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The resurgence of Indie magazines

Niche magazines are making a comeback

It’s been long predicted that print magazines are dead. While the value of UK newstrade market was worth a sizeable £773.2 million in 2016, this is a drop of 9.7 per cent year-on- year, with women’s lifestyle and fashion sectors taking the biggest hit. This can be attributed to the evolution of digital media – why would anyone want to wait for the next edition of a magazine when they can view content online 24 hours a day? Coupled with the decline in traditional print advertising due to cheaper online alternatives (down 4 per cent in 2016, reports by The Huffington Post) and overhead costs of print such as distribution, it’s no wonder publishers are looking to digital. InStyle shuttered its print output last year while Shortlist Media is looking to double its digital revenue by 2018 by boosting email, branded content and video. But print fans need not despair because bucking against this trend is a resurgence in niche magazines. This new breed caters to untapped markets, focusing on a specific audience or creative discipline, and exhibiting a unique ethos.

So what has sparked this quiet riot? In part, it is a push-back against the unrelenting immediacy and throwaway nature of online media in favour of more considered, well-crafted long-form editorial. Of course there have always been success stories in the indie publishing sphere: Kinfolk, The Gourmand, Riposte, The Gentlewoman and Cereal to name but a few. What contributes to this segment’s newfound popularity is a growing desire for intelligent stories, beautiful art direction and tactile paper stocks that are worth savouring. Newcomer Cedar Magazine is a prime example. The journal covers lifestyle and travel topics with the common theme of nature running throughout. Their stories encourage the reader to embrace escapism.

Indie magazines have also seen an upturn due to the consumer’s desire for new forms of luxury and exclusivity. Instead of mainstream magazines that churn out mass-friendly content wedded to their advertisers, Indie mags satisfy our appetite for authenticity and true passion for the subject matter with a tangible publication that looks worthy of showing off on our coffee tables. Indies have become a badge of insider honour because they speak to the reader directly and are only available in small print runs. Just look at Accent - a biannual magazine that showcases untold true stories about non- conformists from around the world. The brainchild of Lydia Garnett and Lucy Nurnberg, this is slow journalism at its finest. Similarly, both Thiiird magazine and Niijournal speak to underrepresented youth culture in London. The former, by stylist Rhona Ezuma, shapes its stories around the themes of Mind, Body and Soul, while the latter, by photographer Campbell Addy, seeks to explore cultural issues surround race. And more specific still is The XX’s periodical titled It Could Be Love – an image-led zine in collaboration with photographer Alasdair McLellan that documents the band’s trip to Marfa, Texas.

Digital still has a place within Indie publishing, however. After calling time on their print mag in 2004, The Face is being revived as a digital video-first brand, with the possibility of a print run at a later stage. The brand’s main goal is to produce long-form content about pop culture, utilising YouTube and social media as a means of growth and extended reach. And naturally enough, all indie magazines use social media wisely to spread the word internationally.

Here at 3CC we produce rounded strategies for our clients, incorporating print, digital and social media support. For instance, Dumfries House magazine is a quarterly publication for visitors and patrons of the Scottish estate that speaks to heritage-led regeneration. We commission bespoke photography and full- length features all wrapped up in a classic, elegant printed publication and supported by a fully responsive website and curated Instagram account. After all, who says you can’t have it all?

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