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The magazines sell via specialist vendors and through online stores and attract an intelligent design-savvy audience. And if you want to keep up to date with what is happening in this new world of publishing the place to go is Jeremy Leslie's fine blog Magculture. Here you'll find reviews of the latest titles alongside some industry news and a discussion of how magazines might evolve in the future.
The name Jeremy Leslie might be familiar to many of you, that's because Leslie spent many years in customer publishing working for John Brown. These days, in addition to the blog, he works as freelance consultant/designer and has a fascinating take on why both customer publishing and indie magazines are bucking the trend.
‘For me there's an obvious crossover between customer publishing and the indie sectors.' In particular Leslie cites design as being key for both sectors. ‘Both have a heavy emphasis on design and both are producing very very high quality publications.'
I asked if Jeremy felt that the indie sector had anything to teach the customer publishing sector? ‘For me it is all about risk taking. Customer publishing has taken its foot off the pedal a little recently when it comes to experimental design. I think this inevitable given the economic climate. I would however expect to see customer publishing becoming more innovative in both design and content in the next few years and a good place to look for inspiration is in the indie magazine sector.'
Leslie thinks that the creators of supermarket magazines could take a few cues from magazines like Fire and Knives and Swallow which ‘don't mimic or align themselves with news-stand titles, but look at food issues in a new and innovative way.'
Leslie also says that brands should take note of the way that other brands are working with the independent sector. ‘In the latest issue of the children's title Anorak there's a really lovely spread which features H&M clothes as illustrations. It works really well as an advertorial and is subtle yet powerful in its messaging.'
Although he champions magazines, Leslie is far from being anti-technology. He is especially excited about the publishing potential of the iPad and other tablet PCs. ‘The iPad format offers much greater control and editorial integrity in terms of design and editorial than websites ever have. Websites are fine for now, but they don't cope with large amounts of content well and they are limited in design. The iPad is much better for this. For me the big issue with the iPad is navigation. Producing something that is easy to navigate as a printed edition is the big issue at the moment. When publishers get this right I can see a real opportunity in iPad magazines.'