The Magazinist
Critical Thinking for Publishers
The Publisher's Library
If you've ever wished you had an expert at hand, standing by to consult or guide you through a challenge, here's the answer.  We suspect that many publishing professionals will be surprised by the amount of useful material available from good old fashioned books.  It's well worth the investment to stock your bookshelf lavishly.

By the way, some excellent and still definitive books may be out of print.  But out-of-print doesn't mean hard-to-get.  We recommend Bookfinder.

The Magazine Publishing Industry

Daly, C. et al.
The Magazine Publishing Industry

Allyn and Bacon

Boston, 1997

A very interesting view of magazine publishing.  Useful and explanatory, and virtually certain to tell you something you didn’t know. 


Nourie and Nourie

American Mass Market Magazines

Greenwood Press

Westport, CT, 1990

Papazian, Edward et al. (eds)
Magazine Dimensions

Media Dynamics, Inc.
New York, 2007
A comprehensive, annual compendium of statistics, extremely useful in comparing titles.  Good news: provides a variety of useful key metrics and a convenient opportunity to benchmark your title against others.  Bad news:  Pricey.


Taft, William H.

American Magazines for the 1980s

Hastings House for Communications Arts

New York, 1982

Does this book belong in the history section?  It seems pretty up-to-date to us.  We may be the old-fashioned type, but we think it provides a remarkably detailed look at the whole industry, magazine by magazine.

Veronis, Suhler, Stevenson
The Veronis, Suhler Stevenson Communications Industry Forecast

Veronis, Suhler, Stevenson and American Reference Publishing
New York, 2007
Given Veronis, Suhler's preeminence in media M&A, this annual overview of American mass communications is probably as close to a bible as our industry will get.  It's difficult to imagine a more authoritative look at the media.  Warning: not cheap.


Wolseley, Roland E.

The Changing Magazine:  Trends in Readership and Management

Hastings House

New York, 1973

Magazine Management

Husni, S.
Launch Your Own Magazine

Hamblett House

Nashville, TN, 1998

Painfully lightweight.   


Johnson, S. and Prijatel, P.
The Magazine from Cover to Cover

NTC Publishing Group

Lincolnwood, IL, 1999

A very engaging, very informative look at the craft of magazine publishing, with a broader perspective than some of the other books listed here… especially as regards content. 


Kobak, J.
How to Start a Magazine

M. Evans
New York, 2002
This is the real thing: an outstanding guide from one of the giants of periodical publishing, jammed with useful information.  Ignore the title.  This book is valuable for everyone in the magazine industry, even the most experienced.  There may not be anyone in the world more qualified to discuss the financial dynamics of magazine publishing. 

Love, Barbara (ed.)
The Handbook of Circulation Management
New Canaan, CT, 1980
This collection of articles from Folio: magazine (back in the day) remains a definitive guide to the circulator's craft.  Contributors include many giants of the field... and a surprising amount of content hasn't aged a bit. 

Marino, S.
Business Magazine Publishing
NTC Business Books
Lincolnwood, IL, 1992
If you take the information in this book and add it to what you already know, you'll get dumber. 

Mogel, Leonard
The Magazine (4th Edition)
GATF Press for Folio:
Sewickley, PA, 2000
An extremely informative and up-to-date guide to the business of publishing, including useful focus on the role of new media in today's magazines.  Good for beginners, but valuable for even the most experienced.  Mogel is a successful publisher-entrepreneur and one of the industry's best communicators.

Woodard, C.
Starting and Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine

Nolo Press

Berkeley, CA, 2001

A clear and helpful explanation of publishing, probably more useful to someone starting than someone already in the business.  Like many Nolo Press books, a step by step guide… which is a good way to learn about the processes of periodical management.

Advertising Sales

Berman, Helen
Ad Sales: Winning Secrets of the Magazine Ad Pros
Helen Berman Publishing
Los Angeles, 1996
Copious advice from one of the publishing industry's premier trainers. 

Carnegie, Dale
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Simon and Schuster
New York, 1936
Too corny to warrant inclusion?  You be the judge.  We think every salesperson (or marketer, for that matter) should start here... that Carnegie still provides the best introduction to the craft of selling.


Rowell, George Presbury
Forty Years an Advertising Agent: 1865-1905 
Printers’ Ink
New York, 1906
This insightful and highly entertaining book provides the definitive history of American ad sales from its beginning in the 19th century, through the eyes of its leading practitioner.  Well worth reading if only for a demonstration of the eternal constants of advertising.


