Mr. Magazine's M.O.: Size Does Matter
I just returned from a trip overseas, and as with all my travel, I am always in a hunting mood for new magazines. Well, I was able to find some first editions, as well as some American magazines that took the journey across the Atlantic. The size, weight and shape of some of these magazines led to this month's column (and let's not forget the additional cost of carrying the magazines on the plane with me all the way from Amsterdam to Memphis).
Size Does Matter …
But first things first: Size does matter. I read during my visit an article in the International Herald Tribune that talked about research that some psychologists have been doing regarding children and e-reading. They have noted that it is important for the development of the child to be able to see the different sizes, shapes, volumes of the books he or she is reading, as opposed to one-size-fits-all on the tablets.
This could not be truer than the first issue of Exhibition, an oversized magazine (imagine six copies of Time laid next to each other) published in France. The magazine cost almost $50 and is a beauty to hold and look at. Yes, it can be presented on the iPad or any other tablet, but that majestic size will disappear. It is like the difference between owing the "Mona Lisa" and owning a print of the famous painting. Size does matter when it comes to showing the breathtaking power of print and the way magazines are utilizing the ink on paper. Pixels on the screen will not do it for that publication.
Best in Class…
The same is true in the latest revamp of Harper's Bazaar. The March issue of the magazine extends the width of the magazine by 1 inch and heavies up on the paper quality. David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, explained to me in a recent interview why Hearst is upsizing its magazines: "We are investing in a number of our editions because we do want to be best in class in all of our titles. We do know that as far as advertising, we want to be, ideally, one, two, maybe three; in terms of a category, you don't want to be four or five." In the last three years, Hearst has upsized Country Living and Good Housekeeping, and published both Food Network and HGTV magazines in a larger size than the majority of the magazines in the marketplace.
Weight and Volume, Too …
Hunger magazine is a new title from the United Kingdom and it weighs at least 3 pounds, I kid you not. It is as heavy, if not heavier, than the September issues (and, I can easily say, the March issues) of the women's fashion titles. Holding those magazines in one's hands adds a feeling unlike any on a tablet, invented or in the process of being invented. The weight and volume of those magazines give you three-dimensional tactile feelings that do not exist on the tablet.
Tablets are competing to create very light machines with very little depth. Printed magazines are doing just the opposite. They are creating "heavy" experiences that you can feel with every issue and every page as you flip through them. Magazines are 3-D without the need for special eyeglasses. They are real 3-D, not virtual 3-D.
The size, weight and volume of a printed magazine will continue to provide a "real experience" that goes beyond "good content." So, if you are in the mood for some reading, grab your tablet and read. But, if you are in the mood for a "great experience" that you can enjoy with all your senses, pick up a copy of an ink-on-paper magazine and judge for yourself. Who said all experiences are created equal? Enjoy. PE
Samir Husni, aka Mr. Magazine™, is founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He can be reached at email@example.com and can be followed at MrMagazine.com.
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