View full issue

This link was published in:

A Quiet Phone

by M.G. Siegler


"My cover would leap out and grab you by the throat."

Katharine Schwab sat down with ad legend George Lois:

Schwab: Do you think magazine covers still are as powerful as they once were in shaping national conversation?
Lois: They’re ridiculous. They’re trash today. And they have been for a long time. They got a photograph of maybe a well-known person, they have tons of type, with six or seven stories on the cover. It’s a disaster.
Some people have said, “But there’s so many more magazines now than then.” I say, “If you took any one of my covers than I did today and you put them on a newsstand along with the others, my cover would leap out and grab you by the throat.” In doing Esquire‘s covers, their sales went from 200,000 to over 2 million.

I, of course, agree with this. How could you not? Just look at a newsstand today and compare it to what magazine covers looked like in the 1960s. But I also think about something else: the notion of the magazine "cover" has been all but killed by the internet. 

Apple's original stab at Newsstand tried to keep the cover intact. But now it's dead. And that's too bad, because it really did used to be an art form (and some magazine such as The New Yorker, The Economist, and even Bloomberg Businessweek, still use them to great, albeit diminished effect). It's not as bad of a casualty as the album cover, but it's still a bummer. 


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?