views updated Jun 27 2018



NAICS: 51-1120 Periodical Publishers

SIC: 2721 Periodicals

NAICS-Based Product Codes: 51-112031510 through 51-112031574


The magazine industry, which traces its history back to 1665, faced a time of extreme turmoil and change in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Mergers and acquisitions dominated industry news in 2006, with 2007 expected to be another banner year. Folio, a magazine which covers the industry, provided one estimate: more than 150 media deals with a value of $20.5 billion in 2006. Magazines sold ranged from American Cowboy to Every Day with Rachel Ray to Yoga Journal. Even the venerable Readers Digest was sold by Reader's Digest Association to Ripplewood Holdings LLC, a private equity firm, for $2.4 billion.

Publishers were struggling with new business models involving alternate distribution methods, primarily digital delivery on the Internet, on portable devices such as cell phones, and even on television. Industry leaders talked about a multi-platform approach in which they would create content and deliver it to their audiences in a variety of ways. Publications in many major categories were also pressured by flat revenue figures or declines in circulation and advertising revenues. Executives resorted to cost cutting, often aided by technology that permitted more automation in the publication process.

It is difficult, however, to generalize about an industry of such size and variety. The term magazines, or periodicals, covers a variety of publications focusing on general interest, news, business, statistical reports, comics, fashion, women's interests and home care, erotic material, religion, regional or city happenings, academic research, organizations and associations, and specialized businesses or trades, among others. However, most periodicals can be divided into three general types:

  • Consumer magazines appealing to the general public or to specific segments of the public and generally feature advertising aimed at retail sales.
  • Business to business (B-to-B) magazines primarily aimed at business readership and featuring ads in which one business, a financial institution or wholesaler, for example, offers services to other businesses.
  • Association magazines published by organizations and mainly aimed at members.

The two leading organizations that assess the circulation of these magazines are the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), whose membership is mostly consumer magazines, and BPA Worldwide, an organization that includes more B-to-B publications.

There are many ways of measuring this industry and many organizations publish information that helps do the same. The measurements used by different organizations tend to differ, but each provides a sense of the industry. The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) reported that there were 18,267 magazines in North America in 2005, taking the figures from the National Directory of Magazines. Of these, 6,325 were consumer magazines. In terms of companies that publish periodicals, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2002 there were 7,298 such publishers in the United States, with receipts of $40.18 billion, annual payrolls of $8.38 billion, and 152.23 thousand paid employees.

The International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP) reported in 2005 that its 209 members in 53 countries published 110,000 magazine titles worldwide. In the United States, hundreds of new publications are launched every year, with more than half of them folding within the first 12 months.

The magazine and periodical publishing industry can trace its roots to Europe, where the Renaissance spurred an explosion of interest in learning. The first magazine, Journal des Sçavans, was a weekly started in January 1665 in Paris by Denis de Sallo. It included book reviews and news in science, law, and theology. Philosophical Transactions, the first English journal, followed in March 1665. The first American periodicals were American Journal, founded by the American printer Andrew Bradford, and General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for All the British Plantations, founded by Benjamin Franklin. Both appeared in Philadelphia in early 1741, and both failed before the year was over.

Only 16 magazines were published in the United States before the Revolution, and they had an average life of 10 months. During the Revolution, two magazines were published, both in Philadelphia: the Pennsylvania Magazine edited by Thomas Paine, and the United States Magazine, edited by Hugh Henry Brackenridge. During the remainder of the eighteenth century, approximately 70 periodicals, mostly short-lived, appeared.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, there were 600 U.S. periodicals of various types. Some, intended for general audiences, featured essays on the arts, history, and politics. The first monthlies and weeklies for women also were launched, including the influential Godey's Lady's Book (1830–1898), as well as Youth's Companion (1827–1929). Other new magazines included religious journals, literary reviews, and publications appealing to the antislavery and temperance movements.

The second half of the nineteenth century brought a revolution in magazine publishing, with improvements in illustration and printing and lower prices. New postal laws also provided inexpensive mailing rates. Harper's New Monthly Magazine began in New York in 1850, with liberal use of woodcut illustrations and serials of novels by Charles Dickens. The prestigious Atlantic Monthly began in Boston in 1857, publishing numerous contributions by the New England School of writers. A few more specialized magazines began in the nineteenth century, including Scientific American (1845) and Popular Science Monthly (1872).

Estimates of the number of magazines include 685 in 1850, 1,200 in 1870, 2,400 in 1880, 4,400 in 1890, and 5,500 in 1900. Advertising also increased, particularly in the boom after the Civil War and in the years that followed with the nationwide distribution of goods and the growing national circulation of the leading magazines.

In the early twentieth century, muckraking publications exposed some of the worst abuses in government and industry. Reader's Digest made its debut in 1922. The weekly news magazines appeared next, Time in 1923 and Newsweek and U.S. News in 1933. Publications for those in a particular business or trade and for those interested in areas of technical, scientific, or other professional fields increased in both number and sales after World War II.

Despite the competition from television, magazines prospered through the 1980s, and magazine publishing continued to grow at a moderate pace through the early 2000s. In 1976 an important change in accessing the information available in periodicals occurred when the Information Access Company was formed and began to consolidate indexes to popular magazines into a single searchable electronic file. This meant it was no longer necessary to search through a printed copy of the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature to gather information on a specific topic. Eventually, IAC's technology led to such indexes as Infotrax, Factiva, and LexisNexis.


Magazines are marketed to both readers and advertisers, and the two sets of sales are closely related. Given the number and variety of publications in the United States, it is difficult to obtain sales figures for the total market, but data sets from the U.S Census Bureau, as well as from the two major organizations that audit the circulation figures of their member magazines, ABC and BPA, help clarify the picture.

The U.S. Census Bureau listed 7,298 periodical publishing businesses in the United States in 2002, with receipts of more than $40 billion. In 2005 members of ABC sold more than 362 million magazines, not counting comics, annuals, and international editions, according to the MPA's Publishing Information Bureau (PIB), which obtained the figures from ABC. The average cost of a single copy was $4.40, while an average one-year subscription cost was reported as $26.78. Circulation revenues were $10.5 billion, with approximately $7.4 billion from subscriptions and $3.1 billion from single copy sales.

The ABC and BPA audits are critical to the industry. Advertisers demand accurate, trustworthy information on circulation, both because this information helps them decide where to place their ads and because the costs, or rates, for ads in a given publication are usually based on a specific level of guaranteed circulation. There are, consequently, strict rules for how various categories of circulation can be counted, as well as for such things as premiums given to subscribers and copies sent even though a subscription has expired. Average paid circulation refers to subscriptions, newsstand sales, and sponsored subscriptions for which the magazine has been paid. Sponsored subscriptions are sold to businesses that use them to provide added value—a high-end department store that provides its best customers with fashion magazines, for example. After some conflict over the question of unpaid circulation, the auditing organizations amended their rules in 2006 to give credit for unpaid copies made available to readers considered valuable by advertisers. ABC calls this verified circulation. Examples include copies sent to doctors' waiting rooms or to passenger airlines.

There are more than 125,000 retail outlets selling magazines in the United States. MPA reports that 46 percent of single copy sales occur in supermarkets, 12 percent in bookstores, 11 percent in drugstores, and 31 percent in other venues.

In the early 2000s magazines were fighting to maintain circulation. ABC, for example, reported that in the first half of 2006 compared with the same period a year earlier, newsstand sales of magazines fell more than 4 percent to 48.7 million copies. Among the newsweeklies, Time fell the furthest, 24 percent. Reasons given for the decrease included readers spending more time on the Internet, too many similarly themed titles, and a softer retail market. The men's lifestyle sector, with typical monthly sales of approximately 2 million, was down 13 percent. As with other titles, one cause of this drop was the failure of the industry to attract younger readers, who were more likely to go online for information. Another cause was the decline in teen titles.

At a Retail Conference sponsored by the MPA in March 2007, Michal Porché, CEO of Distribution Services, Inc., said the increasing number of self-checkout counters was also hurting sales. He said there was a 40 percent decrease in sales to consumers who use self-checkouts. Competition from candy, soda, lip balm, and other similar products for space at the checkout counter was also hurting, he said. Among other things, he recommended pushing for space at the checkouts in buyers' clubs, dollar stores, and supercenters, which were drawing shoppers away from traditional supermarkets.

The concern about flat or decreasing circulation as a potential threat to advertising is easy to understand given the amount of ad revenues at stake. Various sources counted totals differently, but all agreed that billions of dollars were involved. A 2005 PricewaterhouseCoopers Financial Survey of 86 representative magazines for MPA showed that 55 percent of revenues came from advertising and 45 percent from circulation. According to the Census Bureau in 2005 magazines received $12.9 billion of the nation's $276 billion in advertising expenditures, or 4.7 percent.

The PIB reported in 2006 that the 239 magazines it had surveyed sold approximately 245,000 pages of ads for reported rate card revenues of slightly more than $23 billion. The revenue figure is high because it is based on rate cards, which give the standard rate for advertising and do not take into account various discounts given to advertisers. PIB also reported that 2006 advertising revenues rose 3.8 percent above 2005 figures in spite of the fact that the number of pages sold did not increase, an indication of rising ad rates.

AdWeek reported that in 2005, the top 300 magazines received more than $27 billion in ad revenues. People was the top earner with $850 million; Better Homes & Gardens had $800 million; Time, $632 million; Parade, $626 million; Sports Illustrated, $624 million; Good Housekeeping, $478 million; and Newsweek, $472 million. In response to flat or decreased circulation, publishers began to sell advertisers the concept of total audience, the estimated number of people who read a magazine instead of the number of copies sold. In a speech to an MPA Breakfast with a Leader in April 2004, Jack Kliger, president and CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media, called on the industry to promote magazines to the ad community as a brand instead of pitting one magazine against its magazine competitors, with, for example, Woman's Day attacking Family Circle. He said magazines should stress the quality of the readers they deliver and the attention those readers give to their magazines. To accomplish this, he said, better measurements were needed for total audience. A perceived lack of reliability in magazine audience data caused advertisers to focus on circulation, which made it difficult to compete against other media such as television. Kliger noted that MPA formed a Magazine Promotion Coalition to put forth an aggressive campaign to sell magazines as a more important part of the media mix.

As one part of that effort a 2006 MPA report was commissioned from Marketing Evolution, a market research and consultant firm, on the role of magazines in the media mix. The report concluded that magazine ads were an important part of the mix, and were an excellent way of reinforcing brand recognition developed in television campaigns. It recommended that in most cases, magazine advertising should be increased. Another 2006 study that the organization commissioned from VISTA Print Effectiveness Rating Service supported the idea of counting readership rather than circulation. It showed that readers who received a pass-along copy of a magazine valued it and reacted favorably to its ads just as much as readers who bought their copy, with 18 percent considering purchasing a product after seeing it advertised in a magazine.

According to MPA's Magazine Handbook, 35 percent of those polled said reading was their favorite pastime compared to 21 percent who favored television. It also reported that only 28 percent of magazine readers said ads reduced their enjoyment of the magazine while 62 percent of network television viewers said they were bothered by the ads.

In the early 2000s the growth of the Internet created a revolution that was forcing magazine publishers to talk about a multi-platform approach in which they were in the business of selling content, whatever the format. Terry Snow, CEO of World Publications, said in March 2007 at a Roundtable sponsored by Folio magazine:

"World Publications sort of distilled it down to three things in terms of what the business is. 1) We aggregate audiences with a common interest so it doesn't really matter what the medium is. 2) We need to connect those audiences to advertisers, and 3) we create content. So at World we're not getting lost in the technology so much as trying to stay focused on the content."

Magazines began looking at a range of revenue-producing products including Web sites, content for mobile phones and other handheld devices, and video. They also became more involved in sponsoring special events and trade shows, and improved computer programs that helped them to extract more revenues from their subscriber databases.

Mediaweek reported that online ad spending hit a record high in 2006 of $16.8 billion, a 34 percent increase from 2005, based on figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The magazine said financial analyst Piper Jaffray forecasted that U.S. Internet advertising would hit $42 billion in 2011, with a compound average growth rate of 17 percent. The MPA identified more than 150 digital initiatives in 2006 by its magazine members, with community building, video, and user-generated content all well-represented on the new Web sites. New initiatives featured more blogs, mobile applications, podcasts, and video content for Web sites and cell phones. Community-building features allowed audience members to share information with each other. In many cases, Web site visitors were also provided a means to customize the sites so that they would see the information, video, and images they wanted when they logged on. Hearst, Meredith Corp., and Time, Inc. all announced the establishment of in-house production companies for video and Web applications.

For Time, Inc., the largest U.S. magazine publisher, the changes were profound. In January 2007 the company, faced with circulation decreases, announced a cut of 289 people, or 2.8 percent of its workforce, the third round of cuts in less than two years. A large number of editorial staffers were dropped, but online positions doubled in the preceding year. The company announcement said Time, Inc. was transforming its workforce, broadening its digital capabilities in order to become a multi-platform company. Having revamped the Time magazine Web site, chairman and CEO Ann Moore said the company would focus on developing the online businesses of People and Real Simple magazines., for example, launched a celebrity database with continuously updated celebrity profiles, data, and original editorial content.

Sports Illustrated (SI), a Time, Inc. publication, also moved online aggressively. The Sports Illustrated Web site is part of a portfolio of products anchored by the flagship magazine. The Web site, which attracts an audience of 8 million, brings in 20 percent of the group's revenues. The site's success attracts a younger audience and new advertisers to the magazine. Popular Web features include Scorecard Daily, a sports culture and humor news section, photo galleries, and gossip snippets culled from publications around the country. The group has now launched SI On Demand, a new video on demand channel.

