Cool History Explained

Like newspapers, magazines have intricate histories shaped by the societies in which they were produced. A more profound comprehension of the current industry can be attained by looking at the industry’s historical foundations and changes over time.

Early Magazines

Early editors began conceptualizing the magazine after the printing press became prevalent in Europe. The precursors of the modern family magazine first appeared during the 17th century in pamphlets, pamphlets, and almanacs. Soon, editors realized that irregular publishing schedules took too much time and energy. Then, there was a gradual shift as publishers sought regular readers with specific interests. But the first magazine was different from any other publication before it. It could not be regarded as a pleasant read, but it was not a sufficient news source to qualify as a newspaper. Instead, the first magazines occupied the middle ground between the two. Encyclopedia Britannica, sv “Publishing History”,

The Netherlands, Germany, and France are in the lead.

The German theologian and poet Johann Rist published the first accurate journal between 1663 and 1668. Titled Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen, or Edifying Monthly Discusations, Rist’s publication inspired others to begin printing literary journals throughout Europe:

  • The French Journal des Sçavans by Denis de Sallo (1665)
  • The Royal Society’s English Philosophical Transactions (1665)
  • Francesco Nazzari’s Italian Giomale de’letterati (1668)

The first “amusement newspaper,” Le Mercure Galant (later renamed Mercure de France), was published in 1672 by another Frenchman, Jean Donneau de Vize. It featured poetry, stories, and news. Because of how well-liked this blend of news and reading material was, other magazines began to copy the magazine. The Encyclopedia With articles geared more toward enjoyment than knowledge, this lighter magazine appealed to a different readership than the other, more cerebral publications of the day.

With the arrival of the 18th century came an increase in literacy. Women, enjoying a considerable increase in literacy rates, began reading in record numbers. Its impact on the literary community encouraged numerous female authors to release books specifically targeted at female readers. PBS, Nineteenth-Century Writers, “. The increase in female readers contributed to the growth of magazines, as more women turned to them for information and amusement. Many magazines took the opportunity to reach out to women. The Athenian Mercurio, the first magazine written specifically for women, appeared in 1693.

American Magazines

One thousand seven hundred forty-one the first American magazines appeared when Benjamin Franklin’s General Magazine and Andrew Bradford’s American Magazine started publishing in Philadelphia three days apart. Nevertheless, neither publication survived long; General Magazine folded after six months, and American Magazine folded after three. These publications were “limited by very few readers with free time to read.”, high publishing costs, and expensive distribution systems, which likely had more to do with their transient nature than the media itself. Lucinda Davenport, Robert Larose, and Joseph Straubhaar, Media Now

Wadsworth, 2009; Boston; Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology. Despite this early setback, the second half of the 18th century saw a magazine boom. In the young United States, there were over 100 magazines published by the end of the 18th century. Even with such a high publication figure, average colonial magazines had low circulation figures and were regarded as high.