"When Editors Were Gods" is going on vacation for a while, so its editor (me) can work on another project. If the subject matter interests you, please feel free to poke around in the archive; there are more than 1,800 posts in all here, going back to 2008. I may add a new item from time to time and expect to be posting daily again at some point. See you then.
Before the festivities end, it's worth noting that Putnam's was not only a book publisher, but an important magazine publisher as well, producing several titles bearing its name between 1853 and 1910. Among its more famous contributions: Herman Melville's classic "Bartleby, the Scrivener."
Mary Thom, who rose from researcher to executive editor of Ms. magazine before leaving to write an account of the magazine's early history, was killed in a motorcycle accident on Friday in Yonkers, New York, according to news reports. Thom's book, "Inside Ms.: 25 Years of the Magazine and the Feminist Movement," was published in 1997 by Henry Holt and Company. She also edited a collection of letters to the magazine.
Today the last print issue of Newsweek arrived in many mailboxes, including mine, ending a remarkable run of nearly 80 years. The magazine, launched as News-Week, published its first issue with a cover date of February 17, 1933 and its last with a date of December 31, 2012. (It shed the hyphen in 1937.) The photo at right shows a copy in its original mailing wrapper, as it reached subscribers in the 1930s.
When Art Ginsburg, the TV chef better known as Mr. Food, died this past week at age 81, obituaries cited his 52 cookbooks and countless television segments. None that I've read so far has mentioned that he also had a magazine, Mr. Food's Easy Cooking, published by Hearst from 1997 to 2000 and as lively and colorful as its namesake.
"[T]he most important part of an editor's job takes place before the writer has even begun to set words to paper. In commissioning an article an editor must make clear what he is looking for and not looking for without handcuffing the writer with crippling preconceptions. Otherwise, both writer and editor may find themselves in head-to-head combat when the manuscript comes in." — Robert Manning, former editor-in-chief of The Atlantic Monthly, in his autobiography "The Swamp Root Chronicle: Adventures in the Word Trade" (W.W. Norton, 1992). Manning died on September 28 at age 92.
Interesting obituary earlier this week for Rose Benas Lustig, who recently died at age 97. Lustig was described as the editor of "the first consumer in-flight monthly," called Airlanes Magazine. Airlanes, which seems to have started up in 1936, was apparently published in New York and made available aboard the planes of several different airlines. As far as I know, the first in-flight published by a single airline was Pan Am's Clipper Magazine, begun in 1956.
The news today that Bird Talk magazine would cease print publication and subscribers would instead receive issues of Dog Fancy seems to have ruffled a few feathers among bird lovers. It also echoes some other strange switcheroos over the years. Perhaps the weirdest occurred in 1946, when Mother's Home Life magazine stopped publishing and subscribers reportedly found a something called Soviet Russia Today in their mailboxes.
One I remember personally was the closure of New Times, a lively but short-lived 1970s competitor to Time and Newsweek; subscribers, me among them, were promised copies of Runner's World magazine instead. Mine never even came.
Others with similar recollections are urged to share.
The U.S. Postal Service has announced that John H. Johnson, who built a magazine empire (Ebony, Jet, etc.) by borrowing $500 against his mother's new furniture, will be honored with a commemorative postage stamp next year. Not coincidentally, Johnson used that $500 to buy stamps. He died in 2005.
"Young is better than old, pretty is better than ugly, rich is better than poor, TV is better than music, music is better than movies, movies are better than sports, and anything is better than politics." — Stolley's Law for successful magazine covers, as devised by People magazine's founding editor, Richard Stolley. According to the 1994 book "Inside People," by Judy Kessler, "And nothing is better than the celebrity dead" was added to this formula after People's tribute to the recently murdered John Lennon became the magazine's bestselling issue up to that time. That issue was cover-dated 30 years ago today, December 22, 1980.
The name of the once-mighty magazine Collier's was auctioned off yesterday for $2,000, according to a piece by Stuart Elliott in today's New York Times. (Technically, what the buyer got, according to Elliott, is a trademark application to use the name.) Collier's ceased publication in 1956.