr. Magazine™ departure into the world of creative genius with Jimon Aframian, Editor-in-Chief, Jimon magazine…

But first, the sound-bites:

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 2.11.11 PMOn how he came up with the concept of Jimon magazine: I love photography; so I started working on shooting fashion and soon realized that fashion photography was very different from other types of photography. At some point, I ran into the bureaucracy or maybe I should say the editors’ vision, where my views or my ideas were not really what they had in mind. That kind of set me back a while, but then I said to myself: you know what; maybe I’ll just start my own magazine.

On the biggest challenge he was able to overcome when launching the magazine: I would say the financial part of it. I had no idea; they say ignorance is bliss, well; mine was a perfect case of it. If I’d known at the time what it takes, I probably would have never started it.

On the secret to Jimon’s longevity: Ignorance is bliss, but my personality is one where I don’t necessarily give up that easily. As I went along I realized that this game is not a simple one. In other words, you need to build momentum.

On his most pleasant moment during this five year journey: That’s easy. The most pleasant moment for me was in the beginning, after the first and second issue had come out and I would go to the newsstands, anywhere really, in Milan or Paris or London, L.A. or New York and I would see the magazine that I had started sitting next to the magazines that I adored.

On why he decided to do a five year limited edition book of all 10 of the magazines he has published so far: From the beginning when I started doing it, I wanted to have a certain number of copies held back and publish a book. I hadn’t decided if it was going to be done in five or ten years, but at this point I just decided to do it.

On what he has planned for Jimon in the future: There are times when you ask yourself: why are you still doing this? But somehow you find a reason to keep going. And five more years from now, I would be surprised still, because it’s not easy or sustainable, but you do find a way to keep going with it.

On the advice he would give to someone looking to start their own magazine: If you want to start a magazine, a fashion magazine, have some money. You definitely need money. And you need to know every aspect of it yourself, especially if you don’t have any money.

On what keeps him up at night: It’s really not the magazine. (Laughs) I can tell you why it’s not the magazine; if it kept me up at night, I would not be doing it.

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Jimon Aframian, Editor-in-Chief, Jimon magazine…

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 2.14.25 PM Samir Husni: Congratulations on reaching this milestone: five years of publishing the magazine Jimon. Could you tell me the story of how you came up with the idea and launched the magazine?

Jimon Aframian: I was a photographer for a number of years and I shot Playboy Europe mainly. And I think it was in 2005 when I decided to do fashion because I figured when I’m 50 or 60 years old, it would not look proper for me to be shooting 18-year-old girls naked, although everyone might think it was cool; I wouldn’t think so. But I figured that I would still want to do fashion.

I love photography; so I started working on shooting fashion and soon realized that fashion photography was very different from other types of photography. It’s not that it’s competitive, it’s more: if you have access, I think. And I really can see that from the photography that’s in the magazines. It doesn’t mean the photography is good, but because you have access a person can pretty much create their own genre. And we see it a lot; it’s very common these days. You can see photographers who decide not to shoot the norm; it’s pretty outside of the box because they’ve done it and have found a following. They get paid for what they’re doing now.

I did some fashion and I was pretty good at doing it in California and I did a lot of fashion photography for different magazines at the time and some for European markets. In Europe things are different obviously, but in L.A. I did pretty well.

At some point, I ran into the bureaucracy or maybe I should say the editors’ vision, where my views or my ideas were not really what they had in mind and they would say that won’t work because they wanted simple stuff that people could relate to or understand. The magazine was a lifestyle magazine that I shot for then. So, I shot for a couple of other magazines, but basically what I had in mind was more of a European style and they just did not go for it.

That kind of set me back a while, but then I said to myself: you know what; maybe I’ll just start my own magazine. So, I did and started contacting new photographers that I knew and they were all interested in working with the magazine and shooting for it.

The toughest part was finding the printer to print the format that I wanted, which was oversized and on a very high quality paper. This is not easily found these days, because a lot of printing companies print digitally. And I needed a company that had a specific printing machine called a Heidelberg; I’m sure you’re familiar with them.

So, I looked around and I found a couple of companies that could basically do what I wanted to do. And that’s pretty much how I got started.

Samir Husni: What was the major stumbling block after you found the right printer, the biggest challenge that you were able to overcome when launching the magazine?

