January 2005 issue of Discover
|Editor||Corey S. Powell|
|Frequency||10 per year|
|Based in||Waukesha, Wisconsin|
Discover is an American science magazine that publishes articles about science for a general audience. The monthly magazine was launched in October 1980 by Time Inc. It was sold to Family Media, the owners of Health, in 1987. The Walt Disney Company bought the magazine when Family Media went out of business in 1991. In October 2005 Discover was sold to two media investment companies. Bob Guccione, Jr., founder of Spin and Gear magazines, served as CEO for the first two years, followed by[when?] Henry Donahue. It was sold to Kalmbach Publishing in 2010, and the current editor-in-chief as of December 2012 is Stephen C. George.
Discover was created primary through the efforts of Time magazine editor Leon Jaroff. He noticed that sales the magazine jumped every time the cover featured a science topic. Convinced this was indicating that there was considerable interest on the part of the public in science topics, as early as 1971 Jaroff began agitating for the creation of a science-oriented magazine. This proved difficult, as one former colleague noted, "Selling science to people who graduated to be managers was very difficult."
Jaroff's persistence finally paid off, and the magazine began to publish its first edition in 1980.Discover was originally launched into a burgeoning market for science magazines aimed at educated non-professionals, intended to be somewhat easier to read than Scientific American but more detailed and science-oriented than magazines like Popular Science. Shortly after Discover was launched, the AAAS launched a similar magazine, Science 80 (not to be confused with their similarly named journal), and both Science News and Science Digest changed their formats to follow the new trend.
During this period, Discover was a fairly in-depth science news magazine. Stories tended to be on "hard science" topics, and avoided fringe topics such as extraterrestrial intelligence. Most issues contained an in-depth essay by a well-known scientist, such as Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, or Stephen Hawking. Another common article was a biography, often linked with mentions of other scientists working in the field. One column, "Skeptical Eye," attempted to uncover various scams and flim-flam in the popular science world, and was the medium for James Randi to release his Project Alpha results. It was the most-read section of the magazine when it was first launched, according to Jaroff.
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, including more articles on psychology and psychiatry. Jaroff, who had been managing editor for four and a half years, 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". This change in format appears to have been a great success, and the new format remained largely unchanged for the next two decades. The magazine changed hands a few times, landing at Disney until 2005 when Bob Guccione, Jr. purchased the magazine with private equity partners.
The April 2006 issue saw the introduction of a new design and new monthly columns (see Content). In 2007, Guccione was ousted as CEO, in what was described by the New York Post as "a falling-out over philosophical differences with his financial backers about how to run the company." Henry Donahue, Discover Media's chief financial officer, became the new CEO. In 2008, he also assumed the role of publisher for the magazine. Corey Powell, the magazine's executive editor, became Discover's new editor-in-chief later that year.
As of April 2009, the magazine will publish combined issues in January/February and July/August. These double issues will count as two issues each.
The magazine was sold once again in 2010, this time to the Kalmbach Publishing group. In December 2012, Stephen C. George became the new editor-in-chief; by January 2013, the editorial offices completed a move from New York City to Waukesha, Wisconsin, where Kalmbach Publishing is headquartered.
- "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, p.52-56
- "Interview with Editor/Writer, Leon Jaroff"
- "Bob Guccione, Jr."
- "Guccione Jr. Goes From Penthouse to the Outhouse"
- "Discover Magazine Builds New Staff in Wisconsin". Discover (magazine). Retrieved 8 May 2014.