‘What can print do that digital cannot?’

The state of magazines by the industry’s editors.

Portfolio by Juergen Teller
Concept by Dovile Drizyte

Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine

The state of magazines by the industry’s editors.

Emanuele Farneti,
editor in chief, Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue

When I am asked to talk about the relationship between print and digital, I mention an anecdote that doesn’t have to do with Vogue Italia, but another magazine published by Condé Nast Italia, Wired Italia. A few years ago, the magazine was at a crossroads and had to decide whether to keep running the print version, which was not profitable, or to close it and continue only with the digital version and events, which were remarkably lucrative.

Upon reflection, we came to the conclusion that, without the paper version, the site would be just another site in the industry, and the Wired Next Fest would be just another festival dedicated to innovation. It was the paper version that provided the relevance and made the other two business areas distinctive. So the print version was reworked and wasn’t closed (today, it is a high-quality quarterly that has won many international awards), and, thanks to this decision, the brand today is seeing double-digit growth.

The transition from print to digital, or better yet, finding the right balance, is a complex issue and there aren’t formulas that work under every circumstance.

As for Vogue Italia, thanks to the path laid out by Franca Sozzani during her tenure, we are in an excellent position. For years, the paper version has been the strong base for a complex system that includes a highly successful digital component, events and partnerships, along with platforms like Vogue Talents and Photo Vogue. Without this base, the system could not stand on its own, while the system itself brings back energy to the base as a part of a virtuous cycle.

When I’m asked why I think paper has a future, I don’t talk about the wonderful tactile sensation (which certainly does count), nor do I talk about how neuroscience has shown that when one reads and looks at paper, there is a more lasting impact compared to scrolling on a screen. What I do speak about is the ability and the need to choose. To have a point of view, a voice in a physical environment with space that is limited, which forces us to choose what is and what isn’t relevant, what really matters. In the end, being able to and knowing how to choose is freedom, for both those who write and those who read.

Penny Martin,
editor in chief, The Gentlewoman

Print can provide a rare source of pleasure that is completely uninterrupted by work.

Angelica Cheung,
editor-in-chief, Vogue China

Digital content is like beer, Coke and sparkling wine, which you drink on everyday occasions or at cocktails with a big crowd. You can have these parties often. But when you sit down for a formal and exclusive dinner with a select group of people, you want a glass of fine wine that you savour slowly. And that glass of fine wine is the print magazine.

Laura Brown,
editor in chief, InStyle

Print is your voice, print is your billboard. My attitude is: do you want to scroll mindlessly or do you want to be stopped by an image, a concept, or a plain old great read that arrests you, that makes you think, nay, dream? I know I do. And I live in the world: I got my job at InStyle not just because I can put a magazine together, but because of my presence on social media. Every editorial idea we have needs to have at least one adjunct in digital, be it an original video, extra content, or an
exclusive, clever social post. And I think that’s exciting, to be able to live out your ideas in 360o. At InStyle, our print product drives our greatest digital and social successes. So what is there to be afraid of?

Because there is a lot of fear in magazines right now, and that is squashing our most important thing: voice. If you’re clinging to the revenue from the 20-page annual buy from an offensive designer or you ‘have to’ photograph fur, you’re already losing. We don’t work for our advertisers. They should need us as much as we need them. As I often say to my team, ‘Business is like dating. Don’t keep calling, and if you have a bad time, don’t go back.’ Either people are engaged with
InStyle, and see how it’s good for their business or they’re not. Me going to sweet-talk a luxury executive for eight minutes at a cocktail party isn’t going to change that. It’s 2019 – not 1958.

Lastly, look at the digital powers that have launched a print magazine to cement themselves: Net-a-Porter with Porter, Business of Fashion with a biannual print issue. It makes me laugh that some of these platforms run clickbait about the death of print while at the same time printing a magazine.

Finally, if I had a dollar for every PR pitch that ended with, ‘Online is great, but we really want print.’

Hey, so do I.

‘If I had a dollar for every PR pitch that endedwith: Online is great, but we really want print.’

Laura Brown, editor in chief, InStyle

Nina Garcia,
editor in chief, Elle US

I have always been drawn to the curation that goes into creating a print product. I like to use a fashion analogy: digital is ready-to-wear; print is couture. They speak the same language and share the same DNA. Both are essential and complement one another, but a magazine requires a significant investment of attention and care on the part of the editors and the readers. Print is permanent and made to endure. I always say that a journalist with a print background has had amazing training as they have dived deep into the editing, researching, and fact-checking of a story. There is no ‘delete’ button; once the printed word is written, it lives on forever. It is a way to preserve our history. In an era of fake news, FOMO, an oversaturation of images, videos and stories, we know that real journalism always wins. The same goes for the quality and appreciation of a fashion editorial. The calibre of its photography and curated point of view will always inspire and transport us. It provides an unmatched sense of discovery, such as when you encounter an article you otherwise would not have pursued. Print is unchanging – it’s meant to be enjoyed at a different pace. The digital sphere is hyperconnected and inexhaustible; the print experience is intimate, reflective, and focused. Print is connected to a new luxury – the luxury of time.

Stephen Gan,
editor in chief, V Magazine and VMAN

It is the responsibility of magazine editors to expand boundaries. In many cases, this means pushing them beyond the traditional paradigm of the printed page. Lately, this has meant experiential expansions on social media and online. However, in the world of V, we’ve always found it thrilling to design tangible sensory experiences for the print publication.

To bring V’s ‘Transformation Issue’ to life, it incorporated lenticular material on its cover, allowing Penélope Cruz to blink at readers. Similarly, Lady Gaga’s first V cover celebrated the singer’s signature oversized sunnies with pull-and-peel Marc Jacobs glasses. Sure, there could be an app that could slap sunglasses on Lady Gaga’s face, but there’s nothing like being able to actually peel them off an issue. These moments offer something rare to the reader: they allow the audience to tangibly interact and engage with the content. The experience is literally lifted off the pages and into the hands of the consumer. The tactile aspect of each of
these projects would not have come to life if we had explored them on an exclusively digital level.

Jefferson Hack,
editorial director, Dazed and AnOther

‘For the Love of Print’

I remember many magazines – like markers – accompanying me through adolescence. The holographic cover of National Geographic, the ‘Special Future Issue’ of Interview with Tracey Ullman on the cover, and my guilty pleasure, MAD magazine, with its interactive fold-in back cover. But it wasn’t until I got to London, aged 17, and started the student magazine Untitled with Rankin and Ian C. Taylor that I began making the pilgrimage to Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus to flick through the pages of The Face, Maximum Rocknroll, Ray Gun and Mondo 2000. It was the early 1990s, and that was the place to find the best imported magazines. The
first drop of the new issues of Interview and Vogue Italia were an unmissable event for fashion and design students alike. It was a special kind of club.

I didn’t realize at the time, but the reason I think I was so drawn to Interview was its graphic design: the paper was matt with a rough texture and smelled of deep tones of wood and ink. It was unusually large; I connected with it on a sensorial level. Q&A interviews were also my favourite format; they just weren’t the formula du jour in the self-conscious dialectic of NME. I also loved the photography, the mix of extraordinary portraiture – the subjects becoming simultaneously irreverent and iconic. The covers that stand out are Laura Dern – a Stetson completely obscuring her face – as she crouches down to the ground, her name as a cover line printed upside down on the floor. A repentant looking Mike Tyson, his hands in prayer, wearing a towel as a nun’s habit and a comic-looking John Lydon tugging his ears to the edges of the page, with cover lines radiating from his brain. There was humour, these were larger-than-life characters shot by some of the greatest image-makers like Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber.

I would later discover that these issues were the result of an explosive relationship between Ingrid Sischy and Tibor Kalman. For those who don’t know her, Sischy was the incomparable editor who put Comme des Garçons on the cover of Artforum and who radically changed the art-fashion dialogue. A book of her essays, Nothing is Lost, was published recently, and it is a brilliant compendium. Tibor Kalman’s contribution to magazine culture is less well documented. In the early days of Dazed & Confused, he encouraged and inspired me. Tibor headed up an influential graphic design agency, M&Co, and after a brief tenure at Interview became
the driving force behind COLORS. Funded by Benetton (at a time when brands weren’t invested in making editorial statements), COLORS was another revolutionary magazine where Tibor continued to break new ground. The Queen was Photoshopped to look ethnically black; a double-headed cow and an oil-slicked bird appeared in the ecology issue. COLORS looked at AIDS, race and religion. Tibor taught me that social consciousness and entertainment could be mixed.

‘This Is Not A Magazine’ I wrote on the cover of the first issue of Dazed & Confused. I understood early on, drawing on personal experience and my own position as a fan, that the best magazines are about physical communities as much as they are about communities of thought. The purpose of Dazed & Confused was to challenge conventional stereotypes and hierarchies with an outsider agenda that welcomed otherness; it allowed a new generation of talent to define its own reality.

‘AnOther Magazine: another point of intervention, another set of discoveries, another way of looking at things, another 30 minutes of your time, another kiss, another curious idea that just came to mind, another reason to get out of bed in the morning, another sense of déjà vu, another chance to do it all over again next season. Another damn fine day.’ So opened my editor’s letter for the first issue of AnOther Magazine in 2001. If Dazed was about accelerating culture, then AnOth-
er was about slowing it down, zooming in. It was a hybrid between a magazine and book. It felt like such a risk at the time, like all these things do, but its success shows that slowing down was exactly what its audience wanted at least when it came to fashion and culture in print.

Dazed, AnOther and Another Man have continued to thrive because of the power, impact and newsworthiness of their visual and editorial agendas. Their issue launches trigger mass commenting and sharing on social media as well as press coverage in newspapers and online. The images and ideas from print kickstart trends, inspire memes and often fuel critical debate that leads to a reorientation of public and popular opinion on many social and cultural issues.

Niche is the new currency, and being meaningful within a niche, or several niches simultaneously, is critical for media and brands alike. Alessandro Michele, Riccardo Tisci, J.W. Anderson and Kim Jones are examples of a new generation of designers who inherently understand that there is no mainstream anymore, just multiple concurrent streams.

Magazines like Re-Edition, 032c, Brick, Candy, Buffalo Zine, Kaleidoscope, gal-dem and, of course, System, all share this luxury niche sensibility. Each issue is anticipated and celebrated by a specific community, by fans. It is about a relative scarcity, coupled with a highly focused editorial point of view – as opposed to scale and reach – that creates the ‘must-have’ effect for print. Idea Books has defined that mindset with its ALLCAPS bulletins announcing new issue drops. I recently ordered the 25th anniversary double issue of Self Service and regularly hit the ‘I Want That’ button for one-off print magazines and books on Idea’s Insta-shop. It’s deliciously addictive.

For a new generation of consumers who have grown up with digital media, print is, by its very nature, limited. The fans who e-mail Dazed Media every week for a copy of the Harry Styles issue of AnOther Man – now three years since it was published – are a testament to that. With 50 pages of images of Styles, conceived by Alister Mackie and shot by Ryan McGinley, Alasdair McLellan and Willy Vanderperre, the issue acts as the ultimate fan magazine. It costs an astounding £350 on eBay, a magazine resale value that eclipses even George Lois’s seminal 1968 cover of Muhammad Ali for Esquire, which is a mere £190 in comparison.