At Condé Nast, the country's second largest magazine publisher, the company spent money on its CondéNet division, and a number of new Web sites were launched, including those that offered content from more than one magazine., for example, combines content from three Condé Nast magazines. It includes video of bridal gown runway shows as well as real weddings and a budget tool that helps brides keep track of their spending., a new teen site, features flipbooks for sharing information, clubs, and offers the ability to design custom Web sites, using drawing, text, soundtracks, and animation. The company's new business magazine, Portfolio, was launched in early 2007 with its own Web site.

Consumer magazines were not the only ones profiting from online business. In Folio magazine's 2006 survey of B-to-B magazine executives, the CEOs reported increased online revenues, although print remained the most important, representing 62.6 percent of revenues in 2005. Of those surveyed, 35 percent said online was their fastest growing revenue source, 34 percent said print, 25 percent said events, and 11 percent said data/market information sales. Only association magazines lagged behind. These publications, with circulations ranging from less than 1,000 to more than 500,000, generally lacked substantial revenues from electronic media and events.

Despite the growing importance of online advertising, standards for measuring the online audience have continued to be in flux. BPA reported significant increases in audits across all platforms and in-person events, as media owners increasingly tried to sell integrated, multi-platform packages to advertisers. There was an effort to focus on unique visitors rather than hits, but accuracy was damaged by technical problems such as the realization that many visitors were deleting cookies from their computers. Cookies are markers set on a computer after it has logged onto a particular Web site. The tracking of these cookies helps the Web site host identify a visitor as either a first time visitor or a returning visitor. When cookies are deleted it becomes impossible to tell if a visitor is a new, unique visitor or a returning visitor.


Time Warner, Inc.

This division of Time-Warner is the leading magazine publisher in the United States and the United Kingdom. In addition to publishing approximately 130 titles worldwide, the company delivers content by Web sites, television, satellite radio, mobile devices, events, and branded products. Its 2004 net revenues were $4.85 billion.

At the close of 2006, the company reported that it received 22.6 percent of all domestic magazine advertising spending, and that its Web sites had been visited by more than 19 million unique visitors during the year.

Time's most popular titles include People, Time, and Sports Illustrated. In 2005 Time, Inc. completed the acquisition of Essence Communications Partners, a joint venture between Time and ECI Holdings. Essence Communications Partners publishes Essence, a women's lifestyle magazine read by more than seven million African-American adults a month. In 2005 Time, Inc. also acquired Grupo Editorial Expansión, publisher of high-end business and consumer magazines in Mexico.

Time, Inc. launched five of its 10 most profitable magazines in the last 20 years, including Real Simple, which has spun off Real Simple TV on PBS and Real Simple 2-in-1 cleaning tools. CNN and Time, Inc.'s joint business and financial Web site, relaunched in 2006, is the online home for all of Time, Inc.'s business and financial magazines, including Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Business 2.0, and Money.

In 2007 Time, Inc. sold Time4 Media, a multimedia company involved with magazines, Web sites, television and radio, feature films, and live events, to Sweden's Bonnier Magazine Group. Time4 Media magazine titles include Field & Stream, Popular Science, SKI, Yachting, and TransWorld SKATEboarding.

Advance Publications

This privately held communications company is owned by Samuel and Donald Newhouse and owns Condé Nast Publications, Fairchild Publications, American City Business Journals (more than 40 weekly papers), the Golf Digest Companies, and newspapers in more than 20 American cities. Advance also has extensive interests in cable television and in Web sites related to its publications. The company's 2004 net revenues were estimated at $2.42 billion. Its Condé Nast magazines include Allure, Architectural Digest, Glamour, The New Yorker, Parade, Self, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Wired. Fairchild magazines include Jane, Women's Wear Daily, Salon News, Elegant Bride, Bride's, and Modern Bride.

Hearst Corporation

With nearly 200 magazines around the world, Hearst Corporation's collection includes Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar, Popular Mechanics, O The Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Seventeen, Smart Money, and Travel. Other Hearst properties include newspapers; television stations; joint venture interests in leading cable networks, including Lifetime, A&E, The History Channel, and ESPN; business publishing; Internet businesses; television production; newspaper features distribution; and real estate. Hearst's 2004 net revenues were estimated at $1.837 billion.

Meredith Corp.

Meredith is a media and marketing company focused on women and it had 2004 net revenues of $1.534 billion. Its magazine division, with 15 magazines and more than 200 special interest publications, has a combined circulation of 30 million. Meredith magazines include Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Fitness, Parents, Child, Baby, and Country Living.


This is a targeted media company with 2004 net revenues reported at $1.2 billion. The company's properties include print publications, Internet, events, merchandise, and video programs. In its Enthusiast Media division, Primedia has more than 70 special interest magazines including Motor Trend, Automobile, Hot Rod, Snowboarder, and Surfer. Its Consumer Source Inc. unit distributes free consumer guides to more than 60,000 locations through its proprietary distribution network, DistribuTech.

Reader's Digest Association

The private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC bought Reader's Digest Association in 2006 for $2.4 billion. Net revenues in 2004 for Readers' Digest were $917 million. Reader's Digest claims 80 million readers with 50 editions published in 20 languages. The company also uses its extensive consumer database to market books, special interest magazines, music, videos, and financial and health products.


The United States was once the leading producer of magazine-grade paper, but that has shifted with most magazine paper in the early 2000s coming from Canada. This places an additional burden on U.S. publishers with the strong Canadian dollar forcing them to pay more in U.S. dollars. Demand for paper is down, with many advertisers buying fewer magazine pages as they switch their business to the Internet. Paper manufacturers have responded by controlling production. Demand dropped 2 percent in 2005 and was flat in 2006, with predictions that demand would be down in 2007. Despite the decrease in demand, there were a number of price increases, including a hike in 2005 that ranged from 14 to 20 percent, depending on contracts. Paper manufacturers achieved flat or increased pricing in an industry that had previously been known for price volatility with a strategy they called rightsizing. This included eliminating excess capacity, improving the operating rate on the most efficient machines, reducing costs, and cutting the supply available in the marketplace.

Analysts said the higher prices were needed for the mills to stay in business. In addition to the strong Canadian dollar, an increase in wood costs in Eastern Canada and the rising cost of energy were pressuring the paper mills. In the face of these pressures, companies such as International Paper began selling their magazine-grade paper mills. The number of suppliers dropped dramatically, until the top four companies controlled approximately 75 percent of the market. In addition to International Paper, traditional papermakers that left the coated paper marked included Mead, Westvaco, Boise Cascade, Blandin, and Consolidated. U.S. and Canadian suppliers are losing some control over the market, however, as more paper mills are built in developing areas of the world and imports increase. In early 2007 approximately 30 percent of all paper used in the United States was imported.

In an effort to keep costs down, publishers have been looking at cutting the quality or weight of the paper they use. Coated paper is widely favored for its printing quality and glossy appearance, but some magazines are looking at cheaper supercalendered paper to cut their costs. Super-calendered paper is made in a process in which specialized rollers create a very thin, flat sheet with high sheen. Many designers, editors, and publishers, however, worry that the paper is not as glossy and that it will not match the bright colored pictures that can be printed on coated paper, nor give the overall appearance of quality that is desired.

Another cost-saving approach for the publishers has been to cut the weight of their paper, particularly because this reduces mailing and shipping expenses at a time when postal rates are rising. Time, Inc. shifted some titles from 35-pound to 25-pound paper in 2005, but in 2007, apparently unhappy with the resultant products, increased the weight to 30-pound. Postal rates went up 5.4 percent for all customers in January 2006, with a recommendation by the Postal Regulatory Commission for an additional 11.7 percent increase for magazines in 2007. A further hike was considered possible before June 2008, when postal reform legislation would cap future rate hikes, requiring them to be no greater than the consumer price index.

The paper weight versus quality arguments continue in the industry. At the March 2007 Primex (Print Media Executive) Conference, a representative from Condé Nast attributed part of the success of Teen Vogue to high production standards, saying the magazine used 45-pound, #4 paper, which is a brighter, whiter sheet than the paper some of the other magazines were using. A related issue concerning the industry in 2007 was uniformity of paper standards, particularly given the demands of new digital-production processes and the increased amount of imported paper. IdeAlliance (International Digital Enterprise Alliance, a non-profit industry group) formed a task force to look at the issue, explaining that one supplier's #3 paper did not always give the same results as another's #3.

An additional pressure on publishers in the early 2000s was demand by environmentalists that they use more recycled paper. In 2006, 95 percent of all magazine paper contained no recycled content. The non-profit Co-Op America's Magazine Paper Project estimated that U.S. magazines were using roughly 35 million trees per year, or one tree per second. Some magazines are going green such as Shape and Natural Health. These magazines used 30 percent postconsumer recycled paper. The June 4, 2007 issue of U.S. News & World Report was printed on 85 to 100 percent recycled paper. As of 2006, however, only 100 magazines in North America were being printed on recycled paper. In most cases, the recycled paper added to costs. Mark Spellum, publisher and editor-in-chief of Plenty, said the magazine was paying approximately 7.8 percent more for the 30 percent of its paper that came from recycled sources. When Surfer started using recycled paper as a portion of its paper, it was forced to raise the newsstand price from $3.99 to $4.99 although the subscription price remained the same.

In March 2007 MPA, clearly concerned about environmental criticisms of the magazine industry, announced a major initiative urging readers to recycle. Logos asking readers to "Please Recycle this Magazine" were created and began appearing on magazines.


Distribution of magazines is accomplished through a complex mix of freight services and the U.S. Post Office, managed by a network of national distributors, regional wholesalers, and retail outlets. Like almost all other aspects of the publishing business, traditional distribution practices are being rethought in many cases because of price pressures or the availability of new technology.

For many magazines, distribution to subscribers is handled by the printer, who works with publishers to optimize a system for cost and for reliable delivery on the desired day. Techniques such as co-mailing or co-palletization are increasingly used to cut costs. Co-mailing is designed to take advantage of postal policies that give discounts for magazines already sorted by zip code. A minimum number of publications must be included within a zip code to win the discount, and the minimum can be met in more zip codes by merging databases of two or more publications and sorting them together. Similarly, discounts are available if sorted magazines are placed on pallets, and combining publications can help fill more pallets.

Mail discounts are also available if the pallets are delivered to postal facilities that are geographically close to the intended recipients. Publishers and printers work together to decide if such a discount is desirable in a given case, or if freight costs to the postal facility will be greater than the savings from the discount.

The largest pressure on this distribution system is rising postal rates. To try to stabilize postal rates, MPA backed comprehensive postal reform legislation that was approved in December 2006. The bipartisan legislation contained a number of beneficial provisions for the magazine industry. One returned responsibility for the military pensions of postal employees back to the U.S. Treasury. Another capped rate increases after June 2008 to the consumer price index.

In addition to postal delivery to subscribers, publishers must deliver their product to single-copy sales outlets. Distribution to retail outlets has long been plagued with inefficiency. In the early 1990s sell-through at retail outlets was approximately 50 percent, but by 2003 it fell to 34 percent, and it has stayed at that level. That means that retail outlets are selling only one-third of the magazines they receive and are returning two-thirds to be destroyed. Publishers are paying to print and distribute large numbers of magazines for which they never receive a cent of the purchase price.

At the same time, the industry was undergoing a shakeup, with consolidation of wholesalers and changes in basic financial arrangements. In the traditional distribution system, publishers deal with national distributors who then contract with various wholesalers to deliver magazines to retail outlets. An early step in the shakeup occurred in 1995 when the Safeway market chain in Seattle announced it would no longer accept magazines from the four wholesalers that had been servicing its stores but would instead take bids for one wholesaler to handle all of its magazines. Other Safeway stores and a number of other chains, including Wal-Mart, Albertson's, and Grand Union, followed suit. This led to a major shakeout, shrinking the number of wholesalers from 320 to a handful. By 2000 the four biggest wholesalers were distributing 90 percent of the magazines, but they had paid a heavy cost for their victory. Spending heavily to buy out smaller competitors and bidding low to win contracts left them in a shaky financial position.

The retailers took advantage of their new power by demanding better discounts on the magazines they bought from the wholesalers. They had been paying 10 to 20 percent off the cover price, but in the highly competitive atmosphere of the early 2000s, discounts went as high as 30 percent. Two of the largest national distributors then came forward with changes in basic financial arrangements. Time Distribution Services (TDS), which distributes Time, Inc. magazines and a number of others, proposed a cost-to-serve model. The company said that instead of paying wholesalers commissions on magazines sold, it would pay fees for their services. Time argued that this would allow the wholesalers to make money even on titles that did not sell well. The Comag Marketing Group, a national distributor owned jointly by Hearst Magazines and Condé Nast, proposed a plan in which key distributors would be named in geographic areas. These distributors could earn additional money by providing extra services to retailers.

In the midst of this shakeout, Wal-Mart, which sells 15 percent of all single-copy magazines in the United States, announced in late 2002 that it would institute a new system in keeping with its usual practice of eliminat-ing the middle-man wherever possible. Wal-Mart began negotiating directly with publishers as much as possible, reducing the role of national distributors and wholesalers. This model reduces some wholesalers to logistics providers—truckers—and it allows Wal-Mart to squeeze producers and logistics providers for discounts. Many other retailers, however, don't have the size or clout to deal directly with publishers and still need the distribution system. In another unusual arrangement, Wal-Mart and Time, Inc. reached an agreement in which Time launched All You, a monthly women's magazine that is distributed exclusively in Wal-Mart stores.