Hall, Robert W.
Media Math
NTC Business Books
Lincolnwood, IL, 1991
Essential stuff, sometimes ignored by publishers, rarely ignored by advertisers.  With this book at hand, you'll never search for another formula... and you may find several useful sales tools.  The emergence of new media and new advertising techniques makes the information more useful than ever.


Hudson, Robert V.

Mass Media: A Chronological Encyclopedia

Garland Puiblishing

New York, 1987

Very detailed: a rich reference, covering all broadcast and print media.  The timeline format is especially useful for providing context.


Paneth, Donald
The Encylopedia of American Journalism
Facts on File
New York, 1983
Includes entries on people, publications, and other aspects of American journalism. 

Magazine History

Bleyer, Willard Grosvenor
Main Currents in the History of American Journalism
Houghton Mifflin
Cambridge, MA, 1927
An older view of the subject, but a fascinating, different perspective than modern historians provide.

Bok, Edward
The Americanization of Edward Bok
The Lakeside Press
Chicago, 2000
You might say that Bok was the first modern American magazine editor.  There's a lot to learn about the craft in this fascinating (if self-serving) autobiography.  It was a best-seller in its day.

Burns, Eric
Infamous Scribblers
Public Affairs
New York, 2006
Recommended for anyone who thinks that uncivil political discourse in America is a recent phenomenon.  So entertaining you forget you're reading history.

Chappell, Warren
A Short History of the Printed Word
AA Knopf
New York, 1970
Chappell was a hall-of-fame graphic designer and understood the printer's art thoroughly. This concise history of printing is authoritative and extremely well-written.. 


Emery, Edwin

The Press and America:  An Interpretative History of Journalism (2nd ed.)


Rnglewood Cliffs, NJ, 1962

Emery was one of the greatest modern historians of journalism, and this outstanding book is probably the work for which he’s best known.  Wonderfully comprehensive and simply outstanding.

Fuller, Wayne E.
The American Mail: Enlarger of the Common Life
University of Chicago Press
Chicago, 1972


Garvey, Ellen Gruber
The Adman in the Parlor
Oxford University Press
New York, 1996
A scholarly examination of the emergence of modern media in the late 19th century, with a focus on advertising.

Goodrum, Charles and Dalrymple, Helen

Advertising in America: the First 200 Years
Harry N. Abrams Inc.
New York, 1990
A graphic overview of American advertising.  If only advertising looked so good today!


Hudson, Frederic

Journalism in the United States from 1690 to 1872

Harper & Brothers

New York, 1873

One of the earliest histories of American journalism—probably the first since Thomas in 1810.  The stories are worth the effort it may take to find a copy.  Those were the days… though it’s probably a good thing that keeping a cool head in a duel is no longer an editor’s principal job qualification.

Janello, Amy and Jones, Brennon
The American Magazine

Henry N. Abrams, Inc. for the MPA and ASME
New York, 1991
A coffee table book lavishly illustrated with gorgeous graphics: covers and contents from every era of American magazine publishing


Laird, Pamela Walker
Advertising Progress: American Business and the Rise of Consumer Marketing 
Johns Hopkins University Press
Baltimore, 1998


Lee, James Melvin

History of American Journalism

Houghton Mifflin

Boston, 1917

This was the first book-length history of American journalism published after Hudson (1872) and North (1884).  The author corrected some of the errors of the 19th-century historians, and brought the historical record into the 20th century.  Ground-breaking and very well executed.

Liebling, A. J.
The Press

New York, 1964
Like Sinclair's The Brass Check (infra) Liebling's look at American media proved prescient.  Liebling was one of the New Yorker's finest and most prolific contributors, and this is an insightful examination.

Liebling, A. J.
The Wayward Pressman

New York, 1945
Liebling's first book on mass communications.  Set the stage for The Press (above).  Harder to find, but just as interesting.

Mott, Frank Luther
A History of American Magazines  1741 – 1935 (in five volumes)
D. Appleton and Company
New York, 1930
Beyond a shadow of doubt one of the finest historical analyses ever written on any subject... and utterly definitive on our industry.  Reading Mott is a toothsome feast.  Painstaking research... delightfully well-written

Mott, Frank Luther
American Journalism (Revised Edition)
New York, 1950
Of course, Mott had so much spare time that he could write the definitive text on the history of American journalism, too.