Dazed Media’s social channels are powerful but smaller print publishers, which make up for a lack of followers in counter-cultural currency. The power of the audience lies not in its size but its level of investment in a brand’s point of view. I read somewhere that generational change happens when the industry is busy discussing disruption and, yes, businesses will crumble, media empires will fall, those that were heralded as the new avatars of publishing will disappear into the shadows. But those with a knack for understanding their audience will always make print work. Physically connecting – and digitally connecting – print audiences as if part of an exclusive club is key. From the very beginning of Dazed & Confused, we hosted parties, staged exhibitions, created happenings that were about community and bringing the magazine’s ideas and the culture to life; we pioneered the idea that magazines could be participatory and open, and our digital channels have been essential in helping us continually redefine our relationship with our audience.

So what makes the physicality of a print magazine – especially a print magazine where photography, strong graphic design and high quality, long-form journalism are prized – so enduring, so appealing, so necessary today? If you’ve ever watched the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, you will know. For Vreeland, there needed to be highs and lows within the unfolding linear narrative of a publication. Without this inherent ‘drama’, there is no emotional connection. ‘We are a physical people,’ she says, and the best fashion stories, magazine layouts, or ‘flow’ as we call it, all have a direct connection to our internal rhythm and our natural sense of our own physicality – entirely unlike the hyperspeed of digital’s sensorial overload, where an emotional sensibility is forsaken for speed.

The image in today’s digital media is atomized. There is also, as a result, no reference. Is it new, old, faked, authentic? Who is the author? Who contributed to the creation of the image? Are there more associated images that make a whole story? On social media there is no genuine way of knowing. The point of the image then is not its authorship, its affect, but purely its repurposing. On Instagram, the image is bootlegged into something new, something unintended and often abstracted. Very occasionally, on an author’s own feed, there is an attempt to provide a frame of reference and authenticity through credits and tagging.

The landscape or double-page spread is a key format in magazine layout. The physical turning of the page also naturally gives pace to the flow. In magazine pages, the eye is travelling first class; on Instagram, the eye is in virtual freefall. While exhilarating, we simply don’t experience images in the same way, with the same nuance and depth, like holding a magazine and flicking through the pages at high-speed, trying to take it all in at once. Fashion and art photography, portraiture, long-form journalism and social reportage may look amazing on specially designed screen-based browsers, but they are best in the context of a bound and printed magazine or book. This is collectable, a physical memory, a reference that endures. The best magazines live on coffee tables and are statements of identity when you come into someone’s home; they are held by fans walking down the street, the magazine or its tote bag, symbols of identity and belonging. This is the enduring power of physical magazines as symbolic social signifiers.

I was looking through my archive of Egoïste magazines, at Avedon’s cover portrait of Warhol’s naked, scarred torso and the special gate-fold pullout of the Factory group inside. I have seen those images reproduced, life-sized, in many exhibitions. But if it wasn’t for Nicole Wisniak, Egoïste’s founder, who commissioned them for her magazine, they wouldn’t exist. The best magazines actively engage and create culture at a deep level. Egoïste is the source and the agency of those Avedon images. It is also, due to its context, the most authentic expression of the image, the issue itself a time capsule, with an ability to transport you back in time with immediate cultural context in the way an image on the wall at Gagosian cannot.

What we are witnessing now with a resurgence of independent print publications is the re-establishment of analogue media, a reinvention where explorations of certain values – the luxury of time, emotional connection, arcane knowledge and visual wonderment – are being launched continuously like beautiful fireworks, lighting up the sky, as symbols of hope against a dark and corporately owned media landscape.

The smart creative directors at fashion brands have realized that niche is the new currency. Unlike corporations, fashion houses, including Prada, Celine, Balenciaga, Loewe, and Burberry, to name but a few, have strong creative leadership, their designers forensically involved in the creation of campaigns and their media placement. Luxury is in the business of selling the perceived values of quality, authenticity, creativity and a distinct mix of heritage and newness. The trend
for multiple-page inserts, for special placements, for unique creative content to appear in different niche publications is, I believe, proof of a return to print. Its rarity and exclusivity affords a direct synergy with the codes of such brands. After all, the powerfully imaginative views that the most original independent magazines offer within the media landscape, is a luxury in itself. Hollywood, the ultimate dream factory, also trades in those same aspirations, valuing the covers of print magazines as some of the most valuable real estate in media for its stars. As Diana Vreeland reminded us: ‘The dream is everything.’

‘Digital is ready-to-wear; print is couture. They speak the same language and share the same DNA.’

Nina Garcia, editor in chief, Elle US

Drew Elliott,
editor in chief, PAPER

I don’t think that it is about print, digital, or social. Our jobs as publishers with a true point of view is to think about ideas and how to best distribute those ideas. An Instagram post could be as important as a cover; a fashion spread could be a better solution than a video; an event could be more powerful than a whole issue.

At PAPER we have stopped thinking of ourselves as publishers; we are in the business of entertainment. We are here for the fans and the Stans. Some fans want a printed magazine, others want to follow us on social and engage with us, and some want to have it brought to life through experiential.

True artists have no medium, they have a point of view, and they reflect that in their work. This is as true historically as it is today. Imagine if da Vinci had been told he could only paint or Murakami that he could only make sculptures. Imagine Pharrell as just a musician, or Cher as only an actress. Creative people and brands make work and then find the best ways to connect their ideas to audiences who will enjoy them.

I think of PAPER in the same way. It is exactly that, a blank canvas that is meant for all.

From a business perspective, the publishing business has seen a dramatic hit, there is no question about that. There are just more places for brands and business to put their money. SEO, banners, OOH, CRM, platforms, television, experiences. Digital has disrupted every business in the world, but only for the good. It is now about the fans more than ever. It is about being the brand that moves things left of the algorithm and creates culture. In a world of iteration, innovation will be the way forward.

Fans are the new customer, and if they want a printed magazine, I will have that for them. Again, we are here at the service of the fans: to entertain, educate, and include them.

Franck Durand,
editor in chief, Holiday

What are the current challenges that your printed magazine is facing?
Mainly protecting our independence.

What purpose does print have today, now that digital media has become the norm?
The power of print is obviously its capacity to provide an actual object. It comes with a sort of pleasure, a sensation that remains unique and necessary.

In what ways has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider your print magazine’s financial model?
The magazine is sold all over the world, but in specialist places we choose. Holiday has targeted its audience, which is smaller and feels like being part of a clan, a village, a family.

In what ways is your relationship with your advertising clients changing?
The format and the printing are the two biggest assets for our advertisers, and without being modest, they are quite beautiful with Holiday. Our readership of influencers is also an added value, and not forgetting, of course, the text and images.

Why do you think people continue to buy print magazines?
If a certain part of the press is set to disappear, there’s room for more tribal versions. There’s real territory to be occupied by the more exacting titles. After all, television didn’t replace radio. On the contrary, it’s stronger than ever. And I don’t think that the Internet means the end of printed paper.

What do you think your readership expects from your magazine?
The feedback is great because it shows how we go straight to the heart of what’s pleasurable in opening a magazine: the wait, and frustration (we only publish two issues a year); the surprise (a different destination every time); the quality content (images as much as text); the quality of the texts that can be read now, in three weeks’ time or next summer; the desire to collect them.

In which ways can print engage your readers that your digital channels cannot?
Our digital policy is very minimal. For each issue we only post a dozen texts and images. We are committed elsewhere.

Since the invention of the printing press, media technologies have shifted continually, yet reading on paper hasn’t become extinct. Why will print never die?
There’ll always be a pleasure, a culture, a gesture, a ceremony, a smell and a moment closely linked to paper. They might be rarer, but they’re not ready to disappear. Not yet anyway.

Christoph Amend,
editor in chief, ZEITmagazin

You want to know why print is beautiful? You already know the reason. You’re holding it in your hands right now.

Nick Haramis,
editor in chief, Interview

I used to think that there were stories for magazines and stories for the Internet. Magazines ran articles that were considered and researched and painstakingly put together. The Internet was a place for funny lists and rankings, but mostly pornography. It’s near impossible for the editor of a print publication to talk about the Internet without sounding 7,000 years old, and yet, the unavoidable reality is that print-only publications are rarely sustainable. The ones that are surviving have realized that the print-digital divide is a construct rooted in some sort of weird paper-loving snobbery, and that to stay relevant we need to deliver our stories to readers across every platform they use to consume them. It’s pretty simple, to be honest. We’re in the business of telling stories through words and pictures, no matter the medium. That said, I do love a magazine. It’s not so much about the tactility that print editors often use to justify their work. Nobody, if they’re being honest, wants to carry around a cumbersome magazine. It’s about needing an excuse to turn away from my desktop or laptop or iPad or phone. There are so many great things that are specific to consuming media on the Internet: the immediacy of the news cycle, the rabbit hole of content into which you can descend, the option to hear audio or watch video to supplement the experience of reading. But I miss the design of a printed page online. I miss seeing a full-bleed image across a two-page spread. (I love soaking in a photograph so much, in fact, that we’ve returned to the trim size of Interview in the mid-1980s, when the only thing bigger than the magazine was the hair.) It’s not that one is better than the other, it’s that I use them differently. I read online journalism to keep up on what’s happening in the world, or to find out who went home on The Bachelor. In that way, as a consumer of digital content, I’m an active participant. With magazines, though, I want to be the passive one. I want their editors to lead me.

Jay Fielden,
editor in chief, US Esquire

What are the current challenges your magazine is facing?
I saw First Man recently, which really brought home how difficult it was to get a man on the moon. The whole time I was thinking, ‘O.K., if they could do that, surely we can figure out the new business model for magazine publishing, right?’ The challenges, in other words, are of an order that is otherworldly. It’s all men and women to their battle stations every day.

What purpose does print have today, now that digital media has become the norm?
Print has to be well reported, written, edited, and argued. The ultimate goal in print is to publish things a reader will want to read more than once, look at more than once. That’s a totally different frame of mind to digital.

In which ways has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider the financial model of your print magazine?
Put simply, we have to do more with less. It’s a way of working that can lead to great creativity and a speedier evolution. Parameters can focus you, limitations can act like muses, no can be a positive. Digital is the new bright shiny object, but print is the object of power and awe it’s always been. You take it away or screw it up and, in most cases, all you’ll have left is a handful of dust.

In what ways is your relationship with your advertising clients changing?
It’s better than ever because we can do more collaboratively than ever before. We can do the epic shoot that has the shelf-life of paper; we can do the smart quick hit that gets shot into the ether of social media; we can do video, podcasts, live events. I mean, come on, if I were an advertiser in Esquire, I’d buy it all.

Why do you think people continue to buy print magazines?
I don’t know! I’m not sure we knew why they bought them in 1926 either, really. The magazine is one of the greatest human inventions ever. Good ones are simply irresistible. They make life more interesting and fun. My phone is trying to convince me it can do that, too, but it can’t really. It’s too busy distracting me, never letting me quite get that feeling of total absorption outside of time that very few things can. A magazine can.

