Category Archives: magazines

Did Clay Aiken kill these magazines?


Kids these days. Six magazine titles with more than 400,000 circulation bit the dust in the tail end of 2007, meaning they either stopped publishing or having their circs audited (which means hey, they were really, really embarrassed by the reader count). The newly deceased included Child, Jane, Junior Scholastic, Nick Jr., Success, and Teen People.

Hmm. Seems like most targeted young people. Not a good trend for mags, given that people tend to take their media habits with them as they age.

Maghound: 7 Lindsays in your mailbox for the price of, um, 7?


Magazines aren’t dying like newsprint, which has circulation numbers off the cliff, but mag circs are down as well — about 11% since their peak in 2000. Reading on glossy paper is fast becoming a habit of senior citizens; the top 5 U.S. magazine titles include the AARP bulletin, Modern Maturity, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide (seniors remain the heaviest consumers of TV), and National Geographic.

Which is why we dig Time Inc.’s new Maghound.com, a Netflix-like subscription service where for a set fee each month you get access to as many rotating magazine titles as you like. The service will launch in September with 300 titles. $9.95 a month nets you access to seven titles at the same time, which you can mix and match or cancel without annual commitments. And yes, the magazines arrive in the mail on real glossy paper.

The model behind Maghound is still nascent and a bit unpredictable. Will this boost demand for in-the-mail pubs? Or will readers quickly switch gears, creating no net gains? Or will readers, seeking savings, shift from traditional mag subscriptions to the seven pubs for $10/mo model, cannibalizing existing subscriptions?

Or will readers say, hey, I can find most of this online for free now anyway?

If the past trends of emerging media are any clue, we vote cannibalization. No matter. We’re signing up as fast as we can. Internet hooey aside, nothing beats a well-edited glossy magazine in the hands for an enjoyable hour of reading before bedtime. We’re getting older, and these backlit screens hurt the eyes.

Why Playboy is now free on your iPhone


Sure, Zinio. Use Playboy to get our attention.

Zinio offers magazine downloads to your computer or laptop that retain the exact layout of the magazines in their shiny paper glory. The trick is you still have to pay for the electronic copies (Macword is $19.97 for 12 issues, Cosmo $12 for 12).

This spring, Zinio has a special promotion allowing iPhone users to subscribe to free magazines, from BusinessWeek to Playboy. Zinio does have a beautiful Reader program, and using it you can’t help but realize that most HTML layouts still suck. While online layouts have lousy composition and encourage you to click away on any link that triggers your ADD, magazine layouts are designed in a beautiful chronological fashion.

Zinio probably hopes that users of new, better mobile screens will get hooked on magazines that look like the real thing in their hand. Maybe, but we’ll see if these users pay once the promo is over.

Via Gizmodo.

The Root fulfills dream of national black newspaper — only online


If you’re interested in the politics of race, guruship by Malcolm Gladwell, African-American genealogy, and Obama vs. the Clintons, then you’ll like The Root, a new web-only publication by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive.

The Root launched yesterday with star power, an innovative business model, and close promotion with Slate.com. Co-founder Gates notes that “since 1827, black journalists have dreamed of creating a national black newspaper.” The web magazine offers political and cultural commentary, plus a unique tie-in to AfricanDNA.com, a genealogical charting and mapping effort. And in a twist sure to get buzz, the service allows readers to send in their own DNA samples for analysis of their country origins.

The strong web-only stance is going to get noticed. The closest competitor we see reaching out to affluent black consumers with similar news and analysis is EbonyJet.com. Advertisers, take your marks.

Reader’s Digest puts on some 2.0 makeup


Reader’s Digest tries to reinvent itself this January as a new, hipper, digital publication. Behold: Cover stories on sex, money and the iPhone.

The current magazine is symbolic of the problems facing traditional print. RD circulation is down to 8 million with an average reader age of 51.7. Its baby boomer core, like those of many other pubs, is gradually moving on to the great physician reading room in the sky.

So new editor-in-chief Peggy Northrop is shaking up the pub in January with revamped sections on health, body, and technology. The editorial redesign still appears to skew to women, who now account for 60% of the RD audience, with “better sex” stories and giveaways such as a year’s supply of free groceries, kitchen remodeling, or a beauty basket. But the January cover shows an iPhone looking all devilish, and come August 2008, RD will actually give an iPhone away. The magazine cover now looks like PC World.

Wonder if kids will buy in … or if moms will just get confused.

Google to magazines: You’re dying

Google signaled to the world that print is irrelevant when it announced today that it is unlikely to index the content in magazines. Jens Redmer, director of Google Book Search in Europe, said, “Magazines describe a trend at the time. A historic book has more valuable information…” and cited “technical issues” as making the project a “non-starter.”

Hmm. What does it mean that Google, now driving to index the majority of information in the world, from streets to photos to planets to every book ever published, snubs magazines? You guessed it. If print hardcopy would be here for decades, Google would set up scanning machines and fire away. But these billionaire big-thinkers are betting that any investment in scanning paper is besides the point — because print may go away soon.