Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mr. Magazine's 7 Great Magazine Moments in 07

Posted by Samir Husni
So, how is the magazine business?" a friend whom I have not seen for more than a year asked me. What do you tell someone who has not been on the scene for more than a year?" Great! It has been great," was my answer and I proceeded to tell him, in a true magazine fashion, what I consider as my 7 great magazine moments of 2007:

1. The launch of Condé Nast Portfolio: It single handedly brought back the faith in new magazine launches from a major media company who still considers magazine business as its core business. Thank you S. I. Newhouse Jr., David Carey and Joanne Lipman.

2. The reinvention of Time magazine: The weekly has gone through a major reinvention bringing relevance and intelligence to its contents and readers. The new Time set the stage for changes at both Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report. Thank you Richard Stengel and Edward McCarrick.

3. The creation of a new genre of man's magazines: The launch of Outside's Go and Men's Health Living magazines created a new genre of man's magazines that cater to non-woman related issues in a man's life. Both magazines are catering to a new niche that has gone unfulfilled for years: travel that meets the needs of the active man and interior design and home that meets the needs of the affluent man. Thank you Larry Burke and David Zinczenko.

4. Giving a new meaning to Garden and Gun: Through the launch of the new regional magazine Garden & Gun the two terms bestowed a new meaning on both of the words. One no longer thinks gardening or guns when they hear the two words, rather they think "21st Century Southern America." Thank you Rebecca Darwin and welcome Sid Evans.

5. The Week is not for sale: With the sale of all the U.S. properties, Dennis Publishing did not include The Week on its "For sale" announcement. Felix Dennis once told me that he is a poor consumer of popular media. "I watch no television, see no movies and couldn't, quite frankly, care less about magazines, with the exception of The Week . . . "Thank you Felix Dennis.

6. The Mook, a new word in the magazine world: Monocle magazine launched in London and few other international cities at the same time, added a new word to the English language and gave a brand new meaning and respect to the world of book-a-zines: The Mook. A magazine that looks and feels like a book, but reads as a magazine with all new content and non of the recycled content book-a-zines accustomed us to see. Thank you Tyler Brulé.

7. The launch of Everywhere and the re-launch of JPG: Both magazines, published by 8020 Publishing, show that a partnership can exist between both technologies: paper and pixels. Just give to paper what is paper's and to pixels what is pixels'. Thank you Paul Cloutier.

So here you have it, 7 great moments in the life of the magazine industry in 2007.I'm looking forward to a great 2008.All the best to all, and here's for a great new year.


min's Exclusive Review of 2007 Magazine Launches: A ("Highlights") "High Five" To "CN Portfolio"/"Outside's Go"/"Sci. Illus."

And to the approximately 647 other 2007 startups counted by University of Mississippi journalism-department chairman/Guide to New Magazines author Samir Husni in min's year-end review. Sum, if it holds, would be the lowest since 1992 (there were about 900 launches in 2006), but Husni is hardly on the "Internet is killing magazines" bandwagon. "I see the reduction as part of a market correction, which periodically happens," he says. "One reason is that although first-year magazines now have a 50% failure rate, those that make it past the first year are surviving longer."

Certainly, Condé Nast Portfolio (in spite of the 2007 Condé Nast closures of House & Garden/Jane;(see page 2) will be one of them. All of the hype and scuttlebutt for CN's first business entry has, says Husni, overshadowed one key fact: "[Rivals] BusinessWeek, Forbes, and Fortune were forced to reinvent themselves. This fall, BW and Fortune redesigned, and Forbes launched Forbes Life Executive Women. They will deny it, but I believe it is in response to CNP's impact."

No such political intrigue with Outside's Go. Mariah Media president Larry Burke, who this year celebrated Outside's 30th anniversary, wanted a men's travel magazine for "on the go" guys like him, and Outside's Go was born in March. Publisher (since February 2007) Walker Mason tells min that Go's quarterly frequency increases to bimonthly in January (rate base from 200,000 to 212,500), with 10 times a year the goal in 2010.

To us Yankees, the April launch of Garden & Gun had the image of Lil' Abner shooting up a turnip patch. But the Southern reality is that Charleston, S.C.- based founding publisher Rebecca Darwin (ex-The New Yorker/Fortune) and her Evening Post Publishing Co. partners filled a void in creating a Tally Ho! magazine for the upscale gentry who garden...and gun. (Magazine is named after a Charleston tavern.) With the November hire of editor-in-chief Sid Evans from Field & Stream, the stakes are raised for what is now a 35,000-circulation quarterly, but Husni --very much a Mississippian here--says that "Rebecca has struck a chord. The G&G lifestyle is strong in the South."

The science-magazine lifestyle was not strong, because there had not been a major launch since Discover in 1980, and, in the interim, several titles--led by Hearst's Science Digest (1986) and General Media International's Omni (1995)--folded. Along comes Popular Science and Time4 Media buyer Bonnier Corp., and this month, management "imported" Science Illustrated from Scandinavia. Plus, Scientific American, which has been in existence since the Mexican War (1845), spun off the quarterlies SciAm Reports in January and SciAm Body in December. "SciAm has a very strong, and underrated, presence," says Husni.

Roy Reiman seemed to be leaving the market when he sold his namesake magazine company to Reader's Digest Association for $760 million in March 2002. In 2007, says Husni, he returned with the bimonthly Our Iowa. Nothing "corny" there, with all of the presidential-campaign money pouring into Reiman's home state in advance of the January 3 caucuses.

Voting is perhaps 16 years away for the Highlights High Five and National Geographic Little Kids preschoolers as two prestigious publishers target the toddlers. Both made Husni's Hottest Launches that he released this fall for min magazine along with, more predictably, CNP/Outside's Go/Garden & Gun. But Husni also went to two extremes in acknowledging the cuddly Ty Pennington at Home (part of the Woman's Day special interest publications), which put the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition star in print, and the return of The Source founder (1988) Dave Mays with the not-so-cuddly Hop Hop Weekly. Said Mays: "We will be the People of our generation."

And the Bond of our generation is not James and a license to kill, but a San Francisco-based magazine celebrating a license to wed: he and she, he and he, and she and she. If that Bond may rile traditionalists (as would a new Barbie magazine sans Ken), they can be reassured by a new quarterly out of Sonoma Co., Calif., called Wag, which further salutes dogs as man's--and woman's--best friend.

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