An important factor that is slowly being adopted is scan-based trading for magazines. In the traditional system, sales are measured by counting the returns. With scanner technology, it is possible to automatically measure sales. Large retailers like Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble adopted scanning for magazines, but the technology is far from industry-wide. Among problems preventing adoption is the fact that many stores have not invested in the technology needed to tell which issue of a magazine is being bought. Their systems can tell them, for example, that a copy of Family Circle is being purchased but not what issue of that magazine. Scanning offers substantial advantages to retail outlets, however, eliminating much of the in-store labor, inventory, and administrative costs associated with magazine sales. Scan-based technology also offers a major advantage to publishers, a chance to improve the sell-through rate.

In a 2006 interview with Folio magazine, Richard Lawton, Comag senior vice president, said a million copies per year (4 percent of the total) are being delivered to stores that sell not a single one, and 300 million copies a year go to stores that sell one or fewer. New information-management companies are taking the raw data and making store-level data available, which, if used properly, can result in substantial savings by eliminating deliveries to inefficient outlets. Comag worked with one publisher of a mid-tier checkout monthly, which realized $600,000 in annual savings by reducing its print order by eliminating unprofitable stores.


Given the variety of magazine titles available in the United States, almost any group can be a key user for some special-topic magazine, whether it be surfboarders, frequent travelers, service club members, or new mothers. In 2006 Hall's Reports, LLC, a company that specializes in analyzing editorial content for the magazine industry, listed Entertainment and Celebrity news as the top selling category for magazines in the United States. Figure 131 shows a ranking of the magazine industry by category as reported by Hall's. Although the primary theme of a magazine does not define it's readers, the breakdown does provide one perspective on the magazine audience.

Based on the percentage of editorial pages by subject category as measured by the Hall's Magazine Reports Company in its annual study covering 141 magazines.
Subject CategoryPercent
The remaining subject categories include, in this order, Business/Industry, Culture, Health/Medical Sciences, Beauty/Grooming, Sports/Recreation/Hobby, General Interest, Self Help/Relationships, National Affairs, Personal Finance, Building, Fitness/Beauty, Gardening/Farmng, Consumer Electronics, and Children.
Entertainment and Celebrity16.7
Wearing Apparel and Accessories13.4
Home Furnishings and Management7.8
Travel and Transportation6.9
Food and Nutrition6.7

Statistics gathered by the MPA provide another way of studying the audience for magazines. MPA research found, for example, that heavy magazine readers who watch little television spent more money than average on various product categories such as automotive, health and beauty aids, and electronics. According to MPA, an average magazine reader is 43 years old with average annual household income of $75,247 and ownership of a home valued at $294,870. The average heavy television viewer, on the other hand, is 50 years old with $53,399 in household income and a home value of $222,888. A total of 82 percent of those polled read magazines in their own homes and 76 percent also read magazines out of their homes. Locations include: doctor/dentist office (35%), someone else's home (26%), newsstand/store (24%), beauty/barber shop (12%), library/club/school (8%), and on an airplane (6%).


A number of media compete for the billions of dollars advertisers spend each year in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that advertisers spent a total of $276 billion in 2005. Magazines are estimated to have received $12.9 billion of that, a relatively small piece of the pie compared to most other media.

Television is by far the biggest earner of ad dollars with $69.8 billion in 2005—$45.3 for broadcast television and $24.5 billion for cable. Newspapers brought in $47.9 billion in ad sales and almost $20 billion was spent on radio advertising. A total of $14.3 billion was spent on yellow page ads. The figure for Direct Mail is $52.2 billion. The Census Bureau lists Internet advertising at almost $6.9 billion, but the category is growing fast, having come from $800 million in 1997, the first year it was listed.


In one sense, many magazines conduct constant research in that their reporters investigate various topics thoroughly in order to write their stories. Research on issues and technology that affect the magazine business, however, is more specialized. One question of major interest to publishers is readership. To stay in business, they need to know and understand their audience.

An example of this sort of research and development can be seen in the work of Car and Driver and Road & Track, two Hachette Filipacchi magazines. They conduct e-mail reader research polls every three weeks in their efforts to hold a car-obsessed audience in a highly competitive field. The automotive group has a 10,000-person volunteer panel of readers. A segment of these members receives a subscriber poll or survey, almost always by e-mail, every three weeks. In addition to using the information gained to tailor the magazines to readers' interests, the publications are able to offer clients and advertisers information on how readers perceive their products.

More in-depth research on a variety of issues is conducted by the MPA on behalf of its magazine members. MPA studies have included such varied topics as a Hispanic/Latino market profile, advertising positioning, media effectiveness, and circulation. The MPA Web site also contains links to other magazine research such as a study at Ball State University showing that consumers tend to be more engaged with print than with electronic media.

IdeAlliance conducts research in five tracks: XML (Extreme Markup Languages, a play on the more usual Extensible Markup Languages) and Frontier Technologies; Content Creation, Management, & Delivery; Advertising & Production; Supply Chain Management; and Newsstand & Postal Distribution. Under XML and Frontier Technologies, for example, the group conducts the News Standards Summit, which brings together technical experts and technology users to look at ways to set standards for publishing XML and metadata projects. One effort of the Newsstand & Postal Distribution track is to conduct an annual Print Distribution Conference to look at issues and possible innovations in addressing, mail preparation, newsstand supply chain, and other distribution topics.

While product developers conduct most of the research involved in the technology that is transforming the industry, individual magazines must have technical experts on hand and conduct constant research on the technology marketplace in order to print and distribute their publications in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

Issues of software compatibility, for instance, can create headaches. One complaint notes that although XML is a software program widely used for file sharing and Web publication, Microsoft Word cannot export an XML file. Microsoft offers another software program, Info Path, to translate XML files, but to use this software editors are obliged to keep an additional program open on their computer screens.

The need to offer content on multiple platforms demands the integration of Web and print systems as well as databases, and the education of the staff members who will use them. Print people have to learn to use a Content Management System to store, sort, and shuttle content from one platform to another. Adding video requires yet more technology. Forbes, for example, has created its own studios and a teleconferencing system that allows reporters to conduct on-camera interviews on location.

As they adopt new technologies those who produce magazines do not always agree on the reliability of various approaches. Some, for example, feel that virtual proofs are sufficient, while others, concerned about such issues as color reproduction, are willing to pay for printed proofs. Some also point out that even if contractors boast that they have equipment that meets standards, the results aren't guaranteed if the equipment is not regularly calibrated and the settings are not correct.


The trend toward multi-platform publication of content continues to be the major force reshaping the magazine industry. Some have already begun to describe their business as something more than just magazine publishing. Ad-supported e-media, subscription-based on-line services, and events all are hot. As a result, increased revenues are flowing into electronic media, and the number of online-only publishers is growing. Both consumer and B-to-B magazines are hiring staff for their online business development, both for content creation and for advertising sales.

Mergers and acquisitions also will continue to roil the industry. In fact 2007 opened with a number of major deals, including the acquisition of 40 magazines from Time, Inc. by the Swedish media giant, Bonnier. The purchase price was estimated at between $200 million and $300 million.

B-to-B publishers, under pressure from loss of revenues to electronic media, are seeking new income from a number of small, low-risk strategies. Ad pages accounted for 52 percent of total revenues for these publishers in 1997, but by 2002, the figure had fallen to 47 percent. Trade shows, on the other hand, jumped from 19 percent of revenue to 26 percent. The Internet, generating almost negligible revenues in 1997, had climbed to 3 percent by 2002. Custom publications, database, and reprints, surprisingly, fell from 9.6 percent to 7.9 percent.

To offset the advertising losses, B-to-B magazines have turned to a number of revenue streams ranging from continuing education to custom publishing to licensing and partnering. Conferences and seminars increasingly are held online, making it possible to cut costs substantially. These Web conferences often draw a hundred or more participants, earning revenues both through sponsorships and paid attendance.

Even with brand extensions, new products generally are being brought out carefully and with low budgets by B-to-B magazines. American Lawyer Media, for example, put together the first issues of Law Firm Inc., which covers law-firm management, with freelancers and contributors from sister magazines. When the publication netted $150,000 in its first year, it earned its own full-time staff and increased frequency of publication.

Another area beginning to grow is rich data products, with consumer and B-to-B magazines both turning subscriber data into high-profit products, such as data on court verdicts and settlements collected by American Lawyer. In another example, AARP publications is offering to connect advertisers to the valuable 50-plus market.

A useful view of other industry trends can be surmised from the issues occupying MPA lobbyists. Rising postal rates are having a major impact on the industry, although the successful effort to have rates capped in 2008 should ease this problem. The industry is watching privacy initiatives and supporting anti-spam legislation, both of which could impact its ability to extract revenues from its databases.

Other legislative issues that interest the magazine industry include efforts to limit automatic subscription renewals, which the industry calls advanced consent marketing, and concerns about direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, ads for weight-loss products, and ads aimed at children.


Almost all magazines are aware of their target audience and try to adjust their content and design if this audience changes. Increasing fragmentation in the media, however, has encouraged publishers to look at a number of market segments as potential sources of new circulation and ad revenues, with new magazines being launched to serve these segments.

MPA has created in-depth market profiles on the African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, and teen markets. Each is a growing segment of the U.S. population with impact in areas such as food, apparel, and music. In its study of African American adults, MPA discovered that 83 percent read magazines. The number of African Americans was up almost 22 percent between 1990 and 2000, and this group represented 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2006. The African American market wielded an estimated $723 billion in purchasing power in 2003, up from $318 billion in 1990 and expected to reach $965 billion in 2009.

MPA reported that there are 113 Asian American titles published in the United States and that Asian magazine readers are younger, more affluent and better educated than magazine readers overall. The Asian American population is growing fast. In the early 2000s it made up 5 percent of the U.S. population, and it is expected to more than triple to 34 million in the next 50 years. This group had over $253 billion in spending power in 2001. In at least one projection, Asian American spending power is expected to reach $528 billion by 2009.

The rapidly growing Hispanic population is projected to achieve buying power of $1.2 trillion by 2011. A number of publications and other media cater to this fragmented, fluid market. The celebrity-oriented People en Español remains the category leader, with 500,000 in guaranteed circulation. Meredith Corp. launched Siempre Mujer for women in 2005 and the title quickly reached 375,000 in guaranteed circulation. Other titles by the publisher of women's service magazines include Ser Padres, Espera, and Healthy Kids en Español.

MPA reported that 81 percent of teens read magazines, a rate similar to the adult population. This population is expected to climb from 32.4 million in 2000 to 33.5 million in 2010. Teens have money to spend, with annual discretionary income of nearly $4,500 by age 16 to 17, and they also can impact adult decisions on spending, with parents frequently asking them to go online to research a product.

The three biggest teen magazines are Seventeen, CosmoGirl, and Teen Vogue. Time, Inc's Teen People and Hachette Filipacchi's Elle Girl did not survive, but their Web sites are still strong. In fact, all of the publishers are paying particular attention to Web sites, branded products, events, contests, and mobile tie-ins in an effort to attract the teen audience. In early 2007 Hearst acquired eCrush, a group of entertainment and social networking sites, launched a prom shopping site, and put up new Web versions of its Seventeen, CosmoGirl, and quarterly Teen magazines. Condé Nast combines information from its teen magazines on its Web site Flip.

Farther along the age scale, Prevention concentrates on its core readership of women 45 and up. The Web site offers Faces of Prevention, a forum for readers to pose questions to the magazine's experts, and Body by Design, which lets readers select exercises at one of three levels of intensity.

Meanwhile, men's magazines are adapting the service concept that has long worked for women's publications. The goal for such outlets as Men's Health, Maxim, and GQ, according to their editors, is to offer practical information that busy men can absorb quickly. Fashion and style guidance is a major emphasis, and ads from this sector are helping the publications make up for the drop in automobile advertising in the early 2000s.


IdeAlliance (International Digital Enterprise Alliance),

International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP),

Magazine Publishers of America,


"100 Leading National Advertising & Other Ad Spending Data." Advertising Age Data Center. Available from 〈〉.

"Advertising—Estimated Expenditures by Media: 1990 to 2005." Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007, 126th ed. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. December 2006, 785.

"Can Paper Weight and Trim Size Lead to Profits?" Folio. 5 March 2007.

"CEO Survey: B-To-B Renewal." Folio. 27 April 2006.

"The Dealmakers of 2006." Folio. 21 January 2007.

Fiore, Marrecca, "MPA Retail Conference Speaker: Shelf-Checkouts Hurt Newsstand Sales." Folio. 7 March 2007.

"Folio: Roundtable—Magazine Publishing in a Digital Device World." Folio. 1 March 2007.

Grande, Carlos, "Men's Titles Suffer Circulation Slide." The Financial Times. 18 August 2006, 3.

Kelly, Brian. "From the Editor." U.S. News & World Report. 4 June 2007. Available from 〈〉.

Kliger, Jack. "Breakfast with a Leader." Magazine Publishers of America. Available from 〈〉.

"Largest Advertising Markets Worldwide, 2005 and 2007." Advertising Age. 10 April 2006, 8.

"The Magazine Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide 2006/2007." Magazine Publishers of America. Available from 〈〉.

Mickey, Bill. "5 Questions in 5 Minutes: Utilizing Store-Level Data." Folio. 16 March 2006.

Morrissey. "Web Ad Spend Hits Record High in '06." 7 March 2007. Available from 〈〉.

Moses, Lucia. "Men's Mags Bulk Up on Service." 12 February 2007. Available from 〈〉.

――――――. "Publishers: Web to Reflect Users." 27 February 2007. Available from 〈〉.

――――――. "Time, Inc. Outlines Web Strategy." 30 January 2007. Available from 〈〉.

