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When Magazines Go Bust

July 26, 2017

We’ve been making Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader for 30 years now, and to think, before we came along, people had to read magazines in the bathroom. Magazines?! They’re so unreliable! They can just up and fold at any time—like these ones did.
Stack of magazines

Dynamite

Scholastic publishes children’s books—including Harry Potter in the U.S. But before that, one of the company’s biggest successes was a kids pop culture magazine called Dynamite. Like Weekly Reader but hip (and monthly), kids could subscribe to the magazine via in-school book fairs and book catalogs. In addition to celebrity photos and interviews, there were puzzles, recipes, games, contests, magic tricks, and scary stories by R.L. Stine—his wife was the editor, and he’d go on to write the extreme successful Goosebumps series.) Cast members from M*A*S*H appeared on the cover of the first issue in 1974. Interest and circulation numbers dwindled over the years, and Interest and circulation numbers—it was rarely sold on newsstands—and Dynamite went bust in 1992,

Gourmet

Over the course of nearly seven decades, Gourmet helped create the subculture known as “foodies”—regular people who were really, really into really, really good food. A travel magazine as much as it was a food magazine, the articles and accompanying photos glorified great restaurants and chefs from around the world. At one point it was edited by Ruth Reichl, a former New York Times food critic. What killed Gourmet? It was a victim of its own success. When owner Condé Nast published shut the magazine down in 2009, it had lost readership and advertising money to more accessible, less “fancy” food magazines directed toward a more middle-of-the-road audience, such as Food Network Magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and its sister publication, the receipt oriented Bon Appétit.

Spin

Spin was first published in 1985 as a hipper, younger, alternative to leading music magazine Rolling Stone. While that publication favored classic rock and mainstream pop music, Spin covered the emerging musical forms of the ’80s, such as rap and alternative rock. It quickly found an audience by filling that void, racking up 150,000 readers in just two years. Along with Rolling Stone, Spin was one of the two biggest music magazines in America… until the Internet came along. As the rise of digital media also led to diminished sales of CDs in the 2000s, the rise of quickly-disseminated music news and music reviews made a monthly magazine a bit obsolete. So, in 2012, Spin adapted and became an online-only publication.

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