How do magazine publication dates work?
July 11, 2009 11:14 PM   Subscribe

Why are magazines always dated in the future?

Why do weekly magazines show up in the mail with a printed date from next week? Why do July issues of magazines show up in June? For weekly magazines, it seems even more useless to do this, but it seems like every single magazine in print does this. What is the point? If your Time magazine shows up on July 7, why is it dated July 14?
posted by BradNelson to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
It's my understanding that the date on the cover represents the date that brick and mortar news stands are expected to pull the previous issue and put out that one.
posted by Netzapper at 11:21 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think people are less likely to buy a magazine that's got a date on the cover that has passed. If the July 14th edition of Time shows up in stores on July 7th, it's got 7 days until it's "old". Probably not a big deal, but as soon as some magazines do it, you'd hate to be the one magazine that didn't, it'd look like your magazine was a week old compared to all your competitors.
posted by bluejayk at 11:28 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

As usual, Cecil Adams is on the case, and pretty much confirms the above.
posted by TedW at 11:34 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Isn't it because they pre-date the covers so the magazines stay on newsstands longer?
posted by motown missile at 11:48 PM on July 11, 2009

There's also the case that some magazines that are published 13 times a year instead of 12 (an issue every four weeks instead of one issue every 31 days), though maybe this just happens in the UK. In which case, you might get the "December" issue right at the beginning of November before issue 13 (which is labeled "Christmas") covers December, before the next issue ("January") goes on sale at the end of December and is on sale through most of the correct month.

Some others put the extra "month" in the middle of the year, so publication dates go something like "July", then "Summer", then "August".
posted by tapeguy at 12:14 AM on July 12, 2009

I think I read in Amiga Format that it was the date for sellers to take the magazine off the shelf.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:38 AM on July 12, 2009

The date is actually a a period, rather than a single date. For weekly publications, read it as "Week ending July 14" or whatever. It's the period that the publication is current - and you don't want to buy it at the end of the it's current period, you want it at the beginning.

So, July magazines are available in June so you'll have them while they're current in July.
Weekly publications current for the Week Ending 14th June are available at the beginning of that week - 7th June.
posted by benzo8 at 1:26 AM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I work in magazine publishing.

Say your monthly magazine reaches newsstands on the 5th of each month. Do you call the issue that comes out on 5th of July the July issue? No, because there's a risk that come 1 August, the July issue will be cleared off the shelf and your magazine won't be on sale for at least five days until the August issue arrives. Dating a month ahead ensures your magazine is on the stands until the next issue comes out. That's why magazines are dated a month ahead.
posted by WPW at 4:55 AM on July 12, 2009

As for the why July issue comes out in June, I hears/read somewhere that for some magazines it's because they have activities or crafts in them and they want the readers to have those things for the entire month.
posted by theichibun at 7:34 AM on July 12, 2009

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