It is better to be clear about the idea or the concept of a magazine before going into the depth of its format. A magazine is a collection of various subjects which are predictable and this prediction about those sections flocks in readers. Many readers only read some sections of a magazine and every time they get their hands on a magazine, they go straight to that section. For instance, Newsweek magazine has editorial on its last page. People who only like to read editorial of Newsweek magazine would know where to look for it when they pick up to read it.
The front page of a magazine highlights the main features and puts a ‘neon-sign’ on the most attractive feature of the magazine. This can be the face of an attractive model or some science gadget, depending on the genre of magazine.
Generally, a magazine is just like a newspaper, but the time news stays on the magazine is much more than on a newspaper. For instance, if it’s a monthly magazine, the news piece will stay there until the next issue. That is why content of that news should be interesting enough to appeal to the readers.
There are two main aspects of a magazine; the first is the focus and second is the format. Focus of a magazine is the first thing the reader looks at. Linux magazine would focus on Linux Computers whereas Computer World would focus on Linux as a business entity. Format of any magazine is usually the same (complying with the definition of a magazine). Format of magazine comprises of short pieces, editorials, regular columns, articles, features (main stories) and even shorter stories. One major difference between the ways a magazine reports news and a regular newspaper reports it is that magazines create their own version of the news. There is much more research that goes on into ‘magazine news’ rather than just reprinting current events.
Magazines like the People, Macleans and Reader’s Digest are magazines of general interest and they appeal to a large reader/customer base. On the other hand, magazines of special Interest target well defined and limited consumers. Format is the same, only the focus is different.
Visual power of a magazine also plays an important role in its overall appeal. Visual power refers to the color stimulus that exudes from the design of a magazine. Visual power of a magazine is also one of the controlling agents of the format of a magazine. Whatever is more appealing or eye-catching will be the hallmark of the magazine, be it the front cover or the central page.
Format of any magazine varies throughout its life. Sometimes editors change it for advertisement needs other times they do it to kill monotony. New features are also included to keep readers hooked on to their magazine.
One aspect of magazine designs sits on top and that is the fact that magazine publishers generate their major revenue from advertisements and not from circulation. That is why magazine designs are more advertisement oriented.
In future magazines would probably shift to websites as many popular magazines already have both print and electronic versions. Internet has definitely played a crucial role in shaping the format and design of magazines. Statistics show that since 1990s, the numbers of magazine-pages have started decreasing and the trend is still continuing. Electronic versions of magazines are becoming more popular because most of the articles have started including ‘comments’ section, just like a blog where readers can instantly post their comments and questions. This quick interactions has revolutionized magazines.
The design of some online magazines is such that they don’t offer complete content online because don’t usually ‘buy’ something online to read it. Electronic subscriptions are available but they are not as popular as the subscription for print magazines. Some magazines only offer those articles or stories online for free that entice readers to purchase the full print versions. The New Yorker is one such magazine.
The journey of magazines from print to electronic world has been slow and difficult. Initially only html versions of magazines were available. This format serves the purpose quite well but has its limitations;
- Html version sometimes misses important graphics of the print version.
- Html versions are usually bogged down with delays in their publications due to technology constraints
- With this format, many magazine publishers didn’t give current issues to non-subscribers.
Due to such issues, downloadable PDF versions of magazines became available. This solved many problems but hurt publication rights and damaged businesses financially.
Digital formats of magazines are becoming popular because of their various benefits. For instance, if a person residing in Asia or Europe is subscribed to an American magazine and he needs the latest information for his work, it would be better if he is subscribed to the electronic version instead of the print version. Print versions take their delivery time to reach their customers. A lot of time is consumed in shipping and lodging. On the other hand, electronic versions are fast and subscribers all over the world receive them simultaneously.
Moreover advertising agencies love electronic magazines because they can display all the flashy features of their product. Videos start playing instantly which show TV-style advertisements or advertisements are generally displayed in catchy colors and attractive animations.
Magazines especially the North American magazines will all move to Internet. Consumer magazines are now more profitable on the Internet rather than conventional print versions. Marketing dynamics have shifted and they are constantly shifting. Those magazines that quickly adapted to digital format are in a better position. They have increased their number of subscribers and most importantly generated useful revenue. Other publishers that are sticking with the print versions will soon have put their magazines on Internet. With various mobile applications and gadgets, people can actually ‘take’ their magazines with them and the soft copy doesn’t weight at all. Magazine-blogs are also an interesting format of magazines that will do very well in the future.
- Thad, M . (2011). The Future of Magazines. Available: http://thefutureofpublishing.com/industries/the-future-of-magazines/. Last accessed 18th Nov 2011.
- Jayvie Canono. (2009). Magazine Format Blog: Points to Ponder. Available: http://onefinejay.com/2009/08/27/magazine-format-blog-points-to-ponder. Last accessed 18th Nov 2011.
- Sheldon Rose. (2004). Chapter 4 Working with the Media. In: TM at LDP Guide to Managing Media and Public Relations in the Linux Community: Linux Professional Institute.