Jewish World Review Dec. 26, 2003 / 1 Teves, 5764
How is the magazine sector doing?
Because University of Mississippi journalism professor Samir Husni is "Mr. Magazine," and because he spends $4,000 a month on subscriptions, and because he has a great Web site (mrmagazine.com), we asked him how his favorite industry fared in 2003.
Question: How is the magazine sector doing?
Answer: It was a very, very good year for new magazines. We had more new magazines launched (this year than any year) since 1993. We had more than 900 titles. It was across the board. You name it, it was published.
The four major areas that everybody in publishing is now interested in are basic human needs. After Sept. 11, we've seen a huge increase in titles catering to home and home life, craft and hobbies, computers and health all stuff that you can do within your own home environment.
Q: What's a hot new title?
A: That's the odd part of it. Because they are across the board, nothing really jumped up. Lifetime magazine is the first thing that comes to mind. If you watch Lifetime television, it's just a reflection of that channel.
Q: You've said magazines reflect America's tastes and interests. Are they changing?
A: Yes. For example, in 1997 we had more than 110 new magazines devoted to sex. Last year the number did not even reach 30. It used to be that sex was always No. 1 or No. 2 in terms of new publications. This year it is not even in the Top 10.
Q: What was the biggest magazine death of the year?
A: I'd say Travel Holiday after being published for over 100 years. In its heyday, it delivered some of America's best photography and best writing.
Q: What was the biggest surprise of the year?
A: The biggest, of course, was the amount of attention magazine people can generate in the media without even waiting to see the magazine itself. I'm talking about Radar magazine. It lasted two issues. It has suspended publication, but its editor, Maer Roshan, received much more publicity than you can ever imagine.
Also, AARP merging all their magazines in one and branding it under AARP magazine was a big story. Hearst pulling the plug on Victoria after 16 years was a major event.
Q: So what big is coming for 2004?
A: Every major publishing house in the country is on its way to launching a new magazine. Time will be bringing out Cottage Living. Conde-Naste will be bringing out Cargo, a shopping magazine for men. American Media is revising and revamping Star, which is a tabloid.
If there was story of the year, it was the hiring of editor Bonnie Fuller from US Weekly by the Star tabloid and paying her almost the equivalent of a $3 million salary.
Q: Is there anything we should dread in 2004?
A: No. As someone once said, "Only dread itself." Maybe we need a Dread magazine, I don't know.
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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald