‘Mr. Magazine’ on Why So Many Launches Crash
Samir Husni, perhaps better known as “Mr. Magazine,” has been chronicling the ups and downs of magazine launches for 21 years. The chair of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi, Husni is a nationally regarded expert on successful magazine launches who has presented seminars on publishing trends to such companies as Hearst, Hachette Filipacchi, ESPN the Magazine and Meredith. Forbes ASAP magazine dubbed Husni “the country’s leading expert on magazines.” In its unrelenting quest to arm publishers with the information and knowledge to make their magazines profitable, Publishing Executive sought Mr. Magazine’s comments on the keys to a successful magazine launch.
Publishing Executive: How many new launches actually make it?
Samir Husni: The death rate lately has been 63 percent of new magazines end up folding within the first year.
But the thing is, if we stop trying to introduce [new magazines], no matter how many people say there’s a gluttony of new magazines and that the market is overcrowded, where would the market be without the Maxims, the Real Simples, etc.? If you look at the list of the hottest-selling magazines in the marketplace, more than half of them are new magazines from the last 10 years.
Change is the only constant in this business.
PE: What are some of the major pitfalls you routinely see as contributing to such a high death rate?
SH: One thing [publishers] should keep in mind when they are developing or launching a magazine is that their fate is not in their hands. Their fate depends on somebody else, whether it’s an advertiser or a reader, that will agree with them that their idea is the best idea that’s ever happened since sliced bread.
It’s amazing how many times we sit down and come up with this marvelous idea that nobody has ever thought about and think that we are the next genius … when in fact we discover later that a lot of people have tried it before and failed. There’s a reason why there is nothing else like this on the marketplace, and 99.9 percent of the time that reason is because somebody else has tried it and failed.