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Full scan of the January 2009 issue of State Magazine, published by the United States Department of State

A magazine is a periodical publication, generally published on a regular schedule (often weekly or monthly), containing a variety of content. They are generally financed by advertising, purchase price, prepaid subscriptions, or by a combination of the three.


In the technical sense a journal has continuous pagination throughout a volume. Thus, Bloomberg Businessweek, which starts each issue anew with page one, is a magazine, but the Journal of Business Communication, which continues the same sequence of pagination throughout the coterminous year, is a journal. Some professional or trade publications are also peer-reviewed, for example the Journal of Accountancy. Non-peer-reviewed academic or professional publications are generally professional magazines. 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.


The word "magazine" derives from Arabic makhāzin (مخازن), the broken plural of makhzan (مخزن) meaning "depot, storehouse" (originally military storehouse); that comes to English via Middle French magasin and Italian magazzino.[1] In its original sense, the word "magazine" referred to a storage space or device.[1] In the case of written publication, it refers to a collection of written articles. This explains why magazine publications share the term with storage units for military equipment such as gunpowder, artillery and firearm magazines, and in French and Russian (adopted from French as магазин), retailers such as department stores.[2]


German print magazines

Print magazines can be distributed through the mail, through sales by newsstands, bookstores, or other vendors, or through free distribution at selected pick-up locations. Electronic distribution methods can include social media, email, news aggregators, and visibility of a publication's website and search engine results. The traditional 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.[3][4]

Non-paid circulation[edit]

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

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. Because of costs (e.g., printing and postage) associated with the medium of print, publishers may not distribute free copies to everyone who requests one (unqualified leads); instead, they operate under controlled circulation, deciding who may receive free subscriptions based on each person's qualification as a member of the trade (and likelihood of buying, for example, likelihood of having corporate purchasing authority, as determined from job title). This allows a high level of certainty that advertisements will be received by the advertiser's target audience,[5] and it avoids wasted printing and distribution expenses. 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.[citation needed]


Front cover of 1 October 1892 issue of The Illustrated London News

The earliest example of magazines was Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen, a literary and philosophy magazine, which was launched in 1663 in Germany.[6] The Gentleman's Magazine, first published in 1741 in London was the first general-interest magazine.[7] 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,[8] the quote being: "a monthly collection, to treasure up as in a magazine".[9] Founded by Herbert Ingram in 1842, The Illustrated London News was the first illustrated weekly news magazine.[7]


The oldest consumer magazine still in print is The Scots Magazine,[10] 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; and though its online platform is still updated daily it has not been published as a magazine since 2013 after 274 years.[11]


La Gazette, 26 December 1786

Under the Ancien Régime, the most prominent magazines were Mercure de France, Journal des sçavans, founded in 1665 for scientists, and Gazette de France, founded in 1631. Jean Loret was one of France's first journalists. He disseminated the weekly news of music, dance and Parisian society from 1650 until 1665 in verse, in what he called a gazette burlesque, assembled in three volumes of La Muse historique (1650, 1660, 1665). The French press lagged a generation behind the British, for they catered to the needs of the aristocracy, while the newer British counterparts were oriented toward the middle and working classes.[12]

Periodicals were censored by the central government in Paris. They were not totally quiescent politically—often they criticized Church abuses and bureaucratic ineptitude. They supported the monarchy and they played at most a small role in stimulating the revolution.[13] During the Revolution, new periodicals played central roles as propaganda organs for various factions. Jean-Paul Marat (1743–1793) was the most prominent editor. His L'Ami du peuple advocated vigorously for the rights of the lower classes against the enemies of the people Marat hated; it closed when he was assassinated. After 1800 Napoleon reimposed strict censorship.[14]