DSC_0091_sepia Jimon Aframian: I would say the financial part of it. I had no idea; they say ignorance is bliss, well; mine was a perfect case of it. If I’d known at the time what it takes, I probably would have never started it. And because my background was not in publishing, I was somewhat in the dark. I thought I was going to print a magazine and get advertisers left and right.

Even finding a distributor was very simple because I put a mock-up together and went to a pretty large distributor that carried titles that I adored myself and when they saw my mock-up they said sure, we’ll distribute this. So there was no problem getting a distributor.

Then as soon as the first issue came out I flew to Paris and met with the distributor in Paris and they also picked it up without any problem. I’m sure they had the incentive of not having a lot to do, but still they’re not going to pick something up that is no good. I truly believe that.

Samir Husni: Five years ago your magazine was the exception to the rule. Now we see a host of similar magazines, ones where people are using art/fashion photography to produce magazines. What has kept you going for five years while others after you have already come and gone after one or two issues? What’s the secret of Jiman’s longevity?

Jimon Aframian: I brushed upon this earlier, I think. Ignorance is bliss, but my personality is one where I don’t necessarily give up that easily. As I went along I realized that this game is not a simple one. In other words, you need to build momentum. Just like what you said; a lot of magazines come and go. They do one or two issues because it’s easy.

But to keep doing it over time, it takes a certain personality and the financial part of it is important. I did find some traction in that sense and I did a lot of research. I even went to FIT in New York and did research there because I go every year for fashion week. And I found out how the life of a magazine works. And I looked at other magazines’ histories to see what their progressions were. I found out that some of these magazines were still going strong. Those publications that started in the heyday of fashion magazines were still very popular. There was no internet per se and they struggled for almost ten years before they could really reach a level where they were sustainable.

And then there are the conglomerates. Conglomerates have so many titles they could lose money in. What if they lost money in 50 of them? But they could make money in 200 of their titles. So they distribute them out to keep the name going.

With an independent publisher you have one title and you just somehow have to maintain it the best you can. Everybody thinks that they can start a magazine and make money; I think they’re just hallucinating. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) So why are you still persevering and publishing the magazine?

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 2.13.26 PM Jimon Aframian: It’s art. To me the magazine is really art because I’ve been approached by artists who want to be in it. But maybe I shouldn’t say artists; I have been approached by certain starlets or some of today’s hottest personalities who have had their publicists ask about them appearing on the cover. And I have had to decline and tell them that this is not that type of publication. Just because I believe the magazine is more of an extension of me. I want to make sure that what’s on it and in it is a representation of who I am. Now for example, if I allow Kim Kardashian to be on it or in it that is completely against who I am. And I think she’s been on the cover of enough magazines lately as it is. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: What was the most pleasant moment for you in this five year journey?

Jimon Aframian: That’s easy. The most pleasant moment for me was in the beginning, after the first and second issue had come out and I would go to the newsstands, anywhere really, in Milan or Paris or London, L.A. or New York and I would see the magazine that I had started sitting next to the magazines that I adored. To see my magazine sitting next to them was pretty much all I needed. That was good enough for me. I counted that as done; achieved and ready. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: You have put 10 issues out over the five year period and you just published a collector’s edition with a very limited number of copies signed by you, which contain all 10 copies of the magazine. Why did you decide to do that?

Jimon Aframian: From the beginning I had this plan. You make a number of copies and you distribute them to the newsstands, Barnes & Noble and overseas. And either they send some back to you or they destroy the extras.

But from the beginning when I started doing it, I wanted to have a certain number of copies held back and publish a book. I hadn’t decided if it was going to be done in five or ten years, but at this point I just decided to do it. But I should have kept some more back for a tenth year book too.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having another conversation ten years from now; what do you envision yourself telling me?

Jimon Aframian: There are times when you ask yourself: why are you still doing this? But somehow you find a reason to keep going. And five more years from now, I would be surprised still, because it’s not easy or sustainable, but you do find a way to keep going with it.

But then again, you’re not willing to sell your soul and you could sell your soul easily. And I refuse to do that.

Samir Husni: What advice would you give the new generation of photographers and journalists? What would you tell someone who came to you and said: Jiman, I love what you’ve done with your magazine; what advice can you give me about my own career?

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 2.21.32 PM Jimon Aframian: Going back to when you asked me about my most pleasant moment; there was another moment that I was really pleased by, which was when the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena invited me to come and speak to their graduating class. They have asked me twice so far. I haven’t been able to go because I have been so busy, but they would invite me to come and talk to their graduating class. They had seen the magazine and they couldn’t believe that it was being produced in L.A. They contacted me and wanted to me to talk to their graduating class in photography. And I was very pleased by that. To me that said that I was doing something right. I might have done a lot of things wrong (Laughs), but I had done something right for sure.

