Here at Popular Science, we spend a lot of time considering the future. We bring readers what’s new and what’s next, and we’ve been doing so for nearly 144 years. Today you can find us all over: the Web at popsci.com, social media, a mobile app, our tablet edition, books, Periscope, and our redesigned Tumblr.
And yet for as readily as we’ve adopted new storytelling platforms, our core product has always been a monthly print magazine. That’s changing. With our January 2016 issue, we will move from a monthly schedule to a bimonthly one. So instead of publishing 12 regular print issues a year, we will publish six bigger, richer ones.
This is, obviously, a big change—like once every 144 years—so it bears some explanation. Popular Science is first and foremost a science and technology magazine. And while we cover all manner of subjects, one is product development. When making a product, two of the most important questions you can ask are, ‘How are people using my widget, and have I optimized for that case?’ The engineers, entrepreneurs, and designers we cover ask these questions regularly. We thought it only right to ask them ourselves.
The way people use Popular Science has changed.
What we found is that over the past few years, the way people use Popular Science has changed. Where readers once relied on our print magazine as a source of news, they mostly go to our website for that today. That’s why our online and social-media audience continues to grow so rapidly. What readers prefer from our print magazine—or so they’ve told us—is a richer, more considered experience, one filled with unique perspectives, creative illustration, and beautiful photography.
And therein the change in frequency: Rather than produce 12 smaller issues each year, we’ll aim to make six bigger ones that offer the experience our readers want. When you pick up our January/February issue, either in print or on the tablet, you see that all of our sections have grown substantially, with more gadgets, incredible ideas, and amazing DIY projects than ever before. Our feature well has nearly doubled too. You’ll see more original photography, more data visualization, more thought leaders, and more great stories. It’s still Pop Sci—there’s just more of it.
Now let’s talk about digital. By far, the biggest area of growth Popular Science faces is on the Web and in social media. Changing the print frequency will allow us to redeploy resources to seize those opportunities. That will mean more news, but it will also mean dedicated digital features, new video franchises, and the flexibility to tell amazing stories with the coolest new technologies out there. 360-degree video? Buckle up because more is on the way.
When the world changes—as it has more than a few times in nearly a century and a half—you need to change with it. Just like the scientists and engineers in our pages, we need to look objectively at the future and embrace the disruption we so often cover. We need to trade orthodoxies for experimentation and fear for exuberance. And at every step, we need to keep our readers squarely in sight. So please join us for this next chapter. I think you’re going to like what you find.