――――――. "Time, Inc. Slashes Again to Survive." Mediaweek. 22 January 2007. Available from 〈〉.

"Newsstand Magazine Sales Fell in the First Six Months of 2006." New York Times. 22 August 2006.

"Special Report: A Winning Doubleheader." Adweek. 5 March 2007. Available from 〈〉.

"Summary Statistics for the United States: 2002." 2002 Economic Census. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. June 2005. Available from 〈〉.

Van Dyke, Geoff, "Power Play: Wal-Mart Plans to Change Magazine Distribution Methods." Folio. 1 May 2002.

"VII. Colonial Newspapers and Magazines, 1704–1775." The Cambridge History of English and American Literature: an Encyclopedia in 18 Volumes. Available from 〈〉.

Zebian, Linda. "The Cost of Publishing with Green Paper." Folio. 30 August 2006.

see also Comic Books, Newspapers

Magazine Publisher

views updated May 21 2018

Magazine Publisher



555 Main St.
Ashland, FL 50945

November 25, 1990

GRAPEVINE is a demo graphically well-positioned magazine catering to a growing segment of the population. Due to developing circumstances and a changing business climate, it is looking for a capital infusion to maintain and further encourage already strong sales. Recent events have created the need to review all aspects of operation.

  • mission statement
  • executive summary
  • overview
  • financial summary
  • personnel
  • key management information
  • circulation and marketing strategy
  • advertising
  • operating plan explanation


GRAPEVINE Magazine needs an infusion of capital of approximately $150,000-200,000.

Nationally known for high quality and its current key position in its market, this company has opportunities beyond the bridge requirement for short-term cash.

Long-term convertible debentures can be retired, probably at substantial discount, opening a major equity position at multiples far below industry average. Current record sales and long-term contracts, coupled with '92 proform a projections, clearly show investment worthiness.

Recent circumstance of events, completely removed from any connection associated to the publication's operations, has created an unprecedented opportunity for participation in a company where industry profits historically grow in excess of 20%.

This is a clean operation and due diligence can be accomplished.


Business Description

GRAPEVINE is a national specialty magazine with highly targeted demographics, designed to reach the top 7% of its market. Through a research driven, "benchmark" system of circulation, it has achieved, and maintains, the second largest advertising market share in its industry and is recognized as one of the four major "sources" in its market.

Business History

Established in November 1978 as a community newspaper distributed by bulk drop-off, it had a circulation of only 7,000. By 1988 through a carefully created network distribution concept, the publication had developed an audited circulation of 233,000. The magazine became the largest consumer lifestyle publication in the state. Impacted by its limited cash and a change in state tax laws, the magazine was bought out in May of 1988 by a public company that took the publication national, as a visible entity to its various subsidiaries. The public company experienced financial difficulties, and the Publication's management took the magazine back in July 1990. In the process of raising cash, convertible debenture financing was secured along investor's communication vehicles. A $2 million contract was signed with a hotel chain to provide paid circulation for the publication and meet cash flow requirements for the bimonthly circulation of over 400,000. The hotel chain has breached its contract. Simultaneously, a second-class postage application was filed and not approved for 15 months, creating a $135,000 security deposit for the publication's current investors, who, like the hotel, ended joint-venture operations. These combined series of events have created a cash crunch, in spite of record sales and a new multi-million dollar contract. The publication must either retire its existing long-term debts under new partnership arrangements, or obtain short-term bridge financing to counteract its drastic decrease in cash flow.

Business Highlights


7-¾" × 10-¾", saddle-stitched, web offset printed, 4-color, consumer lifestyle magazine. Produced on 34/36 lb. enamel-coated stock, full body text and 60 lb. coated cover stock, the magazine is an award-winning editorial product.


The publication is one of the four major leaders in the industry and serves a highly targeted niche. It has been reported to reach the top 7% of the market place. The publication is considered for quality rather than quantity reached and is positioned specifically in the fast growing segment of the market.

Customer Base

The magazine has the unique stature of being the only publication to have a qualified paid audited circulation in its industry. Qualified paid means the specific demographics are guaranteed to be reached by the publication's circulation. The methodology of its "benchwork" approach to the demographics of its readers has launched its circulation to be the most sought-after marketing approach in the industry.


The company's sales have grown from $1,000,235 in 1981 to $2,708,080 in 1990 with projected growth in excess of $3.3 million in 1992, and net profits in excess of $450,000.


The management team is made up of those who have been recognized as authorities in their emerging market. The company has a secondary management team that provides uninterrupted continuance. The top management team is in place and hopes to remain.


Not only does the magazine serve the fastest growing market in the country, it has developed over its tenure a "franchise" into the advertising community. Further, the concept of contract printing as a new revenue stream is being addressed with one contract just being started and two pending.


Established in 1978, GRAPEVINE Magazine uniquely serves that segment of the huge and growing senior consumer base that has the following highly targeted characteristics:

  • Female
  • Between 50 and 64 years old
  • Household income $40,000 plus
  • College educated

In short, the publication serves an active, involved readership whose numbers are going to continue to grow for some time as the "baby boom" generation matures. There are now over 63 million people in the over 50 age group with discretionary spending power of over $78 billion. GRAPEVINE has positioned itself to serve the "Optimal Target Prospect", which is the core of the market as characterized above and defined by Yankelovich Clancy Shulman. A dramatic shift is occurring in the population as the over 50 age group assumes a larger and larger portion of the population.

The importance of this market is best illustrated by the increasing number of publishers who are approaching it and the quality of its industry leaders. In addition to GRAPEVINE, there are MODERN MATURITY, a benefit of membership publication of the American Association of Retired Persons; NEW CHOICES published by the Reader's Digest; and MATURE OUTLOOK published, under contract, by Meredith for Sears Roebuck's Allstate Enterprises' Mature Outlook Club, as a benefit of membership. Other publishers that are attempting to cover the market through the creation of special demographic sections are not direct competition for GRAPEVINE, although they do serve to focus the marketing community on the value and the huge potential of the emerging senior consumer. In fact, Ken Dychwald, president of Age Wave Inc., are search firm, has identified "over 200 newspapers, magazines, and tabloid-styled publications" serving the market in various degrees. According to the Patterson Advertising Lineage report, however, GRAPEVINE maintains the second largest market share by ad page count as of their February '91 quarterly.

Grapevine Senior News, Inc., was acquired by John and Jane Doe in December of 1980. At that time GRAPEVINE was a newspaper having a circulation in London County, Florida of just 7,000. Today the magazine as a national circulation of 400,000. It has enjoyed steady growth in advertising revenue since it was acquired and has developed a unique, targeted circulation marketing program utilizing research that differentiates the title from the rapidly growing field of competitors, and positions the magazine to deliver the top 7% of the entire senior consumer base"The Optimal Target Prospect".

Having achieved the largest circulation in Florida, the 1988/1989 period was an important time for GRAPEVINE Magazine. The publishers had seen the national advertising revenue base opportunities grow substantially. The title was already attracting national advertising accounts who were seeking to reach the critically important bellwether Florida market, which has a large concentration of seniors. Management felt that the next step in the development of the title would be to take GRAPEVINE to the national market by extending the circulation coverage and building a stronger base to attract more national advertising dollars. The publishers were able to obtain an interim financial partner to accelerate the growth of the title to the national level. This objective has been accomplished.

To augment the advertising revenue stream, circulation driven, long-term, contract-printing contracts were developed to provide GRAPEVINE Magazine a "Qualified Paid" group subscription magazine for Day's Inn of America's September Day's Club beginning January 1990. A wholesale publishing division was set up in February of 1990 that included corresponding contracts with September Day's Club to produce its 32-page insert; new contracts with Pioneer Financial Services, Inc. to produce two additional magazines for their associations, providing paid circulation revenue and vastly improving, via terms, cash flow; plus a long term corresponding contract with Humana Hospital Corporation.

Current two year contracts are valued at $1,906,999.

The title is forecast to generate net operating revenues of $484,470 during the fiscal year December 31, 1992. Revenue growth is expected to accelerate sharply FY 1991 as a result of the company's new, profitable paid, contract circulation revenue streams, the removal of non-profitable contracts created for cash flow benefits, and the increase in national advertising as a result of the company's steadfast "key" position in the market place.


FY 1989-FY 1992
12/89 Act12/90 Act12/91 Act12/92 Est
Gross Ad Revenue$1,832$1,502$1,672$1,809
Circulation Revenue1955647371,323
Other Revenue664286176
Gross Revenue$20,338$2,708$2,495$3,051
Less: Agency
Net Revenue$1,738$2,440$2,237$3,051
Less: Op. Exps.$1,853$2,397$2,266$2,567
Op. Profit/(Loss)$(115)$43$(29)$484

Management's advisors believe that GRAPEVINE represents an exceptionally attractive strategic acquisition or investment opportunity for the following reasons:

GRAPEVINE serves one of the largest and most important emerging markets the affluent senior market.

GRAPEVINE has established a national presence in the advertising community, and has earned top market share.

GRAPEVINE has established a unique audited circulation strategy that effectively differentiates the title from its competition and positions it as delivering the top 7% of the market with an industry exclusive "qualified paid circulation". This is a niche that empowers the magazine and aligns it with quality rather than with quantity.

The publication is poised for dramatic revenue increases, having made substantial investment expenditures during the three-year national launch periods. (The work is done.)

Operating profits should be able to be enhanced by a number of sales actions not currently employed by management due to lack of resources.

The title has an ongoing development programs to extend its reach into new distribution areas and into additional contract-publishing, revenue-stream opportunities.

The award-winning editorial product is attuned to the market and is recognized as one of the four leading national publications serving the over-50 adult.

GRAPEVINE is the only independent magazine serving its market. National advertising sales are low in '91 due to the recession and war. In spite of the restriction within the advertising industry and compared to the competition, high growth potential in revenues is evidenced by the publication's continued record-breaking revenue issues.

According to Patterson's Advertising's Par Report, GRAPEVINE maintains the second largest market share of advertising lineage in the industry even though its current circulation is the smallest amongst the other three major publications.

Circulation opportunities have only begun to be exploited by management, creating new and inherently profitable sources of revenue. Contract Publishing: 3 contracts pending (not budgeted).

The management team of GRAPEVINE is and has been recognized as national authorities in this emerging Mature Market Industry for over 11 years and has a tremendous appreciation of the market and the advertising and revenue base potentials.

GRAPEVINE represents an ideal opportunity to get into an emerging market, with a nationally accepted quality product having a national advertising "franchise" already in place. The potential of a strong return on investment is assured.

GRAPEVINE is a federally registered magazine trademark.

The company is located at 555 Main St., Ashland, Florida 50945. Ashland is on the west coast of Florida. The offices occupy roughly 1800 square feet and the magazine pays rent of about $12.88/sqft. The building, a historic site, is owned by the Doe's and leased back to the company at higher than market value in an arm's length transaction. The company has regional sales and support personnel who operate out of rented facilities. These sales offices are in Florida. All operations are handled out of the Fish, Florida headquarters, including editorial, production, marketing and administration.


The company employs 15 people as of July 13, 1991. The company offers all normal benefits to employees (except retirement or 401K plans). The following list identifies the employees by position:

Doe, JaneEditor-in-Chief/President
Fore, LizaManaging Editor
Pun, AudraAsst. to Editor
Gill, GilbertArt Director
Strange, KeithProduction Asst./Typesetter
Stick, SusanAcct. ExecMidwest and Florida
Leaf, BarryAcct.Exec.East
Reaves, Chris Acct.Exec.Dir.Resp. plus New England
Contract Representation
Kent, ClarkNortheastTri-city area

Bart Group

West Coast
Doe, JohnPublisher/CEO and Corporate Secretary
Dawson, GeoffExecutive Asst. to Publisher
Lind, PaulBookkeeper
Turn, LaurenData Processing/Programmer
Brushe, MarieSecretary (Sarasota Sales Office)
Pitcher, SueAccounts Receivable/Sec, to Sales Department

As in many entrepreneurial companies, the staff of GRAPEVINE Magazine performs in multiple roles, and the above titles indicate only the primary responsibilities of the individuals.


John Doe-Publisher, CEO, & Corporate Secretary

Role in Company

Responsible for Marketing & Sales, Finance, Administration and Profitability.


Marketing & Sales, Business Management. Good motivator with excellent people skills. A visionary with good business acumen.


President (CEO) for several years of a wholly owned subsidiary of a ¼ billion dollar public conglomerate. He took the company from sales of $2.9 million with a negative bottom line to sales of $7.4 million with an after-tax profit of 6.7% within 5 years. He had total sales, operations, and P&L responsibility. The company employed 75 people.

Executive Vice President/Director of Marketing for a toy manufacturer; a position he held for several years prior to his assignment to head up the above subsidiary.

Sales Administrator, National Sales Manager, and Assistant to the President of a large juvenille furniture and T. V. toy manufacturer. These positions ultimately led to the assignment of heading up the acquired subsidiary.

Started working at a young age in his family's retail chain business and did so for six years prior to entering private industry.


American University - Bachelor of Business Administration/Marketing Richardson Valley Technical Institute - Accounting and Business law

Jane Doe-Editor in Chief & President

Role in Company

Responsible for Editorial Content, Art and Design of Magazine. Functions as a business partner. Personnel Manager.


A ward-winning editorial talent. Great business acumen. Excellent organizational and leadership skills. Has exceptional insight and understanding of peoples' attitudes and feelings, which complements the task of writing and editing for the magazine's audiences. Intuitively in tune with the market's needs and interests.


Successfully organized and started a company, which she ran for many years, that provided substitute Registered Dental Hygienists to dentists. Supervised a staff of twelve hygienists serving over 100 clients. Prior to this, she was a Registered Dental Hygienist for several years.


