BOSTON. Norman Rathkind is what business writers refer to as a “serial entrepreneur,” having started, built and sold a number of publications over the course of a twenty-five year career. “Recreational Running was my first hit,” he says, recalling the magazine that was an immediate success as it hit the market at the precise time the jogging craze swept America in the ’70’s. “I focused on ‘recreational’ running to distinguish it from running from the IRS–or a first wife with a butcher knife in her hand,” alluding to the tax and marital problems that have kept him working longer than he would have liked.
Next came “Walker’s World,” which Rathkind switched to after knee surgery brought an end to his daily 5-mile jog. “We surprised the ‘experts’ by devoting the entire contents of a glossy monthly to an activity that many thought was as simple and fundamental as breathing,” he notes, displaying the contempt for competitors that has made him his share of enemies over the years. “Each issue would focus on some obscure aspect of walking that other rags overlooked, like ‘Left or Right? Which Foot Comes First,’ or ‘Should You Come In Out of the Rain?’”
Now in the twilight of his career, still paying alimony and child support but hobbled by arthritis, Rathkind has a new periodical on the drawing boards, set for launch this spring. “I think ‘Sitting Magazine’ will really be my crowning achievement,” he says as he leans back to test-sit a Barcalounger Cruisemaster he will review for the maiden issue. “Everybody has to sit, everybody likes to sit–there’s a need for a magazine that covers people’s sitting needs and desires.”
Barcalounger: Ride the big boy!
Rathkind has assembled a staff of free-lancers looking for a steady paycheck and health insurance, plus veterans of his prior publications, and is drawing interest from advertisers.
“We looked at a mock-up of the first issue and I was impressed,” says Candi Borglund, director of marketing for Serendipity, a regional chain of home furnishings store. “Articles like ‘Where’s the Remote? Six Tips for Finding the Channel Changer’ and ‘How to Tell if Your Spouse is Dead’ were chock-full of information consumers can use.”
“I say we go with ‘Change Your Life With the Change Behind Your Cushions’ on the cover.”
“I trust Norm’s instincts,” says venture capitalist Trig Nylund of Lincoln, Mass., who has backed Rathkind before. “The nation is aging, and kids spend so much time watching TV and playing video games, that pretty soon more Americans will be sitting down that standing up. Norm will be there with a pillow when they land.”