Print magazines have never needed your support quite like they do now: here’s just a few reasons why they’re really something special.
Sadly, it’s not an unfamiliar tale this year. Many industries and small business have been close to decimated by the impact of the pox that shall not be named. And whilst it all clearly pales in significance next to the horrific loss of so many lives, I fear the world of print magazines is in real danger.
Over the past year, I’ve watched umpteen titles close down. Some have kept their web presence going, and I’ll come to that shortly. But it’s been a year of high profile magazine casualties, which inevitably mask dozens of other small titles that have been unable to continue.
Thus far, 2020 has seen the premature end in the UK of Q magazine, Official Xbox Magazine, Computer Shopper, SciFi Now, Web User, Boxing Monthly, Sweet, Planet Rock, Practical Photography, Mother And Baby, Computer Arts, .net, Lego Friends, Star Wars Galaxy, Retro Cars and a whole lot more. Over 50 magazines in the UK alone have shut up shop.
Each closure has immediate impacts: the job losses, the drying up of freelance work, the growing threat to the ecosystem around print (from distributors through to printers).
But also, there’s the loss to readers. The community that tends to form around a magazine loses something too. I watch the prices on eBay at the moment for back copies of some old gaming magazines, and it strikes me that the interest has come a little too late. That too many magazines are being celebrated after they’ve gone.
I’ve worked across both print and web, and I thoroughly enjoy both. There are things you can do in each that are interesting and different. Print though, even before you get to the tangibility of holding something in your hands that’s not beholden to an active web connection, remains special I’d argue.
There’s a hell of a lot of craft that goes into a print magazine. Some are better at it than others of course, but the mix of design, writing, subbing, editing and ultimately curation is pretty unique to a magazine. Furthermore, a magazine doesn’t have to play by search engine rules, doesn’t have to conform to the structure demanded by Google, Facebook et al to simply get work noticed. There’s a lot more flexibility, and an awful lot more freedom in print writing.
Furthermore, beyond the cover story that lures people in – and front covers in themselves are glorious things, I’d argue – there’s a chance to talk about all sorts of other things once people are interested in. Cover stories tend to be less than 10% of a magazine, and I love exploring the corners of print publications.
Over lockdown, I’ve been buying (and re-buying) back issues of loads of magazines from the past few decades, and exploring them has been a real joy. Very few issues fail to surprise me, be it a sidebar with a fact or story I didn’t know, or a candid interview that you simply couldn’t do in the clickbait era. A cavalcade of ideas, oftentimes put together by people who love what they do against punishing deadlines. Very few people who work on magazines do it to get rich (and those who do are very often disappointed). I’d argue they do so because they know magazines are special.
I obviously have a vested interest here, as a publisher of two independent film magazines myself. But this is far broader. Print magazines need support, and if they don’t get it, they’re simply not going to survive. I keep being told that print will enjoy a vinyl-esque resurgence, and that may well be true. But just keeping going is the current challenge.
In the world of film, that are five regular publications, each of whom pays every person who works on them and supports an ecosystem of their own. Appreciating this is a little self-defeating, but could you perhaps support one of them? I’ve rounded up the latest offers and links here:
Little White Lies annual subscriptions: https://lwlies.imbmsubscriptions.com/
Sight & Sound annual subscriptions: https://sightandsoundsubs.bfi.org.uk/subscribe
Empire annual subscriptions: https://www.greatmagazines.co.uk/empire-magazine
Total Film annual subscriptions: a long link but it’s here
And then if you’re interested in Film Stories magazine, you can find our latest subscription deal – a trial of 3 issues for £4.99 – here.
Please do spread the word about your favourite magazines. Do give them a push. I also want to give a shoutout to independent publications Comic Scene, Strong Words and the assortment of brilliant retro gaming work being done by Fusion Retro. I can’t recommend Wireframe enough if you’re after a slightly different videogame magazine too.
I’m happy that links to your favourite magazines are left in the comments too. Do let us know the magazines you read and enjoy. And do, if you can, spread the word.
Thank you for visiting! If you’d like to support our attempts to make a non-clickbaity movie website:
Buy our Film Stories and Film Stories Junior print magazines here.
Become a Patron here.