What is a magazine?

by Simon Das

From a section of a recent paper Das, S. (2016) Magazine Publishing Innovation: Two Case Studies on Managing Creativity. Publications. [Online] 4 (2), 15.

The debate about what a magazine is predates the digital era by some way. There are a number of definitions of a magazine. Issues of format, distribution mechanism, platform, and periodicity are all variables that magazines have adapted over time. From one-off collections in books, regular leaflets, weekly periodicals, monthly ‘glossies,’ consumer magazines, daily ‘freesheets,’ to the continuously changing digital and Web based magazine, the taxonomic and definitional issues around what a magazine is predate any contemporary digital debates about magazines. For example, Click and Baird describe a magazine as “more of an approach or a process rather than a format (bound periodical)” *

In the contemporary digital context, this approach to magazines might not be considered singular, but consisting of several processes and platforms. Examples of this plurality of approach today might exist in traditional print-only independent and niche magazines (such as Huck, Delayed Gratification, and Monocle), in a focus on being a video channel (such as Vice), socially shared and user generated websites (such as The Upcoming), or e-mail and print subscriptions to other services (customer publishing titles such as Tesco Magazine and ASOS).

* Click, J.; Baird, R. Magazine Editing And Production; Mcgraw-Hill: New York, NY, USA, 1994; p. 5.