Magazines flourished after Napoleon left in 1815. Most were based in Paris and most emphasized literature, poetry and stories. They served religious, cultural and political communities. In times of political crisis they expressed and helped shape the views of their readership and thereby were major elements in the changing political culture.[15] For example, there were eight Catholic periodicals in 1830 in Paris. None were officially owned or sponsored by the Church and they reflected a range of opinion among educated Catholics about current issues, such as the 1830 July Revolution that overthrew the Bourbon monarchy. Several were strong supporters of the Bourbon kings, but all eight ultimately urged support for the new government, putting their appeals in terms of preserving civil order. They often discussed the relationship between church and state. Generally, they urged priests to focus on spiritual matters and not engage in politics. Historian M. Patricia Dougherty says this process created a distance between the Church and the new monarch and enabled Catholics to develop a new understanding of church-state relationships and the source of political authority.[16]



The Moniteur Ottoman was a gazette written in French and first published in 1831 on the order of Mahmud II. It was the first official gazette of the Ottoman Empire, edited by Alexandre Blacque at the expense of the Sublime Porte. Its name perhaps referred to the French newspaper Le Moniteur Universel. It was issued weekly. Takvim-i vekayi was published a few months later, intended as a translation of the Moniteur into Ottoman Turkish. After having been edited by former Consul for Denmark "M. Franceschi", and later on by "Hassuna de Ghiez", it was lastly edited by Lucien Rouet. However, facing the hostility of embassies, it was closed in the 1840s.[17]


Satirical magazines of Turkey have a long tradition. One of the earliest satirical magazines was Diyojen which was launched in 1869. There are around 20 satirical magazines; the leading ones are Penguen (70,000 weekly circulation), LeMan (50,000) and Uykusuz. Historical examples include Oğuz Aral's magazine Gırgır (which reached a circulation of 500,000 in the 1970s) and Marko Paşa (launched 1946). Others include L-Manyak and Lombak.

United States[edit]

Colonial America[edit]

Publishing was a very expensive industry in colonial times. Paper and printer's ink were taxed imported goods and their quality was inconsistent. Interstate tariffs and a poor road system hindered distribution, even on a regional scale. Many magazines were launched, most failing within a few editions, but publishers kept trying. Benjamin Franklin is said to have envisioned one of the first magazines of the American colonies in 1741, the General Magazine and Historical Chronicle. The Pennsylvania Magazine, edited by Thomas Paine, ran only for a short time but was a very influential publication during the Revolutionary War. The final issue containing the text of the Declaration of Independence was published in 1776.[18]

Late 19th century[edit]

Harper's Monthly, a literary and political force in the late 19th century

In the mid-19th century, monthly magazines gained popularity. They were general interest to begin, containing some news, vignettes, poems, history, political events, and social discussion.[19] 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.[20] Both Harper's and 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 transatlantic telegraph cable; however, the majority of early content was trickle down from British events.[21]

The development of the magazines stimulated an increase in literary criticism and political debate, moving towards more opinionated pieces from the objective newspapers.[20] The increased time between prints and the greater amount of space to write provided a forum for public arguments by scholars and critical observers.[22]

The early periodical predecessors to magazines started to evolve to modern definition in the late 1800s.[22] 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.[20]

Progressive era: 1890s–1920s[edit]

The Olympic Number of Life, 10 July 1924. Issues of general interest magazines focused on a specific subject were referred to as "numbers" and featured cover art relevant to the given topic, in this case the 1924 Summer Olympics.

Mass-circulation magazines became much more common after 1900, some with circulations in the hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Some passed the million-mark in the 1920s. It was an age of mass media. Because of the rapid expansion of national advertising, the cover price fell sharply to about 10 cents.[23] One cause was the heavy coverage of corruption in politics, local government and big business, especially by Muckrakers. They were journalists who wrote for popular magazines to expose social and political sins and shortcomings. They relied on their own investigative journalism reporting; muckrakers often worked to expose social ills and corporate and political corruption. Muckraking magazines–notably McClure's–took on corporate monopolies and crooked political machines while raising public awareness of chronic urban poverty, unsafe working conditions, and social issues such as child labor.[24]

The journalists who specialized in exposing waste, corruption, and scandal operated at the state and local level, like Ray Stannard Baker, George Creel, and Brand Whitlock. Others, including Lincoln Steffens, exposed political corruption in many large cities; Ida Tarbell went after John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company. Samuel Hopkins Adams in 1905 showed the fraud involved in many patent medicines, Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle gave a horrid portrayal of how meat was packed, and, also in 1906, David Graham Phillips unleashed a blistering indictment of the U.S. Senate. Roosevelt gave these journalists their nickname when he complained that they were not being helpful by raking up all the muck.[25][26]