What does your readership want from a print magazine?
That thing each month that only Esquire can be; it shouldn’t look or feel or sound like anything else. And it shouldn’t necessarily give you what you think it should. Esquire has a strong contrarian streak, and I think that’s especially good for the moment we’re in.

Are you as much of a print-magazine consumer as before?
I am. I just dig magazines. Always have.

Which print title feels relevant within the predominantly digital landscape?
The ones about looking or reading or – as in the case of Esquire – both. You can do both of those things on the Internet, but they’re not as enjoyable as they are in print. The good fashion magazines will always be in print, as will the magazines that publish writing of book-like quality. The pretenders to those two thrones – and there is a bewildering plenitude of them – will, on the other hand, probably bite the dust pretty soon. I’d add to that that, as Harold Hayes, one of Esquire’s legendary editors, once said: ‘A successful magazine has to build a myth its readers can believe in.’ You practically have to be a cult, in other words, and now more than ever.

Since the invention of the printing press, media technologies have shifted continually, yet reading on paper hasn’t become extinct. Why will print never die?
Print is superior in so many ways. It’s easier to read; you can mark your progress; you can make notes and scribbles; circle words you don’t know; tear things out. And when you’re done, it becomes a visual reminder – in a pile, in a folder, on a shelf – of the information you digested. In all these ways, print lends itself ingeniously to the activity it represents. Its elegant design – the codex, invented so long ago! – has some kind of magical, brain-bewitching power.

Holly Shackleton,
former global editor in chief, i-D

I believe that print is as important as ever, but the era of monthly magazines has to change. A fashion magazine akin to a coffee-table book, that you treasure, might be a cliché, but it’s a far better cliché than throwing your subscription in the recycling bin each month. Magazines no longer need to cover news or shopping pages, this is what the internet is for; instead, they should exist as an aspirational object, whether that’s a scrappy fanzine or a slick glossy; something to invest
in, that inspires you, a work of art, a marker in time. To do this they need a point of difference, their own winning formula of fashion and journalism. They need to address the talking points of our times, while also pushing the conversation forward. For magazines to work in harmony with digital, they need to prove their worth, they need to be aspirational and they need to make you dream. At i-D, we think of print as the window to our world; the pinnacle of what we do across photography, styling, design and journalism. Digital is the faster, more irreverent but just as vital younger sibling, who’s quick to join conversations and offer the i-D point of view. Two sides of the same coin, that couldn’t exist without the other, but together make a whole. From an industry point of view, I sometimes worry that we are in an age of creating magazines for the instant gratification of Instagram. Does it matter that you haven’t actually held the physical copy of a new issue in your hands if you’ve seen every image and watched the behind-the-scenes shoot, interview and ‘making of’ on Instagram? Which leads me to question whether social media is the real future of digital publishing after all?

Angelo Cirimele,
editor in chief, Magazine

What does your readership want from your print magazine?
Probably ideas and ways to see things, to question and maybe be critical, in texts and images.

Why do you think people continue to buy print magazines?
I think the digital memory that the cloud offers is quite different to that built by magazines. Keeping a magazine is archiving a context, not only the series or the text that made us buy it. And when we look at old magazines, we often notice things that seemed meaningless when we bought them. The images on Instagram are out of any context and don’t allow any understanding other than like or don’t.

Are you as much of a print-magazine consumer as before?
Of course not. The Internet and Instagram are much more powerful if you want to check the zeitgeist in, for instance, the creative field. But if you don’t want only the ingredients but the cooked dish, you’d better look at the layout and the series that are before and after.

Which print title feels relevant in this new digital landscape?
Pop and Double for their fresh and strong approach; The Gentlewoman because it doesn’t look like any other; and Cos because it is more intelligent than many sold magazines.

Since the invention of the printing press, media technologies have shifted continually, yet reading on paper hasn’t become extinct. Why will print never die?
Print is a process that allows collective intelligence. Photographers are not the best art directors and their pictures often get stronger with real art direction. If we consider the final reader, print offers a break from our devices and the continuous interruptions that e-mails and likes and comments represent. Reading is an action; a like is a reaction. Besides, Instagram may not be the place for complex thinking. Print is the place for imperfection (misprint, colours not always 100% controlled) and you can’t fix it. You can feel the human hand behind – and not the algorithm.

Chris Vidal Tenomaa,
editor in chief and creative director, SSAW

I cannot be objective in answering this question as print is so close to my heart and my love for fashion is fundamentally rooted in all the magazines I bought as a teenager in the early 1990s. At the time, magazines were the only way to be informed and to know anything about what was happening in the mysterious world of fashion. Now it’s all dramatically changed, information is very accessible and yes, digital can be great for many things such as speed and immediacy, but what it cannot be is tactile, fleshy, emotional and real. Magazines, like books, still provide us with a tangible object that can be informative, practical, stylish and beautiful. I still have all the magazines I bought more than 20 years ago, and I continue to buy new and vintage magazines all the time because they bring me a lot of joy, which is at least one thing digital cannot do. I think both print and digital can be great in their own way, but if I had to compare them, it would be like comparing a real kiss with a virtual one. We all know which one is better.

Dylan Jones,
editor in chief, British GQ

Print is about trust. About expertise. About transparency. The brand I am the co-custodian of appears in many forms: we are a monthly print magazine that is also available as an app; we are a website that is updated every 10 minutes; we produce a biannual fashion magazine; we have a full-service social team; we host at least a dozen annual top-flight events. But print is still at the heart of what we do. Why would it not be? At the moment I think we are beginning to see that people are starting to distrust ‘the Internet’ as a source of news. Obviously for the last 10 years we’ve been told that digital content aggregation (‘hosting’ content that has been paid for by other people) is the future, but there are green shoots that suggest otherwise. Just look at the sales figures and the increased revenue success of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times or the Economist, just look at the success the Guardian is having with its begging-bowl policy, just look at the way in which Facebook and Google have become digital pariahs, huge media monoliths that people don’t appear to trust any more. There is beginning to be an understanding that if you want rigorously discussed and debated stories that have been rigorously commissioned, rigorously researched and written, rigorously fact-checked and edited, rigorously subedited, rigorously designed and displayed, then you are going to have to pay for it. Journalists cost money. Researchers cost money. As do designers, fact checkers, subeditors, features editors. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Even online.

Paul Kominek,
editor in chief, The Travel Almanac

What purpose does print have in 2019, now that digital media has become the norm?
Print still has the power to bring authenticity and acclaim to whatever subject or personality is being presented in a more impactful way than digital media can. The notion that print stories need to go through a potentially more thorough selection process is still very much alive and rightly so.

In which ways has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider your print magazine’s financial model?
It hasn’t forced us to reconsider, but rather enabled us to pursue digital ideas. The development in digital media opens new opportunities for established print-media titles. A few years ago, making money with online content seemed ambitious and investing in digital-only content and technology was difficult to justify. The acceptance and shift towards digital makes it easier to build on an existing print platform.

Have you found that your editorial tone or direction is changing to suit the digital era?
Only to the extent that developments arising from a digital context play into the material we consider for both print and digital features. We cover what has been, is, and will be relevant to us and our readers, which of course, increasingly includes online-born topics.

Why do you think people continue to buy print magazines?
Beyond the fact that you get a thoroughly curated periodical and in the best case, a beautiful object, I think people view print publications more and more like brands they identify with. The more distinctive the curation and editing, the more you can differentiate yourself from other titles and create a platform that your readers associate with. And it is easier to show off this association with the presence of a physical object in your life than a link to a webpage. There’s also a big potential for extending a print title’s core ideas and aesthetics into a wider reaching ecosystem of physical products and projects.

Yann Weber,
editor in chief and creative director, Antidote

In the ‘long’ term, news magazines won’t be able to resist; digital does it better, faster and cheaper. Quarterly and biannual ‘niche’ magazines (about fashion, art, design, culture) will still have a strong card to play. We’re going to buy magazines like vinyls, fewer of them but better quality. The future of print means doing something exclusive that deserves to be collected or published as a limited edition. If not, bye.

Mikel Benhaim,
co-founder, King Kong

Even though digital seems like it’s taking over, print truly remains triumphant because it’s been the same since the beginning. We see our magazine as a collector’s item. I loved magazines growing up but these days most of them look the same, so we took a conscious decision to make sure the teen me would want to buy King Kong by making every issue of KK different. We never repeat ourselves, just reinvent. The challenges we face are a double-edged sword because we can do whatever we want! But this doesn’t make advertising clients happy. You have to just decide which road to go down and we choose to keep our creative integrity.
When we started King Kong a few years ago, we wanted to create an entirely new space, which would be a platform for artists to feel free to experiment and take the risks that were deemed too commercially dangerous at more established publications. We wanted it to marry together art and fashion in an organic way that I hadn’t found in existing publications. Whenever fashion magazines attempted to include an element of pure art, the result felt like tokenism as the artists were not given enough space to expand on their work and vice versa, with fashion stories sandwiched into highbrow art magazines. I think we have redressed this balance very successfully. Thanks to our narrative structure, we have woven together artists with their fashion counterparts based on thematic elements, rather than simply separating them as ‘art’ and ‘fashion’. The magazine itself is such a hefty object that hopefully it encourages the reader to take a moment to slow down, and be
carried along on the journey. As we are working, I am acutely aware that there will be six months until the next chapter in the story arrives, so each issue has to be rich enough in detail and hidden surprises to keep people fascinated until then, and keep them continually coming back and discovering more. The real pleasure of publishing biannually is that we are freed from reporting on trends and able to create something timeless. The flip side is that digital allows us to discover people
quicker and give them a platform to showcase their work. At a certain point, people can become numbed to new talent and original modes of expression. Rather than people finding us, we are constantly searching for new, underground talent in order to develop their work and give them a platform, with the long term aim of democratizing art and fashion, for the benefit of both artists and consumers. King Kong only exists because we genuinely believe there’s so much talent out there and we want to discover them and give them a voice. It’s so rewarding.

Claudia Donaldson,
editor in chief, Cloakroom

What are the challenges your print magazine is facing?
Cash flow – the thrill of tying a ribbon on a launch issue doesn’t last if you haven’t figured out how to pay for the next one.

What is print’s purpose in 2019?
The same as it always has – to tell a great story.

In what ways is your relationship with your advertising clients changing?
Issue one is on the newsstands in October, so we don’t have form yet! The success we’ve had with advertising so far is credited to my time at NOWNESS. Although the majority of brands are video first, there’s a generation who now consider print a relevant, modern way of connecting with its audience. They understand it better than they did before; they’re more sophisticated in their storytelling; and they’re more willing to invest in collaborating editorially, in print, to tell a better story.

Why do you think people continue to buy print magazines?
There’s a contract between reader and editor that for many is a relationship forged in their teens. It goes beyond writing or images and is based on the intimacy evoked when you’re fully immersed. It’s also a shared experience, usually on an aeroplane with my husband, where we read interview excerpts to one another or point out pictures.

Are you as much of a print-magazine consumer as you used to be?
I bought a lot of magazines about 18 months ago before I decided to do my own – that’s basic due diligence. As a process it reminded me of how my habits have changed. I used to buy so many! Magazines were a religion. Now I buy a few, regularly, because I like their point of view; ones whose writers I want to read consistently or where I know I’m likely to find pictures that make me stop and think. Then the voice changes and if I don’t like it, I move on. I’m pretty fickle.

