A little over a week ago on 14 June 2009 one of my favorite magazines, The New York Times Magazine, quietly unveiled a new design and format in an effort to cut costs and waste (there were two artist designed covers for the 14 June issue, shown above). Announced in that issue's editor's letter by Gerald Marzorati, I'm surprised how under the radar it went over. It is only the second time they've redesigned the magazine in its 100+ years of existence.
The magazine is now "nine percent smaller—a little off the top, a little off the sides." Marzorati goes on, "...the Great Recession, coming at a time when newspapers and magazines were already struggling to adjust to the Internet age, has put tremendous pressure on print publications to find savings that do not threaten the essential things they offer their readers. Global demand for paper is high; thus the cost of the paper is high; thus using less paper in each issue we produce will save millions of dollars, money we can use to continue to pay for the long-form journalism and ambitious photography fill our pages with each week." To help make up for the loss in space, the publication now uses a new exclusive typeface, Lyon Text, designed by Kai Bernau and Christian Schwartz, because it is unnoticeably more condensed.
This Sunday's issue featuring Rafael Nadal was my second experience with the new magazine and I like it. Art director Arem Duplessis did a great job updating the look in subtle ways including the use of a new contemporary color palette. I love the big photos and graphic treatments that large format magazines afford, but given the times (no pun intended) a reduction in size not only seems appropriate but also an effective way to reduce costs without cutting content or jobs. The smaller size is also easier on public transportation and in bed.
Design at its best can solve problems after all.
Look out for the letters to the editor in response to the new design in the upcoming issue this Sunday, 28 June 2009.