The 20th century was a magazine century in many ways. Between 1900 and 2000, the number of magazines grew from about 3,000 to 17,815a 593 percent increase, which exceeded population growth by 95 percent. The typical American read less than half a magazine per month in 1920, but by 2000 that figure tripled to 1.35 magazines per month. This book examines how and why magazines grew so rapidly. Structured by decades and chronology, it tells the story of innovative publishers, editors, and magazines and how and why they succeeded. Sumner argues that the move from general-interest to niche audiences originated early in the century, not after the rise of television. Furthermore, he says that the growth of advertising enabled the cost of magazines to steadily decline. The declining price and expanding audiences brought a steady erosion in the intellectual content of magazines, which is illustrated by the rise in sex and celebrity titles during the 1970s and later. Sumner concludes with an assessment of the decade since 2000 and offers an optimistic outlook for the future of magazines.
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