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A return to vintage: the re-launch of Collier’s magazine

Vintage is back in more ways than just fashion. The long-defunct Chicagoan came out of retirement this past February, followed by the re-launch of the prestigious Collier’s Magazine, which debuted at over 16 inches long with a front cover bearing a picture of the American flag.

Breathing new life into a publication that was last published in 1957, JTE Media CEO John Elduff decided to bring Collier’s back because he believes the footprint it left behind is significant. “The name still resonates across the world having reached 3.5 million in the 1950s,” he said. He remembers seeing the magazine at his house as a child, and believes that it will attract other readers from the baby boomer generation (and older). Unlike the political rag it once was, Elduff has redirected the focus to health and wellness. Since drug companies have been cutting back work forces, he believes direct patient information isn’t being disseminated. “We’re not trying to be a liberal publication like Collier’s was in the past, we’re trying to be informative,” he said.

Articles that grace the pages include “Understanding High Cholesterol” and “Florida Medicaid Reform,” while some sections maintain a resemblance to the original Collier’s, featuring poetry, literature and art. One of the calling cards of Collier’s was its big name writers, which included the likes of Upton Sinclair and Ernest Hemingway. And in fact, a portion of an article is dedicated to Hemingway in a story called “Americans I Admire.” Elduff noted he has started to garner some interest from contemporary writers who will show up on pages to come. Although the magazine originally existed in print, namely because the Internet had yet to be born in the 1950s, this new version of the magazine has a comprehensive website, is available on the iPad, and can be followed via Twitter or Facebook.

“Suddenly the magazine industry seems to be seeing a trend of what is old is new again,” said Rebecca Bredholt, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group. “The New Republic, published since 1914, has a new owner, Chris Hughes, who is cofounder of Facebook, acting as the magazine’s publisher and editor in chief. Now Collier’s, established in 1888, is back in print under the guidance of John Elduff, who used to be director of sales at Reed Elsevier and has an extensive background in the medical publishing industry. These two titles have solid roots in print journalism, but their current success will largely depend on how their editorial content is steered and how they plan to make money.”

Although at times it looks as if print may be on its way out,  Collier’s has invested in digital opportunities and shouldn’t be more worse off than any other print magazine. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how this beloved brand is embraced in contemporary times.

— Katrina M. Mendolera

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