The New Breed

From top: Apartmento via Pretty Mommy, The Gentlewoman via Iko Iko, Wilder Quarterly

I've been thinking a lot about magazines lately.

A. Lot.

It's not surprising I suppose, given that I'm in the throes of helping to create one from scratch. But still, there's a lot of thinking (and obsessing) about the medium.

I have loved magazines for as long as I can remember. I probably got my first issue of Vogue when I wasn't much older than Audrey (I'm not sure that was a good thing, for the record), and I've noticed she's been milling around the children's magazine section at our neighborhood bookstore an awful lot lately, carefully flipping pages and scanning mast heads. She's getting sucked in.

But what I wanted out of magazines when I was nine, nineteen, twenty-nine (lots of bits and snippets and tips and just general stuff) is different from what I want now. These days I'm jonesing to read something that feels soulful and smart and artful. I want something that has lots of thoughtful eye candy, quiet inspiration. I want to walk away from reading one and think about it for a while after. Maybe this is more of a book/magazine hybrid. Less temporary, more lasting...reflective of the qualities I'm after in all the other things that I bring into my home.

This magical formula is executed stunningly well in the sort of "second generation" magazines cropping up now. Titles like Kinfolk, Gather Journal, Wilder Quarterly, The Gentlewoman, Anthology, and Apartmento are smart and deliberate, from the design to the edit to the advertising. They are largely self-funded, not part of large media conglomerates and, as such, can be really selective. They usually work on a quarterly publication schedule, so instead of chasing a story, they can let it slowly unfold. It's a dreamy enterprise.

It's also a philosophy that I think is starting to guide the evolution of more traditional magazines. (You can see the influence in publications like Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart Living, don't you think?) And yesterday my colleague Allison alerted me to the Huff Po's new iPad magazine, and it's slogan, "Join the slow news revolution". It seems even the online outlets are rethinking things a bit. The trick now is figuring out how to keep them around for the long haul.

But, I, for one, am rooting for (and buying) this new breed like crazy. It's the least I can do.


Albertina M. Cisneros said...

This was very insightful. I have been curious about Kinfolk and was thinking of subscribing....but have never actually had a copy in my hands so was thinking maybe it was a bit risky to spend the money. But I think you are right. These magazines are more deliberate and thoughtful maybe even provoking. In a time where all we get are quick snippets of eye candy, cropped views of rooms,and pages designed to be flipped through instead of read it would be nice to actually read a magazine. I think I will subscribe to kinfolk and embark on an adventure a gift to myself.

Joslyn said...

Albertina -- Kinfolk is gorgeous and hugely inspiring. you are going to love it!

Heather Peterson said...

I think you are onto something--with the proliferation of blogs and online pubs, magazines will need to evolve. Too often I know see things in magazines that I've seen for weeks already online. Because printed mags can not, by definition, be fastest/first, they will need to be--not better, but maybe, as you say, more soulful--to survive.


Unknown said...

I've always loved magazines (since I was little too), so much that my first post was about them. I'm a recent blogger, and so far I've done 3 posts on second generation magazines as you call them. I'm rooting for them too! I wish you the best in creating a beautiful magazine.

UrbanChiqueNess said...

Hits home for me as well as I can remember like it was yesterday anxiously awaiting the Back to School issue of "Seventeen" magazine. Now we get instant gratification on line of all the shows, beauty tips etc. Plus the magazines now are 90% advertising which is not inspiring. I am with you on the new generation of publications needing to be thought provoking and long lasting. I am going to have to check out some of your suggestions! xo E

Unknown said...

I agree. I'd add the addition of "taproot" to that list, which is also on my to-read list.

katie//salt+pine said...

Yep, yep, yep...totally agree.

Lexy @ The Proper Pinwheel said...

I cannot tell you how much I love the instant satisfaction I get with online mags these days. Anthology, Sweet Paul, and Rue happen to be among my faves! You took the words right out of my mouth!

Hilary said...

I am right on board with you here, Joslyn!! Although blogs operate on a more regular publishing schedule, I hope the same vein of change towards "slower", more thoughtful publishing develops within that arena as well. These are exciting times for publishing... but it's all in how you see it, don't you think?!