“Print is Dead,” they say. But as designers we know nothing can be further from the truth. The reality is how we consume our print has shifted, but it is most definitely not on a ventilator just yet.
It’s true that newspaper empires may be crumbling around us as we shift to getting our news online and books are more easily managed on a digital reader. But if you have a passion for a very specific niche, there is still an audience out there who want as much content as you can give them in a tactile form. Just as in the digital world, there is a subset of the population willing to pay for premium content, minus the ads, within a subscriber model.
Below are 5 independent print magazines worth diving into. In most cases the author also publishes a newsletter that is well worth subscribing to in order to get a taste of their content before fully committing.
Publisher/Editor/Designer Janine Vangool started Uppercase in 2009. The Canadian publication features all manners of craft and makes it a mission to showcase talented creatives from around the globe. Described as a magazine for the creative and curious, the magazine is printed on a lovely thick matte stock and the photography is bright and airy. Given Vangool’s background as a graphic designer, the magazine has beautiful small design touches throughout its pages. Her publications have expanded to include a very collectable set of books that spark the imagination and inspire creativity.
Offscreen is an independent print magazine that self-describes as a publication that “examines how we shape technology and how technology shapes us”. The content is put together very consciously, away from the distraction of cluttered ads and easily digestible content. Its aim is to thoughtfully examine technology and its place within humanity. The publication is published in Melbourne, printed in Berlin and ships worldwide. In its quest to find the kinder side of the internet, it showcases multiple contributors, original illustrations and is produced using recycled paper and clean energy.
I really, really like coffee. So much so that I was instantly enamoured by the coffee-centric Standart magazine, a visually rich production with original illustrations and often highly tactile covers. Each issue comes with a whole bean sample of coffee from a variety of micro roasters around the world. Even the ads in this publication are beautiful. The stories are varied, from interviews to fiction to travel sections; all geared towards coffee and a wider discussion of how to make the industry sustainable for both growers and the planet.
Being an independent magazine can often mean not being beholden to your advertisers and so your magazine content can be as niche as you’d like. One shining example of this is She Shreds, a magazine (and website) that is the world’s only print publication dedicated to women guitarists and bassists. With 20 issues under its belt, the media outlet’s vision is to change the perception of females in the music industry and to celebrate the immense talent they collectively share. The publication also manages to go beyond gender and transcend boundaries of race and more.
For those of us who can’t get enough design in our lives, AIGA produces a magazine where each issue is centred around a theme and the place design fits within that theme. Not surprisingly, with a high production value, guest designers and international contributors, the magazine has been shortlisted and won several awards from Stacks, the award for independent magazine publications.
Struggling to cover expenses while creating valuable, original content remains a challenge to these publishers and likely that problem will never go away. However if they can continue to bring ideas across on the printed page to the right audience willing to pay for those ideas, there may just be some longevity in this medium yet.
So if, like me, you still get a thrill from turning pages and the feel of a freshly cracked spine, you can still revel in the printed medium no matter what your interests may be. If I’ve left something off this list that I absolutely need to hear about, I’d love for you to send over the title to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda has been an independent brand consultant and graphic designer for 15 years, recently specializing in branding and packaging for food & beverage companies. She spent 10 years in Ottawa, where governmental agencies kept me busy but not terribly inspired. Moving to Southwestern Ontario in 2009 presented her with the opportunity to work with small businesses and real people. She has also been a prop stylist on two cookbooks, thereby checking off items on her bucket list.
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