Florida University - Working on MastersHealth Counseling
Rochester University - Bachelor of Arts
New York City Technical College - Dental Hygiene
Scotch Plains University - Nutrition
Bergen Community College - Counseling Certification
Montclair University - Psychology


GRAPEVINE Magazine is edited for a target audience that is described as the top 7% of all senior consumers. It is that portion of the market between the ages of 50 and 64, well educated, with household incomes over $40,000. This is a group that represents the new attitude towards the senior years by focusing on quality of life rather than years of age. The magazine is editorially tuned to this new sensibility and provides important information to its readers.

The magazine takes a complete lifestyle and psychology of aging approach, with a special award-winning editorial emphasis on the need and interests of the intergenerational adult reader. While addressing the important quality of life areas that make living fun, the additional award-winning design format of the magazine sets a tone of professionalism throughout its pages.

GRAPEVINE has differentiated itself from its competition's editorial in a number of ways. The personality cover concept of GRAPEVINE is a good illustration of this differentiation and industry distinction. Every issue has on the cover a famous role modelan over 50 personality, well-known for accomplishments in entertainment or public life. The editors fellow the cover exposure with a feature story inside the issue. The focus of the story is not the glamour that may surround the individual, but the variety of interests that he/she may have and his/her attitude on aging, serving as a public role model for its readers.

They utilize Pulitzer Prize-winning columnists, such as Jane Bryant Quinn, to write authoritatively about subjects that are of importance to the GRAPEVINE reader. When required, expert technological information is disseminated.

One indication of the quality level is the fact that the magazine continually wins awards for its editorial excellence.


The following commentary by management provides background on the history of circulation development for GRAPEVINE, as well as the current operational steps being taken by the title. In brief, management has identified, through cellular analysis, the optimal target prospect. The "key" segment of the over-50 adult market that has proven to be the most desirable marketing target for the advertising community, and thus has created a very valuable, exclusive market niche.


When GRAPEVINE was born in November of 1978, it had a circulation of 7,000 in Brewer County, Florida. The method of circulation was bulk drop-off at areas of senior concentration. By December, 1982, there were five regional editions of GRAPEVINE, basically covering the central corridor of Florida. By networking with the biggest businesses in Florida, who also recognized the importance of the 50+ adult, it created a massive distribution network through the Wesley Drug Store chain and Monopoly Supermarkets. Its association with these retailing giants helped to build GRAPEVINE into Florida's largest, statewide, consumer lifestyle publication. By January, 1988, it had a verified audited circulation (VAC) of 233,000.

Marketing Strategy

In preparation for the 1989 roll-out of GRAPE VINE from a regional publication into a national entity, it retained Yankelovich Clancy Shulman to help create, through "cellular analysis," the "optimal target prospect" for its clients. It designed circulation to accomplish a very special marketing plan, not to build "rate base." As you know, in the industry the norm is to acquire subscribers, usually at high first-year premium costs, in order to develop "rate base" (the basis used to establish advertising rates). Not only did the publishers find this to be backwards, but the advertising client was not correctly being served. Their goal was to deliver only the best prospects not "tons" of anybody. Once Yankelovich defined whom the client base identified as its "ideal prospect" (predominantly women, between the ages of 50 and 64, having household incomes of $40,000 or better), GRAPEVINE simply had to deliver that reader and in so doing it created the uniquely simplified approach to lasered, target marketing. The system, according to Yankelovich, is "benchmark" for the industry and delivers "the top 7% of the entire senior consumer base." Once GRAPEVINE had the methodology of circulation designed, it brought in BPA and asked it to identify those list houses whose acquisition of names had been approved and audited by BPA. Once identified (TRW and R.R. Donnelley), it simply went out and purchased 400,000 names having the specific criteria of the clients' "ideal prospect." (The database of the national perspective of this specific criteria is 18.3 million.) It then began the process of converting the controlled database into "qualified control requested." This was important, as it gave GRAPEVINE the "requested subscriber" status.

After one and a half years of continual efforts to convert to "qualified requested" subscribers and then to make the second phase of conversion from "controlled requested" to "qualified paid," the circulation has proven to be a marketing tool unique to the magazine industry, exclusive among its competitors and an important marketing edge for our clients.

GRAPEVINE has successfully completed the conversion of its national circulation of 407,513. (282,821 are Qualified Paid, 65,384 are "Qualified Requested," 10,739 are non-qualified paid, and the balance goes to doctors' offices as reception area copies. This additional exposure was carefully incorporated to take advantage of a huge 10 to 15 times "pass-along" opportunity.)

June 27, 1990, BPA completed its audit process-the report audits our circulation and exclusive demographics. GRAPEVINE is the only Senior Publication that has a national "qualified paid" circulation. GRAPEVINE's circulation strategy is to be the best, NOT the biggest. Delivering the "creme de la creme" of the senior market is the unique and exclusive niche it has carved for itself.

A circulation of 407,513 cannot (in many cases) carry the entire media buy. But being able to guarantee that our qualified circulation is delivered to the top 7% of the entire senior consumer base reinforces the business intelligence to be sure it is, at least, included in the media buy.

Since being the biggest is virtually impossible to duplicate, creating the ability to deliver the MOST important segment of the market NOT only filled the void, but it also created a publication with outstanding response factors. Being dramatically different and credible is how management is building GRAPEVINE.



Direct Competition

There is a growing number of publications serving this developing market; however, only a few are currently significant, important competition for GRAPEVINE. These are titles with a proven track record and/or major corporate ownership. It is clear that the advertising community has a number of choices in reaching this market, and each of the titles, except GRAPEVINE, is generic in positioning. What is important to note is that while GRAPEVINE has had national circulation only since February, 1989, its unique positioningon quality, not quantityplaces GRAPEVINE in the select group of primary media properties. As evidenced by its top market share rating over all others, GRAPEVINE maintains a unique key niche in its industry. The oldest and largest title serving the market is MODERN MATURITY. Founded in 1958, MODERN MATURITY is a bimonthly publication distributed to members of The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as a "member benefit" communication vehicle, and currently has the largest circulation of any magazine in the U.S. with 22 million member copies distributed. The editorial content is broad general interest with a focus on the interests and activities of AARP members. The average age of the MODERN MATURITY reader is 67.1. While the current marketing focus is to bring the age down to adults over 50, it nonetheless addresses the oldest, limited spectrum of the demographic. The large readership creates a broad demographic profile which requires that the editorial be edited to an "average" reader. The advertising volume is limited by the advertiser's size as the large circulation creates a one-time 4/c page rate of over $207,000.

NEW CHOICES (formerly 50 PLUS) was established in 1960 and recently purchased by Readers Digest Association. This is a monthly publication with a circulation of 594,807. It is a paid consumer publication sold primarily through subscriptions, both individuals and bulk to corporations. Editorial content is very good and is directed towards the younger end of the demographic who also have better education and higher income/net worth. It is also a good publication and a formidable competitor. Its 4/c page rate is $20,490. The current marketing shift of the publication is to produce a reader between the 45-64 age group.

MATURE OUTLOOK is a bimonthly publication produced by Meredith Corporation for Sears Roebuck. It has a circulation of 729,254. Like MODERN MATURITY, MATURE OUTLOOK is a member benefit, in this case of the Allstate Enterprises' Mature Outlook Club. The editorial is general interest, skewed toward a male reader, and carries heavy "House" editorial and advertising for the Sears operation. It is fast becoming a "House Organ" for Sears after its attempts to serve the senior market as an editorial product. This title was established in 1984. Its 4/c page rate its $17,300.

GRAPEVINE's 400,000 national circulation is edited for the "ideal target prospect," a very carefully defined segment of the over 50 demographic. The publication is designed to reach the top 7% of the entire consumer base. This positions the magazine into the niche that affords its clients a competitive advantage, separates it clearly from the older less desirable reach of MODERN MATURITY, and aligns it closely to its best competitor, NEW CHOICES. (MATURE OUTLOOK, by virtue of its predominantly male audience and the publication's marketing strategies to move more in tune with Sears' needs, is removed from close comparison.) GRAPEVINE 4/c page rate is $15,290.

Depending on Budget Size the "media buy" is:


Indirect Competition

There are always new launches that are also claiming to reach the senior market. McCALL's magazine, one of the "seven sisters," introduced a demographic edition, McCALL's SILVER, which is edited for the woman 50-64. Like most demographic editions, McCALL's SILVER, a 4-8 page supplement, is inserted in the regular edition of the magazine and delivered to one million age-selected subscribers. There is little that is new and/or specific for the reader that she wasn't already getting from the national edition. So far, the impact this title has had on the advertising market is not a factor.

Advertising Lineage Data

Advertising lineage information for all titles serving the senior market is not readily available from an independent tracking source. Only the four major titles are tracked for market share and provide some insight into their market standings.

Advertising Sales Background

GRAPEVINE has grown from a small regional publication to a national industry leading title in just 11 years. In the process, it has expanded both its advertising base, its forms of revenue streams, and its sales organization. The unique ability of the publication to go from carrying local real estate advertising and services for the reader to carrying major national advertising, such as General Foods, GEICO, Coca-Cola, Chrysler, Jockey, and Anacin, as well as advertising, is a testament to the importance and the credibility that GRAPEVINE has established in delivering the most sought after segment of the market. The advertising growth of the title has been impressive.



The following explanations are written to clarify the logic of the financial projections in the BUSINESS PLAN. Many notes and schedules have been included along with the numbers, when appropriate. However, this section is meant to serve the reader as a reference tool rather than a plan summary.

This Business Plan is designed to provide GRAPEVINE Magazine, with an operating road map. The one and one half years of projections are presented as actual "operating budgets." (Available on request.)

We have tried to envision reality in great detail for the projection period. On the revenue side, it is thought that projections are realistic and ad sales projections are supported by trend-line. While on the expense side, we have gone to great effort to make sure all expenses are included. Therefore, we feel the cash flows and projected profits should be achievable.


The format for projecting advertising revenue is based upon the "average page rate method." This means that the projected ad pages are multiplied by the estimated average page rate. Projecting revenue by pages (units) helps keep in line the related variable printing and production costs.

Circulation Revenue is centered primarily around two programs: regular subscriptions and contract bulk sales. Detailed explanations of these are found in the circulation section of the Business Plan and on circulation schedules in the financial section.

Agency Commissions

Advertising agencies charge 15% commission for all ad sales they place for the magazine. Historically, agency sales have represented 79.4% of all sales in the magazine.

Production Expenses

Determining total pages in the magazines is the key to calculating production expenses. Total pages are derived from applying the appropriate editorial/advertising ratio to projected ad pages. The ratio will vary according to the mix of national ads and Florida ads. However, generally the overall ad percentage is running around 45%-50%.

Since printing is the biggest single expense of the company and is based on total pages printed, the ad/editorial ratio is a key factor in publishing economics. The ratio will vary a few percentage points because changes in the number of total pages have to be adjusted in jumps of eight pages-press requirements.

The projections of total pages and related production and printing costs are enumerated in a special schedule in the Operating Plan.

Sales Expenses

Sales expense projections are enumerated on a special schedule in each year's plan. Most of the account titles adequately explain the project expense. The following are a few accounts needing explanation:

Sales Commissions

Are based on an account executive making his/her quota. Each AE receives 10% commission (in addition to base pay) on all sales over their quota. The current quota per sales person is $48,000 each per issue.

Sales Aids

Mostly media kits and related materials.

Travel & Entertainment

Primarily N. Y. ad agency sales by Publisher.

Telephone Expense

Heavy use of telephone this is a telemarketing business.

Postage (Marketing & Sales)

Mailing of media kits and promotional materials, much of which is overnight mail. Support of dynamic telemarketing program.

Postage (Magazine Distribution)

Second class postage. 19 cents per copy for the operating plan period.

Label Maintenance

Outside service to handle mail list, mail labels, etc.

General & Administrative

Most G & A expenses are self explanatory. Accounting expenses are for a year end "audit" and tax returns by a "big six accounting" firm. GRAPEVINE has had an accounting "review" for the past several years. Consulting fees are for a financial consultant who serves the proper amounts of liability insurance. Equipment leases are for personal computers, copy and fax machines. Auto leases are two cars assigned to the Publisher and the Editor.

Payroll & Related

Each year's plan contains the details of payroll projections. These projections include strategies to adjust personnel appropriately as the business expands as well as specific pay increases to each employee for the entire operating plan period.

Cash Flow Projections

All numbers in the cash flow model come directly from the Operating Plan, except for balance sheet items for July, 1991, when the projections of cash begin.

The method used to project cash is as follows:

  1. Initially, "expected cash receipts" are determined by applying the expected collection percentages (Issue Month, 30, 60, 90 days) to sales projections. It is anticipated that 5% will be collected in the issue month, 45% will be collected in 30 days; 40% in 60 days; and 10% in 90 days. Net sales is defined in the operating plan as gross sales less agency commissions and bad debt expenses.
  2. Next, subtract "expected deductions" from "planned expenses." Production expenses are expected to be paid in 60 days. The bulk of this expense is for printing. Payroll, payroll taxes, and postage expenses are paid in the month they are incurred. All other expenses will be paid 30 to 45 days, dependents upon specific arrangements with the vendor or the penalty/reward system relating to timing of payments.
  3. Depreciation expense is added back since this is a non-cash item.
  4. Then, "cash from operations" is derived. The accumulated negative cash balance indicates the amount of cash needed to fund working capital.


views updated Jun 27 2018


MAGAZINES were the dominant mass medium in the United States from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. They helped create a national culture of shared references, information, perspectives, and literature, and as the premier venue for advertising nationally available products, created a national material culture as well. In 2000, despite the rise of competing media, more than 17,000 consumer magazines were published in the United States. The 758 of those titles tracked by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, an industry group, reported over 378 million in aggregate circulation that year.

