The Rise of the Independent Magazine

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What do you mean ‘the rise’? Print is well and truly dead; I read it online. Buried with the dinosaurs – making way for the ever-growing influx of blogs, websites, microblogs, listicles…

Image via Unsplash
Image via Unsplash

In recent years, alongside the growth of social media sites such as Instagram and Tumblr, an influx of independent artisanal travel and lifestyle magazines have come as something of a shock to those who insisted that print was on its way out and digital was very much on its way in.

Whilst magazines might not be dying, big business and large publishing companies might suggest that the magazine is obsolete. So why, if this is the case, has there been a (quite incredible) boom of impeccably laid out magazines; which are successful beyond expectation, despite being published independently from big name publishers? They’re pricey, no doubt; but if these independent magazines truly were on their way out then would we really have a healthy stack of them placed on our coffee tables?

The most intriguing thing about many of these independent publications of late, is their lack of online presence. Sure, you’ll find an Instagram page full of beautiful, simplistic and perfectly shot images of sparse mountain ranges and vast lakes. Online presence is important and it’s quite obvious that this is taken into account – that’s where the majority of companies build a following after all. However, try as hard as you like, but you will struggle to find anything online to do with a large number of these publications; which rivals or fulfils that which each paper publication promises, and quite frankly manages, to do.

It’s somewhat refreshing to come across a type of publication, less interested in boosting its SEO or its online marketing strategies, instead focused on delivering stories which address real life issues, uncovering lost and diverse voices, and addressing topics which more commercial publications seem to avoid. Not only do these publications provide us with an exhilarating experience from the first page to the last; but they seek present a raw depiction of various cultures which one could not experience unless they had personally visited the place.

Take ‘Boat’ magazine, for example; for each issue, the editorial team physically up-roots itself and re-locates to a new city for a few weeks. Cool, right? Their aim is to present stories which would not otherwise be told, with the content being dictated by the locals themselves. This is not journalism as we know it – fictitious and biased (oops, did I say that?). This is a raw depiction of real people and their (very real) lives. The images, therefore, are often gritty and honest yet all the while beautifully shot and awe-inspiring.

There’s nothing quite like being able to physically hold something in your hands. It’s a shame that in recent years, both books and magazines have become so digitised that the satisfaction of closing the last page has come to be replaced by the somewhat less gratifying feeling of scrolling on a web-browser.

But, perhaps we’re on to something here? Whilst scrolling through images on Instagram does satisfy to an extent ones own feelings of wanderlust, there’s nothing quite like seeing a photo printed on thick, beautiful paper, accompanied by carefully selected words. Real words; no # or @ in sight – words spoken by those who live behind these stories. Perhaps, after all, the artisanal magazine really is something of a revelation?

If you want to check out the world of independent magazines, Stack is a fantastic place to start.

If you’re feeling particularly trusting, here are my top 3 recommendations: Boat Magazine / Cereal Magazine / The Travel Almanac. You can thank me later.

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I write things.

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