Celebrating tech – Stuff’s new covers
“The lad-mag era of women-in-bikinis being an essential part of publishing a previously male-focussed tech mag are over,” said editor and publisher Toby Shapshak. “This out-dated publishing model is no longer in sync with the magazine nor the publishing environment. The magazine itself is more than just about gadgets; while our readership has evolved to include a significant percentage of female readers,” he says.
“Interestingly, the only negative feedback we’ve received (apart from the odd typo or from manufacturers whose cell phones aren’t number one in our top 10 list) is about the model on the cover. Really, the only thing that people have ever consistently complained about to me has been the model, so I’m relieved that’s in the past,” Shapshak adds. “My only fear is that South African consumers have become accustomed to seeing a woman on the front cover and will fail to recognise the magazine on the newsstands.”
From our September issue you’ll see that Stuff is packed with all the usual eye-grabbing gadgets, useful apps and clever ways to enhance your lifestyle – including in-depth reviews, our superb Projects section, our authoritative Top 10s and much more.
Nicholas Boerma, Stuff’s managing editor and a senior technology journalist who has edited other major tech magazines, adds: “Cover girls harken back to a time when technology needed supplemental sexiness. The juxtaposition in today’s society is undeniable and having gone through exactly this transition in the past, I am confident that the only impact will be positive”.
The model-free covers have been tested in the United Kingdom, and were very successful. “We trialled model-free covers for three months of this year in selected regions of the UK. The answer was unanimous: people want covers that reflect the content of the magazine, and pictures of a model simply don’t,” said Stuff’s UK editor-in-chief Will Findlater.
As much as technology has changed, so has society. The computer hobbyist of the 1970s has been replaced with everyday people who want to know how tech can make their lives easier, or boost their productivity, Shapshak says.
Shapshak, who has edited the magazine since it was launched in 2007 and took over publishing it in 2012, believes it will help grow the magazine and the brand in an increasingly digital age.
“It’s amazing to see how people identify with the brand and with our honest, witty and irreverent way of reviewing tech and gadgets. Women have consistently told me that it’s problematic for our growing female readership to associate with a bikini-clad cover. Everyone loves tech and we’re hoping this reaches the fullest potential readership.”
Stuff South Africa has grown its digital publishing with a cutting edge online portal as well as a new iPad app. There are still more brand extensions pending allowing Stuff to reach even more people in non-traditional magazine ways.