The magazine industry is undergoing a seismic shift. Its about time. Innovation in the mainstream magazine sector has stalled and the big publishers are focussed on cost control. We need to become hungry again.
When the magazine pioneers discovered the desire for their publications they went to extraordinary lengths to meet it. They created a system that allowed anyone, anywhere in the country to get hold of a copy of their magazine or newspaper — on the same day, in the same hour. They employed legions of delivery men, armies of paper boys and they created a whole new business: the newsagent.
That same system has existed, unchanged, for well over 150 years.
Meanwhile the magazine and retail markets have changed beyond recognition. Supermarkets and multiples now play the tune — they decide on which magazines they stock (the big, vanilla ones) how much they charge for the privilege of being stocked (a lot) and when they pay the publisher (not anytime soon). We, as publishers, work on sale or return but we never get any returns.
What was once a miracle of logistics is now a barrier to innovation.
The seismic shift is not happening at the top of the magazine chain, its happening at the bottom. The independent publishing scene is thriving, it is where the innovation and ideas are happening. Crowdfunding platforms are breaking down the barriers to get into print.
We aren’t the penny press anymore. We make make beautifully handcrafted publications, printed on high quality paper, using great ink and we don’t rush them. We may only craft two a year, but they will be two really good ones, and we want to charge a fair price.
People aren’t buying magazines anymore. That’s what we hear (and secretly some even believe it). Go to your average supermarket or newsstand and you can understand why. If you don’t want a magazine about celebrity but you want a challenging read, or you want to learn something, or be inspired, or just to buy something beautiful, then the shelves may as well be empty. Can we blame readers for deciding not to spend their cash on the newsstand? Yet many of them will spend the best part of a fiver on that same shopping trip on a cup of coffee.
Our model: higher cover prices, high production values, challenging subject matter and variable frequency doesn’t lend itself to the majority of magazine sellers. A few independents in London (and other cities) specialise in independent magazines and I am sure they are doing well. However, most potential readers don’t even know that there is an alternative to the titles they see (and don’t buy) in their high street or local shop.
This is where we come in. The beauty of a newsstand is that people can browse, they can act on impulse and they can try new things. We are creating a new type of newsstand. It will exist in real life and it will also exist digitally. Most importantly it will be there to support and encourage the independent publishing world.
We will offer a range of print magazines, all independently published, and covering a variety of subjects and genres. We will take a fair cut but we’ll cover posting it out to the reader.
We want magazines to thrive. The only way to make that happen is for publishers and distributors to work together. We all benefit from stimulating the market and putting independent magazines on the wider public’s radar, so we will ask our publishers to amplify our message through their own social media channels and through their printed pages. We want independent publsihers to sell copies wherever they can: through their own websites, through newsagents and anywhere else they like. Our hope is that by pooling choice we can encourage your readers to buy other titles too.
United we stand, divided we fail.
Outside of selling the best independent magazines, we will be actively promoting the whole sector through our own social media channels, through lectures, PR and events. We will be posting our thoughts on the market, new ideas and innovations. We’ll host reader (and publisher) events and do everything we can to usher in a new dawn for the magazine world we love.
Come by our website, PicsAndInk.com, and sign up for updates. You won’t need to wait long.