Magazines are becoming fine art

In “Ghostbusters,” Harold Ramis’ Egon says, “Print is dead,” as Annie Potts’ secretary character flips through a People magazine. That film came out in 1984, long before the internet, smartphones and E-readers were common amenities.

While I don’t necessarily agree with Egon, I do believe print, specifically magazines, is changing in major ways.

Magazines used to be something our moms would read to pass the time or something our dads would survey at the doctor’s office while trying to remember our blood types. They were popular but deemed rather disposable…kinda like newspapers. You got the info within, and then you would toss it aside.

In the future, magazines will be pieces of fine art. They’ll be collected and coveted. They’ll elicit high levels of coolness. I’m trying my best to avoid the word hipster here, so instead, I’ll say magazines are heading in a more indie and boujee direction.

Publications such as Rolling Stone, Playboy and Esquire have all adopted more sleek and stylish formats as if to say, “Only a certain type of person reads me.” The glossy finishes and side-staples have been replaced by matte covers and book bindings. The ink on each page stays put instead of smudging on your fingers. Many publications have also taken to minimalist covers instead of front pages that read like a table of contents.

And just look at the prices. A couple of years ago, a copy of Rolling Stone may have cost you $5. It’s pretty much doubled in price since the redesign last year.

Sometimes I judge a magazine buy the cover and purchase them for the look before I dive into the content. My favorite magazine right now is Misadventures, an outdoor adventure publication made for women by women. Do I personally need to know five natural alternatives to sanitary pads while stranded in the woods? Probably not. But the whole package — the design, the photos, the stories even the ads — is just irresistible.

Let’s take a look at records for a minute.

The first phonograph records were made in the late 1800s. Records and record players became normal parts of everyday life. They were like having a TV or a computer in your house nowadays. Records stayed popular for more than a century. Even when new technology came on the scene in the form of cassettes and 8-track tapes, records still held a firm place in how people purchased and listened to music.

However, that all changed when CDs came into play in 1982. These compact discs offered small vessels that could hold tons of audio files in a digital format. Plus, CD technology was not limited to just music. Pretty soon we got DVDs, computer software and video games all made on discs.

As we inched toward the ’90s, purchasing vinyl albums became less popular. Records still existed and plenty of people with collections still listened to them, but for a lot of us, LPs were more like garage sale finds or a stack of nostalgic relics tucked away in your parents’ attic.

Then the late 2000s hit and vinyl was all the rage again, being praised for their top-notch sound quality, collectible nature and artistic value. It came at a price, though. A cheaper new record might cost you $30 or $40. Plus, you got to think about the price of the machine that’s going to play them. So now, LPs have become rather classy items — delicately cared for and sometimes hung on people’s walls like a beautiful painting. Everybody had CDs, but if you had records, you became THAT person.

Magazines are now chic, artistic commodities ready for display on a coffee table before friends come over. I bet soon when we invite friends over for a drink, we won’t be ashamed to leave our Playboys out in public, and they won’t be ashamed to flip through them.


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