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Library News

By: Pat Whitfield, Board Member
For: Red Rock News
Date: August 14, 2009

Beyond Books and Electronic Media - Magazines for All

How well I remember as a young child the many magazines that came to our house. As an only child for my first seven years, I was a reader from a young age and, basically, learned to read by perusing the pages of Life magazine. I can still recall the stunning pictures in Life, the cartoons and Norman Rockwell covers of the Saturday Evening Post, the slightly "naughty" images in Esquire, the intimidating pages of Kiplinger's, and the varied contents of Readers Digest, from the amusing to the poignant.

As a grownup, I still subscribe to a number of magazines, many quite different from those of my childhood. But as a consumer of magazines, I'm a relative newcomer since magazines have a long and interesting history.

Magazine history dates from the 17th century when in 1665 the French Journal des Scavans was published. It printed accounts of important European books and original articles on literature, science, and art. Before long, imitators arose throughout Europe. In 1704, there was a clear line of demarcation between newspapers and magazines when Daniel Defoe expanded the content of his Review to address not only news, but also politics, literature, manners, and morals. The first English periodical to actually identify itself as a "magazine" was The Gentleman's Magazine, published in 1731.

The first American magazines appeared in Philadelphia in 1741. Although the original idea for an American magazine was Benjamin Franklin's, Andrew Bradford's American Magazine predated Franklin's General Magazine by a few short days. Early magazines were primarily devoted to text only.

In 1842 the Illustrated London became the first periodical in which illustrations predominated over text. It was followed a year later by a similar magazine in France and in 1850 Harper's New Monthly Magazine introduced the reading public to woodcut illustrations in its pages.

Specialized publications also emerged in the 19th century such as the first and possibly most famous American women's magazine, Godey's Lady's Book and the first magazine for young girls, the Young Misses Magazine. The best known children's magazine was St. Nicholas. Women's magazines from that era that are still read today are Ladies Home Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and Good Housekeeping.

Between 1830 and 1910, illustrations proliferated in magazines, moving from hand-printed illustrations through woodcuts to photography. The combination of photography, new styles of journalism, and the advances in printing enabled the emergence of advertising. By the early 20th century advertisers realized the advantage of magazines to reach the public and the most successful magazine designers were often former ad agency artists. They introduced full-color advertising. Interestingly, not until advertising became prevalent did stories continue at the back of the magazine instead of being published beginning to end in sequence.

The most influential American magazine in the 1930s was Fortune, created by Henry Luce who also founded Time in the 1920s and started the corporation that would later produce Life, Sports Illustrated, Money and People.

Today's magazines are numerous and address virtually any subject matter. With the proliferation of the Internet, magazines today are publishing their works online as well as in printed form. But, if you still like to relax with a magazine of interest, hold it in your hands, and read, you have at your fingertips a large and varied collection at the Sedona Public Library, far more than each of our homes could hold. Currently on SPL shelves there are 156 titles, appealing to myriad tastes.

Interested in home and garden? You'll find the classics Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, and House Beautiful. Newcomers are Martha Stewart Living, Phoenix Home and Garden, and Organic Gardening, among others.

What about finance? SPL has The Economist, Forbes Investment Guide, Money, Consumer Reports, and Smart Money, to name a few.

Like to travel? Scout out new locations and plan your trips with Budget Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, and Travel & Leisure. And don't forget National Geographic!

Are health and fitness your things? Fine tune your health with articles from Prevention, Natural Solutions, and Vegetarian Times. Tone your body and rev your cardio with Runners World, Outside, and Yoga Journal.
Fashion and beauty information can be found in Elle, Glamour, O! The Oprah Magazine, and Vogue, for starters.

Do you speak Spanish, or want to learn ? SPL subscribes to Hispanic, Latina, Padres e Hijos, TV y Novelas, and Selecciones, the Spanish version of Reader's Digest.

Like to read outside the mainstream? Check out Light Consciousness, Mother Jones, Ode, and Rolling Stone.

Further, there are magazines for all kinds of special interests - gardening, stamp collecting, archaeology, art, needlecrafts, woodworking, golf, genealogy, history, astrology, beading, astronomy, computer technology - and the list goes on.

The point is, you can expand your world and extend your knowledge in a variety of fields by simply coming to the cool, welcoming comfort of your Sedona Public Library without spending a penny on the inviting magazines gracing its shelves. So, pull up a chair, get comfortable, and read away!

Pat Whitfield
Pat Whitfield, author of this week's article,
is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.