Give Me a Stone Tablet … I’ll Read It
"Print is dead." "Magazines are dead." "The industry is dying." If I hear these deductions of fuzzyheaded defeatists one more time, we'll likely experience the unmediated wrath of an Irish redhead gone off the deep end.
Yes, people, are, by nature, negative, I find. They love to criticize. They love to see others fail—whole industries even. I've seen it in their faces when people I meet find out what I do, and they say, "That must be fun [sarcasm], with the industry dying?" Well, I wouldn't know. This industry is not dying.
But take these critics with a grain of salt as I may, it still gets my goat. The reason may be obvious to many of you. But some of you may be reading this thinking that print is, or the industry is, in fact, waning. Just look at the sales figures of tablets and e-readers … blah, blah, blah.
Well, here's a picture for you. A brand-new print magazine selling at the newsstand for $12 per issue—yes, per issue, with an annual subscription rate (for four issues) of $28. Calculate it with me: That's $7 per issue for a subscription. In the meantime, I get offers left and right for 12 issues of any variety of magazines for $1 per issue. Sometimes $1 for the whole, whopping "first year," assuming I'll renew. You tell me your magazine is worth $1, and I'll believe it, and never pay a dime more.
The $12-per-issue magazine isn't some hypothetical, wishful-thinking mirage I've conjured up in my magazine-loving mind. It's real. And it has a paid circulation—after just two issues—of 100,000.
The $12-per-issue magazine is Lucky Peach. Published by McSweeney's (founded by editor and author Dave Eggers–perhaps best known for his novel "What Is the What"), Lucky Peach is a "journal of food and writing." Aside from the interesting team behind Lucky Peach (which I could write another entire column about), the point I want to make is that like there are steaks from, say, a Ponderosa, and steaks from, say, a Del Frisco's, there are magazines … and then there are magazines. Lucky Peach is the latter.