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Magazines reborn

Magazines introduced me to design. Magazines introduced me to interesting typography. More of my shelves are dedicated to old magazines than they should be.

For the past decade, though, my love for them has waned. I blame the damage caused by industry’s addiction to boom-time ad revenue followed by the overzealous revenue-saving efforts by group publishes.

But in that time there has also been a magazine renaissance of sorts. The generation the grew-up making ’zines before shifting to websites, is now returning to printed, and bound, word.

The Internet, the very thing blamed for the destruction of the printed word is breathing new life into it. It seems, when people say x is the death of y, they really mean x is the death of mass market y. The corollary to that is that as a result of the latter’s death, indie y surges.

Self-published books are growing in acceptance, and the emerging niche magazines carry with them a level of respect and accessibility heretofore unknown. Not only are these magazines showcasing new ideas and creators (as pioneered, in this wave, by McSweeney’s and seen in the new 48 Hours Magazine — itself a hybrid blog/newsweekly/literary magazine) but they are also experimenting with design in bold new ways that are able to scale beyond what was imaginable at the turn of the century (see Goodwill Fernandes).

Even marginally more mainstream publications are experimenting in ways that harkena back to the some early ideas of what a magazine should be. Monocle, despite its occasionally unbearable pretentiousness and its obsession with the lux lifestyle, is a perfect example of this.

While it is sad to see the decline of publications like Newsweek, the future of the medium itself is nothing short of inspirational.