A New Yorker Cover That Magazine Wonks Will Love

Magazine lovers can look at this cover and understand why print will stick around for a few more decades, at least.


“Every once in a while, there’s a perfect storm to produce an image.”

Françoise Mouly
New Yorker’s art editor in interview with the Washington Post


The March 6, 2017, New Yorker provides a great example of how the magazine uses the web to promote its print version. A few days before the print magazine is released, an image of the cover is released. Often, the image goes viral among the readership of the magazine–and those who don’t actually read it, but love to drop references to the magazine at cocktail parties.

More importantly, it’s an example of how a contemporary magazine–some would argue, the best contemporary magazine–can pay homage to its heritage (the 1925 cover on the left is iconic) in a way that readers understand, but non-readers won’t get–an “insider” effect. (The cover for next week’s magazine is explained in the Washington Post today.)

Most importantly, the cover breaks every rule in the “top ten reasons to buy this magazine” cover design book so effectively that “having” the magazine is more important to “reading” the magazine to a big percentage of its subscribers. And that’s more than okay with me.

Magazine lovers can look at this cover and comprehend why print magazines that matter to their readers — their collectors and lovers — will be around for a few more decades, at least.

Update: Another story about the cover via MediaPost.com


Flashback: I wrote a similar post nine years ago.

The magazine scan-sharing site controversy goes mainstream

“The magazine industry is being besieged by a new foe: digital piracy,” screams the lede of an AP story yesterday.

If you read this blog, you can guess from earlier this month that the story is about Mygazines.com, a site that is reportedly on servers in Anquilla that enables users to share scans of articles from magazines. As I suggested when I first ran across the site on July 22, it was only a matter of time until the site became a take-down notice magnet.

The AP story rounds up all of the potential legal actions magazine publishers can take — and the walls they could run into. It also quotes a July 29 press release on the Mygazines.com website where “John Smith” (its creator) claims, “its copies are no different from magazines shared in doctor’s office or salon.”

As I noted in my August 5 post, magazine publishers love the “pass-along” sharing of print versions of magazines as it is part of the circulation they report to advertisers. What I didn’t mention was that a new media niche of what the auditing organization ABC calls e-publications or e-periodicals is available that provides magazine publishers with a digital-version distribution alternative that can be audited and, in some cases, DRM-protected. In other words, Mygazines.com is likely perceived more as a threat to the magazine publishers’ own plans for e-magazine distribution rather than as a threat to the printed version. Note, however, that is my interpretation — maybe some magazine publishers actually do think a digital version and paper version of a magazine are the same thing. (Disclosure: Hammock Inc. embraces all media. We produce e-magazine versions and editions and would publish smoke-signals if readers and readers and clients wanted them.)

Another thing: The AP story says they tried to contact “John Smith” but he wouldn’t respond. I’ve found that jsmith@mygazines.com will respond if you blog about him.

Related: An article in the New York Times looks at how some media companies are working with Google to generate revenues from “pirated content” appearing on YouTube.

Mygazines.com’s creator responds to critics with incomprehensible buzz-speak

If you follow my link blog, you may have caught my comments about the “Anquilla-based” “magazine-sharing” website, Mygazines.com. For the record, technically, what is being shared are PDFs of magazines and magazine articles, not actual magazines.

My comments have basically been, “I wonder when they’ll be shut down.” Last week, Folio: reported that the consumer magazine trade group MPA has threatened legal action against them. Today, the website’s creator who is conveniently named John Smith sent an e-mail to the Press Gazette, suggesting the site is a service to the magazine industry.

Quote:

“We have every intention of working with the industry to provide not only revenue streams that are vast, but also an answer for the publishers in general. Our method will increase current revenue, halt and reverse advertising revenue lost to the internet, and overcome the lack of the ability for magazines to stay current.”

Mr. Doe, I mean, Smith, goes on to say:

“We have ways of drawing revenue from a number of sources, some more obvious than others. Mygazines is hardly a pirate website with the interest of breaking the industry. Rather, we offer a paradigm shift that is far more fiscally comprehensive than meets the eye and yet easily transitionable by even the biggest publishers.”

