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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.
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In the technical sense a journal has continuous pagination throughout a volume. Thus Business Week, 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 makhazin, the plural of makhzan meaning "depot, storehouse" (originally military storehouse); that comes to English via Middle French magasin and Italian magazzino. In its original sense, the word "magazine" referred to a storage space or device. In the case of written publication, it refers to a collection of written articles. This explains why magazine publications share the word with gunpowder magazines, artillery magazines, firearm magazines, and in French and Russian (adopted from French as магазин), retailers such as department stores.
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.
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, 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.
The earliest example of magazines was Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen, a literary and philosophy magazine, which was launched in 1663 in Germany. The Gentleman's Magazine, first published in 1731 in London was the first general-interest magazine. 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, the quote being: "a monthly collection, to treasure up as in a magazine". Founded by Herbert Ingram in 1842, The Illustrated London News was the first illustrated weekly news magazine.
The oldest consumer magazine still in print is The Scots Magazine, 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.
Under the ancient regime, 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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
The development of the magazines stimulated an increase in literary criticism and political debate, moving towards more opinionated pieces from the objective newspapers. The increased time between prints and the greater amount of space to write provided a forum for public arguments by scholars and critical observers.
The early periodical predecessors to magazines started to evolve to modern definition in the late 1800s. 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.
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.
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 like 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.
The first women's magazine targeted toward wives and mothers was published in 1852. Through the use of advice columns, advertisements, and various publications related to parenting, women's magazines have influenced views of motherhood and child-rearing. 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.
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.
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.