Barely differentiated from newspapers in the eighteenth century, magazines soon functioned as more durable anthology and miscellany, defining national literature and national identity. Initially, ties to England were strong. The term "magazine" itself originates with British monthlies, beginning in 1731 with the Gentleman's Magazine, adopting the word's sense of storehouse. Names of early-nineteenth-century American magazines continued to suggest a collection of miscellaneous but precious contents, with such words as "museum," "repository," "casket," or "cabinet" in their titles. Eighteenth-century American magazines were largely reprints from books, newspapers, and other magazines, often from England, though some editors sought out original contributions. In a country that lacked a class of professional writers, these were often hard to obtain. Nineteenth-century magazines likewise maintained strong ties to England's literary production. As they reprinted British literature—pirated or paid for—they did less than they might have to foster American literature, until changes in copyright law made piracy a less attractive alternative to paying American authors. While periodical circulations remained small, however, reprints and exchanges among newspapers and magazines effectively distributed news, literature, and information nationwide.

Individual eighteenth-century magazines circulated locally to only a few hundred and were short lived; the publishing historian Frank Luther Mott calls it unlikely that the aggregate circulation of all the magazines for any given period in the eighteenth century was ever more than five thousand. Many were church affiliated, and they included a children's magazine, a music magazine, and women's magazines. Like newspaper producers of the time, magazine publishers accepted fuel and produce as payment for subscriptions, and continued to accept such payment for advertising into the late nineteenth century.

Nineteenth Century

Successful women's magazines, such as Godey's Lady's Book (1830–1898), had large readerships, with Godey's circulation reaching 150,000 in the 1860s. Men and children read women's magazines too; despite its name, sailors exchanged bundles of Godey's when their ships met at sea and created scrimshaw based on its fashion illustrations, while wounded soldiers later requested Ladies' Home Journal and other women's magazines. The label "ladies" reassured readers that the work would be concerned with matters of the home, and would not be improper or controversial. Godey's published a combination of fiction (usually with a moral), fashion illustration, sermons, and household advice, all in a friendly tone, and ignored the Civil War. Other nineteenth century women's magazines of this type included, at mid-century, the Home Journal, Arthur's Home Magazine, and, by the end of the century, Ladies' Home Journal, Women's Home Companion, Good Housekeeping, Delineator, and fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar.

Although women's magazines such as Frank Leslie's Chimney Corner frequently offered support for elements of women's equality, and other magazines did so more sporadically, suffragist and feminist political magazines were a smaller separate category, lacking the advertising support that came to dominate the women's magazines. But numerous suffrage publications appeared throughout the country: Amelia Bloomer's The Lily and Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Revolution in Seneca Falls, New York; Lucy Stone's Woman's Journal in Boston; and Colorado's Queen Bee. The Lowell Offering, a literary magazine edited and published by the female workers in the Lowell cotton mills, was another type of women's magazine.

Book and magazine publishing were closely entwined. Appleton's, Atlantic Monthly, Scribner's, Harper's Monthly, Harper's Weekly, and others were owned by book publishers, which used them to promote their books and authors and fostered a sense of an American literary center. Book reviews in magazines helped to promote individual books and to shape public conversation about books and reading.

Gift books or annuals, widely popular in the middle of the nineteenth century, served some of the same functions as magazines. The same people, such as Nathaniel P. Willis, could be found wearing both magazine and gift book editorial hats. Often issued specifically as Christmas or New Year gifts, they nurtured the vogue for holiday-related stories. The monthlies branched out to make not only Christmas but also Thanksgiving and Independence Day stories a reliable topic for magazine writers.

Much U.S. literature, especially essays, first appeared in magazines, with book reprints following. Through mid-century, book publishers worried that magazine publication of a work competed with book sales. Low postal rates for periodicals and high ones for books helped the magazine industry, and also attracted publishers who pirated British and European authors to sell their works cheaply. The 1830s and 1840s saw an explosion of fiction made available in the form of extraordinarily cheap weekly newspapers in a gigantic format, such as Brother Jonathan, with fiction-filled pages sometimes over four feet long—a format that mimetically enhanced their claims to hold the "whole unbounded universe," as The New World, another elephantine paper, put it. Blurring boundaries between book, magazine, and newspaper, such weeklies issued "extra" editions containing entire pirated novels by popular authors such as Dickens, sold for eighteen or twenty cents, and directly competed with book publishers. A post office decision labeling them pamphlets rather than newspapers, and therefore requiring higher postage, helped kill them off, but they had reached audiences of up to 60,000. By the late nineteenth century, however, publishers found that magazine serialization had the effect of publicizing a work and building book sales. These papers, and several dollar-a-year magazines, established that a low-priced periodical could be profitable. While eighteenth-century magazines cost the equivalent of two to three days of labor in wages for a year's subscription, by the mid-nineteenth century prices were relatively lower, at between one and five dollars per year.

Although the women's magazines and the largest of the general magazines at midcentury, such as Graham's and Harper's, avoided or ignored the major political controversies of the day, other general magazines did espouse positions, with Atlantic Monthly, for example, known for its abolitionist sympathies. Numerous noncommercial magazines sponsored by organizations and societies took stands. Antislavery magazines blossomed from the 1820s on, while southern magazines such as the Southern Quarterly Review of Charleston championed the proslavery position. Others promoted such causes as women's rights, temperance, and later socialism, anarchism, and birth control. Many late-eighteenth-century magazines were church affiliated, and church-related magazines continued into the nineteenth century, with many children's magazines produced by denominations or connected to the Sunday school movement. Weekly magazines such as Frank Leslie's, The Independent, and Harper's Weekly provided readers with battlefield news and pictures during the Civil War.

Specific racial and ethnic communities produced magazines as well. The Literary Voyager; or Muzzeniegun (1826– 1827), was the first of a small number of Native American magazines that made brief appearances. The category grew enormously with the rise of the American Indian Movement in the 1960s. Spanish-speaking communities of Texas, California, and the Southwest along with immigrant communities produced extensive publications in languages other than English, though most of these were daily or weekly newspapers rather than magazines. An estimated 3,444 publications in languages other than English were launched between 1884 and 1920, with a combined circulation of 6 million in 1910. Hundreds of magazines lived brief lives and folded, succumbing to the problems of finding a readership and an economical means of distribution; those without sufficient capital were particularly vulnerable.

Late Nineteenth Century

The so-called "class monthlies" of the 1880s and 1890s—Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Century, and Scribner's—were read by the well off and more educated people and helped to create or consolidate the reputations of such writers as Henry James, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, and William Dean Howells (also editor of Atlantic Monthly, 1871–1881). The role these monthlies played in shaping literary opinion and their connection to other publishing enterprises has led literary scholars and historians to consider these four the most prominent and important magazines of the late nineteenth century. They were not, however, the most widely read.

The appearance of cheap, mass circulation magazines in the United States has often been linked to the "magazine revolution" of the early 1890s, when three month-lies—Munsey's, Cosmopolitan, and McClures—dropped their price to ten cents, shifted the basis of their enterprise from the sale of the magazine to the sale of advertising, and began to achieve circulations in the hundreds of thousands. But this development was more gradual than revolutionary. Ten-cent and even five-cent monthlies that depended on advertising for their revenues already existed. Known as mail-order monthlies, they advertised goods available by mail, assuming their readers would be out of reach of stores. These newspaper-sized magazines were far more widely distributed than the class monthlies, with circulations above half a million, though such figures were notoriously based on continuing to send papers to nonpaying subscribers. Many, such as the People's Literary Companion, Ladies' World, and Youth's Companion, were addressed to a largely rural, poorer readership; others, such as Ladies' Home Journal, saw their readers as genteel town people, if not the upper-class elite that Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, and Century drew at thirty-five cents a copy (four dollars a year), or Scribner's at twenty-five cents a copy. Although the three big new ten-cent monthlies of the 1890s looked like heavily illustrated versions of the elite magazines, resembling them in size, and in sequestering ads to the front and back of the magazines, their content addressed a new white-collar audience of professionals and managers. Their version of "progressivism" embraced and promoted new developments in technology and consumer goods. In achieving such large circulations, they necessarily reached readers who had not previously subscribed to magazines. The new magazines also followed the elite magazines in their sale and promotion of single issues of the magazine, rather than inviting readers to join a community of readers as the mail-order monthlies did through their emphasis on subscriptions and subscription clubs.

The new readership cultivated by the ten-cent magazines, if only because of its size, was a less homogeneous group than the mainly northeastern elite readers of the quality class publications. These readers sought magazines about their own regions as well, and supported new regional magazines: San Francisco's Overland Monthly beginning in 1868, Honolulu in 1888, Brooklyn Life in 1890, Delestry's Western Magazine of Minnesota in 1897, and Sunset Magazine in 1898. Regional and city-based magazines proliferated in the 1960s and 1970s.

While promising something new every month, each magazine provided a familiar, reliable set of experiences—columns to be followed, stories and poems catering to a particular taste or range of tastes, features and service articles for a defined audience. Editors of the new magazines of the 1890s actively solicited work, rather than waiting in the more genteel and leisured fashion for suitable writing to drop in over the transom. McClures, for example, commissioned muckraking articles. And the magazines both defined and created communities of readers.

The most crucial distinction between the new ten-cent magazine and the older elite magazines was the reliance of the new magazines on advertising rather than sales, and soon the pinning of advertising rates to circulation figures. Publishers had shifted from directly selling magazines to readers to selling their readership to advertisers. Nationally circulated magazines were attractive to the new burgeoning advertising trade as the best way to reach readers, now thought of principally as consumers. The editor's new role was to attract and keep readers interested in the magazine's pages, including its advertising pages. As Edward Bok, editor of Ladies' Home Journal, explained in 1921, "The making of a modern magazine is a business proposition; the editor is there to make it pay."

The magazines themselves advertised in order to draw more readers. Authors became celebrities and their names became promotional tools, advertised and listed on magazine front covers and posters, instead of hidden by the anonymity and pseudonymity common early in the century.

Advertising did not help all magazines thrive, however. Magazines addressed to specific communities such as African Americans were financially precarious, since they competed with the far-better-capitalized mass-circulation magazines for both readers and advertisers, while national advertisers largely refused to see African Americans as consumers. Newspapers such as the Chicago Defender and Pittsburgh Courier long served as the national publications for African Americans, while the longest lived African American magazines were those sponsored by organizations: Crisis (1910–1996) issued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and edited by W. E. B. Du Bois from 1910 to 1934, and the Urban League's Opportunity, begun in 1923. The first African American commercially based magazine to achieve substantial success was Ebony, founded in 1945, which persuaded advertisers that African Americans could be lucrative targets.

Twentieth Century

From the 1920s through the 1960s, surveys found that about 60 percent of Americans regularly read a magazine—generally more than read books, and fewer than read newspapers. Magazine circulations reached millions. Mass-market magazines of the early to mid-twentieth century were the place for authors to establish themselves and to make money. Mainstream magazines such as SaturdayEvening Post, Life, and Look were for decades the most attractive medium for advertisers wishing to reach Americans all over the country. (An exception to the connection between mass circulation and advertising was the immensely popular conservative Reader's Digest, which began in 1922 by reprinting articles from other publications, and refused advertising, in order to keep its high circulation figures secret from the sources it paid for reprints.) The mass-circulation news magazines, born in the 1920s and 1930s, influenced political policy. Henry Luce's powerful Time, Life, and Fortune empire tested the potential of multimedia with its newsreels. But radio and then television proved far more effective media than magazines for reaching the largest possible audience. Since the 1960s, many mass magazines folded, while others retooled to address more specialized demographic groups than broadcast television could reach. At the same time, magazines arose that catered to the new medium: TV Guide continued to have one of the highest magazine circulation rates in the twenty-first century.

In contrast to the general mass-circulation magazines, eventually known as the "slicks," because of the photograph-enhancing, shiny paper on which they were printed, "little" or literary magazines appeared in the early twentieth century and defined themselves by their difference from the commercial magazines, publishing fiction, poetry, and essays that would not be acceptable in the slicks. Little magazines were often produced as labors of love to house new or experimental writing. Literary monthlies of the 1910s and 1920s, such as Little Review and Poetry, defined themselves as upholding high art against commercial publishing, offering access to a purer art, and maintaining a personal editorial vision against the increasingly bland fare of the commercial magazines.

Such magazines are widely credited with nurturing the principal figures of modernism. Sherwood Anderson, H. D., T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, and others first appeared or had their first significant publication in such magazines as Little Review, Poetry, Lyric, Glebe, and Dial of the 1920s, usually without pay. Some faced censorship. The Little Review's editor Margaret Anderson serialized James Joyce's novel Ulysses for three years, though the post office seized and burned four of the issues, charging obscenity. W. H. Auden celebrated the feeling that the small press was an embattled force, in this case a bulwark against both utilitarianism and politics he saw contaminating intellectual life in the postwar university: "Our intellectual marines, / Landing in little magazines / Capture a trend" ("Under Which Lyre," 1946).

But noncommercial periodicals often did have a political focus. Progressive magazines such as The New Masses (1926) became increasingly prominent in the 1930s, and reappeared in greater numbers in the 1960s. Magazines such as Freedomways emerged from the civil rights era, along with black arts movement periodicals such as Umbra (1962) and Nommo (1969), whose antecedents also included the independent black arts periodical Fire!! (1926). New feminist policy and criticism-oriented periodicals such as Chrysalis, Heresies, and Quest appeared in the 1970s, along with an outpouring of feminist literary magazines such as Aphra, Conditions, Common Lives, Lesbian Lives, and Sinister Wisdom. The commercial magazine Ms. achieved substantial circulation both with and without advertising.

