Another email full of indie mag goodness is here. This one's packed with stuff, so I'll keep my intro short!
This issue I talked with the editor and designer of 99% Percent Lifestyle's new redesigned issue about how they created it, the co-founding couple who founded Maine The Way via an Instagram account and Kickstarter campaign, and took a look behind the scenes at one of the UK's top online magazine shops, Newsstand. Also, I asked editor of It's Freezing in LA! about how the magazine started, and of course there's a special discount just for Coverage readers as usual.
A recently launched magazine making some waves in the indie world, It's Freezing in LA! was launched by scientists and creatives to investigate climate change.
I asked editor Martha Dillon about how the magazine started...
“We launched It's Freezing in LA! about a year ago, in the Candid Café in London (drinking things with oat milk in to celebrate). Nina Carter, Art and Visual Content Editor, and I (Martha Dillon, Editor) had been to primary school together, and later reunited working on science magazines and illustration at university.
“The link between science and creativity is the essence of the IFLA! team, and celebrated throughout our publication. When we started, we felt that climate change was something that was still to be lifted into a more varied landscape of images and conversations. When it comes to climate—the most complex, politicised and seemingly inaccessible of topics—a range of fresh, diverse, bright ideas is a powerful way to start to untangle the situation we're in. We don't make the environment the footnote to other stories; each issue of IFLA! is a mosaic of images and ideas about how green issues intersect with all disciplines: from theatre to law to politics.
“We are a community of writers, illustrators and editors from a host of different backgrounds using intelligent writing, hand-rendered illustrations and beautiful graphic design to find a fresh voice in a field dominated by angry activism and dry science.
“The design stems from the title of the magazine, which is a subversive nod to a Donald Trump tweet: ‘Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee - I'm in Los Angeles and it's freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!’ We contrast the ignorance of that tweet with visually arresting images of truth: data, infographics, and aerial views of the planet in flux. In issue 1 we used global heat maps, while issue 2 featured a pervasive red smoke, taken from a video of the devastating California Fires in November.
“In the writing, no two topics are the same. Our writers and illustrators have covered topics from witches being blamed for the weather to seas changing colour to a crisis in the stage lighting industry. Climate change penetrates literally every facet of life, and at It's Freezing in LA! we want to understand what that means.”
Behind the scenes at Newsstand and its 4,000 titles
Newsstand is probably the best place to buy magazines in the UK. On top of their brilliant online shop offering thousands of titles to readers, Newsstand is the engine powering fulfilment for a range of magazines that you may be familiar with (Cereal, Lagom, Rakesprogress, Real Review) and even businesses like Stack Magazines.
I've always been impressed with Newsstand's selection and their oh-so-quick delivery (next day if you're in the UK). In this interview, owner David Atkins takes us back to the start of the company, explains how Newsstand has adapted to the rise in independent publishing, and how they can keep their prices low and delivery so fast.
On magazines “A magazine, in my view, should be something that can handle several sittings, to harness that fuzzy feeling when you skip through articles that you can't wait to come back to later on.”
On Newsstand taking on the problem of selling subscriptions and single issues alongside eachother “We felt the subscription market had a little too many strings attached for a large swathe of readers and we also knew that the distribution system was, although quite amazing, still very challenging for those publishers not willing or able to pay to be in large retail chains. As a result it wasn't easy for readers to find magazines outside of the top one or two hundred. That's why we started single issues with first class post, to give customers access to the long tail of UK publishing.”
On Newsstand's fulfilment service for publishers “Generally, we will manage their subscriptions and post out their orders more cheaply than they could themselves, so they can simply concentrate on producing the next issue.”
Maine The Way appeared in late 2017 as a thick magazine on a mission to highlight and explore the state of Maine and its surroundings. I was immediately drawn to the concept and high quality execution through the magazine's successful Kickstarter campaign. The publication subsequently started using Subsail at launch and has sold over 650 subscriptions in just over 18 months. As they set out to create a definitive publication about their region, co-founding couple Cam Held and Christine Reighley decided early on to do some things differently.
