The Most Notable Launches of 2009: There Are More New Magazines Than You Might Think. Here Are 15 to Watch

By Husni, Samir | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, December 2009 | Go to article overview

The Most Notable Launches of 2009: There Are More New Magazines Than You Might Think. Here Are 15 to Watch


Husni, Samir, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


To paraphrase an old saying, "a new magazine is like the beginning of all things, a dream of possibilities." That was the dream of possibilities of the 752 new magazines that appeared on the nation's newsstands between October 2008 and September 2009. Once a year I study and sift through all the new titles that I have acquired, read all the reviews, check all the quotes and select the few that represent what I have been calling the Most Notable Launches of the Year. Those magazines are based on more than just whether or not I think a magazine will survive to a ripe old age. In fact, a magazine's chance of survival is one of the least important factors in my decision to name a magazine as notable. Notability is all about the impact of the printed product on me as a reader and on the industry. There are five questions I ask myself when I consider notable launches:

--How much publicity did the magazine generate?

--How relevant was the magazine to the intended market?

--Was the magazine notably diversified and specialized?

--How innovative was the magazine?

--Was the magazine so bizarre it had to be included?

These magazines are all notable because they met the criteria of these questions. It's a great group of magazines and I think, by the time you finish reading this, you may find yourself needing to go to the newsstand to pick up a few copies.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Contrary to popular belief, 2009 was a very active year for magazine launches. Even large publishing houses were still churning out new titles. Since the industry seemingly came to a crashing halt in September 2008, we are starting to see more and more evidence that the American publishing model of the past is dead and that our industry has to innovate to survive. Many of these notable launches are witnesses to that. Food Network Magazine went after readers in direct response to market research that showed that an overwhelming number of Food Network viewers wanted--no, demanded--a print publication. Fresh Home found a new way to use repurposed content from another continent to better build a brand. Mine has been a wonderful experiment in stretching the limits of personalized content and advertising for individual readers. The rest of the list is just as extraordinary. Just read on and see for yourself what the notable launches of a rebounding year in our industry look like.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Needless to say that each one of those new titles is trying to achieve a relationship with its intended audience. The majority of new magazines will have a one-night stand with their audience, some more will have a love affair with their audience, and a few, very few notable ones will have a long lasting relationship with their audience. What follows are few of those notable magazines that hope for a long lasting relationship with their readers.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Most Notable launch this year was by far the easiest choice to make. All others were distant seconds. Food Network Magazine demanded the attention and rose to the top of the pile. A magazine born right after the major economic crash of 2008, it launched with a modest circulation of 300,000, focused solely on the customers who count--the readers--rather than counting customers and soared to new levels of circulation in an atmosphere of continuous audience declines.

No other magazine launch can match what Food Network did this last year. In a short period of time its circulation jumped to more than one million. It took Gourmet 74 years to get close to a million circulation. In fact, when I asked Food Network publisher Vicki Wellington [see Q&A on page 61] her five-year goal for the magazine, she jokingly said, "achieve world domination."

As for the rest of the crowd, here are the next dozen most notable launches of 2008-2009, including a tribute to two groups of magazines that helped move and sell more magazines on the nation's newsstands this period more than any other: magazines devoted to President Obama and to Michael Jackson. …

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