The Irony of Digital and the Indie Magazine

Given the massive choice in reading material we all have, and the power of our digital lives to boost discovery, it’s no surprise that niche magazines are finding their avid followers. Three titles in particular show just how tightly topical some of these titles can be.

“Our latest round up of good reads includes a magazine about migration, one about sneakers and another that tells food tales,” notes the intro to a piece by Salonee Gadgil in Creative Review.

The first, The Migrant Journal launched via a Kickstarter campaign, is described by the editors as an “intellectual response to the migrant crisis.” But it’s far more than that, Gadgil notes.

“… while inspired by the current political climate this magazine is about migration in the broader sense – the movement of people, goods, information etc.,” she explains.

The second title is Crepe City, “a magazine dedicated solely to trainers,” Gadgil continues. “In terms of both its tone and its range of stories, Crepe City seems to have found a fine balance – it manages to fetishise sneaker culture but is broad enough in its approach to be relevant to a wide audience. There’s a great variety of content, from in depth interviews to more fashion mag-esque eye candy for the so inclined.”

Finally, Gadgil reviews At the Table, saying, “This is an annual magazine celebrates the act of sitting at the table, weaving narratives around contemporary British food culture. Short stories, poems, charming illustrations, recounted memories and personal experiences replace recipes and the over-styled plates of photogenic food that one usually expects to find in a magazine about food.”

It’s certainly an interesting twist in the publishing industry, in which digital technology is used to fund niche titles via Kickstarter and engage new readers over social media. What’s behind this new wave of indie titles is a move away from mass market publications, and toward boutique-style magazines that dive deeply into a narrower niche.

Ironically, without the advantages of technology – in social exposure, crowd-sourced funding and even the new printing technology that makes high-quality short runs a reality – these titles largely wouldn’t exist. It’s a great time to be a publisher…and a magazine reader!