And going back to your question: I would have told each of the students to have a portfolio and find out what they want to do. A lot of people don’t really know what they want. They have no idea what’s out there, but that’s a good thing in this case, because if they did know, they might run away, especially in fashion photography.

The problem is the digital camera because everybody thinks they’re a photographer when they have a camera in their hand. And that’s not the case. A photographer needs to know how to frame something, even if it’s a teapot. And most people don’t know that. And you go to school and you can’t learn that. It’s inherent. It’s something that’s inside you. A person can learn a lot by going to school; you can expose your talent by going to school, but if you don’t know how to do it, it would be really hard on the photographer. You’d probably become a mediocre photographer at best. I would also tell them to keep shooting every day.

Now what would I tell somebody who wants to start a magazine? Or someone who wants to be a fashion photographer?

Samir Husni: How about both? You answered for the photography aspect, but what about starting a magazine?

Jimon Aframian: If you want to start a magazine, a fashion magazine, have some money. You definitely need money. And you need to know every aspect of it yourself, especially if you don’t have any money. If you don’t have money and you’re determined to go and start a magazine, then you need too many people working for you. You have to hire an art director, an editor, a copy editor, a graphic designer, and these people will want money. And if you don’t have the money, it becomes almost impossible. So, you really do need to know a lot yourself.

Besides that, find a niche. You have to have a niche. It could be anything. I went for art and high fashion. And then just do it. Put a mock-up together and go out and do it.

There were stages before I started the magazine… you’re familiar with the magazine called Stern from Germany?

Samir Husni: Yes, I am.

Jimon Aframian: They would show one photographer’s work in each issue, for example. My original thinking was to do something similar to that, but I slept on it for a couple of years and I decided that might be a bit monotonous for me and not work. And that’s why I changed my idea to making a more collaborative effort with five or six photographers in each issue and a few artists.

So, they need to find some sort of theme and let it evolve, because it will evolve. A lot of people will send them a lot of things, but they need to listen and take note of things around them. Some things work and some do not.

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

Jimon Aframian: It’s really not the magazine. (Laughs) I can tell you why it’s not the magazine; if it kept me up at night, I would not be doing it. The magazine, like everything else in life, can be tough. I don’t have children, but I see my brothers and sisters children, and with having kids, there are tough moments, but also a lot of good moments.

So, the magazine is like that. It has a lot of good moments and it brings a lot of good to my life. It’s definitely not the magazine that keeps me up at night.

The magazine is an outlet. We all need something to inspire us and if it’s going to inspire other people, so much the better. I get emails from people telling me they cry when they look through the magazine or they tense up. And when I read that I say, wow, it’s not just me. There are other people who appreciate what I’m doing. And you’re not an artist until other people admire your work. If you’re the only one admiring your own work, you’re a hobbyist, not an artist.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Yoga Digest Magazine: A Launch Story. The Lifestyle Of Yoga Comes To Life In Print – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Co-Founder Cody Groth.

February 2, 2015

“Honestly, I think people are out of their minds to get out of print. I still think that the majority of people are just so engaged with something that’s in-hand and they look forward to getting something in the mail or seeing it on a newsstand; it’s just more appealing to them and to me too honestly.” Cody Groth

Yoga Digest 1-1 In June 2014, an online community of yoga enthusiasts and practitioners was born – yogadigest.com. Within that realm of digital connection a yearning for a deeper engagement with the lifestyle of yoga was communicated and in November 2014, the print version became a reality: Yoga Digest magazine.

Jenn Bodnar is a yoga teacher/trainer and Cody Groth, a former college basketball player who had his aspirations and career cut short by a back injury, co-founded the online site and the magazine. Jenn had been following the yoga lifestyle for some time, while Cody experienced the restorative power of yoga when his involvement with the practice healed his back injury completely, without surgery. Even though every doctor he saw said he would eventually need surgery to find relief from the injury.

I spoke with Cody recently about the ink on paper addition to the website and why it was necessary for the fulfillment of their mission. From the engagement factor of print to the tangible quality of the paper itself; the 26-year-old digital native confessed his obsession with print and his belief in its power to engross today, even with a myriad of digital screens at people’s disposal.

