If you meet a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, a salesman, an architect, or even an archeologist, you have a pretty good idea of what it is that they do. Their work isn’t a complete mystery. But a publisher? Bet you know more of what an editor does—say Ruth Reichl (and we in the magazine business all grieve the shuttering of Gourmet magazine) or Anna Wintour (catch the movie The September Issue?) than what a publisher does. Publishers usually are not in the limelight. (Can you name the publisher of Vogue or Esquire or Newsweek?) Their work can’t be seen in the crafting of a sentence, the design of a page, the lighting in a photograph, the production of a spread.
I grew up in the magazine business; my father used to print Hudson Valley magazine. In 1984, I began selling advertising in the Westchester market for Hudson Valley magazine. I’ve been the publisher of this magazine, once called Spotlight, since August 2000. And over the years, we’ve launched two other magazines: Westchester Home and Westchester Weddings. (And there are plans of still another magazine, but that news I’ll save for a time that’s more appropriate.)
So my job? To simplify, it’s to keep the magazine in good financial health, to keep it growing. Yes, we publishers are on the business (money) side of the magazine world; editors and designers are on the creative side. As, no doubt, you know well, this year hasn’t been an especially rosy one for us in the publishing industry; the recession has hit the print media pretty hard. Still, even in such challenging times—and, yes, I’m happy to report that Westchester magazine has weathered the challenge pretty well—we have had some incredibly proud moments. Earlier this year, we were the recipients of an esteemed CRMA (City and Regional Magazine Association) Award, and, this month, we learned that our first DreamHome project (a house we built in partnership with Murphy Brothers) has been awarded the prestigious HOBI (or Home Building Industry) Award for the “Best Spec Home” (in the $3 million to $4 million category). Such awards make me proud—and make my job easier. You see, a winning product is always good for business.
Ralph A. Martinelli