22 November 2014, 12:56
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The History of Yerevan Magazine

Here, for the first time written down, is the unabridged story of Yerevan Magazine, the first high quality entertainment and lifestyle magazine with an Armenian ‘accent’: how it entered an international market, how it evolved, how it ended, and what its fans can expect in the future from ImYerevan.

From an Idea to a Source of Inspiration

Our story begins in 2005, when a vision for an Armenian lifestyle magazine was realized in the form of Yerevan Magazine. Its founder, Gor Nakhapetyan, a young and progressive Russian-Armenian entrepreneur from Moscow, envisioned a lifestyle and entertainment publication that would only differ from other high quality ones in Moscow in only one respect: that it had an ‘accent,’ and that accent was Armenian. The demand for the magazine reflected Russia’s enormous Armenian diaspora, but by all other standards, Nakhapetyan wished for the publication to adhere to international standards of design and excellence. 

His overarching goal was to create a source of communication for Armenians all over the world in a time that was much less connected than today. All this was done under an ideology he termed “Armenia 2020,” a vision for a future in which Armenia is a competitive figure in the global marketplace on nearly every dimension.

The magazine was an immediate success in Moscow. A discernable brand was formed, and in a 2013 interview, Nakhapetyan recalls, "It was finally apparent we had made it when somebody coined the expression, There are two good things in Armenia: cognac and Yerevan magazine.Realizing the global presence of the Armenian community, Yerevan magazine’s founders quickly saw potential to expand to a more international market.  

Entering an English-Speaking Era

Left: The first cover of Yerevan magazine in Russian, released May 2005; Right: The first cover of the English edition, released in December 2005. The first English issue contained no original content, only the best articles of that year’s Russian version translated into English.Left: The first cover of Yerevan magazine in Russian, released May 2005; Right: The first cover of the English edition, released in December 2005. The first English issue contained no original content, only the best articles of that year’s Russian version translated into English.

By the end of 2005, an English version appeared as a pilot that compiled and translated the year’s most popular articles from the Russian version. It was a success. A market was identified, finances were acquired, and finally, in 2008, Nakhapetyan and his partners invested seriously in the idea. An editorial office was opened in Los Angeles.

From that moment forward, the English version took on quite a life of its own. It differed significantly in content from its Russian counterpart, reflecting the differences in its audience. It was not only printing in a different language, but it hired different writers, selected different topics, and was published nearly half as frequently. Nevertheless, its look, its brand, and its reputation remained constant – no small feat in the Armenian community. It became a beacon of stability for Armenians all across the globe.

By the time the magazine halted its publication, it was clear that the Russian version of the magazine (left) and the English version (right) had acquired a great deal of mutual exclusivity. The brand unity and sleek design, however, was a constant until printing was terminated in 2013. By the time the magazine halted its publication, it was clear that the Russian version of the magazine (left) and the English version (right) had acquired a great deal of mutual exclusivity. The brand unity and sleek design, however, was a constant until printing was terminated in 2013. 

The Armenian Edition

In 2011, founders went a step further and created an Armenian language counterpart of Yerevan magazine that was printed and distributed, free of charge, in cafés and restaurants all over the publication’s namesake. Like the English version, it differed from the original Russian publication in content, but more drastically. While the English and Russian versions had a similar brand identity, Nakhapetyan realized that the Armenian one should have its own unique flavor. Its design and focus highlighted developments within Armenia and the in-country community, and its covers reflected a home-grown, close-to-your-roots quality, in comparison to its sleek and savvy English/Russian counterparts.

Samples of the Armenian version of Yerevan magazine (Left: June 2013; Right: May 2013).Samples of the Armenian version of Yerevan magazine (Left: June 2013; Right: May 2013).

Today, while the Russian and English versions of the magazine are no longer in print, the Armenian version continues as a beacon of modernity and stability in a developing society like Armenia's.  

A Shock to Many

On July 16, 2013, after 30 English publications and 88 Russian ones, printing was halted for both versions of the magazine. In the face of a shifting media landscape and tighter budgets, maintaining printing was no longer an economically profitable endeavor. When it was announced on the English facebook page that printing would be halted, the fanbase responded with resounding cries of distress, as well as a hope for some kind of continuation.

 

Many saw that the mediascape was shifting towards digital content and suggested an online continuation:

Despite closing the door on printing, Nakhapetyan had predicted this reaction and had no intention of abandoning the magazine’s legacy. He realized that it had become much more than a publication and knew that enthusiastic and loyal audiences abroad would hope for a continuation. These were the circumstances under which ImYerevan.com was born.

On February 1, 2013, 6 months before printing for Yerevan magazine was officially halted, Nakhapetyan worked with Yerevan Productions (a Yerevan based media company created in 2007) to create a interactive and visually appealing server that could store all of the magazine’s past issues for users to access, completely free of charge. 

ImYerevan’s Impact: “Yerevan 2.0”

While ImYerevan was initially founded as a free online archive for the printed magazine, Nakhapetyan also hoped the website could continue another component that had become an important part of the magazine’s image. Over the years, it had become firmly woven into the fabric of the Armenian community so that by its finish, it had sponsored over 20 benevolent projects far outside of the scope of an ordinary magazine. For example, in an effort to reinvigorate Yerevan’s landscape, the magazine raised over $100,000 from 2005 until now to renovate various national monuments in the city. 

Today, ImYerevan.com builds off of this component of the magazine under the ideology, “Yerevan 2.0,” which focuses more concretely on developing Yerevan as a community and global competitor. Our site has already made a large impact, with at least one project taking place every month. Our projects range in scale, from large urban festivals in the city to smaller scale photography contests and educational initiatives. 

Still Crazy, After All These Years 

Hoping to keep up with the huge fan base that Yerevan magazine accrued in both Russia and the United States, ImYerevan was founded with one site devoted to each language: Armenian, Russian, and English. Because the Yerevan Production staff is based entirely out of Yerevan, it was most urgent to strongly develop and establish the Armenian and Russian components of the website first. Today, the Russian and Armenian versions enjoy collectively 75,000+ followers on social media. The English version, however, has been until now left somewhat neglected and only recently have the interests of our English audiences been revisited with renewed vigor. We saw your comments on the Facebook website, we felt your pain, and we have an answer. We are picking up where the magazine left off.

Today, our staff is based entirely out of Yerevan, Armenia. In this sense, we are a genuine reflection of Yerevan, as both a capital and a center of urban culture, in ways that even the printed magazine simply could not be. Our staff consists of some of the most creative and forward-thinking individuals and we want to start rebuilding the legacy of Yerevan magazine in a new, digital setting. Basically, you have a lot to look forward to from us, and we’re looking to the future with optimism!

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