The interview was vibrant with positivity, the power of the dream, and a never-ending hope for tomorrow, all brought about by the birth of a printed magazine, proving once again that reality complements virtual quite nicely.

I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Cody Groth, Co-Founder, Yoga Digest magazine. I know I did.

First, the sound-bites:

On the decision to do a print magazine: We initially started as an online community just to build a foundation. Then after a couple of months and after reaching out to many contributors in the industry, we were getting feedback from people who would much rather be in print. There’s still something about being in print that’s appealing to people.

On the conception of the magazine:
It was a natural flow that stemmed from the feedback that we were getting. The online community was doing great, we were getting a lot of hits to the site, but again, we sat down and decided that if we wanted to reach the amount of people that we did; we had to be in print.

On the biggest stumbling block they had to overcome:
The biggest stumbling block for us is was our unfamiliarity with the publishing business. We had no backgrounds in the magazine industry at all.

On what the future of Yoga Digest looks like: It’s looking very promising. We’re getting a lot of interest from the financial world. So, we have a lot of connections in place.

On how they hope to compete with the more established yoga magazines for advertisements:
As for advertising, right now we’re just working with the small range of products that you see in the magazine: the yoga lifestyle products and we want to keep it that way. We don’t expect to compete with the bigger magazines when it comes to advertising.

On whether they were out of their minds to start a print magazine in a digital age:
Honestly, I think people are out of their minds to get out of print. I still think that the majority of people are just so engaged with something that’s in-hand and they look forward to getting something in the mail or seeing it on a newsstand; it’s just more appealing to them and to me too honestly.

On what they will be concentrating on over the next 12 months with the magazine:
We will be trying to increase our brand recognition over the next year to go along with our magazine. We have a lot of fun things in place to counter our brand that’s known as a magazine right now, but we hope to expand on that with different events and involvements.

On anything else he’d like to add:
The main thing that we really want to emphasize is how we separate ourselves from the bigger magazines. They have their own audience, their own niche that they appeal to, but we really are trying to appeal to the everyday person who maybe wants to start yoga but thinks they need to be able to touch their toes before they begin. That’s not the case at all.

On what keeps him up at night:
I would have to say Yoga Digest keeps me up at night because it keeps me so busy.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Cody Groth, Co-Founder, Yoga Digest…

Samir Husni: Take me through the journey of Yoga Digest. You started the website first and then you decided to do the print magazine. With the multitude of yoga magazines already out there; why did you decide to do a print magazine now? Tell me the story of Yoga Digest magazine.

cody groth Cody Groth: We initially started as an online community just to build a foundation. Then after a couple of months and after reaching out to many contributors in the industry, we were getting feedback from people who would much rather be in print. There’s still something about being in print that’s appealing to people. So, we sat down and we thought it through and in order for us to reach the amount of people that we wanted to reach for our mission, we decided to go into print as well.

From there, regarding the other magazines in the industry, we really wanted to separate ourselves by being an approachable resource, as opposed to what’s already out there, which is mainstream, Ph.D. yoga and kind of a naturalist, hippie-type yoga. We wanted to be the middleman between the everyday person and a resource that reaches all populations of yoga. Not everybody needs to wear high-end yoga gear or buy the most expensive mat in order to do yoga. Yoga is a lifestyle that contributes to overall health and wellbeing, not just an ego or materialistic-type of practice.

Samir Husni: You started on the web in June and then you launched your first print issue in November; what changed in that time frame, besides your contributors telling you that they wanted to be in print? Can you take me through the conception of the magazine through its status today?

Cody Groth: It was a natural flow that stemmed from the feedback that we were getting. The online community was doing great, we were getting a lot of hits to the site, but again, we sat down and decided that if we wanted to reach the amount of people that we did; we had to be in print.

The transition from online to print was just a steady flow. And it really did go very naturally in the direction that it did. We were accepted by the printer and the distribution company that we wanted. The other things sort of fell into place for us and are still going smoothly.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest stumbling block for you during this journey and how did you overcome it?

Cody Groth: The biggest stumbling block for us is was our unfamiliarity with the publishing business. We had no backgrounds in the magazine industry at all.

But everything just fell into place, from getting the right designer to set our style to getting accepted by the distributor. And we didn’t have anything to show other than a few mock-up articles and a website demographic. So, we were very surprised to be accepted by the distribution company that we did.

Samir Husni: Do you consider that the most pleasant moment in the launch of Yoga Digest?

