Elegantly designed and beautifully printed [in Slovenia] on black matt paper, Jamieson profiles more than 50 independent magazines in a stylish and intelligent fashion, showing covers and spreads and interviewing the creators. The huge range of creativity on display is awesome and stimulating, showing the inexhaustible possibilities inherent in the medium.
Equally valuable is the intro essay which explains that the mainstream newsstand mags may be dead or dying - their circulations and advertising eroded by the on-line world - but a new generation of independent mags have emerged - beautiful, collectable and timeless
Fortunately, since the book's publication, Ruth Jamieson has been pursuing this wave of change with articles in 'Eye on Design' the on-line newsletter of AIGA, the oldest and largest not-for-profit membership organization for design in the United States. As you would expect, their logo and website are exemplary.
In 'Predicting for 2017'' [published December 21st, 2016], she writes:
'Whatever else went down in 2016, it was a strong year for magazines; this will go down in the books as the year independent publishing came of age.'
Amongst the trends she predicted are:
F*ck perfection: who’s sick of overly precious, overly curated minimalist mags, say aye! The next wave of magazines will be fast, cheap, and fun.
No more Mr. Nice Guy: now that all the feel-good lifestyle niches have been filled, we’re overdue for some honest, thought-provoking, and accessible political discussion.
In a great essay 'From Escapism to Activism, the Indie Mag Scene is Woke: How turbulent times are changing the face of publishing' [published March 15th, 2017], she confirms Prediction 2 in spades. It concludes:
'The thing I love about print is that just when you think you’ve got a handle on its role in our lives, it changes. If you’d asked me a year ago I’d have said print magazines were affordable luxury objects that allowed us to switch off. Now, in 2017, reading magazines is more about necessity. These titles drive activism, not escapism. Necessarily ephemeral, it’s a magazine’s job to respond to its moment in time.'
BIG THANKS to Paul Gorman for turning me on to this article. His book on the history of 'The Face' magazine is to be published later this year.
Random Keim / Wired / May 1st 2014.
Why do traditional paper books remain so popular, especially for deep, immersive reading? Are some people simply too stubborn and nostalgic to adapt to new technologies? Perhaps it's because paper books are themselves a highly sophisticated technology, one that's uniquely good at stimulating focus and concentration.
[Thanks to Stephen Alexander in Queensland for tip-off]
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[Left: Signed paperback copy of 'A History of Reading' by Alberto Manguel / The Generalist Archive ]