It takes chutzpah to start a travel magazine in a recession. Afar is billed as a pub for "readers who are curious." I'm curious how it will survive, though its philosophy isn't geared to the country-club crowd. Forget a focus on comfy travel and 600-thread-count sheets; the goal is meaningful experiences. "We embrace what makes each culture distinct ... and discover insights about others - and ourselves." I read this in the Founder's Note, set in print so tiny it had to be glimpsed through an electron microscope.
Some mags just rely more on evergreen topics than others, as if it's hardwired into their DNA. Take the upper left blurb on the September cover of Glamour magazine: "3 Flat Belly Secrets: Tone Up Your Abs Without Working Out." That sounded vaguely familiar, so I visited Glamour.com and used the search function to seek out all references to "flat belly" and... well, there were 330 returns.
While many magazines are barely keeping their collective heads above water, Rodale's Women's Health is flourishing.
It's really quite stunning to contemplate the vast choices you're offered for $6.95 at an airport newsstand. Of course, when it comes to gravitas that separates a magazine from the pack, Harper's offers plenty. For starters, it's been in print since 1850 (the year Zachary Taylor suddenly died in office -- if that's any help, perspective-wise). And no one could teach either an American Lit or Journalism class that banned the works of Harper's writers.
For the eclectic among us, Smithsonian is a rare find. The pub began in 1970 and is only on its third editor! Founding editor Edward K. Thompson created a magazine for modern, well-rounded individuals -- and 39 years later, it's still going strong.