As Thursday will see the launch of our second printed publication, we thought it apt that our weekly discussion should deal with a subject very much on our minds.
Jeremy Leslie, founder of the fantastic magCulture knows a thing or two about magazines is asking your opinion on an industry in constant flux through the recession. So, simply, which magazines do you deem worthy for praise and which are destined for the chop? Click through to let us know what you think…
I gave a presentation earlier this year at Colophon2009 about the general state of the magazine industry. The main point was that the discussion about digital replacing print was a distraction from the main issue. Instead of worrying about ‘The End of Print’, magazine makers needed to understand they are part of a major industry that has its ups and downs, and that their recent record of ever-upward sales figures was never going to be sustainable. Sure, the internet presents a challenge and is creating problems in specific areas. Newspapers, listings magazines and other information-based publications are natural targets for digital replacements. But technology has always led publishing in new directions, and many magazines are benefiting from the internet.
A more important factor affecting magazine publishing right now is that for the past fifteen years magazine publishers have seen their earnings through copy sales and advertising income zoom upwards. The result is newsstands packed with more magazines than ever before –there are now 20% more titles on sale in the UK than there were in 1993. Not only is the mainstream magazine market saturated, it suffers from duplication. How many celebrity magazines, woman’s weeklies, men’s monthlies do we need? And things aren’t so much better in the independent sector. How many biannual fashion glossies can we deal with?
So now, after the boom, comes the bust. The round of magazines closures we are seeing will continue as the market recalibrates itself, and I believe that, in place of quantity, quality will come to the fore.
There will less magazines, but they will be better magazines. Which is fine by me. My appreciation of magazines is based on their ability to attract, engage and intrigue, not their ability to make a mint for their publisher. This is less ‘The End of Print’, more ‘The End of Print As We Know It’.
But lets not wait for the publishing companies to decide which magazines should survive and which should be closed. Which would you save? And which would you see go?
Jeremy Leslie is a designer and the founder of magCulture; a blog that celebrates magazine and (occasionally) newspaper design. He has written several books about design and regularly contributes to the design press. www.magculture.com
It’s a bit late now, but one magazine i would have saved is ‘The Face’. I also always preferred The Melody Maker to NME, and having picked up a few of the recent NME’s i think i can safely say it needs to go, or change! They have had a change of editor, so perhaps all is not lost, but all i see is lazy reviews of an increasingly insular genre of music, all style over substance.
I think those that will dissapear are the straight technology magazines such as MacFormat, PC Pro etc as there is no information in these magazines that isnt available with a quick google search. However broader nerd magazines liek Wired will survive because of its diverse base and its superior content.
I think art/design magazines will have to work alot harder. Ive stopped buying thinks like Creative Review, apart from the Annual, as everything that is in them I’ve seen on atleast two blogs in the month before.
I think the market will open up alot for more independent magazines that have very specific audiences. The likes of Little White Lies (http://www.littlewhitelies.co.uk) for example.
I really love the direction some of the niche magazines are going with — namely ‘objectifying’ themselves; making them more book-like. Something to hold and admire for its tactile qualities, craftsmanship and the amount of work that went into making them. These are the ones that need more attention and care if they are to succeed — or rather survive, not the glossy crap. I mean the market for such titles is over saturated any way.
What a brilliant question. Vanity Fair, Surface and Wired are the only ones I subscribe to and read cover to cover, so they’re probably the only ones I would personally miss. In terms of bringing titles back from the dead, it would have to be Jack!
As mentioned above, it’s definitely a growing market for specific based independent magazines and zines/books. I’m not sure if there is an audience that still wants a general overview of everything in magazines anymore. We blog/google for that info. The public demand is for focus on specific areas/information. These items also seem to have a higher standard of creative input, both in terms of written content but also in the design craft. People feel more passionately about their productions – and I believe this carries through to the audience.