Noel, Mary
Villains Galore: The Heyday of the Popular Story Weekly
New York, 1954
Despite her isn't-this-quaint approach, Noel has written a landmark work... maybe without realizing it. Read this book and you'll never wonder again how TV got to be so dumb.


Norris, James D.
Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865-1920
Greenwood Press
Westport, CT, 1990


North, S.N.D.
History and Present Condition of the Newspaper and Periodical Press of the United States, with a Catalogue of the Publications of the Census Year. 
Supplementary to the Census of 1880
Department of the Interior, Census Office
Washington, DC
(Available for download at
A detailed report from an expert demographer at the beginning of a revolution in American media.  North went on to become head of the Census; this document remains as valuable today as it was 125 years ago.


Ohmann, Richard
Selling Culture: Magazines, Markets, and Class at the Turn of the Century
In wonderful detail, Ohmann examines the social forces that created modern magazine publishing.  A work of wide-ranging genius.


Peterson, Theodore
Magazines in the Twentieth Century
University of Illinois Press
Urbana IL
One of the first books to tackle the business challenges of modern magazine publishing.  Peterson wrote just as TV was putting large circulation general-interest magazines out of business.  Purely coincidence, but his analysis was timed to a sea change in American media.


Pope, Daniel
The Making of Modern Advertising
Basic Books
New York, 1983


Presbrey, Frank
The History and Development of Advertising
City, NY, 1929
Presbrey has been criticized for the occasional inaccuracy, but his book is still charming and informative.

Richardson, Lyon N.
A History of Early American Magazines 1741-1789
Thomas Nelson & Sons
New York, 1931
In-depth examination of American magazines prior to 1790.  Focus on contents.  A landmark, painstaking work on an important period... but it does get a little tedious.


Rowell, George Presbury
Forty Years an Advertising Agent: 1865-1905 
Printers’ Ink
New York, 1906
This insightful and highly entertaining book provides the definitive history of American ad sales from its beginning in the 19th century, through the eyes of its leading practitioner.  Well worth reading if only for a demonstration of the eternal constants of advertising.


Sinclair, Upton
The Brass Check: A Study of American Journalism
University of Illinois Press
Urbana IL and Chicago, 1928 (2003)
Today's media critics are minor-leaguers compared to Sinclair.  It's arguable that this book has never been improved on as an examination of American media.


Smith, David C.
History of Papermaking in the United States
Lockwood Publishing Co.
New York, 1970


Starr, Paul
The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications.
Basic Books
New York, 2004
A valuable and surprisingly sanguine overview of American media.


Tassin, Algernon
The Magazine in America
Dodd, Mead & Co.
New York, 1916
Tassin wrote quite a bit of this odd little book from personal memory.  Selective in its examination, and pale in comparison with Mott... but what wouldn't be?


Tebbel, John
The American Magazine, a Compact History
New York, 1969
 Through his work at the NYU Center for Publishing and his concise and informative histories, Tebbel contributed greatly to several generations of publishing professionals. Great reading.

Tebbel, John
The Compact History of the American Newspaper
Hawthorn Books
New York, 1963
See listing above.


Thomas, Isaiah
The History of Printing in America (Second Edition)
Edited by Marcus A. McCorison
Weathervane Books
New York, 1810 (1970)
Thomas wrote this book toward the end of his rich life.  He was one of the most active Patriot publishers during the Revolution, and maintained a deep interest in examining the origins of the American press.  He founded the American Antiquarian Society and was probably the first historian of American journalism..


Weeks, Horace Lyman
A History of Paper Manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916
Lockwood Trade Journal
New York, 1916
Who would have thought that the history of papermaking could be so fascinating--or that an overview of the subject could remain definitive for almost a century?


Wood, James Playsted
Magazines in the United States (Third Edition)
The Ronald Press Company
New York, 1971

Wroth, Lawrence C.
The Colonial Printer

Dover Publications
Mineola, NY 1938 (1994)
A marvelously well-researched look at the press in 17th and 18th century America.


Zuckerman, Mary Ellen
A History of Popular Women’s Magazines in the United States, 1792-1995
Greenwood Press
Westport, CT, 1998
Interesting and fun.  Zuckerman runs the
Research Society for American Periodicals site, an equally impressive resource.