Look (American magazine)

Look (American magazine)

"Look" was a bi-weekly, general-interest magazine published in Des Moines, Iowa from 1937 to 1971, with more of an emphasis on photographs than articles. A large-size magazine of 11 by 14 inches, it was generally considered the also-ran to "Life" magazine, which began publication only months earlier and ended in 1972.

Gardner "Mike" Cowles, Jr. (1903–1985), the magazine's co-founder (with his brother John) and first editor, was executive editor of "The Des Moines Register" and "The Des Moines Tribune". When the first issue went on sale in early 1937, it sold 705,000 copies. ["Pictorial Magazine Prints First Issue", "The Washington Post", Jan. 6, 1937, p. 3.] [" [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,770988,00.html Ads to Look] ", "Time", Nov. 8, 1937.]

Although planned to begin with the January 1937 issue, the actual first issue of "Look" to be distributed was the February 1937 issue, numbered as Volume 1, Number 2. It was published monthly for five issues (February-May 1937), then switched to bi-weekly starting with the May 11, 1937 issue. Page numbering on early issue counted the front cover as page one. Early issues, subtitled "Monthly Picture Magazine", carried no advertising. [ [http://2neat.com/magazines/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1_4 "Look" is Born"] ]

The unusual format of the early issues featured layouts of photos with long captions or very short articles. The magazine's backers described it as "an experiment based on the tremendous unfilled demand for extraordinary news and feature pictures." It was aimed at a broader readership than "Life", promising trade papers that "Look" would have "reader interest for yourself, for your wife, for your private secretary, for your office boy." [" [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,757259-1,00.html Look Out] ", "Time", Jan. 11, 1937.]

Circulation peak

Within weeks, more than a million copies were bought of each issue, [Look (advertisement), "The Washington Post", March 31, 1937, p. 15.] and it became a bi-weekly. By 1948 it sold 2.9 million copies per issue. [Look (advertisement), "New York Times", June 8, 1948, p. 16.] Circulation reached 3.7 million in 1954, [" [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,819349,00.html Shake-up at Look] ", "Time", Jan. 11, 1954.] and peaked at 7.75 million in 1969. Its advertising revenue peaked in 1966 at $80 million. ["Cowles Closing Look Magazine After 34 Years", "New York Times", Sept. 17, 1971, p. 1.] Of the leading general interest large-format magazines, "Look" had a circulation second only to "Life" and ahead of "The Saturday Evening Post", which closed in 1969, and "Collier's", which folded in 1956.

"Look" was published under various company names: Look, Inc. (1937–45), Cowles Magazines (1946–65), and Cowles Communications, Inc. (1965–71). Its New York editorial offices were located in the architecturally distinctive 488 Madison Avenue, dubbed the "Look Building."

"Look" ceased publication with its issue of October 19, 1971, the victim of a $5 million loss in revenues in 1970 (with television cutting deeply into its advertising revenues), a slack economy and rising postal rates. Circulation was at 6.5 million when it closed. ["Cowles Closing Look Magazine after 34 Years", "The New York Times", Sept. 17, 1971, page one.]


After the closure, six "Look" employees created a fulfillment business using the computer system newly developed by the magazine's circulation department. ["Good Idea Grows out of Tragedy", "Des Moines Register", Oct. 26, 1997, p. 1G-2G.] The company, CDS Global, is now an international provider of customer relationship management solutions.

Filipacchi Publications brought back "Look", "The Picture Newsmagazine" in February 1979 as a bi-weekly in a slightly smaller size. It lasted only a year.

The Look Magazine Photograph Collection was donated to the Library of Congress and contains approximately five million items. [Library Congress, [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/lookhtml/lookback.html "Look" Collection: Background and Scope] .]

tanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick was a staff photographer for "Look" before starting his feature film career. Of the more than 300 assignments Kubrick did for "Look" from 1946 to 1951, more than 100 are in the Library of Congress collection. Because of a heightened interest in Kubrick's photography, all "Look" jobs with which he was associated have been cataloged with descriptions focusing on the images that were printed. Other related Kubrick material is located at the Museum of the City of New York. [Library Congress, [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/lookhtml/lookback.html Look Collection: Background and Scope] ]

Popular culture citations

*The magazine is mentioned in the 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption" when the narrator states that the warden "even got his picture in "Look" magazine."


Further reading

* Cowles, Gardner. "Mike Looks Back: The Memoirs of Gardner Cowles, Founder of Look Magazine". New York: G. Cowles, 1985.

External links

* [http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm050.html Look Magazine (Memory):] from "American Treasures" of the Library of Congress.
* [http://www.americanmusicpreservation.com/Hoppy.htm Look Magazine with Hopalong Cassidy August 29,1950]

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