Mr. Magazine's Take on the Latest Consumer Launches
This interview is a part of a larger feature documenting some of the most exciting magazine launches and relaunches of the past two years. Click here to view more interviews with publishers of newly launched or relaunched titles.
Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni has been tracking consumer magazine launches for most of his life, making him one of the nation's leading experts on the subject. He began cataloging consumer magazines in 1978 as a hobby, but the fascination eventually grew into a profession when in 1985 he partnered with Meredith to create the first Guide to New Consumer Magazines. The guide tracked every new title on the newsstand and some non-newsstand launches. Today, Husni continues to release his guide, now in its 29th year, and shares monthly launch updates on his website, The Launch Monitor.
What launches stand out this year?
Leading the band of new magazines is Dr. Oz the Good Life. There is controversy around the ads right now, but the people love the content itself. This is the first magazine since Oprah that needed a second printing for the first issue.
Other titles that have had a positive reception are, for example, Active Interest Media's Anglers Journal. It is a beautiful magazine and I believe they will do well with it. Then there is Naked Food, which is capturing the healthy food movement. Hearst also launched Branché, which is a fashion magazine they distribute for free on the streets of New York. And of course the return of Newsweek to print is huge news.
What industry segments seem to be growing the fastest?
Special interest is number one, followed by food magazines, then regional titles, and crafts and hobbies.
Why do you think special interest tops the list?
Magazines are the best reflectors of our society and the more our society gets segmented and the more we live in this world of isolated connectivity, the more we are going to see those niche magazines coming to the marketplace. America is no longer a melting pot, but a cafeteria where everybody can pick exactly what they want.
What characterizes this year in launches?
People will remember 2014 as the year the "Print is Dead" marching band disbanded. Now everyone is talking about "Print Plus"-print and digital. It's not just an either-or situation anymore.
Publishers are realizing that the problems they faced in 2008 were not about print or digital. The problem was with the economic collapse. Now that the economy is picking up, we're seeing that people still want print and it is still a powerful business. Digital, at most, is making up 3% of big publishers' revenue. They are still making most of their money from print and other products.
Many magazines have launched around specific cultural trends like the foodie movement. Will these magazines have longevity?
We used to plan magazines that would last beyond our lifetime. Now most of the plans that we deal with have a magazine lifetime between 11-13 years. They lose money the first couple years, make a lot of money over the next four or five years, plateau, and shut down to start something else.
Is that a healthy cycle for the industry?
Definitely. Why do we think in this industry more than any other industry that we need to last forever? How many new television programs are produced every year and how many die? Hundreds. Nobody is talking about TV being dead.
Related story: Glossy Anglers Journal Proves the Power of Niche