Something very cool has been happening in the magazine industry in the last few years – a spate of tightly targeted independent magazines on lifestyle topics, created by passion-driven publishers eager to share what they love.
Originally distributed free in coffee shops in and around London, the title has grown tremendously since its launch in 2013, at a risky time for any new business and in particular for a print magazine. According to publisher Scott Bentley in this Stack interview podcast, it worked, and he’s now printing 40,000 copies of each issue and making more money than ever.
“Interestingly, at the time the coffee industry went through a massive acceleration and a lot of people put it down to the fact that people couldn’t buy big-ticket items anymore, but they still wanted their daily treat,” Bentley explains.
What’s so interesting about the success of Caffeine is its distribution model; it’s still given away for free in cafes and specialist shops across London and the UK, as well as at coffee festivals and special events throughout the country. And the advertisers love it.
There are several factors at play here as the mass market continues to swing toward niche. First, it’s the quality factor, both the tactile gorgeousness and the editorial standards that are possible when writing for a tightly defined passion-based niche. Adding to that the spot-on targeting possible when you literally put a magazine into the reader’s hands at the precise moment they are most open to it. Finally, there’s the content itself – providing a deep dive into the world of coffee, from finding coffee joy in the supermarket to creating your own coffee and gelato desserts at home.
Truly we are in a new golden age for indie publishing, with publishers like Bentley leveraging his magazine industry background and combining it with the personal passion he shares with his audience to surprise, delight and engage — just like a good barista and the perfect cuppa.