Actress Fatima Rushdi on the cover of Al-Kawakeb magazine, 12 September 1932

21st century[edit]

According to the Research Department of Statista, closures of magazines outnumbered launches in North America during 2009. Although both figures declined during 2010–2015, launches outnumbered closures in each of those years, sometimes by a 3:1 ratio.[27] Focusing more narrowly, MediaFinder.com found that 93 new magazines were launched during the first six months of 2014, while only 30 closed in that time frame. The category which produced the most new publications was "Regional interest", of which six new magazines were launched, including 12th & Broad and Craft Beer & Brewing.[28] However, two magazines had to change their print schedules. Johnson Publishing's Jet stopped printing regular issues, making the transition to digital format, though still printing an annual print edition.[29] Ladies' Home Journal stopped their monthly schedule and home delivery for subscribers to become a quarterly newsstand-only special interest publication.[30]

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.[31] However, by 2024, some titles, notably outdoors magazines, appeared to be growing in popularity.[32]

Women's magazines[edit]

The "seven sisters" of American women's magazines are Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, McCall's, Woman's Day, Redbook, Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens. Some magazines, among them Godey's Lady's Book and Harper's Bazaar, were intended exclusively for a female audience, emphasizing the traditional gender roles of the 19th century. Harper's Bazaar was the first to focus exclusively on couture fashion, fashion accessories and textiles. The inclusion of didactic content about housekeeping may have increased the appeal of the magazine for a broader audience of women and men concerned about the frivolity of a fashion magazine.[18]


1928 issue of Popular Aviation, which became the largest aviation magazine with a circulation of 100,000.[33]

Targeting women[edit]


In the 1920s, new magazines appealed to young German women with a sensuous image and advertisements for the appropriate clothes and accessories they would want to purchase. The glossy pages of Die Dame and Das Blatt der Hausfrau displayed the "Neue Frauen", "New Girl" – what Americans called the flapper. This ideal young woman was chic, financially independent, and an eager consumer of the latest fashions. Magazines kept her up to date on fashion, arts, sports, and modern technology such as automobiles and telephones.[34]


The first women's magazine targeted toward wives and mothers was published in 1852.[35] Through the use of advice columns, advertisements, and various publications related to parenting, women's magazines have influenced views of motherhood and child-rearing.[36] Mass-marketed women's magazines have shaped and transformed cultural values related to parenting practices. As such, magazines targeting women and parenthood have exerted power and influence over ideas about motherhood and child-rearing.[36]


Religious groups have used magazines for spreading and communicating religious doctrine for over 100 years. The Friend was founded in Philadelphia in 1827 at the time of a major Quaker schism; it has been continually published and was renamed Friends Journal when the rival Quaker groups formally reconciled in the mid-1950s.[37]

Several Catholic magazines launched at the turn of the 20th century that still remain in circulation including; St. Anthony Messenger founded in 1893 and published by the Franciscan Friars (OFM) of St. John the Baptist Province, Cincinnati, Ohio, Los Angeles–based Tidings, founded in 1895 (renamed Angelus in 2016), and published jointly by The Tidings Corporation and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Maryknoll, founded in 1907 by the Foreign Mission Society of America which brings news about the organization's charitable and missionary work in over 100 countries. There are over 100 Catholic magazines published in the United States, and thousands globally which range in scope from inspirational messages to specific religious orders, faithful family life, to global issues facing the worldwide Church.

