Making Mymags

by Andrew Losowsky in December 2010
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Stack America‘s final mailing of the year contained a unique publication that you can’t subscribe to, even if you wanted to. That’s because MYMAG is a series of remarkable one-offs, each themed and created by their celebrity guest editor.

So far, Olivia Munn, Steve Aoki, Deepak Chopra, Andrea Rosso, and – subject of our featured magazine – Brett Ratner have all compiled their own magazines, made up of favorite articles from other publications, and some exclusive content of their own.

They are each celebrations of the magazine form, while also giving an unusual insight into the reading habits of leading tastemakers in their fields.

Marcus Greaves, the founder and CEO of MYMAG, tells Stack about the process of making a fresh magazine every single issue, while also reviving great magazine features from the past.

How did MYMAG come about?
About four years ago we decided to take a close look at the changing media landscape and how it was affecting print magazines. The idea came to us that we should try to apply the trends of digital media- personalization, targeted advertising, social media, etc- to the existing magazine format. That’s how MYMAG was born. 

What is the philosophy behind the magazines as a whole?
We want to provide a fresh platform for tastemakers to share meaningful content with their fans in order to give a unique personal insight into what makes them tick. 

How are the magazines distributed?
We do most of the sales via our website. Physical distribution takes place at locations that are specific to that particular tastemaker, for example at Deepak Chopra’s speaking engagements. We also have arrangements with some non-traditional retail outlets and a very select group of magazine newsstands. 

How do you choose the people featured?
For the model to work, we need tastemakers that have a defined audience and existing channels to reach that audience, usually in the form of social networks. We like to work with people that get the MYMAG concept immediately as it’s not worth it to convince someone to do it as the final product won’t be authentic. Our goal now is to cross over into as many different categories as possible. 

How involved are they in each issue?
Extremely – it’s their magazine! Each tastemakers decides on their overall messaging then selects the specific content. They also provide the content from their own archives which is usually photos or writings that their fans will be seeing for the first time. 
How easy is it to get the rights to reprint each piece?
We’ve been very fortunate in that the vast majority of publishers we have approached have loved the concept and jumped on board. It helps that we are approaching them on behalf of a well-known celebrity. 

Do you expect many people to buy every issue?
We print in limited runs as we are not dependent on creating huge hits to be successful. The tastemakers and the fans seem to appreciate that’s it’s a limited and intimate experience. Saying that, if Justin Bieber wants to do a million copies we will definitely take his call!

When are the next ones coming out? Will there be a regular release schedule?
We are looking to change the release schedule for 2011 and go to a more predictable quarterly release. However, that schedule will be within specific content channels so we will definitely be publishing more than four magazines next year. 

Can you tell us who’s next? Or at least give us a hint?
We have athletes, business moguls, singers and at least one very intense (and very charming) Mexican-American actor lined up so far. 

We also asked co-founder Phil Rugile a simple question: what would he include in his own MYMAG?
Cooks Illustrated – Anything on marinating and roasting meat and product reviews.
Latitudes & Attitudes – Any features on sailing in the Pacific
The New Yorker – 16 pages of their best cartoons
Wallpaper – Anything on Modern Urban Architecture & Interior Design
Farrow & Ball Paint & Color in Decoration – Any 16 pages beautifully detailing historic homes and color restoration
Texas Monthly – Any coverage of the Texas political scene – especially GW Bush

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