I feel bad for saying it out loud, (even worse on paper) but print is kind of dying. Newspapers are hemmorhaging money like there’s no tomorrow. Propped up by eccentric Russian oligarchs and dropping staff daily, bloggers and vloggers are getting more invites to front row seats and press events than journalists. Romanticism aside, that ain’t no bad thing; the immediacy of online reporting, and blogging’s democratisation of the journalism industry means that more voices can be heard than ever on a plethora of subjects that mainstream media isn’t necessarily reporting.
But, a change is coming. The public still seems to yearn for a perfect matt sheen of a glossy front cover, and are steadily switching off their iPads in favour of the age old printed page. Past years have seen an exponential growth in the niche independent magazine industry; independent subscription service Stack has seen its revenue grow by 78 per cent in the past year.
Head into London shops Magma, Foyles or Wardour News any day of the week and you’ll find an array of glorious, heavy magazines being fondled by hipsters on subjects as specific as feminist cooking. Despite the varying content, the commonality of these magazines is their use of thick, luxurious paper than feels nicer than a freshly washed pillow case. And the fact that they all champion passionate, knowledgeable and interesting new voices.
The brains behind most of these magazines seem to have a history in journalism, but up until this point haven’t been able to find an outlet for their crazy obsession with falconry. People like Marcus Webb of Delayed Gratification (the slow news quarterly), who was previously the International Editor of Time Out, packed it all in to produce something he truly believed in. Delayed Gratification is an exception. Most publications like Offscreen or The Intern, don’t have an office yet: they are basically the products of a lot of labour in the editor’s mum’s house. This means that without any staff, editors ask for submissions from people across the globe; sometimes not even meeting the person who sub-edits for them in the flesh. Makeshift Magazine, about creative problem solving, has a distinctively broad outlook because of its dedication to printing stories from far-flung countries; stories and voices that people like me wouldn’t get to hear from reading magazines written by a team in a London media office who invariably all live in High Street Kensington and share the same music taste, bank balance and nights out.
The amount of work that goes into one issue means that each has been crafted with a discerment and dedicationto long-form think pieces and beautifully considered aesthetics.
Children’s magazine Anorak, for example, has beautiful artwork and cartoons of a quality I wouldn’t mind hanging on my wall. Student-run fashion magazine Pigeons and Peacocks consistently runs editorials which focus on the avant-garde work of cutting-edge teen talent rather than big brands; making each page far more of a delight than Vogue.
While dipping into what is essentially a fan-zine for a small group of diehard hobbyists might be alienating at first, the niche subject matter is made accessible by the pure zeal of the writers which exudes from every page.
Wine magazine Noble Rot tells the tales of people rather than products, and slow-living magazine Kinfolk advocates a calm, settled way of living rather than focusing on any particular commercial commodity; a refreshing relief for those tired of promotional features and tabloid news.
True, the short-print run, rather high pricing (anywhere from £6-20 for each issue) and news-stand elusiveness of the products of this new wave of publishing romanticism might be off-putting. But invest in a copy and you’ll be championing talented, enthusiastic voices from across the globe that would otherwise remain unheard