Cody Groth: Yes, absolutely. The most difficult or something that almost stopped us was the funding. We had really hoped to raise some money to get it going, but we ended up having to self-fund it ourselves and it’s still 100% self-funded.

Samir Husni: You have two issues under your belt; what does the future look like for Yoga Digest now?

Cody Groth: It’s looking very promising. We’re getting a lot of interest from the financial world. So, we have a lot of connections in place.

Yoga Digest 2-2 Nothing is set yet, but there’s a good possibility that we’re going to be expanding our distribution to a broader audience, not just the targeted audience. We’ll be in about 1,900 GNC stores and a large amount of chiropractors and doctor’s offices. We have a connection with the owner of Walgreens, who is interested in our magazine. Barnes & Noble has shown interest and we have a connection with some airports and one of our partners already has products at airports. We’re going to be partnering with Quarterly, which is a subscription box service and we’re going to be offering yoga products with them.

So, we have a lot of things in place, both with the magazine and a bunch of fun, external things that we’re getting involved with.

Samir Husni: Magazines have two major sources of revenue: circulation and advertising. With your circulation as it is now; how will you compete for advertisements with some of the more established yoga magazines out there?

Cody Groth: That’s a good question. Our current distribution is just over 10,000, that’s just in Wholesome Foods and Sprouts and what’s in the house markets and that’s with just one distribution company.

As for advertising, right now we’re just working with the small range of products that you see in the magazine: the yoga lifestyle products and we want to keep it that way. We don’t expect to compete with the bigger magazines when it comes to advertising.

Obviously, when we increase our circulation in the next couple of issues, we’ll have to hire an advertising team. But we want to make sure that our magazine is offering advertisement that is relevant to our reader. We don’t want to sell anything that isn’t relevant to our audience and our content within the magazine.

Samir Husni: Do you think that being a novice in the magazine business helped to make the transition from digital to print easier for you in an age when everyone says that print is dead or declining? Are you out of your mind to start a print magazine in today’s digital world?

Cody Groth: Honestly, I think people are out of their minds to get out of print. I still think that the majority of people are just so engaged with something that’s in-hand and they look forward to getting something in the mail or seeing it on a newsstand; it’s just more appealing to them and to me too honestly. I’d rather have something in-hand that I can take with me wherever I want to go as opposed to reading it on a screen.

Samir Husni: And if I may ask; how old are you, Cody?

Cody Groth: I’m 26.

Samir Husni: So, we can’t count you as a digital immigrant; you are a digital native.

Cody Groth: Right; I’m within the digital generation, but I’m still obsessed with print.

Samir Husni: Good to know. Tell me a little about the future of Yoga Digest; if I take a sneak peek into your business plan, what will I find you doing within the next 12 months?

Cody Groth: You’ll see a lot of brand recognition, not just in print; we’re trying to expand the Digest into festivals, retreats, and featured classes around the country, and also into the Quarterly partnership.

We will be trying to increase our brand recognition over the next year to go along with our magazine. We have a lot of fun things in place to counter our brand that’s known as a magazine right now, but we hope to expand on that with different events and involvements.

Samir Husni: Why did you opt to name the magazine Yoga Digest when you’re publishing a standard-sized magazine rather than a digest size?

Cody Groth: Yes, a lot of the digests and catalogues are smaller-sized, but we see “digest” as reading. Golf Digest also does a full-sized magazine, so that was helpful to us when we named the magazine. It let us know that we wouldn’t be completely out of the box by going with a full-sized magazine but calling it a digest.

When choosing our brand, the Digest, we were very surprised that it was available. If you look at all the major industries, any kind of niche digest is either well known within the industry that it’s in or it’s been around for 50 or 60 years.

But to have a growing industry like yoga have the brand “digest” available was very appealing to us.

Samir Husni: That was a surprise to me as well. With all the yoga magazines out there and none of them having the name Yoga Digest was amazing. But sometimes the obvious is the one thing people don’t think about.

Cody Groth: Yes, agreed.

Samir Husni: You have a partner and the two of you are publishing the magazine; did you both quit your day jobs?

Cody Groth: (Laughs) No, we do this as a…well, I was going to say hobby, but I guess it’s turning into a full-time gig. It started as a hobby; we both have a passion for yoga; we love doing and sharing it. Jenn Bodnar, my co-founder, is a yoga instructor and a yoga teacher/trainer, so she teaches people to become yoga teachers. She’s very knowledgeable in the industry and very well connected.

