Summer is winding down here in Mauritius and we're busy planning a trip back home to Europe in July/August time. As always, it's exciting to come back to England, where magazines are far more accessible and a bigger part of society. Seeing family is nice, of course, but I'm going to pack as little as possible to save space for some delightful print 😁
This week saw a big announcement from Apple, which may dictate the future of digital publishing—but equally might not. I wrote a thought piece about the new service; I'm not convinced it will succeed.
Also in this issue: a magazine that has only sold through stockists despite reaching its seventh issue, the tech behind new magazine Akin, and the origins of Archer magazine. I also had a look at three different ways that publishers can send out their magazine orders.
Meet Laine, the indie magazine that only sells through stockists
Laine is a “nordic knit life” magazine from Finland. Until now, the magazine has only been sold through their network of stockists around the world, rather than selling issues from the Laine website.
This, in the indie magazine world, is not a common path, as publishers typically first sell directly to customers, then move to stockists as a secondary sales step. My sister, a knitwear designer currently based in the US, recently featured in the magazine, which brought Laine back to my attention (the small indie scene in Finland is always on my radar due to family ties). I sent co-founder and editor, Sini Ellen, a DM on Instagram to find out more about Laine's unusual commerce path, with the team reaching a seventh issue without selling a single magazine themselves.
Dan R: I noticed you don’t sell the magazine from your website. Can I ask why that is? Sini E: Yes, that’s correct. Until now, that has been due to limited resources. We used to be only two [people] working at Laine, then three and now four since this spring. Handling customer orders just wasn’t possible for us before. We will, however, open our own online shop [soon] through which we will sell back issues and our own products. Later this year, we will also start to sell yearly subscriptions.
DR: How did you go about getting stocked in shops from with your first issue, with no previous issues to go by? SE: We owe a lot to Instagram! That was and still is our only marketing channel (we haven’t bought any ads on IG either, we've just been posting one photo a day). We created our account in July 2016 and started to build the hype. By the time the magazine was closer to its release, we had many shops who wanted to stock us. We have never offered Laine to anybody, so it has always been the customer who has asked for them. So in our case, it has been about solid branding from day one.
DR: Now, as you move to selling magazines yourselves, what kinds of hurdles are you coming across? SE: Well, for us it’s mainly about resources, meaning having someone have the time for taking and coordinating orders, sending the orders plus handling the online shop customer care. Also, with subscriptions, keeping track of them and also sending renewal reminders is something we have to look into. That all needs careful planning but we are happy to finally take the step.
You will soon be able to buy Laine atlainemagazine.com (check out the stockists page for now) 🧶
Three ways to handle magazine fulfilment
Sending out orders from online commerce can be tricky. You need to store and handle potentially thousands of copies of your magazine and then make sure they all get sent out in a timely manner to the right addresses. In this post I run through some different fulfilment and shipping options that the modern web has made possible, from simply sending from your local post office all the way to using a warehousing and fulfilment company. As you'll see, things get better and thus more expensive as we work down the list. As a new magazine, it makes sense to start at the top and, as things pick up and you make more issues or you see a higher rate of orders come in, start looking at the other options so you can easily scale your business. You may even find using a combination works well for your use case. Read the full post on the blog
A first look at Apple News+ by an avid print reader
You may have seen that earlier this wee, Apple announced News+, a monthly subscription service that gives readers access to content from 300 magazines and newspapers (US and Canada only at the moment).
This isn't a new idea, nor is it Apple's first attempt at bringing magazines en masse to iOS, but it represents a valid next step in digital publishing.
As a print fan, this just isn't how or why I read magazines. I like the physicality, I like holding words. I like how design and words play with (varying types of) paper. News+ brings far more content to my device for a tiny fraction of the regular cost... but on a hard, cold screen.
Archer, based in Australia, is “an inclusive, respectful and celebratory print and online mag about sexuality, gender and identity.” Founder Amy Middleton started the magazine back in 2013, providing a platform and voice that she felt was missing from the newsstand. I asked Amy to look back at the start of Archer for this week's Origin Story.
“I was working as a journalist at a caravan magazine back in 2013 and plotting my next career move, when I realised there wasn't a publication that discussed sexuality and gender from an inclusive perspective. There were gay mags, women's mags, maybe one lesbian mag, but nothing that reflected the diversity and individuality of human experience in these areas.
“When I was growing up, there was next to no media representation of people who looked, acted and desired like me. It was a pretty alienating experience and research suggests this lack of visibility can have very negative impacts on people's mental health.
“So I set about making a glossy, high-quality print magazine that presented diverse bodies and identities through beautiful art and photography and first-person storytelling, with a proud and positive vibe.
“We publish twice a year in print and post new stories on our website every week. These days we're sold all across the world, the mag has won a slew of awards and our website has been accessed by more than 700,000 people in over 60 countries.
“The publication is put together by a team of passionate volunteers in Melbourne and Sydney, and much-loved by its loyal readership.”
The 12th edition of Archer, themed ‘PLAY’, will be released in June 2019. Buy a (Subsail-powered) subscription or back issues at archermagazine.com.au
#indiemagtech — Akin
Akin is a new magazine run by editor and founder Alice Pomfret. It's a ring-bound magazine that features a single person for each issue. The first issue was dedicated to the late architect, Zaha Hadid. Always interested in the underlying services that help turn ideas into physical magazines, I asked Alice to list some of the tools she uses to make Akin.