In spite of naysayers proclaiming the death of magazines year after year, the Colophon International Independent Magazine Biennale thrives on. Proving that in our increasingly digital age online publishing can co-exist with—and perhaps even increase the popularity of—this tangible vehicle for thought, We Make Magazines: Inside the Independents, a new book produced by two of Colophon's curators, highlights and celebrates the best of the world's independent magazines.
CH caught up with Andrew Losowsky, media expert, journalist, author, magazine addict and We Make Magazines editor to discuss new media, the current global economic crisis and why we're not ready to let go of the magazine format just yet.
What's your link to Colophon and what do you think Colophon offers the magazine industry?
I'm one of the curators, along with Mike Koedinger and Jeremy Leslie.
I think that Colophon offers the magazine industry a place of encounters and discussions where the focus isn't purely on making money and raising circulation, but on the joy of making magazines. It helps point to a future where print exists for those publications that make the most of their qualities as digital media increases in number and popularity, print is no longer the default option. Those who want to use it should be bold, brave and exciting with it—or go online with everyone else.
What impact is the crisis making on the magazine industry?
It depends on what kinds of magazine and where [it's published]. The biggest issue facing most magazines is the disappearance of print advertising budgets—and many people are wondering if they'll ever come back.
It is true to say, I think, that independent magazines, which are the focus of the book, have in general been less affected by the crisis than some of the mainstream newsstand titles, for a number of reasons—including because few of them have ever tried to boost circulation figures by offering cut-price subscriptions, one of the biggest financial issues currently facing big titles. Also, independent magazines are usually created with extremely limited resources regardless of the state of the economy; the crisis is just another challenge to have to deal with in the struggles of making a magazine.
What do you believe makes a magazine worth reading?
That it fulfills its mission, whatever that may be. That it combines design and editorial in imaginative ways, that both give the readers what they want and gives them what they don't know yet how to ask for. That it surprises, delights and creates discussion every issue.
What's next for you?
I work on many different projects, as a journalist and a writer. My book of photographs and short stories, "The Doorbells of Florence," just came out and I'm also working on a couple of new book projects. I also write a weblog about magazine-related issues, Magtastic Blogsplosion, and beyond all that, Colophon2011!
Pick up a copy of "We Make Magazines" from Amazon.