The Baffler

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The Baffler
Editor John Summers
Frequency Triannual
Founder Thomas Frank and Keith White
First issue  1988 (1988-month)
Company The Baffler Foundation
Country United States
Based in

Charlottesville (1988–1990)
Chicago (1990–2010)

Cambridge (2010–present)[1]
Language English
The Baffler at MIT Press
ISSN 1059-9789
OCLC number 24838556

The Baffler is a magazine of cultural, political, and business criticism that was established in 1988 and published until the spring of 2007. It was revived in 2009,[2] with the first issue of volume 2 published in January 2010. The magazine was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and sold at bookstores across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


Established in 1988 by editors Thomas Frank and Keith White and published by Greg Lane, The Baffler had up to 12,000 subscribers.[3] A self-described goal was to be "the journal that blunts the cutting edge".[4] It was known for critiquing "business culture and the culture business"[5] and for having exposed the grunge speak hoax perpetrated on the New York Times.[6] One famous and much-republished article, "The Problem with Music" by Steve Albini, exposed the inner-workings of the music business during the indie rock heyday.[7]

The magazine is credited with having helped launch the careers of several writers, including Thomas Frank (What's the Matter with Kansas?), Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette, and Rick Perlstein (Nixonland).[4]


The magazine published sporadically, especially after the Chicago office of The Baffler was destroyed in a fire on April 25, 2001.[8] The Baffler #14 was in press at the time, and only three new issues were subsequently published.

Timeline of The Baffler magazine: #1 (1988), #2 (1990), #3 (1991), #4 (1992), #5 (1993), #6–7 (1995), #8 (1996), #9–11 (1997), #12–13 (1999), #14 (2001), #15–16 (2003), #17 (2006).[9]


On June 23, 2009 the New York Observer reported that founding editor Thomas Frank decided to revive the magazine.[2] The magazine was relaunched in 2010, under a new publisher and new editors, and with a new design, with volume 2, issue 1 published in Winter, 2010.

The Baffler is sold through many different distribution channels, both as a book and as a magazine; in addition to the publication's ISSN, all but the earliest issues have an individual ISBN.

In October 2011, the new editor, John Summers, signed a 5-year publishing contract with the MIT Press.[10] In October 2014, Summers announced The Baffler was breaking from MIT Press and would bring publishing operations in-house.[11]



  1. ^ The Baffler (July 2014). "About". Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Leon Nefaykh (June 24, 2009). "Color Me Baffled! Thomas Frank's Magazine Lives Again". New York Observer. p. 10. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  3. ^ Peter Monaghan (October 26, 2011). "‘The Baffler’ Will Reappear via MIT Press". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  4. ^ a b Jennifer Schuessler (July 21, 2014). "The Baffler Puts Its Archive Online". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  5. ^ Elizabeth Taylor (January 11, 1998). "Mixing Business With Culture". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  6. ^ Leon Nefaykh (August 14, 2009). "Remember the Grunge Hoax?". New York Observer. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  7. ^ Albini, Steve (1993), "The Problem with Music", The Baffler (Chicago: Thomas Frank) (5), ISSN 1059-9789, OCLC 24838556, archived from the original on 2007-09-28 , also archived from the dead Baffler site. (Reprinted in Maximum RocknRoll #133 (June 1994) and later various websites.)
  8. ^ Ron Charles (July 21, 2014). "A quarter century of the Baffler". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  9. ^ Timeline checked with BookFinder plus WorldCat, consolidated with various sources, including DustyGroove, BookMaps, LibraryThing.
  10. ^ Peter Monaghan (October 26, 2011). "‘The Baffler’ Will Reappear via MIT Press". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  11. ^ Peter Monaghan (October 28, 2014). "MIT Press and a Rebellious Journal Will Part Ways". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-10-30. 

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