A few small press magazines had sponsors. By the 1940s, many literary magazines were situated in and subsidized by universities. The Sewanee Review, for example, was reinvigorated in the 1940s by the University of the South as a way of raising the school's prestige and attracting prominent writers and scholars. On the other end of the economic spectrum, Beat poets of the 1950s and poets allied with or following them created a rich lode of low-budget publications, in what was known as the Mimeograph Revolution.

Magazines such as The New Yorker (begun 1925), Smart Set: A Magazine of Cleverness (1900–1930), Vanity Fair in its 1913–1936 version, and the influential American Mercury, begun by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan (1924–1950) defined a niche more sophisticated than the slicks but less esoteric than the small press magazines. Another alternative to the slicks were the pulps, printed on rough wood-pulp paper, which began in the 1890s and flourished most dramatically between the wars, with an estimated two hundred titles in circulation at any point during that period. They picked up characters, writers, and readers from the older dime novels. Librarians refused to order these garishly covered magazines, which primarily appealed to readers who were young, immigrant, poor, uneducated, and working class. Early pulps such as Frank Munsey's Argosy published general fiction, but specialized titles soon concentrated on romance, boxing, war, detective, western, aviation, science fiction, fantasy, and "spicy" stories. The romance titles targeted women readers and the adventure magazines went after men, but readers crossed over, as they had for Godey's Lady's Book. Authors, too, crossed over, with writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler writing for both pulps and slicks. Pulps ultimately lost their reader-ship to television, paperbacks, and comic books, and most were gone by the mid-1950s. With the exception of the small press magazines, fiction in general was a rarity in most magazines by the twenty-first century.

By the early twenty-first century, new magazines were aimed at increasingly specialized markets, nearly always niches organized around specific consumer interests or an audience defined by demographics that magazine founders expected to attract advertisers. For example, magazines for brides, an attractive readership for advertisers selling household goods as well as wedding and honeymoon accoutrements, include not only Bride's magazine (begun 1935), but the more specialized Destination Weddings and Honeymoons, Latina Bride, Christian Bride, Houston Bride, Manhattan Bride, and Mother of the Bride, all begun in 2000. Other advertiser-generated categories included airlines' in-flight magazines or new niche market magazines, such as American Windsurfer, Dub: Automotive Lifestyles Magazine, and Mary Beth's Teddy Bears and More. New forms of periodical publishing created new fusions of advertising and editorial matter, seen in periodicals such as Simple Living, Flair, Unlimited, and CML: Camel Quarterly produced by magazine publishing conglomerates on special order for cigarette companies.

The anticommercial opposition likewise became more specialized, with the proliferation of zines, homemade photocopied magazines often with tiny circulations on topics like working at temporary jobs, 1970s nostalgia, grrrlpower, and neopaganism. Many zines and other magazines, such as Salon, abandoned the printed page to appear solely on the World Wide Web.

The Internet

The Internet promised to change the face of magazines, and briefly seemed likely to eliminate them altogether. As commercial (rather than educational or nonprofit) concerns moved onto the Web, they rapidly discovered the potential to support their publications with advertising, just as magazines do, and to target the reader/consumer more precisely than magazines aimed at even the most specialized of niches., for example, in this sense functioned as a magazine: offering reading matter by selling services at a loss, and aiming to make up the shortfall by selling advertising.

The very low cost of producing an attractive Web site, in contrast to the costs of paper, printing, and binding incurred even with desktop publishing, drew many independent "content producers" to the Web, disrupting established earmarks of professionalism that told magazine readers whether they were holding a well-financed professional production or an amateur periodical issued from a basement. Such contrasts reemerged as media conglomerates moved onto the Web, but then distinctions between a Web site connected to a television station and one for a magazine blurred, just as their ownerships did, resulting in such combinations as AOL (America Online) Time Warner magazines.

Most commercial print magazines developed Web sites, typically promoting the current issue, offering a sample of its contents, special Web-only content, and sometimes offering options for interacting with the magazine (and its advertisers) such as chat rooms, e-mail discussion lists, and shopping links. Trade magazines for specialized business niches often displayed the table of contents, but offered full access only to subscribers, or sold access to specific articles by the piece. Long-established print magazines capitalized on their past publications through the Web as well, with the New Yorker, for example, republishing old covers and old articles of general interest on its Web site's "From the Archive" section and selling its historic stock of cartoons—on T-shirts, in frames, or for use in presentations.

Other sites, more closely resembling traditional magazines, with departments and columns, appeared entirely on the Web. Some Web publications like Salon, originally offered without a fee, continued offering a selection of free matter while creating a "premium" site for a fee as well, offered with exclusive content, fewer ads, and "galleries of erotic art." Such sites cultivated online discussion groups based on common interests of readers, which, once established, might shift to charging a fee.

The World Wide Web also emerged as an extraordinary resource for research using magazines, as educational groups have scanned lengthy runs of defunct magazines in the public domain (generally into the 1920s) and made searchable archives available for free. Owners of active magazines scanned their archives and, often after an initial period of free access, sold access to them.


Anderson, Elliott, and Mary Kinzie, eds. The Little Magazine in America: A Modern Documentary History. Yonkers, N.Y.: Pushcart Press, 1978.

Chielens, Edward E., ed. American Literary Magazines: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.

———. American Literary Magazines: The Twentieth Century. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992.

Duncombe, Stephen. Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture. London: Verso, 1997.

Friedman, R. Seth. The Factsheet Five Zine Reader: The Best Writing from the Underground World of Zines. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997.

Garvey, Ellen Gruber. The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture, 1880s to 1910s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Hoffman, Fredrick John, Charles A. Allen, and Carolyn Farquhar Ulrich. The Little Magazine. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1946.

Kaestle, Carl F., et al. Literacy in the United States: Readers and Reading since 1880. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991.

Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines. 5 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1938–1966.

Ohmann, Richard M. Selling Culture: Magazines, Markets, and Class at the Turn of the Century. New York: Verso, 1996.

Oxbridge Communications. National Directory of Magazines. New York: Oxbridge Communications, 2001.

Peterson, Theodore. Magazines in the Twentieth Century. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1964.

Smith, Erin A. Hard-Boiled: Working-Class Readers and Pulp Magazines. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.

Tebbel, John, and Mary Ellen Zuckerman. The Magazine in America, 1741–1990. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Wilson, Christopher P. The Labor of Words: Literary Professionalism in the Progressive Era. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985.

Ellen Gruber.Garvey

See alsoAdvertising ; Atlantic, The ; Godey's Lady's Book ; Magazines, Women's ; Magazines and Newspapers, African American ; Nation, The ; New Yorker, The ; Reader's Digest ; Saturday Evening Post ; Time .


views updated May 29 2018



Contents . Magazines in the early national period looked considerably different from those of today. There were no color pictures, of course. Occasionally there were woodcuts or copperplate engravings, although often crudely done. Most early magazines were simply sheets of paper stitched together. A few had thin, colored covers. There was hardly any advertising by our standards. Advertisements were usually confined to the inside covers, if there were any, or to a separate set of pages at the back of the magazine. Ads were not for nationally advertised consumer products but for local booksellers and general stores, or announcing services such as ferryboats or stagecoaches. They were more like the want ads of todays newspapers. The print in early American magazines was small, usually six-point type. The densely filled pages were made of stiff, heavy rag paper, not the glossy paper of today. Magazines ranged in size from five by six to eight by nine inches, and each issue had approximately sixty pages. Articles were opinionated and anonymous or signed with pen names. There was also little news or fiction, although both became more prominent by the end of the era. Magazines included philosophical treatises and political tracts such as Thomas Paines Common Sense (1776) as well as information on the weather and the phases of the moon, like that found in the most popular early American periodical, the almanac.

Difficult Beginnings . Early American magazines faced many obstacles to success. Perhaps most significant was that before the early 1800s there were few American professional writers to count on for the contributions needed to fill the pages of the periodicals. The magazines of the period were filled with regular pleas for submissions, and reprints of English articles far outnumbered original American contributions. If writers were hard to find, so were subscribers. Most Americans had neither the time to read periodicals nor the money to buy them. The most successful American magazine of the late 1700s was Mathew Careys American Museum, which listed only some 1, 250 subscribers in 1792. It cost more than three dollars a year, a large amount of money at a time when a worker earned well under a dollar a day. As the era opened, printing was a difficult and expensive process. Distributing magazines was an even more daunting prospect, given the slow development of the postal system and the difficulty of traveling across a large, undeveloped country. In the late 1700s it still typically took more than a week to travel between Boston and New York, the most easily traveled route in the early United States. The few magazines that were started rarely lasted long. Before 1800 the average life span was only fourteen months and the most enduring, the Massachusetts Magazine and the New-York Magazine, lasted only eight years. After 1800 the chances for success improved. The Port Folio began in 1801 and continued for twenty-six years.

Post Office . The cost of sending out magazines to subscribers became an important issue to all parties involved. Both the post office and the magazine were relatively new institutions in 1783, and no one automatically assumed that mail would include magazines. Many postmasters did not like them because they were heavy and their system was strained just by delivering letters. In 1792 Congress passed the Postal Act, which allowed newspapers to be sent through the mail at discounted prices, but postmasters interpreted the law to require magazines to pay the letter rate, which was prohibitively high. A new act in 1794 changed this but still left it up to individual postmasters whether to accept magazines at all. In time most postmasters carried magazines, but as late as 1815 the postmaster general allowed only religious magazines to be sent, and these from Philadelphia and New York only.

Democratic Periodicals . Although the magazine was a new literary form in the early years of the republic (the first American magazine was Andrew Bradfords American Magazine of 1741), many Americans quickly sensed its potential for shaping national identity and promoting the values of the Revolutionary era. George Washington recognized this when he wrote in 1788 to Mathew

Carey, the editor of the American Museum, that he considered such easy vehicles of knowledge as more highly calculated than any other to preserve the liberty, stimulate the industry, and meliorate the morals of an enlightened and free people. While magazines printed all kinds of materials, political essays took up a large amount of space. Early American magazines expressed the fierce partisanship of the new republic. The controversies of the era, such as Jays Treaty, Thomas Jeffersons election in 1800, the Embargo of 1807, and the War of 1812, were frequent essay topics. Magazines grew as they were able to give readers information about these topics, and they helped shape the opinions of their readership at the same time.

Elite Publications . The magazines of this period tried to speak to a wide readership, for obvious business reasons and also because the ideal of an informed citizenry was a basic value of the early republic. But they were not popular in the sense of todays press. Instead of being supported by mass audiences and advertising, early magazines were produced by small groups of amateur writers and printers who often saw the magazine as a social event as much as a literary product. A case in point is the Monthly Anthology, published in Boston from 1803 to 1811. It was sustained by the members of a Society of Gentlemen, also called the Anthology Club. This club included liberal ministers such as Joseph Stevens Buckminster and William Emerson, the father of Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as friends associated with nearby Harvard College, such as John Kirkland, later president of that institution. These men were accomplished amateur writers, and they criticized the self-promotion required for professional success as ungentlemanly. The Monthly Anthology sought to improve society by raising it up to elite, genteel values. Its writers opposed what they considered the vulgar egalitarianism sweeping America, although they did not recognize that the success of their venture, and others like it, depended on marketing directed to a broad audience. Early American

magazines promoted republicanism, but not necessarily democracy.

Women . Although the majority of contributors to early American magazines were male, women did find their way into these periodicals. Noah Webster invited the ladies, who are the favourites of Minerva and the Muses to contribute to his American Magazine in 1787. The most significant female contributor was Judith Sargent Murray, who published an essay series under the pen name Constantia in Isaiah Thomass Massachusetts Magazine from 1792 to 1794. Women were especially important as contributors of poetry, which was a much more popular literary genre than it is today. They were also well represented in the subject matter of articles written by men since editors quickly recognized that women represented a significant portion of their readers. Essays on fashion were common, and there were even some essays advocating greater equality between women and men. There was also a great deal of advice offered for women, especially about the education of girls, which was a hotly debated topic in the early republic. Some of this advice had to do with what to read, and many magazines expressed the suspicions of most Americans about the dangers to women of reading fiction, especially novels. The Columbian Magazine noted in 1792, for example, that novels not only pollute the imaginations of young women, but also give them false ideas of life. Good sentiments scattered in loose novels render them the more dangerous. These moralistic campaigns were not successful since the desire of many readers, especially women, for more imaginative literature made fiction writing increasingly prominent in American magazines.

Specialties. Although the most successful magazines were general magazines that included material on a wide range of topics, a growing number of periodicals targeted special groups. There were a few magazines, like the Ladys Weekly Miscellany (18051808), specifically designed for female readers, prefiguring one of the main periodical markets of the later 1800s. There were also some childrens magazines, although it is hard to know what young readers might have thought of material like the mock heroic poem about apple dumplings printed in the Juvenile Port-Folio, begun in 1812. Children even produced magazines: thirteen-year-old John Howard Payne managed to publish the Thespian Mirror, a magazine of theater criticism, in 1805 and 1806. Partly on the strength of this precocious performance, Payne later became a famous actor as well as the composer of Home, Sweet Home. There were also magazines devoted to education, medicine, science, law, and farming, although these topics all found their way into general magazines as well.

