The rise of independent magazines: ‘It’s never been easier’

It may seem strange that we are seeing a resurgence in independent magazines in an era where traditional print has never been more unstable. Yet independent publishing, far from dying, is undergoing a renaissance. These are not the A4-sized, glossy, free-DVD-inside commodities that dominate the newsstand. These are as much objects as magazines, collectible and shareable in the best sense of the word.

These are magazines that play with the form, from open binding to multiple paper stocks. Their subject matter is as diverse as their production techniques, from mental health to trans rights, from football to street wear. They are driven by a passion, both for their content, and the printed form, and thanks to technology, they are able to reach audiences around the world.

That’s not to say printing your own magazine is easy – many of the independents never get past the first issue. That’s partly due to the way the magazine publishing industry is set up to favour the big publishers – those with multiple titles, large sales teams and economies of scale. These are the titles that rely on advertising (rather than copy sales) for revenue. They have a relatively cheap cover price (a 12-issue subscription to Vogue UK costs less than £20), and are filled with ads.

For potential publishers, figuring out who your audience is is key. Make your subject too broad (a magazine about football) and you will get lost in the crowd. Make it too niche (a magazine about redheads who support Bohemians) and your audience will be too small. Get it right (a magazine about League of Ireland fan culture) and you just might have a chance. And once you know who your audience is, many other elements will fall into place.

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