By Kyle | January 7, 2011
The Atlantic magazine, which I would rank second only to The New Yorker among general-interest magazines*, apparently just turned a profit in the fourth quarter — for the first time in decades. Maybe you could argue that the Atlantic is a unique player in the magazine world, but this is good news for journalism in general, I think. And it makes the magazine’s boyish, princely publisher Justin Smith look pretty good. Making a profit publishing a magazine for smart people who like to read in a wobbly economy? Really freaking impressive.
One small (i.e. huge) quibble: Benjamin Schwarz’s books coverage has been shrinking. The Schwarz-edited back-of-the-book stuff is by far the most essential reading in the magazine, loaded with witty and fresh takes on culture and books by the impossibly well-read Anglophile Schwarz, Christopher Hitchens, my friend Lori Gottlieb, Sandra Tsing Loh and Caitlin Flanagan. In recent issues, the books pages have been emaciated, though. I’ll bet the Atlantic’s readers are more likely to start with the back than the readers of just about any other magazine. How about giving Schwarz some of those profits so he can rebuild the best section?
Does the New York Review of Books count as a magazine? If so, is it general-interest?