IT SNEAKS UP ON YOU, this seductive technology of the 21st Century. And if you’re not careful, it will make an addict of you. It is the answer to all your questions at the tip of your fingers. It puts you face to face with others everywhere, anytime, anywhere you go. It plays with you and it talks back to you. It keeps your diary and your address book and every record and secret you give it. And it was technology, striding atop the career graves of typographers, engravers and photo retouchers, that made special interest magazine publishing possible.
About 28 years ago, before there was an American Bungalow or an Internet, antiques expert David Rago assembled a select choir of authorities, scholars and enthusiasts. Their voices curled around the original Arts and Crafts Movement and lifted it high enough that many heard it for the first time. In Style 1900 magazine, the choir sang the beauty of the artistry and handwork of the period, elegantly enough to inspire a revival of interest in the genuine.
A few years later, on an opposite coast, Pagemaker was setting type for a magazine about bungalows. At a low ebb of interest in small old houses, American Bungalow was about to reintroduce the lowly bungalow to its aristocratic Arts and Crafts roots. Not just the craftsman detail relationship, but a broad revelation of the beauty in art and craftsmanship and spirituality as it explodes across multitudes of interests. Not just a home, but an Arts and Crafts home that speaks eloquently to your outer self while cuddling up with the person inside you.
At first there was resentment between our magazines. But a face-to-face weekend in opposing ten-foot booths at the first Pacific Coast Arts and Crafts Exposition had us knowing each other pretty well, and you can’t resent someone you know pretty well. By the same token, you can’t hold hands when you’re in a footrace. But we liked what they did and I think they admired us, too. Mostly.
It hurt to read the news of Style 1900’s suspension. They were a first-class foil and perfect complement. I’m in the same publishing kitchen and I think that one reason they’re gone is competition. Several years ago the number of Arts and Crafts/bungalow magazines more than doubled. Courtship of readers and advertisers became more intense, shares smaller. But the big wound was inflicted by runaway technology. Vanishing bookstores mean vanishing newsstand sales and less exposure, and all those new bowing heads we’re seeing aren’t gazing at magazine pages. There is a growing population who expect all information to be backlit and “free.”
But an information-bombarded, demographically dissected human being needs refuge. Don’t be surprised if the 24-hour amplified life doesn’t spark a new, different appeal for the bungalow. Craftsman honesty will look good to the children of a Photoshopped world. So will real wood, human artistry and bungalow neighborhoods. I’m
banking on the belief that this new generation will take refuge in simple authenticityand appreciate the substance of a quality magazine.
If they do, and if there is justice in the world, Style 1900 will soon be back on yourside tables. A choir needs to be heard.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Click here to return to Publisher’s Letters