I’m just a product of how yoga feels. I was a college basketball player and I had a back injury that forced me to quit my college basketball career and every doctor I saw told me that I needed surgery. After doing some research myself and talking to quite a few people who had opted for yoga over surgery; I decided to start yoga. And even though it was a slow transition over the course of the last three years, yoga has completely healed my back. So, I’m very passionate about sharing that with people.

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

Cody Groth: The main thing that we really want to emphasize is how we separate ourselves from the bigger magazines. They have their own audience, their own niche that they appeal to, but we really are trying to appeal to the everyday person who maybe wants to start yoga but thinks they need to be able to touch their toes before they begin. That’s not the case at all. Yoga is for everybody and everybody can do yoga.

I think it was Zig Ziglar who said: you don’t have to be great to start something; you have to start something to become great. So we’re trying to share our passion with everyone and separate ourselves into that audience.

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

Cody Groth: I do sleep very well, but I would have to say Yoga Digest keeps me up at night because it keeps me so busy.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

This Pineapple Is To Have, Hold, And Enjoy! The Story Of The Latest Travel Magazine Launch. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Publisher Christopher Lukezic.

January 30, 2015

“We believe print is a really unique way to experience content and a really unique way to engage with our readers. The tactile quality of the paper that we’re producing the magazine on, the photography; all of it, really comes to life on paper in a way you can’t necessarily get on a digital screen.” Christopher Lukezic

Pineapple-1 Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, has added another component to their online presence: an ink on paper component, Pineapple magazine. Long known as the symbol for hospitality and welcome, the pineapple was a fruit that survived much during the 1400s and still managed to thrive, according to Pineapple publisher, Christopher Lukezic. It was brought to Europe from the West Indies and quickly became a sweet symbol of cordiality.

And the heritage of the “Pineapple” was a Godsend to Christopher as it represented everything he and his team wanted to present with their very unique travel magazine, which is slated to become the content force and driver of Airbnb’s community of readers and travelers, a hale and hearty symbol of travel that welcomes and greets warmly.

The magazine marks a major step for Airbnb to become not just a platform where stories are created, but where stories are told. Pineapple will reflect the unique perspective of Airbnb’s global community, with deeply local and personal content that hopefully will inspire travelers everywhere.

I reached out to Christopher recently and we talked about the excitement this ink on paper product has produced within the company and about the reasons for it. From the beauty displayed between the printed pages to the tactile feel of the paper itself; Christopher shared why he and Airbnb believe in the power of print as a digital entity themselves and why the distinct point-of-view of the magazine will go a long way in distinguishing it from the multitudes of competition on the newsstands already.

The magazine will cover a wide variety of topics – such as culture, art, food, and style – from a local’s perspective with neighborhood guides, insider tips, and unique, personal stories. Each issue will showcase three different cities through the lens of local community members and global travelers.

So grab your traveling gear and follow Mr. Magazine™ and Christopher Lukezic, Publisher of Pineapple, as they take you on a trip around the world of travel…

But first, the sound-bites:


Christopher Lukezic On why Airbnb chose a print component in a digital age:
I think that Airbnb wanted to be a bigger part of a producer of really high quality travel content. The magazine is a part of a larger effort by the company to move into the world of publishing and producing travel content.

On why he thinks more digital entities are adding a print component to their equation these days:
I believe that there is a certain tactile quality to print that engages with people and that’s something that doesn’t necessarily happen on a digital screen.

On the unique selling proposition he is offering the marketplace with so much competition out there already:
One of the things that we try to do is not to have a prescriptive travel magazine. We’re not a team of editors trying tell people what they should and should not do in a city.

On the major stumbling block he has had to face during the magazine’s conception and launch: You said it earlier: a digital company moving into print. It’s a very new world for us and we’ve been learning a lot as we go.

On that “aha” moment when he knew he’d hit on something special:
We went through a couple of iterations and a couple of ideas early on and we shifted course a few times, but I think for us it really all kind of came to fruition when we landed on the name. And I think that was the moment that we knew we were going to do something really special.

On his distribution strategy for the magazine:
We’re still trying to figure out what the future of the distribution strategy of the magazine will be. You will be able to purchase it and we’ll also distribute it to our community, so both of those ways will continue.

On the relationship between Airbnb the company and Pineapple the magazine: It’s very much a two-way street relationship. The future of this and how it ties into the business and how it relates to our core business, we’re still working on a lot of that, but it will very much be an integral part of the Airbnb experience.

