Esquire’s Granger: ‘Why I’m Still Editing a Magazine’
Esquire editor David Granger loves magazines. But he doesn’t always love them. “F*ck, I’m still editing a magazine,” Granger told the crowd at New York’s Marriott Marquee during the 2007 FOLIO: Show Tuesday.
That realization was a few years ago. Granger, he said, then became obsessed with motivating his staff to push the boundaries of the print medium. “Out of desperation, despair and despondency,” as Granger put it.
The National Magazine Award collector began to tinker with the magazine’s design, redesigning the front-of-the-book and editor’s letter to include user-generated content. Granger also began to insert design elements into the margins of the pages, often without explanation.
“I don’t know how many people noticed, but those who did, they liked it,” Granger said. “It’s an opportunity for delight we weren’t giving people before.”
For its 2007 October issue, Esquire ran an entire novella in its margins, in what Granger dubbed “marginal fiction.”
“It forces you to take fiction – something that’s been called a dead art – seriously,” Granger said. “It redefines the act of reading.”
The most noticeable difference in Esquire’s design has been on its covers, after Granger abandoned the practice of short, concise cover lines in favor of bombarding the cover with a wall of text, the “Vietnam Memorial” approach. “We overwhelmed the cover with type.” The editor said he knew he had hit on something when he saw the cover concept mimicked by Adult Video News, the Vanity Fair of the porno industry.
Where Granger failed, he admitted, was bringing Esquire’s logo to life, deploying it at several celebrity cover shoots. “It didn’t work,” Granger said. The failed project culminated at a recent Benicio Del Toro cover shoot, during which the actor tossed the logo into the Los Angeles River.
It floated away.