Jo Barker and Eddie Eldrige,
founders, Re-Edition

Breaking a magazine down to bits on Instagram and digital websites does not convey the magazine physically as a whole. The experience is only a small piece of the entire experience. It does not give the entire picture; it’s fragmented. It’s like seeing a review about an art exhibition or film clip, without going to see the exhibition or film. The magazine needs to be seen physically on the paper bound container – and its full glory – to understand visually and appreciate its contents. Magazines can be something to keep, store and treasure – they have a physical beauty. A magazine’s Instagram account only exists because the print magazine has made it! You couldn’t really have it the other way round, it would not have the same value. Instagram is a tool to promote the magazine, advertise it, and have conversations with readers and audience in between print times, so it facilitates the magazine. It raises awareness of the magazine, like the digital platform and website; it helps the magazine, advertising the print version. But the container needs to be physical, you need to touch it. Plenty of magazines today express this exciting full experience, us, System, i-D, Dazed, Arena Homme+, The Gentlewoman, and Modern Matter, to name a few are all exciting containers, brimming with exciting visuals and must-read interviews.

Huw Gwyther, editorial director, Visual Talent,
publishers of Wonderland, Man About Town and Rollacoaster magazines

What can print do that digital cannot?
Print is relaxing and stress-free to read or consume. Personally, I don’t find digital relaxing or stress-free a lot of the time. Most of us associate digital with work; flicking through a magazine at a calm and leisurely pace is not work; for most people, it is an affordable and accessible luxury.

What are the current challenges that your print magazine is facing?
Obviously the decline in the volume of traditional print advertising is ‘the’ big challenge most print publishers face, but luckily I love a challenge, and there are plenty of new and exciting opportunities out there.

What purpose does print have in 2019?
Print magazines are in some ways an antidote to the instantaneousness of digital content, something a lot of people, myself included, still crave.

In what ways has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider the financial model of your print magazine?
We have had to work harder than ever, and adapt faster, but this means no day is ever dull or boring, at least. We are learning new skills every single day, and making plenty of mistakes too, which is also OK, as long as you learn from them!

In which ways is your relationship with your advertisers changing?
It’s becoming even better, closer, more personal, deeper, more supportive, more mutually respectful and beneficial, and also more rewarding both creatively and financially.

Is your editorial tone or direction changing to suit the digital era?
Choosing content that is ‘shareable’ is certainly a factor editorially in the wake of the digital revolution, as is the way interviews are conducted. For example, questions (and sometimes interviews) will be centred around the digital, and people we feature who we have found on Instagram would perhaps have been missed before.

Why do you think people continue to buy print magazines?
Curiosity. We are all naturally curious to learn about new things and people as well as discover more about things and people we already have an interest in. There is still a longing for a break from the instant nature of digital content that makes print magazines ever-relevant. People live with magazines over days, weeks and months in a manner that is simply not possible with digital content or social media.

What do you think your readership wants or expects from your print magazine?
Creative excellence, but also consistency and a clear voice and editorial identity.

In which ways can print engage your readers that your digital channels cannot?
Visually, print makes more of a statement than small, ephemeral images seen on social media, and this certainly engages readers. Likewise, the long-form style of article that is becoming rarer online keeps readers engaged for longer.

Are you as much of a print-magazine consumer as before?
No, very intentionally – I don’t want my decisions to be influenced by what other magazines are doing. I trust my gut instinct now and I know what I want and is right for our publications. I don’t want to be put off doing something I want to do just because I see something similar in some other magazine. So I focus 100% on our own magazines – and they are better for it, I think.

Which print title feels like a relevant proposition in 2019?
One magazine I do read every week is London’s (free) ES, edited by Laura Weir; I think she does an absolutely brilliant job. It might not be considered particularly ‘cool’ by some (perhaps because it is free and also reaches a huge number of people) – but it is influential, in London at least, and I have never been particularly bothered about being perceived as ‘cool’!

Marie-Amélie Sauvé,
editorial and creative director, Mastermind

Digital media offers readers fast, easy access to information, but the sheer volume is overwhelming and much of it is garbage and shallow. People are so tired of being bombarded with information that they take digital detoxes as if online content is a poison and they need to be purified. I get the sense this is linked to a growing fatigue in our culture. People no longer read past a headline or the news alerts they get on their phones. Nowadays time is the new luxury – being able to take a break from the digital cacophony and dwell in a story or a fashion editorial. I founded Mastermind in 2017, well into the ‘digital revolution’ to offer people a reprieve – a point of view that cuts through the noise. I have also noticed that print demands more from readers. They cannot access it anywhere; they have to find a physical copy and then pay for it. But they do so because Mastermind offers them a reading experience they cannot find anywhere else. I have always found it more satisfying to read from a physical object and to feel the paper. Our readers recognize that turning a page is different than scrolling down a computer screen. Print is also a marker of taste: magazine readers want something deeper and more luxurious than online offerings.

Arby Li,
editor in chief, HYPEBEAST

What are the challenges your print magazine is facing?
Probably similar to those the print realm is facing as a whole: the challenge of competing with digital platforms where access to information is faster and arguably more convenient. It’s a great challenge to take on as it forces us to think outside the box and constantly evolve to provide a better product with stories that cannot be interpreted digitally or are more powerful to have in physical form.

What is print’s purpose in 2019, now that digital media has become the norm?
The beauty of print is also in the fact that once something is published, it cannot be edited or modified so everything has to be perfect. Furthermore, knowledge is positioning itself as the new form of ‘cultural currency’, allowing people to be associated to something they desire. In the same way that wearing a particular brand was once the biggest signifier of your interests or an expression of personality.

How has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider your print magazine’s financial model?
The HYPEBEAST print magazine came several years after the launch of the website and social-media platforms, which allowed us to approach it almost as a passion project. We treat it as a vessel of communication to educate readers in the same way that certain stories are more powerful told through social media or digital platforms. Our print magazine was developed in the midst of the digital revolution so we haven’t been forced to reconsider the model. We are just always aiming to improve it, whether the content, accessibility or model.

In what ways is your relationship with your advertisers changing?
In the same way that digital media is a constant evolution, advertising clients will always expect you to be ahead of the curve and come up with meaningful and creative ways of portraying their stories.

Have you found your editorial tone or direction changing to suit the digital era?
It’s less about the editorial tone or direction changing and more the platforms used to communicate. Of course, there will always be differences in how content is displayed; for example, it might not be as effective to showcase a lengthy text article on a platform such as Instagram, but the question is how can that article be adapted into a different form so the message isn’t lost or diluted?

What do you think your readership wants or expects from your print magazine?
While we have both long-form and short-form content on our digital platforms, we tend to dive deeper into stories for our print magazine as it lives forever physically. Looking back on all the issues, we’ve always tried to distil what the biggest cultural moments are in a particular period amid the fast-paced nature of the modern world.

In what ways can print engage your readers that your digital channels cannot?
The fact that you physically own a copy of the print magazine is already a big differentiation, but it’s also about capturing the attention of a reader more fully. As it’s something you purchase, the reader will probably be more likely to invest a higher level of engagement in consuming a story and develop a deeper understanding.

Which print title feels relevant today?
I’m looking forward to seeing what visvim’s Subsequence magazine will be like when it launches; more so in terms of how it serves as an extension to a brand and its lifestyle component. Visvim is one of those rare brands where you’re not just merely a fan of the label, but you’re interested in the whole lifestyle it portrays, so seeing how this particular product ties in will be interesting. Even the way they’ve teased how the pages will be bound by saddle stitching is very visvim, like how its website ‘dissertations’ explain the intricate processes of construction for their garments.

Adrian Gonzalez-Cohen and David Uzquiza,
founders, Buffalo Zine

We are quite interested, even obsessed, with digital, social media, even VR, but at the end of the day we are material. Physical. We need contact, touch, talk, and also baking powder, forks, tables, washing-up liquid. We live in a material world. There’s a certain type of magazine, like the one we do, that is an object like a good candle or a plant or a bunch of flowers. It gives you a physical experience. It’s an object with a beginning and an end, that has been edited for you. In the digital dimension you have to do the edit yourself, so you have fewer opportunities to discover new languages or narratives. Editing is an author’s vision. One of our biggest fears about the digital revolution is losing storytelling. Even if we don’t think it will disappear completely, something will eventually happen. Photographers now are less worried about their stories as a whole; they only care about single images, because they’re going to be seen in isolation and independently on the internet. The whole concept is quite shallow. There’s not much poetry. It will eventually change as a reaction. Magazines used to be channels of information, trends, diffusion. You can’t compete with digital for that, that’s why magazines that were about information and current subjects are disappearing. The print we still defend is not about trends, and in our specific case, in Buffalo the pretension is to be as timeless as a novel or a scent. Buffalo wants to be a good and affordable gift, wrapped in gift paper, and destined to sit on a coffee table, in a waiting room, on a shelf. Brands should be aware that nearly everyone – the photographers, stylists, beauty artists, models and so on – who they use in their campaigns and shows comes from independent publishing. I believe advertising in those publications should be something these brands have to do as an ethical obligation, regardless of the benefits, the same way they pay attention to sustainability. It’s another type of sustainability.

Masoud Golsorkhi,
editor in chief, TANK

‘The invention of the car did not mean the extinction of the horse – but it did mean finding a new role for horses.’ By now, we have all heard this analogy applied to print and digital, but I’m not so sure. Sometimes easy analogies can be misleading. Yes, many people are returning to physical media – for example, vinyl has found a new audience even with MP3s and the digitalization of music – but old patterns of consuming music are unlikely in new context: the gym won’t accommodate turntables. In the same way, many magazines have begun to resemble coffee-table books, and indeed, both books and vinyl can exist in the same limited, but marginalized way that horses fit in modern society. An eccentric luxury for the hobbyist. For me, the format, whether print or digital, is a side issue, less important than the business model that pays for and defines the nature of the content it carries. Distributing information by printing it on a piece of paper may no longer be viable as it can be distributed cheaper and faster digitally, but at the cost of quality control and editorial oversight. ‘Information wants to be free’ is the biggest lie
ever told. Knowledge may deserve to be freely accessible, yes, but information is a manufactured product and it turns out you can’t have a free lunch after all. The big tech platforms, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google – expressed as a perfect acronym, FAANG – have grown to be as greedy, monopolistic and pigheaded as any Citizen Kane-style press baron and equally as corrosive to democracy. Businesses fed on the early flushes of freemium are going to find the price of reaching audiences is going inflate and quickly; the cost of online customer acquisition will be – if it isn’t already – comparable to that of getting shoppers to walk in to your store on Oxford Street or Fifth Avenue. What the digital information revolution is doing to the image is less frequently considered, but might be having a more profound effect. Digital distribution means the end of photography as the favourite medium of consumerism. Digital images are distributed in such a way that neither their context nor their exact quality or integrity can be controlled. Yet the decline in the potency of the image might turn out to be an opportunity rather than a threat for magazines that also do written words well. Future magazines could have an edge over other more immediate forms of media by being deliberate and slow. They are more effective by the quality of ideas expressed with quality writing. Print magazines that are no longer effective as sources of information can, and are, re-emerging as powerful packagers of complex and considered ideas, often in long form capable of creating long-lasting impression and changing lives. Taking the messy chaos and confusion of the world and moulding it into comprehensive narrative form turns out to be what magazines are perfectly
suited at doing. It’s their superpower. Print can in every respect, including its environmental and energy footprint, compete with digital as a means of delivering what is a deep human need for stories. A print magazine can narrate, like no other medium, especially when it is valued and paid for by its readers. One thousand paying subscribers for a magazine will be worth more than 10 million roving eyeballs on a website. The continued success of magazines like the New Yorker and Private Eye, and many new recent launches in the same vein point that way. Fashion will wake up to that… eventually.