On what he hopes to have accomplished with Pineapple a year from now:
Our real goal with Pineapple is for people to start to think about it as a place where they can come to plan their trip experience, as well as to book accommodations.

On what keeps him up at night:
Not much actually. I’m pretty happy with where things are and I’m really excited about the potential for this magazine and the future of it. The only thing that would maybe keep me up at night is not being able to do everything that we want to do.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Christopher Lukezic, Publisher, Pineapple magazine…

Samir Husni: Airbnb has been a digital entity for almost seven years now, having begun in 2008; why did they decide to go with a print magazine now?

Christopher Lukezic: I think that Airbnb wanted to be a bigger part of a producer of really high quality travel content. We wanted to be a source for people to come to, not only to find great places to stay while they’re on a trip, but also when planning the trip itself; a source where they can find content that inspires them to visit places and also informs them about places they’re already going.

The magazine is a part of a larger effort by the company to move into the world of publishing and producing travel content.

Picture 36 Samir Husni: These days we are seeing more than one digital entity bring print into their equation and in this age where everyone not long ago was predicting the demise of print, we’re actually seeing a reversal of that bleak forecast. Why do you think this reversal is taking place?

Christopher Lukezic: I believe that there is a certain tactile quality to print that engages with people and that’s something that doesn’t necessarily happen on a digital screen. People are surrounded by screens all day long; they’re reading on their phones and their laptops and other digital devices. The engagement of content with print is that you can really get at someone in a different way with it. It’s a little bit of a slower experience and people will come back to it over and over again in the course of a few months, not consuming the magazine all at once, but in sort of bits here and there.

I think that from a travel standpoint print is still a really big part of the travel experience. Every year Google does a lot of research around different industries and they try to figure out what the different experiences are for the different industries. And for travel they put together an insight study every year. And actually they’ve shown year after year that print remains the most important source for travel, once they’re at a destination. When a traveler arrives in a city, print is still the predominant source of information that people use for planning their trip once they’re at the destination.

Those things combined make it an attractive opportunity for us as we move into content, to have a print aspect that is very much at the forefront of our content efforts as a whole.

Samir Husni: As a publisher of a new travel magazine and as you go on your sales calls; what is the unique selling proposition that you are offering the marketplace knowing that there are so many competitors out there?

Christopher Lukezic: One of the things that we try to do is not to have a prescriptive travel magazine. We’re not a team of editors trying tell people what they should and should not do in a city.

All of the content of the magazine is actually from people who live in these places, so we’ve actually gone and found people from every community in the cities that we feature. And we try to discover the city through their eyes. Not only places to see and eat, but to showcase what the life there is really all about.

We try to get at what the actual experience of living in the featured cities is and how these communities have formed over time and how people interact with each other in these cities. And on top of that, there are some tidbits and guides that are more digestible and easier to consume content which is important to travelers as they plan their trips.

But what we really wanted to get at was to honor the cities and unpack them from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. I think a lot of travel magazines approach that in the opposite direction; there’s a team of editors going to places and telling the reader about their experiences in the city and not necessarily going and finding people who live there and allowing them to tell the story.

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block for you as a publisher and how did you overcome it?

Christopher Lukezic: You said it earlier: a digital company moving into print. It’s a very new world for us and we’ve been learning a lot as we go.

The big thing was trying to figure out what direction that we wanted to take with the magazine and how we could engage with our community in the right way. And we really wanted that balance of having this be something that was a collaborative effort that we made in conjunction with our community, but still contain a lot of interesting editorial content which engaged people in the right way. And we found a happy medium.

I think the challenge now is the future and continuing to expand the magazine and our content efforts as a whole, doing that both in print and online. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us and this is just the beginning of the process.

Samir Husni: And what has been your most pleasant moment or that instance when you just sat back and went “aha?”

Picture 38 Christopher Lukezic: This has been a team effort and there were four of us that were very involved in the production of the magazine.

Our editor-in-chief is Alex Tieghi-Walker and Brendan Callahan, who is our creative director and our photo editor, Carrie Levy. The three of them are all from magazine backgrounds and Alex has actually published a couple of his own magazines before and worked for Wallpaper, and so we have some great experience here. But trying to do something new and create something in a crowded market that we really felt proud of was important.

We went through a couple of iterations and a couple of ideas early on and we shifted course a few times, but I think for us it really all kind of came to fruition when we landed on the name. And I think that was the moment that we knew we were going to do something really special. We were struggling to find the right name for this magazine and when it did it was one of those moments when everything just seemed to fall into place. The name really tied together what the magazine is all about.

