An introduction to the Magazine Diaries

I stumbled across an old New Yorker cartoon a while back. The forever-missing Wally is sat alone at a bar in his trademark hat and stripes. Four or five drinks in, he complains, “Nobody ever asks how’s Wally?”.

That’s how I feel about working in magazines. Everyone is frantically searching for a sustainable future, endlessly debating where our industry is headed, how best to make money, how best to save money, what new platform will or won’t work. No one ever stops to ask anyone else how they feel about making magazines in the middle of the biggest disruption in publishing history.

It doesn’t actually matter. The change is happening and whatever future we end up with will depend on how we deal with it, not how we feel about it. But aren’t you just a little bit interested to hear the full range of feelings that the digital disruption has unleashed…

Over three months, more than 100 magazine professionals took the time to write 100 words for the Magazine Diaries on how they felt about what they do for a living and the products they make. They wrote in support of MagAid, a charity using magazines to develop a love of reading in under privileged school children, but they also just wanted to get stuff off their chests.

Writing 100 words doesn’t seem like a lot: Half-a-dozen texts, three or four tweets, a couple of Facebook posts. But these are important words, words that say something, words that will last.

The 100-worders that wrote for the Magazine Diaries rose to the challenge beautifully, doing what Monsieur Pascal couldn’t – taking the time to write short. The result is a fantastic knock-about mix of emotions regarding the past, present and future of magazines and the magazine business. Optimists, pessimists, cynical newsstand veterans, wide-eyed Kickstarter newbies, pixelheads and page sniffers… all magazine life is here.

There are many industries that can lay claim to the level of digital disruption that magazines are enduring right now. The big difference is we’re story tellers and I hope the stories in the Magazine Diaries make you nod your head, shake your head, throw the book across the room then rush to pick it up so you can read the next one.

The main thing I know you will take away from the Magazine Diaries is that the people who make magazines really, really care about making magazines… and that’s one hell of an industry to be part of.

Peter Houston
Editor, The Magazine Diaries