Are magazines cool again?

Late last year, I did not renew my subscription to Wired. The persistent stream of monthly magazines I’d nurtured for years slowed to a trickle, then dried up entirely. The end was graceful and quiet. I barely noticed.

Today, the latest issues of Codex, Kill Screen and The Manual litter my office and bedroom. Each is beautiful, thought-provoking, indispensable. They make me want more shelf space.

What happened?

My theories, so far:

  1. Publications this lovingly crafted have always existed, but without efficient means of cultivating an audience (or even raising money without sacrificing core principles).

  2. Magazines were most profitable when they focused on breaking, timely subjects. The internet is much, much better at this, so it ate their lunch. Print can now re-focus on its inherent strengths, just as painting did following the advent of photography.

  3. The container is as unessential as ever. The tactile, seductive quality of well-designed wood pulp exaggerates its significance relative to the content therein.