Are Magazines Relevant?: The American Magazines Conference 2010

I imagine that most readers are academics or come at MagMods with an academic mindset.  We’re not the only ones with something at stake in the field, however.  The American Magazine Conference has begun in Chicago–with a keynote by Oprah!  It runs October 3-5, 2010.  It’s an industry conference hosted by the Magazine Publishers of America (that’s why you missed the cfp!), whose website is worth looking at for the data alone.  The theme this year is “Innovation 2010.”  It looks to be a lot about digital media and technology (Facebook, Hulu, the iPad, etc.), which is not at all surprising, given that this seems like a moment in which magazines might be under even greater threat than the book.  Or have the  reports of the death of both books and magazines been greatly exaggerated?

The MPA certainly thinks so, as they’ve started a whole ad campaign called “The Power of Print,” clearly designed to tout the magazine’s vitality in the age of the internet.  Here’s the ad I find most fascinating:

The part I love is paragraph 3, where they declare that magazines are “neither obsessed with immediacy not trapped by the daily news cycle” and, as a result, “promote deeper connections” and “create relationships.”  So, the medium once derided as dangerously addictive in its attendance to the ephemeral now becomes the source of stability and depth, in contrast to the internet.  So, if the web is the new magazine, and magazines are the new books, then what are books?

–James Murphy


2 responses to “Are Magazines Relevant?: The American Magazines Conference 2010

  1. This is fascinating, James. The codex book is, for all its faults, an incredible piece of technology, and so are magazines–something that can be replicated in electronic form but not (yet) fully replaced with something better and cheaper. There is still much to be said on the media ecology of reading practices like those this conference addresses.

  2. In total agreement on the codex, Gayle, and on the study of reading practices.

    Another thing I like about the ad–the dig embedded in the analogy. Magazines: Coffee as Internet: Instant Coffee. Take that internet snark! And that this ad campaign is from the people who bring you _Rolling Stone_ and _Us Weekly_ is even better. It’s true, _Us_ is all about “deeper connections.”

    One more note: From a WSJ article on “The Power of Print” campaign, comes this gem. ” ‘The iPad is bringing sexy back to magazines,’ says Robin Steinberg, an executive at Publicis’s MediaVest arm who advises marketers on print advertising.” I thought Ford Madox Ford brought sexy back to magazines.

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