The name Pineapple is a descendant of hospitality; it’s a symbol that has been recognized for a very long time. The fruit was discovered back in the 1400s and was taken back to Europe by travelers and it’s one of the only fruits that survived the voyage from the West Indies back to Europe. And it became the symbol of hospitality. It was something you would leave for a guest when they came to visit you. It was a gracious sign that a host would leave.

And that’s what the magazine presents. We wanted the magazine to be a gift that a host would give to a guest when they arrived at their destination. So, naming the magazine Pineapple really reached the core of what we were trying to do with the content and the print magazine overall. We wanted this to be something that would greet the traveler when they arrived in their city somewhere around the world.

Samir Husni: I noticed that your distribution is divided; once people arrive at the place they are staying, part of Airbnb’s community of customers will get the magazine, or people can buy it on the newsstands at select bookstores. Will that be the norm for distribution, or are you thinking of building more of a presence on the nation’s newsstands and also of having a subscription base?

Christopher Lukezic: We’re still trying to figure out what the future of the distribution strategy of the magazine will be. You will be able to purchase it and we’ll also distribute it to our community, so both of those ways will continue.

We wanted this initial pilot issue to be a limited edition copy and there are 20,000 copies of this first issue, so we knew that it would be something quite special. We actually gave away a number of copies to our community free as a gift. But we also made them available for sale through very boutique shops and newsstands around the world. We’ll most likely be expanding our circulation into something much larger than it is now. But how we’ll actually distribute the magazine, we haven’t decided on.

Samir Husni: Can you describe for me the relationship between the magazine and Airbnb? Are the two entities separate or is it a two-way street relationship?

Christopher Lukezic: It’s very much a two-way street relationship. This is something that we created and all of the people that we feature in the magazine are from our community. These are all people who are active travelers, who are active hosts in the communities, so we have an incredibly diverse audience who read us and also an incredibly diverse community base who want to contribute to the magazine.

This is really a snapshot of the creative process of the world and I think that we’ve captured the most interesting people from our community and in these cities and brought their stories forward. The real pride of the community and the real pride for me is that the whole magazine is produced with the cooperation and in conjunction with our community. The photographers, the illustrators and all of the people we feature are Airbnb community members.

And the future of this and how it ties into the business and how it relates to our core business, we’re still working on a lot of that, but it will very much be an integral part of the Airbnb experience. Pineapple is our content arm, if you will.

Samir Husni: If a year from now, you and I are sitting down and talking about what Pineapple has accomplished in that year; what would you tell me?

Christopher Lukezic: Our real goal with Pineapple is for people to start to think about it as a place where they can come to plan their trip experience, as well as to book accommodations. So we’re clearly seeing it as a place where people come. Maybe they know where they want to go and they might actually rely on some of our hosts when they get to a destination to figure out what they want to do while they’re there.

We think that there is a real opportunity for content to play an important part in that experience. To help people plan trips and also to help people figure out what they want to do once they get to their destination. For us, that is the real goal of the magazine. We really want to be seen as a source for trusted, travel content.

Picture 37 Samir Husni: Will the frequency stay quarterly or are you planning something different for the future?

Christopher Lukezic: We’ve started issue two and it looks like we’ll launch sometime in the summer. From there, our goal is to continue to produce quarterly.

Samir Husni: Would you like to add anything else?

Christopher Lukezic: This is something that is very exciting for us as a company. It’s a new venture. In terms of a company going into print; I think print is very strong and I think it has changed.

We believe print is a really unique way to experience content and a really unique way to engage with our readers. The tactile quality of the paper that we’re producing the magazine on, the photography; all of it, really comes to life on paper in a way you can’t necessarily get on a digital screen. And for us that is really important. It means that the engagement with the magazine’s content and the relationship that people have with it is going to be much deeper than if we only did it onscreen.

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

Christopher Lukezic: Not much actually. I’m pretty happy with where things are and I’m really excited about the potential for this magazine and the future of it. The only thing that would maybe keep me up at night is not being able to do everything that we want to do. We have to limit the things that we put into the magazine and for me that’s sometimes tough. There are things that we want to feature, write about and cover and produce, but we have a limited team and a limited number of resources we have to work with.

But for me, I’m really excited about where things are and I’m looking forward to the future of the magazine.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,111 other followers

%d bloggers like this: