14 Magazines Shaking Up the Publishing Industry, One Reinvention at a Time

Allure, Bon Appétit and Vogue lead Adweek’s list of honorees

It’s been another transformative year for the media universe, as legacy publishers continue to reinvent themselves as multiplatform brands, a reinvigorated newspaper industry one-ups the competition with political scoops and old-fashioned media like audio storytelling suddenly seem new again. Adweek’s annual Publishing Hot List is also going through its own transformation, combining both print (below) and digital outlets for the first time in its 38-year history. This year’s honorees capture the media zeitgeist, from Washington Post publisher and CEO Frederick Ryan, who’s helped shape the legendary newspaper into a digital behemoth with the help of Jeff Bezos, and Allure editor in chief Michelle Lee, who is shaking things up at Condé Nast by redefining the role of the glossy women’s magazine. Read on for 2017’s most noteworthy publications, podcasts and much more.
—Emma Bazilian

Magazine of the Year
In the two years since editor in chief Michelle Lee took the reins, Condé Nast’s beauty book has undergone its own makeover, with covers that celebrate diversity of all types, stories that encourage readers to challenge convention and a sleek new website that isn’t afraid to tackle hot-button topics alongside makeup trends and hair tutorials. Readers are loving the new direction: as of August, Allure’s average monthly cross-platform audience had grown 30 percent YOY to 5.9 million. —Emma Bazilian

Cover of the Year
The New Yorker, “Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley” (March 6, 2017)
In a year in which so many publications have proven how powerful magazine covers can still be, choosing just one was a difficult task. But The New Yorker’s March 6 issue, “Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley,” which reimagines the magazine’s mascot Eustace Tilley as Vladimir Putin and replaces its iconic masthead with Cyrillic type, manages to stand out for its use of subtle humor (and a touch of dread) to comment on Russia’s influence in U.S. politics. The issue was The New Yorker’s biggest newsstand hit since 2012, selling out in a third of all Barnes & Noble stores that week. —E.B.

Hottest Design/Photography
Bon Appétit
With its minimalist covers and youthful art direction, Bon Appétit has managed to capture the “Instagram aesthetic” in print. The dramatically redesigned August issue touting the launch of two “simple” sub-brands (which marked the first time that a Condé Nast publication had featured a new digital vertical on its cover) helped boost that month’s newsstand sales by more than 51 percent YOY. —Sami Main

Hottest Food Magazine
Bon Appétit
Trendy food coverage and simple cover designs helped boost Bon Appétit’s audience 10 percent to 7.3 million readers in 2017, making it the fastest-growing food title. This year, with more than 100 events around the U.S., the brand adjusted its revenue model to better provide its partners with access to Condé Nast’s Food Innovation Group audience, helping attract new advertisers like Crate & Barrel, Folgers and Alfa Romeo. —S.M.

Hottest Reborn Magazine
Bon Appétit
Condé Nast’s 61-year-old brand has made a big play for younger consumers. The magazine introduced a vibrant new design aesthetic, increased its focus on fresh, easy recipes, and drew acclaim for its March “Generation Next” issue, which featured second-generation American chefs. The rejuvenation effort (along with two new sub-brands, Healthyish and Basically) is paying off: between 2016 and 2017, Bon App’s millennial audience grew by 13 percent. —S.M.

Hottest Sports/Automotive Magazine
ESPN The Magazine
With more than 100 million readers across print, desktop and mobile, ESPN The Magazine claims the largest cross-platform audience of any magazine brand by a mile—runner-up People lags by more than 22 million—and boasts 2.1 million paid print subscribers, up nearly 5 percent YOY. Unique sports coverage sheds light on politics, society and culture and continues to drive the conversation across all of ESPN. It’s also banking on a big 2018 as it celebrates its 20th anniversary as well as the 10th edition of its always-popular annual Body Issue. —A.J. Katz

This story first appeared in the Oct. 30, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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