January 2005 issue of Discover
|Editor||Corey S. Powell|
|Frequency||10 per year|
|Based in||Waukesha, Wisconsin|
Discover was created primary through the efforts of Time magazine editor Leon Jaroff. He noticed that magazine sales jumped every time the cover featured a science topic. Jaroff interpreted this as a considerable public interest in science, and in 1971 he began agitating for the creation of a science-oriented magazine. This was difficult, as a former colleague noted, because "Selling science to people who graduated to be managers was very difficult".
Jaroff's persistence finally paid off, and Discover magazine published its first edition in 1980. Discover was originally launched into a burgeoning market for science magazines aimed at educated non-professionals, intended to be easier to read than Scientific American but more detailed and science-oriented than Popular Science. Shortly after its launch, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) launched a similar magazine called Science 80 (not to be confused with its flagship academic journal), and both Science News and Science Digest changed their formats to follow the new trend.
During this period, Discover featured fairly in-depth science reporting on "hard science" and avoided fringe topics like extraterrestrial intelligence. Most issues contained an essay by a well-known scientist—such as Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, and Stephen Hawking. Another common article was a biography, often linked with mentions of other scientists working in the field. The "Skeptical Eye" column sought to uncover pop-science scams, and was the medium where James Randi released the results of Project Alpha. Jaroff said that it was the most-read section at its launch.
Competition and change
The sudden appearance of so many magazines in the same market space inevitably led to some falling by the wayside, and Discover was left largely alone in its market space by the mid-1980s, it nevertheless decided to appeal to a wider audience, by including articles on psychology and psychiatry. Jaroff told the editor-in-chief that these were not "solid sciences", and was sent back to Discover's parent, Time. "Skeptical Eye" and other columns disappeared, and articles covered more controversial, speculative topics (like "How the Universe Will End"). The new format was a great success, and the new format remained largely unchanged for the next two decades.
The magazine changed hands a several times. In 1987 it was sold to Family Media, the owners of Health. In 1991 The Walt Disney Company bought the magazine when Family Media went out of business. In October 2005, Bob Guccione, Jr., founder of Spin and Gear, and some private equity partners purchased the magazine from Disney, and Guccione served as CEO and oversaw a redesign for the April 2006 issue.
However, Guccione was ousted as CEO in October 2007 in what was described as "a falling-out over philosophical differences with his financial backers". Henry Donahue, Discover Media's chief financial officer, became the new CEO. In 2008, he also assumed the role of publisher. In October 2008, Corey Powell, Discover’s executive editor, became editor-in-chief. As of April 2009, the magazine published combined issues in January/February and July/August for a total of ten issues a year.
In 2010 the magazine was sold again, this time to Kalmbach Publishing, whose books and magazines are generally about craft and hobby subjects such as modeling (Model Railroader, FineScale Modeler, Scale Auto, Classic Toy Trains, Garden Railways, Model Retailer) beadwork (BeadStyle, Bead&Button, Art Jewelry), and the outdoors (Birder’s World, Cabin Life, American Snowmobiler). It has one other science magazine, Astronomy. In August 2012 Kalmbach announced that Discover would be moving from New York City to Kalmbach's headquarters in Wisconsin in January 2013. In December 2012, Stephen C. George became the new editor-in-chief.
- "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Alliance for Audited Media. December 31, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
- Dennis Hevesi, "Leon Jaroff, Editor at Time and Discover Magazines, Dies at 85", New York Times, 21 October 2012
- Eugene Garfield, "Introducing Discover", Essays of an Information Scientist, Vol:5, 16 March 1981, pp. 52-56
- "Interview with Editor/Writer, Leon Jaroff", Teen Ink
- "Guccione Jr. Goes From Penthouse to the Outhouse", New York Post, October 10, 2007.
- "Discover Magazine Builds New Staff in Wisconsin". Discover (magazine). Retrieved 8 May 2014.
- Welsh, Jennifer (August 17, 2012). "Discover Magazine Is Moving To The Middle Of Nowhere". Business Insider.