Jehovah's Witnesses' primary magazine, The Watchtower, was started by Charles Taze Russell in July 1879 under the title Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. The public edition of the magazine is one of the most widely distributed magazines in the world, with an average printing of approximately 36 million per issue.[38]

Celebrity, human interest, and gossip[edit]

Egyptian movie star Salah Zulfikar on the cover of Al Kawakeb magazine, March 1961

Magazines publishing stories and photos of high-profile individuals and celebrities have long been a popular format in the United States.[39] In 2019, People Magazine ranked second behind ESPN Magazine in total reach with a reported reach of 98.51 million.[40]


Professional magazines, also called trade magazines, or business-to-business magazines are targeted to readers employed in particular industries. These magazines typically cover industry trends and news of interest to professionals in the industry. Subscriptions often come with membership in a professional association. Professional magazines may derive revenue from advertisement placements or advertorials by companies selling products and services to a specific professional audience. Examples include Advertising Age and Automotive News.[41][42][43]


Being on the cover of certain magazines is considered an honor or distinction. Examples include Time, Rolling Stone, Vogue and Sports Illustrated. See, for example:

See also cover art.

The magazine cover indicator is a not-too-serious economic indicator that is sometimes taken seriously by technical analysts.[clarification needed]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ a b "magazine | Origin and meaning of magazine". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 13 August 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Definition of Magazine". Dictionary by Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Circulation 101: U.S. Newspaper Terms for Paid and Business/Traveler Circulation". Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  4. ^ Beech, Valerie. "Research Guides: Advertising & Public Relations: Circulation data". libguides.marquette.edu. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Home Page – PPA". PPA. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  6. ^ "History of magazines". Magazine Designing. 26 March 2013. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  7. ^ a b "The History of Magazines". Magazines.com. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  8. ^ OED, s.v. "Magazine", and "Magazine – A Dictionary of the English Language – Samuel Johnson – 1755". johnsonsdictionaryonline.com. Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  9. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Magazine" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 301.
  10. ^ "App launches for The Scots Magazine - allmediascotland…media jobs, media release service and media resources for all". www.allmediascotland.com. Archived from the original on 14 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Lloyd's List set to become a totally digital service on 20 December 2013". lloydslist.com. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  12. ^ Stephen Botein, Jack R. Censer, and Harriet Ritvo, "The periodical press in eighteenth-century English and French society: a cross-cultural approach." Comparative Studies in Society and History 23#3 (1981): 464–490.
  13. ^ Censer, Jack (2002). The French press in the age of Enlightenment. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781134861606.
  14. ^ Robert Darnton and Daniel Roche, eds., Revolution in Print: the Press in France, 1775–1800 (1989)
  15. ^ Keith Michael Baker, et al., The French Revolution and the Creation of Modern Political Culture: The transformation of the political culture, 1789–1848 (1989).
  16. ^ M. Patricia Dougherty, "The French Catholic press and the July Revolution." French History 12#4 (1998): 403–428.
  17. ^ Qiling, Ma'muriyatiga Murojaat (2019). "Usually a periodical publication: MAGAZINE". hozir.org.
  18. ^ a b Hill, Daniel Delis (2004). As Seen in Vogue: A Century of American Fashion in Advertising. Texas Tech University Press. p. 2. ISBN 9780896726161.
  19. ^ Straubhaar, LaRose, Davenport. Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology (Nelson Education, 2015).
  20. ^ a b c Biagi, Shirley. Media Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media, 2013 Update. Cengage Publishing, 2013. Textbook.
  21. ^ "About". Harper's Magazine. 2018. Archived from the original on 5 December 2015.
  22. ^ a b Mott, Frank Luther (1938). A History of American Magazines, 1865–1885. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674395527. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  23. ^ Holloran, Peter C.; Cocks, Catherine; Lessoff, Alan (2009). The A to Z of the Progressive Era. Scarecrow Press. p. 266. ISBN 9780810870697. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019.
  24. ^ Herbert Shapiro, ed., The muckrakers and American society (Heath, 1968), contains representative samples as well as academic commentary.
  25. ^ Robert Miraldi, ed. The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders (Praeger, 2000)
  26. ^ Harry H. Stein, "American Muckrakers and Muckraking: The 50-Year Scholarship," Journalism Quarterly, (1979) 56#1 pp 9–17
  27. ^ "Number of magazine launches and closures in North America 2015 | Statistic". Statista. Archived from the original on 2 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  28. ^ Erik, Sass (1 July 2014). "93 Magazines Launch in First Half of 2014". Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  29. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (7 May 2014). "Jet Magazine to Shift to Digital Publishing Next Month | Johnson Publishing Company". www.johnsonpublishing.com. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  30. ^ Cohen, Noam (24 April 2014). "Ladies' Home Journal to Become a Quarterly". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 29 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  31. ^ "A Brief History of Magazines and Subscriptions". MagazineDeals.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  32. ^ Branch, John (16 June 2024). "In a Digital Age, High-End Outdoors Magazines Are Thriving in Print". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 17 June 2024.
  33. ^ "Again, Mitchell". Time Magazine. Time. 10 June 1929. Archived from the original on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2007. "Monthly magazine until this month called Popular Aviation and Aeronautics. With 100,000 circulation it is largest-selling of U. S. air publications." "Editor of Aeronautics is equally airwise Harley W. Mitchell, no relative of General Mitchell."
  34. ^ Nina Sylvester, "Before Cosmopolitan: The Girl in German women's magazines in the 1920s." Journalism Studies 8#4 (2007): 550–554.
  35. ^ "Women's magazines down the ages". The Guardian. 20 December 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  36. ^ a b Weaver, Heather; Proctor, Helen (May 2018). "The Question of the Spotted Muumuu: How the Australian Women's Weekly Manufactured a Vision of the Normative School Mother and Child, 1930s–1980s". History of Education Quarterly. 58 (2): 229–260. doi:10.1017/heq.2018.4. ISSN 0018-2680. S2CID 149955078.
  37. ^ "Liberal Quaker Journal Publishing to 1955", Friends Journal, December 2005, archived from the original on 17 September 2018, retrieved 16 September 2018
  38. ^ "Contents page". The Watchtower. Vol. 143, no. 5. 2022. p. 2.
  39. ^ "Top 20 Best-Selling Magazines In Supermarkets". Supermarket News. 26 August 2002. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  40. ^ "Reach of popular magazines in the United States in June 2019". Statista. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  41. ^ "Q. What is a trade publication or trade magazine?". James E. Walker Library. Middle Tennessee State University. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  42. ^ "LIS1001: Resource Types". Thomas G. Carpenter Library. University of North Florida. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  43. ^ "Journals & Magazines". Arrendale Library. Piedmont University. Retrieved 4 February 2022.

