Nov 2, 2013

The Modern Magazine: Essential Reading

“What Is a Magazine?” asks Jeremy Leslie on the first page of this wonderful new book. There are a multiplicity of answers (of course), and you’ll find many of them in this visual feast, filled with graphic delights and surprises. It’s the book equivalent of a giant newsstand, and readers are treated to an endless display of magazines from around the world in all shapes and sizes, each of them a stellar example of magazine-making circa 2013 (or 2012 for some).

This book really could have been subtitled “The Triumph of Independent Publishing,” because the core of the book is represented by the thriving indie scene that Leslie has promoted so enthusiastically (and smartly) on his Magculture site. “The basic alchemy of manipulating text and image on a page–visual journalism–has never been easier,” says Leslie, “printing small numbers of copies has never been cheaper, and, in the hands of top practitioners, the results never more exciting.”

Modern Magazine pages

Through a series of interviews and displays of pages from indie publishing stars like Apartamento (Spain), Put A Egg on It (Brooklyn), Fantastic Man (The Netherlands), and Letter to Jane (U.S.), The Modern Magazine presents a scene that is both inspirational and aspirational. There is great imagery, design, and typography, but more importantly, there is great, imaginative, passionate magazine-making by people in love with their craft. After you read this book you’ll want to go out and create your own magazine!

There are nods to some of the usual mainstream publishing bright lights in the book: Bloomberg BusinessweekGQWired, and New York magazine, but it’s the work of the indie magazines that impresses and delights the most. Leslie believes that counter to the “death of magazines” mantra, indie publishing and the best of mainstream magazines have re-invigorated the business. In fact, he states “today is a new golden age–an age where the very idea of what a magazine is can be challenged and where you will find a willing audience to enjoy and share questioning the exploration.”

In addition to magazines printed in every size and format, there are magazines in the book printed on frisbees, foldout posters, and more, as well as a good cross-section of iPad apps and even mobile magazines.

The Modern Magazine is essential reading for anyone involved on any level in magazine-making. It’s not just a visual snapshot of the current state of magazine publishing; it’s an energetic and passionate call to action to not only support the powerful current wave of independent publishing, but to challenge and inspire people to go out and create their own. Rush out and get it immediately (it’s available from Magculture or pick up a copy from here).

(Book cover photo via Magculture and Francesco Franchi)