We have achieved a great deal of positive success with Turps Banana http://turpsbanana.com after a lot of sweat, blood and tears. Again, a very specific publication… about painting, written by painters. With no backers and NO advertising the going has been tough (financially and mentally) but with issue 7 currently in production we are still happily struggling through. Our savior may actually be that with no advertising income to rely on we haven’t had it stripped during the financial downturn – so we keep on going with exactly what we can claw in personally and from subscriptions. Wise? who knows! Working? yes!
More subscribers though… are always very welcome ;)
The New Yorker would be #1 to save. And I’d vote for Mojo as my second choice. As for mags to kill: any extraneous Conde Nast mags: Details, Bon Appetit, and any of the US women’s mags formerly known as the “Seven Sisters”: Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens.
Just keep MagCulture, STACK, MagNation and etc. alive, and those guys will take care of everything. Things will be continuously changing, we cannot stop the way things move, and those guys will keep us up with the news. Nobody – or anything – can live forever. And that’s just fine. All we have to do is to move forwards with the flow. (Although the return of BMX Action would be rad: this mag made me dream a lot when I was a kid).
Not entirely on point, but is there maybe a list of available indie magazines that are geared toward modern design and women, or any suggestions? I’m looking for a good one. I did see Stack, love that idea. And I’m looking through mag nation now. Thanks.
There are at least some titles that are here to stay. I just choose three, so to me it would be the following at the moment: GOOD Magazine for doing good and being so enthusiastic and entertaining with things that really matter, 032c for being exceptional and straight forward, Juxtapoz for the density of great and unique artists.
Cabinet is a great rag and worth saving. Im also a huge fan of RE:UP which takes many cues I think from Grand Royal which was unfortunately far too short lived and who’s return I would most definitely celebrate.
I would save VOGUE france ( specially from 2004-2007 ), Time, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, COLORS ( Toscani times ), Interview and the New Yorker….rest of them I would just use them to go to the loo really
I would like to see Raygun (art directed by David Carson) return. I was too young to get a copy when it was around in the 90s, but it seemed like such a unique publication — each issue with a different style to the last but still with great design integrity.
Jim Bailey’s Drum magazine, animated by the courage and talent of Anthony Sampson, Jurgen Schadeberg, Peter Magubane rocked the loudest for me in a most unlikely time and place, the repressed South Africa of the 50s & 60s. It was a true force of nature. The sheer energy of its content blew away any production or design limitation. For editorial design wit nothing will beat the George Lois’s Esquire, for intellectual curiosity give me Tina Brown’s New Yorker, and with Sunday coffee, the brio and knowingness of Vanity Fair (pre-Gulf War II) was a constant treat.
Today? All my favourite writers, — Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Max Blumenthal, Jeremy Scahill — are doing their best work online. And as an old leftie, while I can laud the surface wizardry of the likes of Grazia, or New York, the smart type of English Elle, a magazine without a committed social conscience (which is to say 95% of the market) is just not worth the trip to the paper mill.
ESQUIRE -definitely. Although, I should specify, the UK version. It’s nice to see that classic cover design is still alive and well. Well worth subscribing to so you can get the covers without all the text. It’s the way God intended it.
Save Cabinet! It’s a wonderful, magazine-as-wunderkammern publication – always packed with wry academic curios that delight. The London Review of Books could not exist any other way, and it is the most enriching reading.
And also, the obvious support for Monocle, S, Fantastic Man and 032c.
Little White Lies – beautifully + lovingly designed (by church of london design) film magazine with relevant reviews/content. Am buying two subscriptions this year, one for my mum and one for my best friend, would be gutted to see it go.
I did also have a subscription to Jack years ago (a pseudo lads mag http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/my-greatest-mistake-james-brown-editor-of-jack-magazine-and-founding-editor-of-loaded-639044.html) and although I am female found it so interesting and nice to look at, even the ladies pages were illustrated nicely, then they collapsed and I got offered a choice of magazines of which I chose Vanity Fair, which was interesting but only because I had just finished reading “How to lose friends and alienate people”, I never renewed my subscription. Sorry Graydon.
On second thought, Bon Appetit and Details are looking really good these days. Especially Bon Appetit: design director Matthew Lenning is doing a brilliant job. I vote to let them live, and let some more undeserving publications go under….