Every time I pass by a magazine store, I see the mag and newspaper racks getting pushed into narrower corners by snacks and drinks (I never knew there were so many flavors of Jerky). The old news shops are beginning to look more like 7-Elevens and there is something eerie about the topological shifts. Mountains of paper are being reduced to molehills. And where once zillions of magazines roamed the earth, now they are becoming evermore extinct. They haven’t entirely disappeared but traditional publishing with ink on paper is on the proverbial precipice of total change.
I try, however, not to be overly nostalgic and maudlin. But whenever I see photos, like the ones below, I remember all those years on Times Square when Hotalings News Service offered a store-full of the world’s best newspapers and magazines. In 1999 the Hotaling family closed the store that opened in 1926, replaced by a kiosk inside the Times Square Visitors Center. After a few years, it left that location, too. There’s still a listing for a Hotalings News Service on W. 52nd Street, but its not the same. Is anything?
These photos, shot in Lucerne, Switzerland, in the 1940s, serve as tributes to the golden era of illustrated magazines. There are still magazines being published that provide a nourishing diet of visual stimuli, but in the days before the popularization of TV, print was the most efficient means to produce, distribute and read these ink-soaked pages.
For more Steven Heller, check out Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility‚ one of the many Heller titles available at MyDesignShop.com.