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Why Do We Read Magazines?
In a world of instant information it would seem that the sale of magazines would be obsolete. After all, why purchase a periodical when you can have information texted to you with lightening speed. Why take the time to leaf through the pages of a magazine when you can look up online, anything you could possibly ever want to know. While the spread of electronic knowledge and information is on the rise it doesn’t seem to put a damper on the purchase of Magazine subscriptions. There is something about the feel of the pages between your finger tips that a computer screen just can’t duplicate. There is an indescribable joy in the luxury of words that can be spent on the pages of a magazine but tend to be lost on a Blackberry.
Women will always enjoy the pleasure of paging through their favorite celebrity gossip magazine while under the dryer at the beauty shop just as many men enjoy catching up on the sporting or financial news while commuting on public transportation. There is just something rich and real about reading a magazine that supersedes the ease of information from electronic sources. The history of the magazine dates all the way back to the 1700’s when the aristocracy read periodicals that contained news of parliament, book lists and reviews, and social and political essays written by the foremost thinkers of the time. Only the rich could afford to purchase magazines and only the few educated people of the time had the skills to read them. By the 1830’s magazines were much less expensive and therefore available to the masses.
Because they had a different target as their audience, popular themes for magazines included self improvement and personal enlightenment. After a while publishers began to realize that many people would buy magazines for their entertainment value and started printing interesting news stories and serializing horror, romance and fiction novels. During the late 1800’s improvements to magazines came about through the process of better printing techniques. In 1870, printers experimented with better uses of color and were soon able to print adequate reproductions of famous paintings, so that the masses could enjoy what had been restricted to the upper classes for so long. In 1880 tremendous advances in the art of photography were made and soon it was possible for magazines to contain photographs. This opened people up to the things of the world they had never seen before. When publishers combined printed text with photographs, merchants saw the possibilities and suddenly the advertisements sections in magazines grew. What better way to sell a product than to have a description and a true to life photograph in your ad? With the turn of the century came better education. As more and more people were able to receive at least some form of education, more people were able to read and the demand for magazines grew in leaps and bounds. By the thirties, advertising in magazines hit a high mark, showing that the popularity of the medium had grown extensively.
Soon publishers began to find niche markets from which to create unique magazines. Out of this movement grew the vast variety of specialty magazines available on the market today. For any hobby you can think of, there is at least one magazine dedicated to the pursuit of that form of entertainment. There are trade magazines geared toward just about every industry in existence. There are magazines geared for the interest of every age group, special interest group, and even many clubs and organizations. The popularity of magazines is sustained because you can pick up a magazine at anytime and browse through it. Then you can put it back and come right back to where you left off. They are entertaining and informative, and great for casual readers who are looking for a pleasant way to pass the time while being entertained and picking up a little useful information.
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