Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cosmo, Bazaar, Elle: Big AND Small Editions?

About a decade ago, I read that some of the major women's magazines were coming out with reduced-size editions. It wasn't a replacement of the normal sized issues; it was being done in addition to them. The smaller editions would have everything that's in the normal-sized editions (which were usually roughly 8.5" by 11"), in fact they would look exactly like the normal editions; they'd just be smaller.

I didn't understand the point of it then, and I don't understand it now. The publishers are still producing the regular-sized editions, so it's not clear where they're saving money. My thought at the time when I first heard about this was that it was a perfect example of publishers with so much extra money they could display it by producing a patently wasteful product.

Well, that mustn't have been correct, because even after enduring a couple years of this horrid recession, these publishers are still at it. I noticed a batch of these smaller editions today during a trip to a Barnes & Noble and a Borders. On at least one of the smaller editions is the label "travel edition," but that just doesn't make sense. Where can you read a slightly smaller edition of a magazine that you can't read the normal-sized edition? It's not as if a normal-sized magazine is just waaaaay to large to read on a plane, train, or bicycle. It's not like magazines are broadsheets. And why are you reading while you're biking?

I think I might be most annoyed at the implied suggestion that these little editions are popular enough to have continued life. I have always been frustrated when publishers reduced the trim size of their magazines. It's been a constant trend from the early part of the 20th century through today. Look at Esquire from 1936; it's 10" by 14"; the October 1958 edition is 10" by 13"; the edition from today is roughly 8" by 11".

Readers should be demanding larger sizes, especially for fashion or sports titles or other magazines that rely on photography. Give us quality and quantity.
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