David Martin,
editor in chief and creative director, ODDA

What are the current challenges that your print magazine is facing?
I feel the challenges ODDA is facing today are the same ones I have faced since I launched the magazine in 2012, which are, basically, never leave things for granted, enjoy making a magazine like ODDA every single day, and be totally open for anything that may arise. Probably the biggest challenge is never to lose perspective that digital is only positive and a good complement to the print.

In what ways has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider the financial model of your print magazine?
Changes in the advertising models between print and digital are a beneficial way of making fashion more diverse and strong and the industry more dynamic and sustainable than others. I think it’s a way of forcing talents to be more creative, and develop things people want to see now versus things we create to be in the market for six months, which people keep looking at for years or decades. One thing is now and the other one is forever. I’m not saying this focus on digital is easy; it is a change you have to adapt to and understand.

Why do people continue to buy print magazines?
If a print magazine is worth it, then it is a message for forever on your table, a gift, a never-ending source of inspiration for the future.

In what ways can print engage your advertisers that your digital channels cannot?
Print advertising is the best way to justify an investment as it’s placed where the client – brand or person – wants, in the position they want, and how they want, without a third person deciding how’s it’s going to be displayed.

Which print title feels relevant in 2019’s predominantly digital landscape?
Self Service, AnOther, The Gentlewoman, Fantastic Man, Arena Homme+, Dazed, System, Purple, Pop, to just name a few without any doubt. It’s also interesting to see what big titles, like American Vogue and Vogue Italia, are doing as they shape fashion in one way or another.

Why will print never die?
A lot of young people I’ve been meeting lately are more and more into paper, identity, past pleasures and going into the future without losing values, and the beauty of the details. Many even refuse to have an iPhone or Instagram. Digital platforms are a ‘now’ thing, not a forever thing.

Tyler Brûlé,
editor in chief, Monocle

What are some of the current challenges your print magazine is facing?
The current challenge is that the entire chain – or, the system – is broken. Once upon a time, you had a publishing company that believed in the product, either big or small, and the owners, the CEO, the publishers, the editors, all believed in print. Today, you have a series of disparate visions inside companies where some apologize for print: ‘Oh well, we still have a magazine, but we’re digital first, yet the print can make all of the money.’ And that causes grumpiness in the building. That’s one problem. Then you have a distributor that has its own deadline, a slightly out-of-date way of working, so you have to get from the printer to the kiosk, and that’s a problem. And then you have a kiosk which, of course, doesn’t get the same level of investment that it might once have received from Condé Nast, the Financial Times, or Hearst. They would buy posters, and there were some incremental revenues to also promote those titles. I would go to them and say, ‘You know what, it would look great if you had a Vogue or a Monocle awning on the outside of your kiosk!’ And what do they do then? Shelf space is reduced to make more room for Pringles, Diet Coke and Milka bars. And that is probably the critical part of the challenge at the moment. There are only a few places for people to sample print and experience titles; there are fewer places to acquire new readers, whether they’re further up the food chain or people who love magazines and have grown
up with magazines. But where do you bring in new people? Where does a 23-year-old fall in love with print? Once upon a time, that relationship could have started at a WHSmith. That can’t happen anymore because the offer has been so reduced. I think that is the challenge that all of us face at the moment. Some are willing to put up a fight, others are retreating.

What is the purpose of print in 2019, now that digital has become the norm?
There’s been a digital-first wave, and we’ve been living that wave for a long time. I really feel that 2018 was a good marker of the way things are going. At Monocle, we saw print advertising grow last year, and what’s happening is that titles are really committed to print, to doing it well; they are conscious of the paper stock that is between the reader’s fingers, the quality of the print product that comes off the presses, the types of stories that are commissioned, what works well with paper. And those people can sometimes migrate over to digital. If we are going to do something wonderful on paper, let’s make sure it’s a long read; let’s make sure it’s something that can’t really be replicated. The main thing is digital real estate: we do not have, and there is not, a digital equivalent of magazines right now. We have to accept the fact that people are consuming content on small screens. There are opportunities available, and many of them are where digital simply can’t compete. There’s been a reticence, because you think, ‘Oh well, you can animate it, you can do this or that with a mobile device or a tablet, and therefore, it’s far superior.’ But with some smart heads around our desk and on the editorial floor, you can bring compelling concepts to the clients. I can only speak from Monocle’s experience, but we’ve just done a huge project with BMW, which wanted – speaking very much from an advertiser’s point of view – something with an editorial perspective. If I go and ask an agency to go and shoot my car, I get something that is super CGI manipulated. If I ask magazine editors to do that, they’re not going to come up with a CGI solution. They can’t afford it. It’s also just not the DNA of an art desk. The vehicle and their story will be told in a commercial format, but through an editorial lens. What’s really exciting for them is that there is a booklet at the end of it. It’s something that people can flip through, that they’re able to linger on. That is something print delivers. It is for high-value items, of course, with an expensive price tag, and there is that moment of wanting a catalogue value of something. Of course, somewhere in the management chain of many companies, people also think, ‘It’s just easier if we send a PDF or a web link to somebody.’
It is something that has been forgotten, so you have to remind brands that it’s something really important, but that’s where our conversation is moving towards. The conversation three years ago was, ‘What’s your social strategy? What are you doing on social?’ Last October, I was in a series of advertising meetings when people were planning their 2019 budgets with companies saying to us, ‘What’s your event strategy? How can I get in front of your readers?’ Because it’s clear what digital does not deliver. We know with half of these companies, we could say, ‘Well, we can buy traffic.’ But how can you say that? It’s almost become accepted that some clicks can be bought. Since when is that acceptable? Everyone has come to the point as well that it’s unacceptable. I always come back to, ‘Who’s ever been to the launch of a website?’ Are you finding your editorial tone or direction is changing to suit the digital era? That’s a very timely question. I’ve seen a lot of digital things
move into print. Like print-and-page art direction by Instagram – single image, small caption, single image, small caption, again and again and again, with no
sensitivity to the fact that when you have an A4- or A5-sized magazine, you have to celebrate this great expanse that you have. So why not create an amazing grid, why not use the luxury of the spread? All the things that the printed page allows you to do, both vertically and horizontally, which you simply can’t do on a screen? This vertical digital format, this single-image-caption-world is starting to infect a lot of things. At the moment we’re working on a custom publishing project and trying to educate our team about how we need to celebrate being a magazine, and not try to create something digital on paper. It’s the product of a generation and a decade of people who have grown up on the small screen, and who don’t know how to design for the great expanse that the printed page offers.

What does your readership want or expect from your print magazine?
They want us to think about occasion and their digital moment, whether that’s a video, audio or text-based moment, and for us to consider when do they have time to read? Which are those moments? So we give people 10 main issues a year of Monocle, then three, soon to be four, special editions, which are all thematic. We do food, we have a travel edition, we have a forecast which is more of a sort of a geo-political look across the year, and we are launching a business title – so you’ve got this quarterly pace. We’ve been doing special-edition newspapers for two years, a newspaper a week during August and during the Christmas period, because I believe there are people who like to kick back with a good old newspaper that hopefully employs the values a magazine can offer. I think readers are looking for us to reach them with formats, and challenge them with formats. I think that’s the key thing: there should not be a time where print goes the other direction. There’s no point in saying our business plan is to reduce the magazine’s trim size and reduce the paper quality. That’s a race to the bottom. Then you have the other direction, saying, ‘We need to be delivering something superior. This is a physical product with a haptic nature, so how do we enhance that at every level?’ That’s why our big bet has been on audio: we have eight podcasts, now running 24 hours a day on M24, our radio station. We said, let’s use digital, not necessarily in a way that demands consumption via a screen. The screen gets me to a series of menus, but then I’m hitting play and listening to debates, documentaries, and magazine programmes that feed into the core topics Monocle covers every month. That’s using digital in an appropriate way so there’s no cannibalization of our print offer. In fact, it allows us to really enhance the content.

Do you remain as much of a print-magazine consumer as you used to be?
Yes, a part of me feels that I have a responsibility to support the newsstand. I’m not a subscriber, I have to admit, even though I try to push people to subscribe to my own magazine. I only subscribe to the Economist and the New Yorker because they’re weekly. I sometimes don’t get round to the Economist, but I save the New Yorker because it doesn’t matter when I read it. I love having it. You can dip into the NewYorker from six months ago. I’m always sampling, always looking at things. Do I have enough time in my day, though? That’s when I go back to timing, being appropriate, and delivering products to our audience that allow them to have
moments to dip in and out and sample our print magazine in windows that suit their lifestyles and metabolisms. I think it’s important to do that, but I certainly feel guilty sometimes about this stack of magazines beside my sofa that I want to go through. I don’t get to a newspaper as much as I should, but I take the New York Times home, no matter where I am in the world, or the FT, and will try to get to it. Of course, inevitably too, there are moments where it ends up in the recycling. I don’t have the magic wand, I can’t sit here like a saint either as a consumer. I don’t know if digital is eating that much of my time. Maybe I don’t look at magazines as much as I used to over the past 25 years, because it’s my business. Sometimes, you have to get yourself into a mindset to read; that’s why the New Yorker is
pleasurable – it doesn’t change. I know I’m not going to learn anything new from the New Yorker from a business point of view, so it’s a pleasure to read. Whereas, if I look at lots of other titles, it’s like, ‘Oh, they’ve changed the paper stock, that’s for the good’, and I’m just analyzing it and looking at it from an editorial and competitive point of view, and I’m looking at the advertisers from a business point of view. So looking at magazines just ends up being work as well.

Media technologies have shifted continually to transmit information, yet reading on paper has never become extinct. Why will print never die?
Important things still happen on paper. Paper has a ceremony no matter what has happened with the advent of digital signatures or transferring PDFs. There’s still an occasion to document signing. Paper holds a role and value, that’s very much embedded into our society.

What can print do that digital cannot?
It can challenge. This is maybe a philosophical spin off, but paper has actually reminded us that we don’t have to be in a world of one choice. Because there are a variety of channels and media platforms out there for us today means we don’t have to go in just one direction. That’s a challenge for our times, because I think with everything, it can feel as if there is only one answer today – but there’s not.

