From the Editor: Know the Reader, Know Thyself
Coincidentally, Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni also has the customer on his mind in this issue. In his Mr. Magazine’s M.O. column, he cites examples of what it means to put customers first. In 1922, DeWitt Wallace and Lila Acheson were trying to create a quick-read compendium of the most valuable books and articles of the day, but couldn’t get any established publishers interested in the idea. When they founded Reader’s Digest, they believed it would succeed because they knew it was something they themselves would buy. Publishing, as Tyrangiel said, cannot be reduced to a “recipe that you can pass from one title to another or from one editor to another. Most of it really comes down to a belief in your own judgment.”
Like Tyrangiel, Reiman and the rest, we would be wise to set aside marketing plans and platform-conquering for a moment and think about what it really means to be the reader. What made any of us care about print and digital media in the first place? Great writing, pictures and design, and their effect on us. The magazines we love understand what we want from them, and manage to deliver every time. When I’m fed up with the hype and politics surrounding some sensationalized story, and I turn to the New Yorker or The Atlantic for a measured, authoritative, 10,000-foot (if not 10,000-word) treatment of the issue, I’m more than just engaged. I’m grateful. In Tyrangiel’s terminology, those publications have made themselves indispensable. Isn’t that what we all want our products to be?
It’s worth mentioning that the “be the customer” rule also should apply to advertising, and that while publishers and marketers have long understood what pleases the beholder in print, those insights sometimes seem to fall away when it comes to putting ads on tablets. In our guest column this month, Dianne Kennedy of IDEAlliance lays out a path for creating the “good” while avoiding the “bad” and the “ugly” on this platform. The problem? Fitting tablet advertising into production workflows. The solution? A new set of terminology and standards to ensure that everyone is on the same page (so to speak).