My faith in magazines
As I was grocery shopping last week, I moseyed over — as is normal at the end of my trips — to the magazine stand tucked away in the corner of the store. After a minute or two of browsing the countless titles stacked tall on the steel shelf, I decided on the latest issue of “Esquire” and proceeded to the checkout lane.
The cashier — a high school-aged girl by the looks of it, with an ‘I couldn’t care less about this job’ expression all over her face — scoffed when she saw the magazine sitting among my groceries.
“I can’t believe we still sell these,” she sighed, half directing the comment to me, half mumbling to herself. “Like anyone actually reads these anymore …”
Lacking the ambition to remark, I faked a smile, thanked her for her outstanding services, and left the store.
But as I got outside, I couldn’t stop thinking about the comment. Was she right? Was I really one of the few people left who still enjoys the novelty of a magazine? The more I thought about it, the more I decided against it.
Granted, the age of print is undoubtedly seeing a decline in readership today — highly due to the fact that online news is becoming the preferred choice to accommodate the busy, fast-paced lifestyle most Americans grow into. But to me, magazines have always stood on a separate soil.
There are currently more than 6,800 different magazines in America, according to Affinity’s American Magazine Study (AMS) — that’s far from a small distribution. And what’s more impressive, and almost humorous, is the mass variety that’s available.
We’re all familiar with the big wigs: the weekly news magazines like “Time” or “Newsweek,” or the more popular veterans of the business like “Rolling Stone,” “National Geographic” (a personal favorite) or “AARP: The Magazine.”
But aside from that, a large majority of publications available are tweaked to fit specific — and sometimes bizarre — human interests. Somebody with a vast interest in hunting, for example, has the option of an abundance of different hunting publications, with each one written specifically for bow hunting, gun hunting or fishing — you name it.
The same goes for gardening, fitness, politics, music, sex, business, economics, automobiles, magazines (that’s right — there are magazines about magazines); and that’s just the tip of the availability iceberg.
In the ’90s there was even a magazine specifically designed for left-handed people. It opened backwards and contained profiles of famous lefties in history.
Just about any hobby invented over the past six months has a publication relating to it; no matter how bizarre, it’s almost always guaranteed. It’s hard to find those options anywhere else. And it’s that very detailed, specific variety that I think will be the saving grace in the industry.
While the newspaper business declines (I understand it might seem blasphemous for me, a CJ major and employee of a campus newspaper, to say … but it is reality), the magazine industry has remained in decent shape.
In the same AMS study, reassuringly titled Magazine Readership Remains Strong, a survey of over 188 million Americans found that, in comparison to last year, the overall magazine subscription numbers in the county had increased by 1 percent in 2010. Of the surveyed Americans, those with subscriptions read an average of 6.1 different titles.
This is good news to someone like me. Of course, the success of print media all comes down to personal preference; the information age is drastically changing how we receive information, and the Internet has proven to be the most wanted medium. But as the statistics have shown, readership and interest in magazines are, in fact, on the rise. There’s something about exploring a publication devoted entirely to your interests that a computer screen just can’t beat. Sure, magazines have websites as well; but the physical act of cozying up with a magazine seems desirable enough by most to keep the industry above water.
Overworked teenage employees be damned — I’m staying faithful. Plus, depending on where my future hobbies take me, it’s always reassuring to know I can subscribe to “Crochet! Magazine” if I so choose.