Further reading[edit]

United States[edit]

  • Baughman, James L. Henry R. Luce and the Rise of the American News Media (2001) excerpt and text search Archived 29 December 2022 at the Wayback Machine
  • Brinkley, Alan. The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century, Alfred A. Knopf (2010) 531 pp.
  • Damon-Moore, Helen. Magazines for the Millions: Gender and Commerce in the Ladies' Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post, 1880–1910 (1994) online Archived 19 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  • Elson, Robert T. Time Inc: The Intimate History of a Publishing Enterprise, 1923–1941 (1968); vol. 2: The World of Time Inc.: The Intimate History, 1941–1960 (1973), official corporate history
  • Endres, Kathleen L. and Therese L. Lueck, eds. Women's Periodicals in the United States: Consumer Magazines (1995) online Archived 19 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  • Haveman, Heather A. Magazines and the Making of America: Modernization, Community, and Print Culture, 1741–1860 (Princeton UP, 2015)
  • Johnson, Ronald Maberry and Abby Arthur Johnson. Propaganda and Aesthetics: The Literary Politics of Afro-American Magazines in the Twentieth Century (1979) online Archived 19 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  • Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines (five volumes, 1930–1968), detailed coverage of all major magazines, 1741 to 1930 by a leading scholar.
  • Nourie, Alan and Barbara Nourie. American Mass-Market Magazines (Greenwood Press, 1990) online Archived 19 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  • Rooks, Noliwe M. Ladies' Pages: African American Women's Magazines and the Culture That Made Them (Rutgers UP, 2004) online Archived 19 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  • 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: Their Social and Economic Influence (1949) online Archived 19 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  • Zuckerman, Mary Ellen. A History of Popular Women's Magazines in the United States, 1792–1995 (Greenwood Press, 1998) online Archived 20 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]