Olivier Lalanne,
editor in chief, Vogue Hommes

Faced with the digital world constantly spitting out information, print’s action – or rather, reaction – must be to take its time, and invent another temporality. Slow down the pace, reconnect by taking a step back, thinking, calmly analyzing, modulating the ‘emotional whole’, and moving the magazine closer to the book, the only object capable of creating genuine affection. This is its real added value when compared to digital information that’s consumed as quickly as it’s forgotten.
For Vogue Hommes, a magazine with only two issues a year, this is even more true. The long term is part of the magazine’s DNA. The challenge, on each issue’s glossy pages, is to move away from information and interaction, the spaces where digital is all powerful, and focus instead on creativity in both form and content: narration, engagement, opinions, subjectivity, surprise, quality content, in-depth articles, expertise and rarity. The other challenge is to invent new physical formats that are both original and desirable, and which reinforce the spirit of collectability and the sense of a ‘unique object’. This is also a way to offer advertisers prestigious and long-lasting showcases for their campaigns. Especially as studies show that consumers appreciate print over digital when it comes to what they buy. Radically opposing print and digital’s different missions will eventually make them both indispensable and complementary – and create a 360° Vogue Hommes experience.

Anja Cronberg,
editor in chief, Vestoj

When I started Vestoj as a print publication a decade ago, it was out of sheer frustration. I thought fashion publishing was a sorry affair: too great a focus on high-production-value visuals, at the expense of thought-provoking and well-researched text. The clout of advertisers was causing my peers and colleagues to self-censor, and material from other creative disciplines – art, architecture, film, music – was used simply to validate fashion. It seemed to me that the fashion industry was suffering from a collective inferiority complex, as if we’d accepted that fashion was lodged at the bottom of the hierarchy of the arts. I wanted another kind of fashion magazine: one without advertising, not focused on seasonal trends, and with experimental forms of fashion writing, from academic research to prose to criticism and oral history, and images making the reader question the conventions of the common fashion shoot. I had no business model beyond thrift, and not much thought of digital. Ten years have passed, and in the intervening years, many publishers have had to make even more concessions to stay afloat. Some big titles have folded, some people have been laid off and editors and publishers are constantly reminded of the threat of new media. We’re expected to justify why we
even bother with print – this feature being no exception. At the same time, I don’t need to remind anyone of the plethora of indie titles on the newsstand; if print is on its last gasp, it’s slow in letting go. Perhaps paper publishing still holds sway because so many of those in power in this industry grew up with it. Though it’s changing the system, fashion has been slow to adapt to digital publishing. Social-media influencers are begrudgingly accepted, and not-so-secretly dismissed whenever possible. Digital broadcasting is democratic and far-reaching, and therefore vital in fashion, but the system’s ensconced elitism means that good old-fashioned glossy magazines are still higher up in the (unofficial) pecking order. Vestoj is run more like an artist’s endeavour than a conventional business, and thrift is still my middle name. I publish one issue every year. I have no employees and no office space. The no-ad policy means never having to worry about falling rates or mounting pressure. There’s no one I have to explain or justify Vestoj’s rising or falling readership or followers to, so I don’t keep tabs. I’m free. Along the way, I’ve met individuals and organizations who can see the benefits of encouraging critical thinking in fashion, and support has followed. Vestoj has become a useful educational tool, and today my work is buoyed by institutions such as London College of Fashion and the Jan van Eyck Academie. Vestoj is thematic. Past issues have been about failure, time, magic, power, shame. As a publisher, creator and educator, the printed page allows me to guide the reader through the thought and creative process of my collaborators. As opposed to the meandering way in which so many of us engage with the Internet, on paper, I’m able to relay a whole story, through text flow, graphic design, and the juxtaposition of text and image. I’d like to think of every Vestoj published as a survey or an exposition. The research behind every journal is slow and laborious and that’s OK. In every issue of Vestoj since its inception I’ve published a 10-point manifesto that aims to crystallize the goals of the platform, and – on a bad day – remind me of why I’m doing this. There’s one point in particular that I return to again and again. It’s point six: ‘Everything shall be questioned – nothing is holy. We must challenge the status quo. We must always ask why.’

Nacho Alegre,
founder, Apartamento

We started our magazine in a moment when digital media were just beginning to become relevant. We also come from an industry – design – that is less powerful than fashion, so our financial model has always been different to most other magazines.

Since we couldn’t, and still can’t, rely on advertising in the same way a fashion magazine would, we need to sell a really high percentage of the magazines we print. For that reason, owning part of the distribution chain and being close to our customers and subscribers is key. These are the areas where we are still working to improve. Our business model might be closer to a manufacturing company than to a magazine.

In regards to digital media versus print, you’re going to have people talking to you who are infinitely more qualified than us. Of course, we think there is no way print can compete with digital in delivering news. Even digital media is becoming obsolete for news, people feeding directly from Twitter and social media. Feeding news through social media is again changing the business model for many digital newspapers.

Print over the past few years has remained the place for debate, opinion, but even these will be absorbed by digital media. There is no real need for print there.

The actual need for print is even smaller than what we see at the newsstands; many print magazines don’t have any specific need to exist physically. The only reason they do is that no one has yet found a valid digital business model that works. Since we started 11 years ago, I’ve seen the industry get smaller, but no real alternative on the other side.

A couple years ago I stopped buying my favourite magazine, the New Yorker, and started reading it online. There is no point in it existing physically, unless the numbers wouldn’t add up if it were just digital. There is a lot of print I would buy related to the magazine – a book of the best of the year that I could keep; a book of the cartoons, because it would be a nice object. And so on.

There are still things that print provides:

Archives: digital content is buried among all the new digital content, every day, forever. In 15 years’ time, if you want to understand today’s cultural world, you won’t be able to surf the Internet as it looks today in March 2019. You will have to find it in a printed format and for brands, this aspect is undervalued.

Validation: opinion is also moving towards digital media, but print, as today, remains a qualified opinion.

Belonging: people establish a different kind of relationship to print than they do with digital. There is an element of belonging around a magazine. This is an area where most magazines should work harder. A magazine today is not a communication tool as much as it was. It has more to do with status, with a certain closeness to its audience.

Understanding this is key to understanding what you’re selling. It’s only my opinion, but looking at the number of advertising pages of some fashion biannual magazines, my intuition tells me I might be right.

In our particular case, we have never mixed advertisers in the editorial. We don’t do news; we don’t feature brands; we don’t credit anything that appears in the magazine. The reason we did this was that, production wise, it simplified our model a lot when we started. Then we didn’t change because we don’t think we should. In fact, we think the rest of the industry will.

It’s been more difficult for us to get advertising clients, but there is no possible way these advertisers can leverage the relationship to receive anything from us. Of course, we’re a tiny magazine, and it’s not a business model that facilitates growth. But we do think advertising in a magazine today is and has to be an expression of belonging. I think any media that plays the game of ‘you give me this, I’ll give you that’ will be dead in the mid-term. It will lose its integrity and then its only value as qualified criteria. There are plenty of examples around us.

Some magazines are, issue after issue, giving in to their clients’ pressure and I think they’re accelerating the crisis. The business model of some fashion magazines is simply unsustainable. But again, the problem is not print, but rather that no one has found a clear digital business model for quality press.

Susannah Frankel,
editor in chief, AnOther

Without wishing to state the obvious, the point of print is that it lasts. Of course, things exist forever online and may be looked at again and again, but the way they exist is very different: it’s a world of not-always-so-ordered chaos. And uncertainty. Websites vanish. Articles are re-edited. News is faked. But print has a longevity and, at best, a truth: it’s physical. In your hands. As an editor, that may be intimidating, sometimes: you can’t change it. You can’t right a wrong. But that makes it a statement of confidence, of belief. There is room for different voices. In an ideal world, they create a dialogue, converse with each other. I hope that AnOther Magazine is a beautiful book, a considered and celebratory edit of a particular moment in fashion and culture, an aggregate of many of the most inspiring image makers and writers in the world, an aggregate that won’t be found elsewhere. It’s another point of view – the thinking behind the name.

Because AnOther is biannual – we’ve now turned 18, making us among the first of English-language biannuals, I believe – it has a degree of permanence. It contextualizes and commits to a naturally ephemeral subject matter at a point in time. We feel that people still enjoy print both for its tactile qualities – we use different paper stocks for different sections, try to introduce innovative formats, disrupt the physicality of the read – and because it can be picked up, put down, gone back to time and time again. AnOther is quite dense. It takes time to look, to read, to digest and absorb the content. Isn’t the space to do that the most precious thing of all?

Digital content is digested in a completely different manner. It’s fast, short, bite-sized, by-and-large, and more and more so. AnOther Magazine is the polar opposite. Both editorially and commercially, it requires – and affords – the luxury of time.

Nick Vogelson,
editor in chief and creative director,
Document Journal

What purpose does print have in 2019, now that digital has become the norm?
In an age in which the Internet can simultaneously give marginalized voices a platform and disproportionately amplify those who just want to make noise, thoughtful creation and consumption of media has never been more essential. We are acutely aware of digital media’s pitfalls: the need to quickly label events, to create and sell stories through neatly packaged headlines. As the news cycle accelerates into oblivion, the pace of print allows us to slow down. We can nuance our views and weigh our concerns. We also bring this sensibility to our digital platforms as much as possible.

Why do people continue to buy print magazines?
Life is different on paper and, on paper, different lives begin to commune in ways they can’t in the everyday world. The talent we are fortunate enough to collaborate with seems to be always in conversation and in line with one another, often inadvertently. Only when the magazine is bound and printed do you begin to see the ways in which the preoccupations of an artist portfolio might speak to a conversation or an article. Themes I never anticipated emerge. These sort of serendipitous interactions make us even more curious. They help us see connections that would not have otherwise been communicated, even existed. That sort of
inadvertent generation of commonality and growth is, for me, the magic of print.

Media technologies have shifted continually, yet reading on paper hasn’t become extinct. Why will print never die?
When the world is in such uncertain times, there is something reassuring about the permanence of printed materials. Online articles or Twitter threads can be hard to find the next day. The world moves on. I think there’s something grounding about being able to take a printed book or magazine off your shelf, reconsider it, and know it will be there next time you need it. Online, there is so much emphasis on the collective forms of thought, which can be a good thing sometimes, but print nurtures an individual curiosity that is indispensable. You can ask yourself a question, and see where it leads you.

Luis Venegas,
editor in chief, CANDY

What are the current challenges faced by your magazine?
I wish I had more time and more resources to make much more and faster. I have many projects and ideas for the new issues and also for new formats; I’m just trying to find the most effective way to develop them and make them a reality. But that’s how it’s always been here since I started self-publishing more than 15 years ago.

What purpose does print have in 2019, now that digital has become the norm?
Any communicative media – digital or print – is always based on three main purposes: entertain, inspire, and inform. In the case of printed publications, it’s key to focus mainly on being entertaining and above all, inspirational. That dreamy quality of the greatest printed magazines still can’t be found in digital media (except for the pioneering Showstudio.com). I enjoy magazines with personality, those that are a true reflection of the teams behind them, voices I enjoy, respect and even admire. I don’t see any digital platform offering that kind of engagement, yet.

Why do you think people continue to buy print magazines?
A magazine is an object to hold, to touch, it smells; it’s a sensual experience, I’d even say magazines are sexy. That experience talks to the animal in us, while – for the moment – screens talk to our brains. Magazines are seductive objects, no matter how old you are; it just depends on how open you are to all forms of creativity.

