Host Steve Curwood talks with Adam Bly, founder and editor-in-chief of the new glossy SEED, which aims to cover "science couture."
CURWOOD: When the magazine called Seed showed up this month at corner newsstands, vendors weren't quite sure where on the shelves they should display the new glossy. With a feature article about the bush meat trade in Africa, it could go next to National Geographic. Then again, its artsy black and white cover photo of a nude couple, would find good company nestled between Esquire and Vanity Fair. Seed bills itself as science couture, and joining me now is its founder and editor, Adam Bly. Mr. Bly, the cover's a bit unusual for a science magazine, I'd say. What's the message?
BLY: The first thing that we want to convey with the cover of the first issue is people. The magazine is the first science magazine to really represent the people behind science, and that's of utmost importance to us editorially. We're also a lifestyle-oriented magazine and so we're competing with all forms of entertainment, including magazines like Vanity Fair, where we'll be up on the newsstands next to a topless Brad Pitt, and a sort of sexy- looking molecule isn't quite going to do it.
CURWOOD: You call Seed "science couture."
BLY: I do.
CURWOOD: What do you mean by that?
BLY: The science of couture is that we use the word "fashion" in so many different contexts today, not only to describe a dress or a pair of shoes, but we say that something is fashionable--a book can be fashionable, a play can be fashionable, a CD can be fashionable. And so the objective here is to make science fashionable, so to speak. And so, by putting science couture together, we're sort of elevating science to a level it's never been at before. We are presenting it in the context of an integrated lifestyle that appeals to our reader. And so, there's an element here that the designers in the fashion world, or scientists within a traditional science world, are very similar in nature. They're individuals who are clairvoyant and who have a unique appreciation for what it is that surrounds them. And they're able to transfer that information into their craft.
CURWOOD: Well, who's in your target audience?
BLY: Our target audience is comprised of two individuals. The first one is an individual who's working in a traditional science and engineering occupation. They have Nature and Science, which are exceptional academic journals, to provide them with rigorous science news. But what they're looking for is contemplative science. They're looking for in-depth reporting; they're looking for investigative reporting; they're looking for opinion essays; they're looking for a little bit of fun; they're looking for a little bit of fashion. And so it's a scientist who's looking for entertainment from their science magazine.
The other reader is an individual who has an appreciation for science, has a deep passion for science, but who would never pick up a copy of the three popular science magazines on the market because they don't see themselves in that magazine and they feel that it's too narrow; it's too focussed on the influenza virus, the one specific topic on the cover of that issue, as opposed to its implications and its relevance to their lives.
CURWOOD: How polite are you being here, Mr. Bly. You don't use the word "nerd" here, and yet I wonder if it's applicable, or not.
BLY: The magazine is not for nerds. The magazine is very much for the individual who doesn't fit that stereotype of frizzy-haired, pocket calculator adorned, lab-coat wearing geek. This is very much not for that reader. This is for a gregarious individual who cares about the way they look, cares about where they spend their vacation time, goes out for drinks, goes out for dinner, reads different books, goes out to the movies, has eclectic passions--and this is one of them.
CURWOOD: How will you judge Seed to be a success?
BLY: That's a big question. There are two answers to that. One, which is the first and foremost, is that Seed is a company. So, the first answer is, profit. The second answer is our ability to change the face of science and place of science in popular culture. We will be able to assess how we've had an impact, by speaking with the public, by getting a sense of where the public sees science over the course of the next five, ten years. I mean, this is a big project. This is not something we intend to see results, global results, over the course of a couple of months. I think that our first issue has had impact. We've brought people to pick up a science magazine who have never picked up a science magazine before. This is a big project, and I think we're just at the beginning.
CURWOOD: Adam Bly is Seed magazine's founder, president, and editor-in-chief. The premier issue is on the newsstands right now. Good luck with the magazine, Mr. Bly.
BLY: Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure.
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