This month we check in with Jeremy Leslie, proprietor of our favourite magazine shop in London and someone who is immersed in the scene from retail to podcasts to conferences.
How is Mag Culture doing at the moment?
We’re doing well! The Covid lockdown was frustrating for all sorts of reasons, but here at the Shop we felt the loss of visitors keenly. One of the benefits of having a public space like a Shop is to be just that— public! We haven’t been able to hold events for 18 months now, and even without events we’d usually expect to meet magazine-makers here on a daily basis.
Thankfully, while closed to customers we saw an increase in online sales that has continued since. The year also gave us time to completely reinvent our website and introduce services like click and collect. And now we’re fully open again and meeting people daily. Hurrah!
We’re about to try a live event here this week – helping The Modernist mark their 40th issue — and we’re adding more sales so we can present more magazines. We’re happy again!
Have you noticed any post-pandemic changes in the magazine market?
Yes—we’ve seen more new magazines and more customers than ever. A whole host of exciting new launches have arrived, and more than ever people are looking for something to take them away from their screens. We love our laptops and phones but it’s also great to end the day with a piece of print. Peace!
Which new magazines have excited you of late?
Three come to mind.
Kindling is a magazine for ‘people with children’, offering a new take on parenting.
It’s really impressive in design and content, and adds a totally new dimension to its parent magazine, Kinfolk. I can see it being the first of a series of spin-offs.
I also love Cheese, a magazine that celebrates that delicious dairy product. Also beautifully designed (and illustrated), it opens with the pertinent question, ‘What is cheese?’
The magazine will divide people just as its subject does, but like all the best indie mags, it uses cheese as starting point for a more general bringing together of travel, reportage, storytelling and culture in the broadest sense.
Thirdly there’s Balcony, a new art magazine that shares conversations between artists, presenting their voices as the primary source.
It’s refreshing to hear artists discuss their work and their processes so matter-of-factly. And again, it’s well designed and produced, but importantly, full of great reading.
What advice have you for any aspiring publishers or content creators who wish to enter magazine fray?
First of all, sign up for our Flatplan masterclass! The next one takes place March 2022. But the key message is always this: develop your own voice and don’t try and second guess your audience. It’s hard work, there’s no point doing a slightly better version of magazine X or an adaptation of magazine Y. Do your own thing your way!
magCulture Live returns in November and the first guests have been announced. Can you tell us about who these are and their significance within the wider magazine context?
The wider context here is that we’ve continued our two annual magCulture Live conferences on Zoom over the lockdown, and we’re simply excited to be holding an in-person version after three virtual editions!
We’ve positioned this year’s day as a celebration – a celebration of real life interactions as well as of great magazines. We already have some great speakers lined up and are bust negotiating more. Keep an eye on the website!
Have you a guilty pleasure (within the magazine sphere)?
Other than a begrudging respect for the headline writers of the celebrity weeklies, I really don’t!
Have you any crystal ball predictions when it comes to the future of magazine publishing?
The continued existence and enjoyment of printed magazines will continue to deepen its roots, confounding the digital evangelists. There are so many reasons for this – the rich engagement with multiple senses, the slow and relaxed nature of uninterrupted interaction, the need to publish only verifiable facts rather than easily edited half truths… in the end, the printed magazine is simply a brilliant piece of technology that will never be completely supplanted. It will also never exist without digital—ironically, the many digital platforms we rely on for so many aspects of our lives today are the making of the new generation of printed magazines.
Mag Culture, 270 St John St, London EC1V 4PE.
Mag Culture Live happens in Conway Hall, London, on Thursday 7th November. Confirmed guest speakers include Kirsten Algera Editor-in-chief, MacGuffin; Dan Crowe, Editor-in-chief, Port and new launch Inque and Harriet Fitch Little, Editor, Kinfolk and Editor-in-chief, Kindling.