A Magazine That's Actually Growing
People dismayed by print's long slow death will be encouraged by this: The London Review of Books, which is the largest literary magazine in Europe (and almost certainly its best), just fêted its 30th anniversary here in New York. Perhaps even more encouraging than its three decades, though, is the fact that its circulation numbers have gone up every year since its founding. There's even been impressive growth since 2000—which, for those unaware, is right around the time print started imploding.
Here's a sample: In 2000, LRB's circulation was 37,778; in 2005 it was 43,469; and is currently hovering around 52,000. This growth is not astronomical, but it's nothing to sneeze at, either. This is, after all, a magazine that runs 6,000-word book reviews in a time when most magazines won't give that much space to an investigative feature.
The anniversary-week celebrations culminated this past Saturday with a panel discussion about what it means to be an author in the internet age—a fitting discussion if ever there was one. Said the Irish author Colm Toibin: “The point I want to make about this, which I think is going to matter for humanity in the future, is that we have adapted this to our needs, and we keep adapting it.”
I think that's a great point. There's still a lot magazines have to learn about how longform writing and the web can play nice together, but there is reason to be optimistic that it's possible we'll figure out how best to make it work. (On that topic, the publisher wrote an interesting column last week for Huffington Post about the questions a publication like LRB faces in an iPad-y kind of world.)