Religion . The most significant specialized magazines were religious periodicals. Their growth reflected early Americans intense interest in religious matters during the revivals of the second Great Awakening. Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and other Protestant denominations grew rapidly after 1790, and they quickly realized that magazines were an excellent way to spread Gods word. The Methodist Magazine of 17971798 was an early example of the many, if short-lived, religious periodicals of the age, which were filled with sermons, hymns, news of revival meetings, and dramatic accounts of conversions to Christ. These magazines had an important role in the religious conflicts between denominations as well. The conservative Massachusetts minister Jedidiah Morse founded the Panoplist in 1805 to expose and combat infidelity, especially the Unitarianism then popular among New England elites. The Panoplist soon turned to providing news of missionary efforts both at home and abroad, and with this, religious magazines found the material that made them among the most popular nineteenth-century publications. Evangelical Americans had a seemingly inexhaustible interest in the stories of conversion and moral reform that soon were the stock-in-trade of these periodicals.

American Museum . From 1787 to 1792 Mathew Carey published what was probably the first successful magazine in the United States, the American Museum. Carey immigrated to Philadelphia from Ireland in 1784 after a lively publishing career in Dublin, where he defended Irish Catholicism against the oppressive English government. Carey got his American start with the help of a loan from the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette. He was also helped by having known Benjamin Franklin, with whom he had worked in France. The American Museum began soon after another journal, the Columbian Magazine, and had fewer than twenty subscribers. It grew quickly and after a year had about 1, 250 subscribers across the country, most of whom were concentrated around Philadelphia. The magazines success helped consolidate that citys reputation as the leading literary city in the early nation. Unfortunately, its subscribers were more eager to read it than pay for it, and the American Museum closed after five years, defeated in part by the high rates of the Postal Act of 1792. Nonetheless, while it lasted the American Museum was a good example of eighteenth-century magazine publishing. It printed mostly selections from other newspapers and journals, many of them English, as well as some original material. It covered a wide range of topics, although the new nations constitutional politics took priority. Carey printed several of The Federalist essays, as well as Anti-Federalist responses, during the debate over the new constitution in 1787 and 1788. After 1790 there was an increasing emphasis on literature, with more poetry and tales that were examples of the sentimental and gothic tastes of the period. This writing was more and more popular, and in turning to it the American Museum and other magazines demonstrated the need for such periodicals to remain close to the developing literary tastes of the growing body of American readers.


James Thomson Callender, Republican journalist, in January 1800 published The Prospect Before Us, making the case for Thomas Jefferson and against John Adams for the presidency. Callenders pamphlet earned him an indictment for sedition and nine months in the Richmond, Virginia, jail.

The reign of Mr. Adams has been one continued tempest of malignant passions. As President, he has never opened his lips, or lifted his pen without threatening and scolding; the grand object of his administration has been to exasperate the rage of contending parties to calumniate and destroy every man who differs from his opinions. Adams and Washington have since been shaping a series of these paper jobbers into judges and ambassadors, as their whole courage lies in want of shame; these poltroons, without risking a manly and intelligible defense of their own measures, raise an affected yelp against the corruption of the French Directory, as if any corruption would be more venal, more notorious, more execrated than their own. The object of Mr. Adams was to recommend a French war, professedly for the sake of supporting American commerce, but in reality for yoking us into an alliance with the British tyrant.

You will then make your choice between paradise and perdition; you will choose between the man who has deserted and reversed all his principles, and that man whose own example strengthens all his laws, that man whose predictions, like those of Henry, had been converted into history. You will choose between that man whose life is unspotted by crime, and that man whose hands are reeking with the blood of the poor, friendless Connecticut sailor: I see the tear of indignation starting on your cheeks! You anticipate the name of John Adams. Take your choice, then, between Adams, war and beggary, and Jefferson, peace and competency.

Source: James Morton Smith, Freedoms Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1956).

The Port Folio. Published in Philadelphia from 1801 to 1827, The Port Folio illustrates the ways American magazines developed in the early nineteenth century. Like many magazines begun after 1800, The Port Folio was a weekly until it became a monthly in 1812. More frequent publication allowed it to keep up with the rapidly changing conditions in early America, something still of concern to magazines today. Its publisher and editor was Joseph Dennie, writing under the pen name Oliver Oldschool, which reflected the magazines conservative political stance. Dennie had earlier edited an ambitious New Hampshire magazine, the Farmers Museum, with the help of Royall Tyler, a prominent playwright. Dennie had also made a name for himself as the author of a series of humorous Lay Preacher essays, which he continued after moving to Philadelphia and founding The Port Folio. The new venture lost money but was more successful than most American magazines. Within a few months it had a circulation of two thousand. Dennie intended the new magazine to include a wide range of literary pieces, and it contained a steady stream of articles on politics, the theater, books, art, travel and fashion as well as news of foreign and American affairs and translations from classical and contemporary European authors. Like most early American magazines, politics was at its heart. Its opening statement announced that one of the primary objects of this undertaking is to combat revolutionary politics, meaning Jeffersonianism. Dennie printed many attacks on the third president and his followers in both poetry and prose. He condemned their democratic tendencies, a reminder that many early Americans were unhappy with the egalitarian society that was beginning to form in the United States. In 1805 Dennie called democracy a fiend more terrible than any that the imagination of the classical poets ever conjured up from the vast deep of their pagan hell.

Literature . After Dennie died in 1812, The Port Folio became less political and more literary. It printed some fiction and a great deal of criticism. It was ahead of most American periodicals in praising the new English Romantic literature of the novelist Sir Walter Scott and the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The Port Folio, like other American magazines, also worked tirelessly to encourage the development of a distinctly American literature. Early on, it was supported by the efforts of the Tuesday Club, a group of young professional men with literary aspirations who were happy to have a forum for their writing. The Port Folio also praised the poems of Philip Freneau in 1807, despite Freneaus Jeffersonian politics, as well as the work of the Connecticut Wits (a group of nationalistic poets based in Hartford, including Timothy Dwight, Joel Barlow, and others). It also encouraged the writing of Washington Irving, who in 1807 and 1808 was publishing short sketches and satires in his occasional New York magazine, Salmagundi. Irving and these poets were not the only writers who got their start in the magazines of the day. Charles Brockden Brown, one of the first important American novelists, was associated with various Philadelphia magazines, including The Port Folio. Magazines brought these writers to the attention of a larger group of readers than they could have reached alone and, however slowly, spread their work across the entire country. They created a desire for more polished literary work, which they also tried to supply to a growing audience. Success was limited before the development of the cylinder press in 1825 made the mass production of printed material much cheaper and faster. But the work of early editors such as Carey and Dennie was the foundation for the achievements of writers such as Washington Irving and prefigured the arrival of such long-lasting and profitable periodicals as the Saturday Evening Post.


Michael T. Gilmore, Magazines, Criticism, and Essays, in The Cambridge History of American Literature, vol. I: 15901820, edited by Sacvon Bercovitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994);

Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines, vol. I:17411850 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1939);

John Tebbel and Mary Ellen Zuckerman, The Magazine in America, 17411990 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).


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Magazines in the colonial era faced significant challenges. Paper and printing presses were in short supply and expensive, and the existing transportation and postal systems did not facilitate widespread distribution of periodicals. Also in short supply were readers with enough leisure time and surplus money to support magazine ventures. Nor were there enough authors available to craft the stories, essays, sketches, and poems required by periodical publishers. By 1829 none of these obstacles had been completely overcome, but the industry was poised on the brink of an era in which the number, variety, and readership of magazines grew exponentially and authors could make a living by their pens. Thus the periodical made only intermittent contributions to the political, economic, and cultural fabric of the colonial and early national periods; the story is rather one of gradual growth and laying the groundwork for a periodical boom in the antebellum years.

The birth of the American magazine can accurately be traced to February 1741, when rival Philadelphia printers Andrew Bradford and Benjamin Franklin introduced the American Magazine and the General Magazine, respectively. Both were monthlies that took as their models the English Gentleman's Magazine and London Magazine. They attempted to fill a publishing niche between two already popular formats, the newspaper and the almanac. Though neither lasted more than six months, Bradford and Franklin provided the organizational model for the colonial magazine: print shop proprietors founded the majority of the approximately seventeen magazines attempted between 1741 and 1776. Articles in early magazines tended toward sober essays on subjects such as government legislation, economics, and European military campaigns. Often, little distinguished magazines from early newspapers other than their greater length (the General Magazine averaged seventy-five pages) and less frequent issue. However, newspaper, pamphlet, and broadside publishing thrived during the era, whereas no American magazine lasted more than three years and most folded within a year. Conditions were not yet right for longer, more expensive periodical experiments.

The magazine also played only a small role in the Revolutionary era, when material constraints were, if anything, more pronounced than in colonial years. The Boston-based Royal American Magazine (1774–1775) was founded by the most successful printer in early America, Isaiah Thomas, and featured copper engravings by Paul Revere. It combined Patriot politics with a miscellany of original and reprinted fiction, advice columns, and essays on history, agriculture, literature, and religion. In Philadelphia, Thomas Paine served as editor and primary contributor to printer-bookseller Robert Aitken's Pennsylvania Magazine (1775–1776). Though Paine's Revolutionary ardor was prominently featured, so too were articles on love, marriage, and the rights of women. That the Pennsylvania Magazine attained some fifteen hundred subscribers—large for its time—suggests that its domestic leanings were a sign of things to come.

Two important early American magazines were the Columbian Magazine and the American Museum, both published in Philadelphia. Mathew Carey, the prominent printer, helped found the Columbian Magazine with three others in 1786. In 1787, Carey, upset by the frustrations of co-ownership, began the American Museum. Both magazines lasted until 1792

and thus constitute the first successful American periodicals. They featured topical and historical essays, short narratives, poetry, and one or two engravings per issue. Much of the material was reprinted from other newspapers and magazines, from America and abroad, but they also included original texts when possible. Charles Brockden Brown and William Byrd contributed articles to the Columbian Magazine, while Benjamin Franklin and the poets known as "the Connecticut Wits" appeared in the American Museum.

Two other influential periodicals prior to 1800 were Noah Webster's American Magazine (1787–1788) and the New York Magazine (1790–1797). Both contributed to a characteristic magazine ethos—that of a cultivated forum in which an educated aristocracy adjudicated republican virtue and taste. The elite tone persisted through the first quarter of the nineteenth century in magazines such as Joseph Dennie's Port Folio (1801–1827), the longest-lived periodical of the era. The Port Folio began as a staunch advocate of conservative Federalist politics, but by 1809 eschewed politics for a literary agenda of short fiction, poetry, book reviews, and author biographies to assert its claim to cultural stewardship.

The Port Folio was never financially prosperous, a fate it shared with most of its peers. However, several developments during the early national period boded well for the growth of the industry. The practice of unsigned or pseudonymous publishing began to wane, which allowed authors to establish their names as recognizable commodities. Authors began to be paid for their efforts, and Washington Irving (1783–1859) built on his periodical experience to become the first American to earn a living as a writer. Magazines devoted to single subjects—such as medicine, agriculture, or humor—appeared as the industry took tentative steps to market specific products to segmented reading audiences.

Women played only a small role during this era as owners, editors, or writers, but they began to make their presence felt as readers. Much of the material provided for their consumption consisted of fashion, domestic advice, and sentimental fiction, but some articles did cover larger issues such as suffrage, the need for equitable education, and the right to enhanced legal stature.

See alsoBook Trade; Fiction; Newspapers; Nonfiction Prose .


Clark, Charles E. "News and Opinion in the Popular Press." In The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World. Edited by Hugh Amory and David D. Hall. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press; Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 2000.

Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines. Vol. 1: 1741–1850. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958.

Nord, David Paul. "A Republican Literature: Magazine Reading and Readers in Late-Eighteenth-Century New York." In Reading in America: Literature and Social History. Edited by Cathy N. Davidson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Peter Molin


views updated May 23 2018

mag·a·zine / ˌmagəˈzēn; ˈmagəˌzēn/ • n. 1. a periodical publication containing articles and illustrations, typically covering a particular subject or area of interest: a car magazine a women's magazine. ∎  a regular television or radio program comprising a variety of topical news or entertainment items.2. a chamber for holding a supply of cartridges to be fed automatically to the breech of a gun. ∎  a similar device feeding a camera, compact disc player, etc.3. a store for arms, ammunition, explosives, and provisions for use in military operations.ORIGIN: late 16th cent.: from French magasin, from Italian magazzino, from Arabic makzin, makzan ‘storehouse,’ from kazana ‘store up.’ The term originally meant ‘store’ and was often used from the mid 17th cent. in the title of books providing information useful to particular groups of people, whence sense 1 (mid 18th cent.). Sense 3, a contemporary specialization of the original meaning, gave rise to sense 2 in the mid 18th cent.


views updated May 14 2018


a place where goods are stored; a warehouse or depot, 1583; a building in which arms, ammunition, or provision for an army are kept for use in time of war, 1596; in modern times it is a periodical publication which contains a wide range of articles, pictures, and advertisements, aimed at a class, age group, or other category of readers interested in a specific subject or place.

Examples: magazine of arms, 1810; of bliss, 1599; of chaises, 1786; of coal, 1771; of darts and arrow, 1781; of flesh, milk, butter, and cheese, 1719; of knowledge, 1836; of law, 1760; of learning, 1610; of malice, 1750; of nourishment, 1615; of petitions, 1817; of powder (gunpowder), 1613; of power, 1836; of provisions, 1589; of sin, 1709; of topics, 1795; of good words, 1638; cloudy magazine of storms, 1644.


views updated Jun 08 2018

magazine storehouse, spec. for arms; stores, munitions XVI; † storehouse of information XVII; periodical publication XVIII. — F. magasin — It. magazzino — Arab. maḵāzin, pl. of maḵzan store-house, f. ḵazana store up.

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