I spoke with a rep at AHA about the magazine version for US history surveys. Do you remember the name of the publisher?
McGraw-Hill. The book is called "AM GOV," but with a star in the O. See here: http://catalogs.mhhe.com/mhhe/viewProductDetails.do?isbn=0072965479
FWIW, I was repulsed by the idea. I believe that students need to learn to read books, with long-ish paragraphs that develop and sustain arguments. But that's just me, I suppose.
I'm marginally intrigued by it - not enough to ever consider using this book, but enough to perhaps run it by my current students and see what their reaction is. Also enough to wonder why they didn't
solicit commercial ads to subsidize production costs and make it an even more realistic magazine experience. In fact, if they could manage to keep the content as is but drive the cost down to something much closer to newstand mag prices (say 4.95 instead of 49.95), I might even consider adopting it for future semesters instead of abandoning the whole textbook thing altogether (which is my current plan).
Coincidentally, just the other day I dug up my father's American government textbook, also published by McGraw-Hill, from when he took this course back in the late 1960s. It's about 750 pages of black-and-white, small-font text, with very little white space, very occasional unembellished political cartoons and graphs, and a $5.95* price-tag.
*Inflation calculator tells me that's just under $40 today -- less than half the price of the textbook I'm using this semester.