Friday, 11 March 2005

Why Indie Magazines Continue to Rule the Roost

Despite the apocalypse predicted for the print industry for almost a decade now, more often than before new indie magazines are finding their way on to the magazine racks in bookshops across the world - making it difficult to buy into the prediction entirely. Here's why we think indie magazines continue to rule the roost, as it were, despite the unpredictability plaguing the print industry, in general.

1. Content

Most of the indie magazines approach their chosen subject/theme in ways that have rarely been experimented with before, thus making the content fresh and distinctive. The Gentlewoman, an independently published magazine based out of the UK is one such case in point, which celebrates modern women of style and purpose. This magazine is not just a mere catalog of faces and costumes; instead it showcases real women in the real world wearing their personalities as a style statement - offering a fresh and intelligent perspective on fashion. There are independent magazines showcasing an extraordinary range of topics, from travel, food, popular culture, visual communication to cats, dogs, running, surfing, skate boarding, cycling, graffiti et al, out there today. You think of a genre/interest and surely there will be a couple of super creative and competent blokes somewhere on the globe sharing these interests with like-minded people by way of a magazine.

2. Design

Each of these indie magazines bear a very distinct visual identity. With the use of creative layouts, type and designs, these magazines are carving a new future for editorial design as an art form, distinguishing them from the mass of glossies swarming the magazine stalls, each looking like the other. The indie magazines are designed with an objective of being part of your shelves for a long time to come - true collectibles.

3. Advertisement free

Working in small teams, self-funded and with limited circulation these magazines are carving out a new culture, which focuses on building relationships with its readers and not selling products. Most indie publishers are working towards replacing advertising with sponsors allowing the content to remain independent and instead acknowledging the sponsors who supported the print of the issue in an unobtrusive design that blends with the rest of magazine, with infinite grace. Thus ensuring an uninterrupted reading experience. Magazines such as Offscreen and Works That Work are stellar examples of those who have adopted an advert free approach from the very beginning of their print cycle, and very successfully at that.

4. Easier to publish

As the debates rage on about the future of print publishing in light of the digital age that we live in, where everything is at your finger tips (literally), good print continues to thrive. Perhaps the reason is that print and digital are not mutually exclusive after all; in fact, the digital revolution has allowed the publishers of today to push their limits and challenge the norms. Like everything else, print, both as a medium and product, has evolved. The result is that technology has made the necessity of having big budgets to produce good work redundant. Today all you need is talent and passion to produce your work with the use of digital tools available widely. This ease of producing a magazine is giving rise to the number of people who wish to showcase their creative vision using print as their medium of choice.

5. Slow Journalism/ Slow Web

The web today though serves up news real fast, often rates being first above being right. As proponents of 'The Slow Web' and 'Slow Journalism', the indie magazines are giving an opportunity to people to step back from the sensory overload and multiple mayhem of the web and read investigative reporting, and thought-provoking long form features in a distraction-free environment. Delayed Gratification is a quarterly indie magazine published by The Slow Journalism Company and is a very strong case in point. A company that holds itself out, with pride, as being the 'Last to breaking news'.

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