Had it not been for that e-mail, I think I could have dreamed up some “information wants to be free” philosophical defense for Mr. Smith. I would have said Mr. Smith is just catching the whole Free wave.

But then he had to write an email using phrases and words like paradigm shift and transitionable. I think anyone who uses the term “fiscally comprehensive” should be sued.

Note of irony: The idea of physical “magazine sharing” is, ironically, not something that magazine publishers discourage. If Mygazines.com were a service that, say, facilitated you sharing a print magazine with your co-workers or friends — for instance, a BookCrossing for magazines — magazine publishers would be applauding the efforts as any sharing of a physical magazine helps increase the “pass-along” readership of the magazine, and thus enables the magazine to tout a huge “readership” number for the magazine, sometimes many times more than its actual circulation. Obviously (at least as it would seem from the MPA’s action), when it comes to a PDF of the magazine, publishers don’t see the value of pass-along readership. I guess it’s because such pass-along can’t be measure scientifically like, say, the way they scientifically audit physical magazine pass-along readership. (Yes, that was also irony.)

Everywhere hits pause button

I’m interupting my practice of not blogging about the launching and shuttering of magazines because news about 8020 Publishing “suspending” Everywhere Magazine is going to be interpreted in lots of different ways by those in the magazine industry — so I decided to jump in early with my 2¢ worth.

Here’s my take:

1. The suspension does not mean the “genre” of user-created publishing is a bad concept. It means, simply, this title didn’t click with readers the way the publisher’s other title, JPG Magazine has.

2. It indicates that having a parent company backed by someone like CNet founder Halsey Minor means that specific business goals had to be met for the magazine to move forward. Making you hit the breaks is what investors and parent companies get to do.

3. It means that “travel” may be a bit too crowded a niche for 8020 to go it alone. Competitors, including National Geographic, have entered the “user-contributed” photo space. Budget Travel published an entire “user-generated” issue recently.

4. A long time ago on this blog — back in its earliest days — I used to explain that anytime one saw the phrases “suspended publication temporarily” or “is going on hiatus” about a magazine, you can translate that to mean, “will never be published again.” However, that was before Radar kept coming back from the dead. Because of it’s business model — user-created content and print-on-demand — Everywhere is not a high over-head operation (compared to the typical magazine launch). So, who knows? Maybe suspension actually means suspension.

5. If 8020 is going to make it in the travel genre, I think a joint-venture with an established user-contributed travel site would make more sense than trying to go it alone. The 800 lb. gorilla, Trip Advisor (owned by Expedia), maybe? The scrappy WikiTravel, maybe?

Related: “If you’re curious about the future of magazines, HP Lab’s MagCloud may offer a clue”

(via: Folio:)

Esquire’s battery-powered gimmick cover should be unplugged

One might think I’d be all gung-ho about Esquire experimenting with a digital cover using the eInk technology that powers eBook readers like the Kindle. Sorry to disappoint you: I think it is nothing more than a goofy gimmick. In much the same way I believe it is folly to under-utilize new media by attempting to make it replicate old media, I think it is an even greater folly when old-media people think what’s special about new media is the way it blinks.

It’s like when parents think they can better communicate with their kids by resorting to teenage slang. Or, worse, friending them on FaceBook. The result is nothing but embarrassment to all involved.

Rather than displaying how ridiculous it is to suggest “this is the future of paper,” Esquire editors should be displaying how traditional, un-interactive, un-digital, un-batteried, un-gimmicked magazines are a wonderful medium.

Esquire used to know that. Esquire used to celebrate that. Esquire used to be a monument to how great the magazine medium can be. Its editors and publishers should be embarrassed with the notion that the “21st Century starts” because they place some flashing, spam-like message on the cover.

They should spend their money on great photography and great writing. That’s what makes great magazines. That’s what used to make Esquire great. Gimmicks don’t.