A magazine is a periodical publication containing a variety of articles, generally financed by advertising, purchased by readers, or both.


Magazines are typically published weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly or quarterly, with a date on the cover that is later than the date it is actually published. They are often printed in colour on coated paper, and are bound with a soft cover. Current magazines are generally available at bookstores and newsstands, while subscribers can receive them in the mail.


Magazines fall into two broad categories: consumer magazines and business magazines. In practice, magazines are a subset of periodicals, distinct from those periodicals produced by scientific, artistic, academic or special interest publishers which are subscription-only, more expensive, narrowly limited in circulation, and often have little or no advertising.

Consumer magazines[]

Consumer magazines are aimed at the public and are usually available through retail outlets. They range from general-interest titles such as Time, Esquire and Cosmopolitan, which appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, to highly specialist titles covering particular hobbies, leisure pursuits or other interests. Among the hundreds or thousands of topics covered by specialist magazines are, for example, computer games, fishing, particular marques of automobile, particular kinds of music, and particular political interests.

While most of these magazines are available in the whole of the country in which they are published, some are specific to a local area (for instance, Indy Men's Magazine) and a relatively small number are available internationally - often through localised editions so that, for example, the copy of Maxim bought in the USA does not contain exactly the same articles as the edition on sale in the UK. Some, such as TV Guide are even tailored for local markets within a country. Most make the bulk of their money from advertising, and earn a smaller amount from the purchase price paid by readers; a few are free.

A subset of the consumer magazine is the customer magazine, a publication similar in format and style to a consumer magazine but issued by an organisation such as a club, a retailer or an airline to communicate with its customers. Such magazines are usually free to the reader; the quantity of advertising that they carry varies greatly; and their circulations range from very small to very large - in some countries customer magazines are among the highest-circulation consumer magazines.

Business magazines[]

Many business magazines are available only, or predominantly, on subscription. In some cases these subscriptions are available to any person prepared to pay; in others, free subscriptions are available to readers who meet a set of criteria established by the publisher. This practice, known as controlled circulation, is intended to guarantee to advertisers that the readership is relevant to their needs. Very often the two models, of paid-for subscriptions and controlled circulation, are mixed. Advertising is also an important source of revenue for business magazines.

Other publications[]

Although similar to a magazine in some respects, an academic periodical featuring scholarly articles written in a more specialist register is usually called an "academic journal". Such publications typically carry little or no advertising.

Periodical is the word usually used to describe magazines, journals, newspapers, newsletters, and anything else that is published in regular intervals for an indefinite period of time, but serial is sometimes used, especially in library and information science.

Many weekend newspapers incorporate magazine supplements, such as Parade and LIFE in its most recent incarnation, both in the USA, and the Sunday Times Magazine in the UK.

The Gentleman's Magazine, first published in 1731, is considered to have been the first general-interest magazine. The oldest magazine still in print is The Scots Magazine, which was first published in 1739, though multiple changes in ownership and gaps in publication totaling over 90 years weaken that claim.

The most widely distributed magazine in the world is Awake! (founded in 1919). Its worldwide circulation including all editions comprises 39.2 million copies.

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