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This article is about publications. For other uses, see Magazine (disambiguation).
"Quarterly" redirects here. For quarterly in heraldry, see Quartering (heraldry).

Magazines are publications, usually periodical publications, that are printed or electronically published (the online versions are called online magazines.) They are generally published on a regular schedule and contain a variety of content. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by prepaid subscriptions, or a combination of the three.[1] At its root, the word "magazine" refers to a collection or storage location. In the case of written publication, it is a collection of written articles. This explains why magazine publications share the word root with gunpowder magazines, artillery magazines, firearms magazines, and, in various languages although not English, retail stores such as department stores.


By definition, a "magazine" paginates with each issue starting at page three, with the standard sizing being 8 3/8” x 10 7/8”. However, in the technical sense a "journal" has continuous pagination throughout a volume. Thus Business Week, which starts each issue anew with page one, is a magazine, but the Journal of Business Communication, which starts each volume with the winter issue and continues the same sequence of pagination throughout the coterminous year, is a journal. Some professional or trade publications are also peer-reviewed, an example being the Journal of Accountancy. Academic or professional publications that are not peer-reviewed are generally professional magazines. The fact that a publication calls itself a "journal" does not make it a journal in the technical sense. The Wall Street Journal is actually a newspaper.


German Printmagazines

Magazines can be distributed through the mail, through sales by newsstands, bookstores, or other vendors, or through free distribution at selected pick-up locations. The subscription business models for distribution fall into three main categories.


In this model, the magazine is sold to readers for a price, either on a per-issue basis or by subscription, where an annual fee or monthly price is paid and issues are sent by post to readers. Paid circulation allows for defined readership statistics. [2]

Non-paid circulation[edit]

This means that there is no cover price and issues are given away, for example in street dispensers, airline in-flight magazines, or included with other products or publications. An example from the UK and Australia is TNT Magazine. Because this model involves giving issues away to unspecific populations, the statistics only entail the number of issues distributed, and not who reads them.[2]

Controlled circulation[edit]

This is the model used by many trade magazines (industry-based periodicals) distributed only to qualifying readers, often for free and determined by some form of survey. This latter model was widely used before the rise of the World Wide Web and is still employed by some titles. For example, in the United Kingdom, a number of computer-industry magazines use this model, including Computer Weekly and Computing, and in finance, Waters Magazine. For the global media industry, an example would be VideoAge International.


The earliest example of magazines was Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen, a literary and philosophy magazine, which was launched in 1663 in Germany.[3] The Gentleman's Magazine, first published in 1731, in London was the first general-interest magazine. Edward Cave, who edited The Gentleman's Magazine under the pen name "Sylvanus Urban", was the first to use the term "magazine," on the analogy of a military storehouse.[4]

In the mid 1800s monthly magazines gained popularity. They were general interest to begin, containing some news, vignettes, poems, history, political events, and social discussion.[5] Unlike newspapers, they were more of a monthly record of current events along with entertaining stories, poems, and pictures. The first periodicals to branch out from news were Harper’s and The Atlantic, which focused on fostering the arts.[6] Both Harper’s and the The Atlantic persist to this day, with Harper's being a cultural magazine and The Atlantic focusing mainly on world events. Early publications of Harper's even held famous works such as early publications of Moby Dick or famous events such as the laying of the world's first trans-atlantic cable however the majority of early content was trickle down from British events.[7] The oldest consumer magazine still in print is The Scots Magazine, which was first published in 1739, though multiple changes in ownership and gaps in publication totalling over 90 years weaken that claim. Lloyd's List was founded in Edward Lloyd's England coffee shop in 1734; it is still published as a daily business newspaper. Despite being among the first mass media outlets to venture from the bible, periodicals still remained rooted in the naturalized class and gender system held by European and American society.[8]

Manufacturing of the early magazines were dine via an archaic form of the printing press, using large hand engraved wood blocks for printing.[9] When production of magazines increased, entire production lines were created to manufacture these wooden blocks.[9]

The development of the magazines showed an increase in literary criticism and political debate, moving towards more opinionated pieces from the objective newspapers.[6] The increased time between prints and the greater amount of space to write provided a forum for public arguments by scholars and critical observers.[10]

The early periodical predecessors to magazines started to evolve to modern definition in the late 1800s.[10] Works slowly became more specialized and the general discussion or cultural periodicals were forced to adapt to a consumer market which yearned for more localization of issues and events.[6]

In 2011, 152 magazines ceased operations and in 2012, 82 magazines were closed down.[11]

Cover for Harper's Monthly, a prominent force in early periodicals.
Magazine stand, Sweden 1941

According to statistics from the end of 2013, subscription levels for 22 of the top 25 magazines declined from 2012 to 2013, with just Time, Glamour and ESPN The Magazine gaining numbers.[12]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Magazine's Magazine Startup Guide". Magazine Publisher. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Prairies North — the magazine of Saskatchewan". Prairies North Magazine. Retrieved 2015-11-14. 
  3. ^ "History of magazines". Magazine Designing. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  4. ^ OED, s.v. "Magazine", and
  5. ^ Straubhaar, LaRose, Davenport. Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology. Nelson Education, 2015. 10/13/15. Textbook.
  6. ^ a b c Biagi, Shirley. Media Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media, 2013 Update. Cengage Publishing, 2013. Textbook.
  7. ^ "Harper's Magazine". Retrieved 2015-11-16. 
  8. ^ Gardner, Jared. The Rise and Fall of Early American Magazine Culture. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2012. 224 pp. Reviewed by Edward Cahill Fordham University. Web.
  9. ^ a b Martin, Michèle (|date=March 01, 2014). "Nineteenth Century Wood Engravers at Work: Mass Production of Illustrated Periodicals (1840-1880)". Journal of historical sociology 27, 1.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ a b Mott, Frank L. A History of American Magazines, 1865-1885. Cambridge, USA. Harvard University Press, 1938. Textbook.
  11. ^ Christopher Zara (22 December 2012). "In Memoriam: Magazines We Lost In 2012". IBT. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  12. ^ "A Brief History of Magazines and Subscriptions"

Further reading[edit]

  • Angeletti, Norberto, and Alberto Oliva. Magazines That Make History: Their Origins, Development, and Influence (2004), covers Time, Der Spiegel, Life, Paris Match, National Geographic, Reader's Digest, ¡Hola!, and People
  • Brooker, Peter, and Andrew Thacker, eds. The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I: Britain and Ireland 1880-1955 (2009)
  • Buxton, William J., and Catherine McKercher. "Newspapers, magazines and journalism in Canada: Towards a critical historiography." Acadiensis (1988) 28#1 pp. 103–126 in JSTOR; also online
  • Haveman, Heather A. Magazines and the Making of America: Modernization, Community, and Print Culture, 1741-1860 (Princeton University Press, 2015)
  • Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines (five volumes, 1930-1968), detailed coverage of all major magazines, 1741 to 1930.
  • Summer, David E. The Magazine Century: American Magazines Since 1900 (Peter Lang Publishing; 2010) 242 pages. Examines the rapid growth of magazines throughout the 20th century and analyzes the form's current decline.
  • Tebbel, John, and Mary Ellen Zuckerman. The Magazine in America, 1741-1990 (1991), popular history
  • Wood, James P. Magazines in the United States (1971)
  • Würgler, Andreas. National and Transnational News Distribution 1400–1800, European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History),(2010) retrieved: December 17, 2012.

External links[edit]