On the Playbill  page the editors wrote: As you know by now PLAYBOY is a tremendously well put-together magazine. And for the past 381 issues, the thing that has held it together, through thick and thin, through Marilyn Monroe and through Venice Kong, had been a humble underappreciated yet respectably old-fashioned staple. What you have in your hands right now is the first spanking-new tough spined staple-free PLAYBOY. So much for the tough spine.

Playboy began and remained saddle stitched for more than thirty years – the standard magazine binding format used by the majority of large circulation consumer magazines around the world. It’s flexible, it’s reader friendly and cheaper than perfect bound magazines, such as National Geographic, Architectural Digest and Vanity Fair and now Playboy – the stiff unbending coffee table books.

First and foremost, Playboy’s identity has always been its centerfolds, so much so that Hefner himself  has famously said at one of the Playmates reunions that without you, I would be a literary magazine. The centerfolds were defined by the young women who occupied the specially printed three page gatefold, inserted and stapled near the naval of the Playmate of that month. And because of the way the magazine was bound, it was easy to find her with your finger tips even with your eyes shut. Open your eyes and find her there with her enticing eyes staring at you and the rest of her laid out bare in all her glory. Not to mention how easy it was to lay it flat when open and feel its soft and smooth bulge and the curvaceous spine. You could fold it, you could bend it, toss and turn while lying down on your sofa and reading thousands of words of its interviews and in-depth articles comfortably without having to keep forcing those pages open.

These kind of decisions are not taken lightly. To change even a layout of a single page in a well established magazine requires very serious considerations. Because more than anything else, even the slightest deviation from the standard format can disorient the loyal readers.

As I am writing this in October 2013, The New Yorker has changed radically its front of the book section Goings On About Town to the point where it’s totally unrecognizable from its classic, albeit stale version. Even though I think that the new design is more contemporary with lot of white spaces, new elegant type face and all, now several weeks later, I still feel lost and disoriented and can’t seem to navigate my way around those pages. But I am sure, I’ll get used to it and even forget the old design. Alas, no such luck with Playboy’s perfect binding even after twenty eight years.

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When I worked for Time, the editors decided after forty years of retaining the same look with which the magazine had debuted back in 1923, time had now come to give it a fresh new look. Change the design, change the typeface. Change the philosophy of the covers. That’s a giant step, especially within Time Inc. family. It was Life that glowed with flashes of colors inside its snappier articles – sort of prelude to the video clips with narrative text. But Time magazine remained black and white for the longest with its mini-newspaper look and the format, wrapped inside its red bordered covers framing some of the most alluring illustrations.  It wasn’t up until in the Seventies that the first photographs began to appear within those red borders. When Time introduced color photos inside its editorial pages, they were sparse and limited to a four or eight page signature printed on higher quality coated paper. Even discounting that the color pages cost more to reproduce and print, that wasn’t why they hung onto its black and white origin. The biggest concern in their hanging onto the original mono color format as long as they did was the shock of switching to the color would give its readers. I am not a hundred percent sure now, but I faintly remember their instituting minor design changes in the late Sixties – I believe with the help of one of the most celebrated and creative designers, Milton Glaser.

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