Newsletter No. 1, December 2006
Two and a half years ago a father was looking for a good magazine for his young son. Not having much success, he thought longingly of Look and Learn, which he had received as a child. When he next had an hour to spare, he tracked down the original publisher (IPC Media) and asked whether Look and Learn might be for sale. To his surprise, it was and at a manageable price. A new company was, therefore, set up in November 2004 to acquire the rights to the magazine and six others, together with what remained of the archive of artwork. (The father, I probably ought to add, was me.)
Since then, a small team has tracked down much more of the artwork, written a history of Look and Learn, compiled biographies of the major illustrators, digitised the entire magazine and much of the artwork, and created a website and on-line picture library at www.lookandlearn.com. In May this year, the company acquired, again from IPC Media, rights to a number of nursery papers published at the same time as Look and Learn, including Jack and Jill (1954-85) and Playhour (1954-87), each of which, like Look and Learn, sold several hundred thousand copies a week during the 1960s. As a consequence, the company now owns the rights to over half a million illustrations as well as an enormous and brilliant textual archive covering most subjects of perennial interest to children. In short, one of Britain’s smallest publishing firms now owns one of its biggest archives!
In early September this year, we launched www.lookandlearn.com and, at the end of the press release, mentioned that, by way of a farewell to printed media, we were intending to publish, for a limited run of 48 issues, a magazine made up of the best of the original Look and Learn, printed to have the same look and feel as the original. The prospect of a re-launch of Look and Learn generated considerable excitement in the media – with articles on the subject in Metro, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror and other papers, and TV and radio coverage. As a consequence, a large number of people, perhaps including yourself, registered on the website.
Since September, we have been getting everything in place for the re-launch. The editorial and pre-press work for all 48 issues (done between Yorkshire and Delhi) is largely complete; we have chosen a printer (in Wales) which has already completed the printing of the facsimile of the first-ever issue of Look and Learn from 1962 and its accompanying ‘Where and When’ booklet; 100,000 red envelopes have been ordered (from Germany); a subscription bureau is hard at work (in Kent); and a mailing house (in Cheshire) is preparing to send out the first lot of welcome packs.
During the last few weeks we have been e-mailing those who have registered an interest in becoming a subscriber. We have been sending sample copies to schools (particularly history teachers) and libraries, and a wide selection of people who were born in the 1950s and so were children when Look and Learn was originally published. We have placed classified ads in a number of papers and magazines in the hope of catching the eye of some of the 10 million people in the UK who must have encountered Look and Learn when young. And, most notably, The Guardian is giving away 550,000 copies of a special 24-page Christmas preview edition of the best of Look and Learn with the newspaper on Saturday 9 December. An advertisement for this is reproduced here.
While the re-launch has taken up a lot of time, we have not entirely ignored other projects. We have added a lot of nursery art to the picture gallery – including some wonderful Brer Rabbit, Teddy Bear and Dicky and Dolly. We have completed our first monthly children’s art competition and – since all entrants were given a free Look and Learn t-shirt – we now have the support of many walking billboards. We are also working on a number of new projects, including an educational blog, an e-comic, an online picture quiz, online picture shows, and online access to the entire Children’s Newspaper (1919-65).
For the moment, however, the most important thing for us is to make the launch of the best of Look and Learn as big a success as we can. If you have already subscribed, thank you. If you have yet to subscribe, don’t miss the first opportunity in a quarter of a century to take out a subscription to the best of the world’s best-ever children’s magazine!
Finally, thank you all for your interest in Look and Learn – and Happy Christmas!
Laurence Heyworth, Publisher
Look and Learn Magazine Ltd
54 Upper Montagu Street, London W1H 1SL, UK