Magazines are the luxuries of the media world. They offer a treat to provide relaxation and entertainment, a personal indulgence- the media equivalent of a box of chocolates.     The medium of magazines covers a huge range of products with a very broad set of purposes and has a significant overlap with newspapers and comics. The earliest magazines were, in effect, cheap books without hard covers. This category has a wide variety of formats and serves a vast number of audiences. It started in the 1700s as a format to disseminate political opinion and went on to become the main vehicle for the advertising branded goods as they developed in the 1800s. It pioneered the use of photography and graphics and then re-invented itself with the arrival of television.

The term magazine covers mass-market glossy weeklies like People - available at supermarket checkouts, to Cranes Today - a monthly serving the construction industry. Vogue reports on the world’s fashion and lifestyle. The Economist (which confusingly calls itself a newspaper) is a global forum for business and political debate. The parochial village magazine, produced on a photocopier, is the guide to local life. Specialised scientific journals may only be published once a year.

People form groups, based on geography or common interests or shared professional skills. Magazines have developed to help such communities communicate with each other. Because groups are constantly changing, growing and shrinking, magazines reflect this with many being launched and closed each year. More than other media types the magazine business thrives on creative destruction. Publishers constantly launch new titles (and close old ones) as new markets develop. Although a few mass circulation titles still survive, the once huge sellers like Life, Saturday Evening Post and Picture Post were overtaken by television.