A magazine is printed once a month or once a week, containing articles and stories. It is halfway between a newspaper, which is meant to last a day, and a book, which is meant to last for years. In Britain and America about eight in ten read magazines. In America more people read magazines than either books or newspapers.
Everything about a magazine is designed to last just long enough till the next issue or number comes out: the paper, the ink, the binding, the cover, even the writing. It is a creature of time.
A magazine cover is made of paper – stronger and thicker than the inside pages, but paper all the same. The binding is often a matter of three well-place staples. The paper is smooth enough and fine enough to print good colour pictures.
The writing too falls in the middle. While some articles do make their way into books after a time, most do not. On the other hand, magazine articles take a much broader view of affairs than those in a newspaper.
For example, where a newspaper might report on the progress of a battle, a magazine article will be about the direction of the war. Or: a news magazine which comes out once a week might might report the battle but then set it against the bigger picture of the war as a whole.
Most magazines are about one subject – the news, cars, fishing, fashion, hair, weddings, computers, film stars and so on. Some are aimed at a certain kind of reader – men, children, single women, housewives, etc.
Some magazines are written for the general public. These used to be much more common, but television has taken their place in most people’s lives: where before one might unwind at the end of the day and catch up on what is going on in the country by reading one of the main weekly magazines of the day, like the Saturday Evening Post, now one watches television instead.
A few are printed in only one city or part of the country, but most are sold nationwide. Some even appear in more than one country, though they may not be the same from country to country. Vogue is like that, while The Economist is the same all over the world.
While you can buy a magazine at the newsstand, you can also subscribe: you pay for a year in advance and then receive it every month or week by post.
Magazines make money not just from the price paid but also by printing advertisements in among the articles. I suspect that this is why magazines use such good paper: it is not so much for the articles as for the ads.
The date printed on the cover of a magazine is not the date when it was printed, but the date it is meant to be sold and read. If the date is not a month or a week but a day, then it is day when the next issue comes out.