Which print title feels relevant in today’s predominantly digital landscape?
System, for sure! I also love Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman, Purple, Dust, 032c, SSAW, A Magazine Curated By, Holiday, Buffalo Zine, Apartamento, Luncheon, Dazed, Print, Vogue Hommes, Assistant, Re-Edition, Replica and PIN–UP. I’ve always loved Arena Homme + and enjoyed very much The Leopard’s first issue.

Since the invention of the printing press, media technologies have shifted continually, yet reading on paper hasn’t become extinct. Why will print never die?
Paper remains. Sometimes I save links of articles I like online and checking those again a few months later they’ve disappeared. I wonder where all the digital content of today will be tomorrow. Printed magazines are a witness, a reflection of a time, and there’s usually so much more effort and thought about what’s going to be put on a page than on a website. I can always go back to my April 1965 issue of Harper’s Bazaar and enjoy its pure greatness; it doesn’t matter it was done more than 50 years ago and long before I was even born.

Marie-Pierre Lannelongue,
editor in chief, M, le magazine du Monde

For a print magazine today, the main challenge is to keep standards high. That might seem obvious, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. For our readers, the traditional readers of Le Monde and the new readers who buy it for M, le magazine, the question of price and value for money are real issues. So the only question really worth asking is: are we making a magazine that we would like to read every week – and which we’d be happy to pay for – if we weren’t part of the newspaper?

For a brand like Le Monde, which has been around for 75 years, and M, le magazine, which will soon be 8 years old, print remains essential. It’s the origin of our brand, even as we switch to a successful ‘freemium’ model with several types of digital subscription. The number of digital subscribers increases each month. So much so that the global circulation of Le Monde is increasing even as the numbers for newsstand sales and print subscribers fall, as is happening across the market. (Even if for us, it’s a little less than the market.) When you add up all its distribution channels and high circulation rate, M, le magazine can claim more than 900,000 readers a week.

For over a year at Le Monde, our organization and our energy have both been geared towards gathering more digital subscriptions. And the basis of this drive remains the same: produce high-quality content that has real added value to make readers want to subscribe and re-subscribe. At Le Monde, having quality print and paid-for digital content pays. Indeed, it’s the only thing that works.

At M, le magazine, we have added an Instagram offer to our free and paying content on the main paper’s website. It struck us that the magazine’s visual approach and its lifestyle character would best be expressed on this platform. So, we launched @legoutdeM a few months ago with the goal of making this M, le magazine’s lifestyle brand. This account, which is different to the magazine’s (@m_magazine), offers an exclusive production, photos and text, that we want to develop further. We think it’s the new voice for M, le magazine, a new expression of its style.

Since the magazine’s creation, advertisers have followed the print version because they’re very sensitive to the fact we are not just fashion and not just news. What made it difficult to position ourselves in the beginning – neither one, nor the other – has become an advantage: we offer the best of both worlds. Image and texts of the same standard! And as we work with the best journalists in France, we’re very proud to collaborate with some of the best photographers, too, such as Harley Weir, Zoë Ghertner, Karim Sadli, Colin Dodgson, Tyler Mitchell, Alasdair McLellan, Coco Capitán, as well as some of the most visionary stylists, like our fashion director, Suzanne Koller. That is obviously the power of print. Now we want to translate that standard into our digital expression on Instagram. In terms of the relationship between print and online, I recently had a sort of epiphany when the head of press at a big fashion house explained that while there was nothing better
than social media and the influencers to sell products, nothing compares to an article in a big magazine for the credibility of a house and its artistic director in particular. It’s still print that creates a certain gravitas, that consecrates them. Which means that today, it’s not about digital versus print, but rather digital and print. We need to keep offering a high-quality print offer to support efficient, creative and powerful digital media.

Maxine Leonard and Valerie Wickes,
founders, Beauty Papers

What can print do that digital cannot?
Come the revolution – fuel a fire and keep warm.

What are the current challenges that your print magazine is facing?
Everyone is chasing influencers, followers and engagement, which means many brands are trying to find new digital advertising formulas by ditching their old advertising print formulas and putting everything online. This is making it tough for a lot of print magazines and the creative sector as a whole. Budgets have moved online and if you don’t have numbers and data then you are nowhere. The challenge goes way beyond our magazine. We have never had traditional ‘advertising’ and take a more holistic view: a meaningful life is about more than numbers. Brands will always chase consumers, so Beauty Papers’ challenge is to not chase the brands.

What purpose does print have in 2019, now that digital has become the norm?
To inspire.

How has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider your print magazine’s financial model?
Beauty Papers has always tried to challenge traditional publishing business models and relationships, as it did not seem to be working for the magazine or the advertisers.

In what ways is your rapport with your advertising clients changing?
Rapport and trust is very important, but it must not be confused with blackmail and control.

Why do people continue to buy print magazines?
There is the collectable side to human nature; there is still status in print and having a pile of great magazines and books on your table. There are also times when just to sit and linger over a visual or written feast is something only a beautiful magazine or book can provide. I think this moment both makes and gives time – as the physical act of gazing or reading opens the imagination and feeds the soul.

What does your readership want or expect from your print magazine?
We want to create extraordinary, bold, beautiful imagery that shows the extraordinary minds and talents of the artists and designers in beauty, fashion and art, with words that are insightful and amusing. We hope our audience wants this, too. Print is a moment of study and absorption, of revisiting and rethinking. I think digital can be some of that, but it’s more on the surface, more transient. I don’t think much of digital creatively; it’s more a media for response or dialogue. I notice even news channels just respond; investigative journalism appears dead.

Are you personally as much of a print-magazine consumer as you might have been in previous years?
Music was my way in, NME had to be bought religiously. As soon as I saw i-D, I bought it – it was just brilliant and it’s still a great, great magazine. It spawned a lot more style publications – The Face, Arena – which I bought. As I worked more in fashion I bought Marie Claire, Elle and Vogue. I followed Fabien Baron’s odyssey of magazine art direction and design around the Vogues, American Bazaar and Interview, too. Dutch was great and I loved BIG, too. I bought a lot of magazines, but now it’s far fewer, down to space, time and work.

Which print title feels like a relevant proposition within today’s predominantly digital landscape?
I have bought World of Interiors since it began. It always inspires and thankfully does not change or have too many new ideas. It just continues to deliver the most amazing interiors that don’t just follow trends or talk about kitchens. It has a fairly low digital profile, even though it is very suited to Instagram.

Since the invention of the printing press, media technologies have shifted continually, yet reading on paper hasn’t become extinct. Why will print never die?
It will continue to evolve. It would be great if print becomes more ecologically viable, cleaner and more sustainable. It’s an important industry that needs support and people will always want print for something. The physicality of print holds memories and I am hopeful that people will always want this in some form.

‘One can hide digital readership, but magazines make you wear your heart on your coffee table.’

Mark Guiducci, editor in chief, GARAGE

Dan Thawley,
editor in chief, A Magazine Curated By

Several years ago, a wise fashion designer complained to me about the Internet. We were discussing research, and how the problem with Googling an image reference was that ‘you don’t know what’s on the next page’. And he was right. Despite the wealth of digitized information available at our fingertips at all hours of the day, nothing truly compares to the beauty and instinct of turning the printed page to discover the contrast, the challenge or the continuity of what succeeds an
image or a body of text. It is a sensation that neither e-books nor online galleries are yet to truly replicate, and it is a crucial step in the way humans both present and digest information. Try telling an algorithm to stir intrigue or to juxtapose moments of 17th-century chiaroscuro with contemporary collage (or a recipe, perhaps). Put that in your search engine and smoke it.

The laying out of a printed document and the mechanical gesture of re-folding two pages to reveal the reverse of one sheet and its successor is a tool that by its very nature provokes infinite plays of duality. To cite André Breton quoting Comte de Lautréamont, such moments can be ‘as beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table’; 150 years old and that pre-Surrealist mindfuck still stands.

That designer I mentioned was Kim Jones, the creative director of Dior menswear, and an avid collector of printed ephemera. Later, I would discover his love of magazines extends far beyond that of most designers, some only keen to see their creations validated with full-page ‘credits’. Within his collection, rare gems like a mock-up of Studio 54: The Magazine (replete with sticky-taped editor’s notes) sit beside Salvador Dalí’s infamous ‘Marilyn Monroe as Chairman Mao’ cover of Vogue Paris (the 1971 Christmas issue, believe it or not). In my collection, a 1955 copy of Paris Match featuring Jean Cocteau resplendent in military regalia sits alongside copies of Nest and Rei Kawakubo’s large-format Six. So until we, and readers everywhere, find such joy in browser bookmarks and PDFs, I’ll consider this question answered.

Fran Burns and Christopher Simmonds,
founders, Print

What are the current challenges that your print magazine is facing?
The greatest challenge for any print magazine is relevancy in the market place. It’s undeniable that reading habits have changed and even we, the most avid of magazine buyers, no longer devours every issue with the thirst we once did. The days of pining for the latest issue are long gone. The fact that most editorials can be viewed online before the magazine is even on the shelves further robs a publication of its ‘must-buy’ element. Also, the number of places to buy the magazines is also rapidly declining; the newsagents that used to stock all the specialist publications, as well as the more mainstream ones, are now clinging on by their fingernails. Indeed, many newsagents seem to have abandoned the idea of selling magazines at all. If even purchasing a magazine requires a super-sleuth ability to know where they are stocked, then what hope have they? Another huge challenge is actually producing the thing. Paper mills are closing, the cost of paper is rising, and the market for paper is dwindling, which will surely only exacerbate the problem. Therefore to make even the simplest format is more expensive now than when we started this project a few years back. But Print is just that, a celebration of all things print! By taking such a boutique approach, we both create and
resolve our own problems.

What purpose does print have in 2019, now that digital has become the norm?
Print was created as a direct reaction to what had become the norm. Sure, we can all look at a picture on a phone, but when was the last time you were able to hang an epic Mert and Marcus flag on your wall, or do a jigsaw puzzle of a one-off Pierre et Giles image created especially for the magazine? Digesting images in varying types of printed matter is something that we will continue to explore. I think it was Jefferson Hack, but forgive me if I remember wrongly, who reminded me that a magazine is merely a vessel for its contents. That ideology is what spawned Print in some respects and the fact that it isn’t simply an A4ish wad of paper glued down the spine.

In what ways has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider your print magazine’s financial model?
Our financial model strikes fear into the heart of our accountant. If we sold it for what it costs to make then no one would buy it as it’s astronomically expensive and, to date, we have only been lucky in securing one commercial partner to assist in covering our costs. Therefore we were inspired by Peter Saville and the Factory Records saga with ‘Blue Monday’, whereby it cost more to manufacture the 12” than it was sold for. Every record sold lost the label money. Luckily our magazine will never go on to be the biggest selling magazine ever (unlike ‘Blue Monday’ for 12”), but the ethos is there.

What does your readership want or expect from Print?
Something they can’t get elsewhere. These days any publication can throw a few posters into the mix, but we always strive to offer something that you didn’t really know you wanted or needed. I think the next issue will raise a few eyebrows in that respect – it’s no less X-rated than the vagina calendar from issue three, but we will continue our mission to have as much of Print around the home as opposed to sitting on the bookshelf. Luckily we come sealed in a box!

