Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2004-04-19

The Changing Faces (and Innards) of Teen Magazines

I love magazines. Actually, "love" might be a weak term for my feelings about magazines. I am a little bit, um, obsessed. I subscribe to more magazines than I can realistically keep up with at home. I love picking up old issues of National Geographic and Rolling Stone at library book sales, and of course, I could not do my job well without reading YM, US Weekly, The New Yorker, The New York Times (especially the obituaries, movie reviews, wedding announcements, science, and magazine sections, in that order), and VIBE any more than I could without reading School Library Journal or VOYA.

So naturally, I'm drawn to articles like this one, about the scrambling that so many teen-oriented magazines are doing right now, trying to reposition themselves after losing much of their audience to...well, that's the problem. They're not quite sure where their audience has gone. They might be reading Lucky and US Weekly, but they might just as easily be cutting back on print magazines altogether. For many teens, it may be cheaper, faster, and easier to get the information they want online (whether that's at home, at the library, or on their cell phones).

From a collection development perspective, it's important to note that two major teen (and for the purposes of MSN.com's article, "teen" = "teen girl", but we won't get into the problematic nature of that definition today) magazines, "Seventeen and YM have gone back to the drawing board. Both have decided to court older teens, 17 and up. [...] Just like the old YM, the new YM will cover celebrities, beauty and fashion. But the bubble-gum pink typeface is being replaced by something more sedate, and giggling stories about boys will be replaced by more soulful articles about relationships."

We're still in the very early stages of a major shift in teen magazine publishing. I predict that in the next 12-18 months, we'll see more of the generally girly teen magazines folding, and the launches of more niche publications for tween and teen audiences of both genders.

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