I wanted to hear more about the magazine's origins, it's ad-free philosophy and why they print locally. Here's Christine to explain:
1. The magazine is "ad-free"
“Our original plan was to produce an ad-free publication, but after working out our business plan, we felt it was in our long term interest to welcome partners. When we thought about it, we realized that advertising isn’t inherently bad, but being inundated by ads to the point where content becomes diluted or tainted is cause for concern.
“So we decided to flip the traditional model upside down and approach our partnerships from a mutually beneficial position. We are storytellers and our audience is curious, so if we could work with brands that fundamentally supported our mission of quality content and compensation for contributors, we’d be willing to work with them.
“We’ve capped our slots to 10 pages of our 160 page publication. We haven’t filled all those spots yet because we’re committed to finding meaningful partnerships, but it feels good to have found a way to balance our editorial morals and the financial demands of a high quality print publication.”
2. The magazine grew out of an Instagram account
“I started the @mainetheway Instagram account in 2014 with no grand plans for the platform whatsoever. The purpose of the account was to curate beautiful photos from around Maine and feature different photographers of the state. There was a lot of buzz on the platform, with interests for brands or artists to collaborate. “In the fall of 2016, we were on a road trip talking about where our photography careers would take us. Cam came up with the idea to start a print publication and it clicked. We had the platform, the resources, and youth on our side. We spent all of 2017 building content and producing stories then launched with a Kickstarter that fall. Thankfully that was a success and we’ve been able to continue producing Maine the Way. “It feels like a dream that we were able to launch a print publication in the digital age because of our social media presence. Instagram has been a great resource for us; it compliments the print well. Our goal with the publication is to go deeper. We’re not competing with social media, rather our publication is for the moments when you just don’t want to be on your screen. And we never would have been able to get started without the support of our existing online community.”
3. The magazine is printed locally, with “environmentally friendly vegetable-based inks, in a 100% wind-powered facility”
“We’re lucky to have a state of the art printer here in Maine, not to mention one that shares our environmental and ethical values. Before we went to print for the first time, we had no idea what went into it, so we’re lucky that we’re able to visit the print house for each run. The printer is huge and the people that work there are so skilled; we’re in good hands. “When we printed our first issue, there was an hour delay because the blacks weren’t perfect. At first, we didn’t quite understand what that meant, but after seeing the improved version, we were amazed they picked up on that. “It’s also great printing locally because our scale is much smaller than many of the jobs they run, but they pay attention to us. They use Maine the Way as marketing material to show people the quality they’re capable of. It’s a good relationship and we’d never consider printing internationally, even for a third of the price!”
How to redesign and relaunch a magazine; a 99 Percent Lifestyle case study
Last week saw the launch of volume 4 of 99 Percent Lifestyle, a magazine from Birmingham, UK, about creativity and entrepreneurship. For this new issue (after an intro from me last Spring 🤩) editor Conor Rees brought in Birmingham-based designer Luke Tonge, whose bright, playful and type-friendly work you may know from Boat and The Recorder.
“The main thing I have learnt over the past year is that you need other people to help you build your vision.” —Conor Rees
“Introducing new typefaces, a revised grid, a new approach to sections and openers, a new icon, masthead and palette might sound like a total redesign, but we believe that update this feels like a natural evolution, as the magazine itself continues to grow in confidence.” —Luke Tonge
As the magazine enters a new era of updated editorial and design, I thought it would be a good idea to chat with both Conor and Luke about how they tackled the relaunch and redesign.
In the interview, Conor takes us through branding, editorial and business, and Luke explains the design process, typography and the production of the new magazine.
I got an exciting email this week telling me that Indiecon has been confirmed for September.
“Indiecon is a two-day publishing festival in Hamburg, Germany. It brings together the creators of independent magazines, books, art prints and zines. Meet more than 70 micro publishers from all over the world, flip the pages and get your shot of new design, storytelling and distribution ideas for your own practice and pleasure.”