Are you as much of a print-magazine consumer as before?
While our habits have declined somewhat, more telling is the buying habits of the people in the studio. None of them buy magazines, zero! The desire just isn’t there! Sometimes we can’t even give them away. It’s really the greatest indicator of where things are going. Also, the structure of most magazines is the same. Front section filled with advertorials or ‘news’ bits to appease the less glamourous advertisers, followed by some articles featuring celebs that have had copy
approval from PR reps in order to avoid any kind of fallout, but which results in word after word of tedium, followed by some fancy fashion imagery, et voilà. It’s no wonder that people are turning their back on the establishment publications. My purchasing of magazines comes partly from love and partly (with some titles) from duty, but I entirely understand why there are problems.

Since the invention of the printing press, media technologies have shifted continually, yet reading on paper hasn’t become extinct. Why will print never die?
There will always be a market for printed matter, so while it will never die, it’s certainly not charging around full of the vigour of youth. The future is to embrace digital and offer a more unique package. There’s no point reading a magazine for news now; the content needs to be something that can be cherished more and not so disposable.

‘Try telling an algorithm to juxtapose 17th-century chiaroscuro with contemporary collage.’

Dan Thawley, editor, A Magazine Curated By

Cecilia Dean,
founder, Visionaire

I am not sure I am the right person to ask about print. As founder of Visionaire, I have always seen it as our mission to offer an experience beyond the traditional printed magazine, even back when we started in 1991 before digital existed. Actually, it is impossible to fully appreciate an issue of Visionaire online. Editions need to be touched, dealt with, sometimes we include smell, taste, textures. In a strange twist, Visionaire makes more sense now than it did almost 30 years ago. But with the advent of social media, instead of diving deeper into our limited-edition issues, we have expanded our idea of ‘experience’ into public arts activations by offering opportunities for people to generate their own content in real life.

I am astounded by how many print magazines there are, and there seem to be new ones popping up all the time. To be honest, I don’t really understand it. Unless there is a reason for something to exist as an object to be kept, photos look better and text is easy to read on a lit screen. Why do we chop down trees and use toxic inks to create something disposable? Sorry, colourful printing on glossy paper does not make a keepsake.

I’ll admit, personally, I still read printed books and I have the Sunday New York Times newspaper delivered to my doorstep, but I consider these nostalgic relics from a bygone era. Neither makes any sense, especially since, professionally, I stepped away from the traditional print-magazine world over five years ago.

As I face the future, my constant challenge is to convince advertisers to put their money into digital and into experiences. This is a time to be creative, to be inspiring, to collaborate with the arts; it is an opportunity for brands to make an impact on culture at large, on a global level, and to communicate thoughtfully with a huge young audience hungry for meaningful content.

Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou,
publisher and editor in chief, 10, 10 men and 10+

I really wanted to find a less predictable response to the question posed. Of course, there is always the emotional response to print, the value of it being more permanent and precious. I tried to find a more scientific reason to understand my emotional response and why we are so attached to printed matter. There is the physical experience of the paper, the smell and what it triggers in our brains, and how we retain information printed on a page much more than on a screen (which is scientific fact, I discovered).

My desire has always been to create a specific curated visual voice in 10 magazine. Almost like different genres of music dialoguing about fashion and art, giving us all our own specific point of view, but all singing from the same hymn sheet, part of the same clan.

There has been an enormous migration to digital media and as 10 magazine enters its 20th year, I have seen massive changes. I have totally embraced digital formats from the beginning, understanding that for me and my brand, they presented alternatives to engage my readers. We could offer movement in digital with films of our world creating an authenticity of experience and process that our readers respond to, a different kind of connectivity.

Scientific proof exists to substantiate the true value and longevity of print. A neuroscientific study by Bangor University showed that paper content activated the ventral striatum area of the brain more than digital media – and the ventral striatum is an indicator of desire and valuation. This means that physical material is more ‘real’ to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place, better connecting it to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks. It involves more emotional processing, which is also important for memory, and it produces more brain responses connected with internal feelings, which, the research suggests, means greater ‘internalization’ of the content. So the science clearly shows that paper can be more impactful and memorable than digital.

This proof, this movement back to print has definitely impacted our world in a positive way. I have seen more brands coming back to specific print publications, as well as our own, and increasing their presence in display ads and partnered stories. There seems to have been a real growth in the print market and a real increase in display advertising. Brands really seem to have shifted back a lot more of their budgets to print. We have seen a growth that we could not have predicted in our own advertising environment. The market is increasingly buoyant for specific print, to the point where last November 10 magazine launched a new sister magazine called 10+, a total antithesis to the immediacy of digital.

A more luxurious poster box where each story is a poster instead of bound pages. It demands time to sit, unbox and experience each fold-out sheet. It demands the luxury of time and interaction, like listening to vinyl. It is housed in what appears to be a photographic print box and sells for £50. This new ‘boxazine’ takes the magazine to an even more interactive publishing level where there is an appetite for the more bespoke experience of content. I really feel the print sector especially ours, biannuals and quarterlies, is growing and has definitely weathered the storm of digital. Long love print!

‘I’m astounded by how many print magazines there are. To be honest, I don’t really understand it.’

Cecilia Dean, founder, Visionaire

Joerg Koch,
editor in chief, 032c

What are the current challenges that your print magazine is facing?
Some independent magazines, including us, are not really affected by the print crisis as much as the big mainstream titles as we have a more precise direction and readership. Our audience is growing. However, we are structurally affected by the decline of the print industry: distribution channels are shrinking accordingly, printer expertise is disappearing, and so on. Obviously we continue working with the best distributors, but this also means we have to build up our own channels of distribution. There are great synergies within our e-commerce platform, between our own fashion line and the print magazine. We ship out thousands of boxes a month, and that is a viable alternative distribution tool that we think has the potential to grow our audience, too.

What purpose does print have in 2019, now that digital has become the norm?
We are not dogmatic about the formats we use. Sometimes an idea feels most worthwhile as a T-shirt, sometimes it feels more urgent and appropriate for the website, and other times an idea simply needs to be featured in print. In this framework, print is one of several channels we use to communicate ideas. Sometimes it is the best format for this, other times it doesn’t make sense. We take it easy.

How has the digital revolution forced you to reconsider the financial model of your print magazine?
I think 032c has always been a response to the digital revolution. When I started 032c in 2001, I was coming from a digital background in the late 1990s. The magazine was very focused on print, but it was essentially produced with a digital mindset. Every decision, especially the financial sustainability, was set out from a digital perspective.

Have you found your editorial tone or direction changing to suit the digital era?
Yes, the digital era forces you to think of every piece of content as capable of being self-contained. In print, you can create correspondences between the individual pieces within a magazine, sometimes hoping that 1 + 1 = 3. But we have become much more ruthless content-wise, to ensure that every piece can potentially be a hit online. This, of course, makes those correspondences within the magazine even stronger, and makes for digital content that can hold up in print, too, and we love playing with that reciprocity, bringing content conceived for web into the material publication instead of obeying the typical print-web hierarchies.

Why do you think people continue to buy print magazines?
Obviously, digital media is much more efficient and convenient when it comes to distributing information, but it cannot really offer a sense of identity. Everything is so atomized these days that people are looking for modes of identification, for points of connection. Strong magazines that aspire to offer that, by featuring ideas and speaking to and crystallizing a community, will experience a renaissance. The magazine has to perform for the hardcore reader and the casual browser and function as a source for identification. ‘Coffee-table magazine’ has always been used pejoratively, but it accurately describes the phenomenon. I am happy to see people putting 032c on their desk, whether at home or at the office. People are also getting tired of their communication and media consumption being moderated – filtered and tracked by these big American platforms. No one is harvesting and reselling your data when you’re looking through a print magazine, which gives the experience an authenticity, an ethics, an intimacy and an immediacy that are very different from the kind you get on a digital platform.

In what ways can print engage your advertisers that your digital channels cannot?
I am convinced that you cannot create a long-lasting brand with just digital advertisement. Electricity gone, brand gone. Print advertising for luxury brands is still unsurpassed. You create more attention, more focus, more context, and there’s more potential in terms of the quality and feel of the physical materials. The ads just look so much better, and they communicate so much more directly with the reader.

Since the invention of the printing press, media technologies have shifted continually, yet reading on paper hasn’t become extinct. Why will print never die?
It is still the best technology for reading, storing information, and making ideas look and feel fabulous.

Mark Guiducci,
editor in chief, GARAGE

I collect old magazines – Vogue, Vanity Fair, Life, Spy, Acne Paper, Artforum, The Face – and, long before I was its editor, GARAGE. I must be the New York Times’ youngest living print subscriber. Obviously, I believe in the value of print, but I also recognize its irrelevance. By the time I open the morning paper, I’ve read everything I care about online, so I use it as a barometer of how important the Times editors thought the articles were. (‘Above the fold? Impressive.’) Print is absolutely not for news. It’s neither reactive nor sharable, so is ontologically incapable of virality. It’s hardly for reading. It defies contemporary art and fashion, which are predicated on telling us what is now and what is next, respectively. That print even still exists is honestly kind of punk.

And yet, everyone prefers print. Everyone. To shoot for it, to write for it, to appear in it. One need not buy a print publication to consume its contents – there’s literally nothing in GARAGE that you can’t read online – which means that purchasing a copy is an endorsement. It has to, as Marie Kondo says, spark joy. Print is also a matter of self-presentation, maybe even an extension of logomania. ‘Am I a man of the Times or a Wall Street Journal reader?’ (You already have my answer.) One can hide a digital readership, but magazines make you wear your heart on your coffee table.

Today, GARAGE is a digital platform with a biannual print publication. There is nobody at GARAGE who doesn’t work across media in some way. Print training informs digital editing, and digital informs everything. But if GARAGE is a community – extending from paper to pixels to gatherings of people IRL – our print readers are our most loyal members. Print alone is not a business model, but the business model doesn’t exist without it.

‘No one is harvesting and reselling your data when you’re looking through a print magazine.’

Joerg Koch, editor in chief, 032c

Ezra Petronio,
editor in chief, Self Service

What can print do that digital cannot? For starters, it will stay in your mind for longer than a second. In our screen age, we hyper-consume on a micro scale, continuously scrolling on our touchscreens engorging an unlimited amount of visual information.

Publishing today has not only become digital, it has also become mobile. Our reading habits and experiences have radically changed. We browse intuitively, sometimes with intention, quite often aimlessly. A constant flux of disposable novelty.

Print versus digital is in my opinion a non-debate. They are simply complementary. The digital offers a multilayered experience, rich, diverse and immersive. It is immediate and about the ‘now’. As a creative and fashion magazine, when your content is meant to celebrate fashion photography and the visual arts, the physical object gives the reader the luxury of scale, dimension and timelessness. It is in this regard that the printed page ultimately transcends the ephemerality and the aesthetic quality of the 1080px digital post.

Katie Grand,
editor in chief, Love

Nothing beats a well-designed and well-edited print magazine.

Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Industry. The state of print. - © System Magazine
Taken from System No. 13.