What do we expect in the world of independent magazines in 2022?
In the process of publishing, as every year, the list of Frab's Best Sellers in 2021, we find ourselves taking stock of a world, that of independent magazines, which we see evolving very quickly. So for the first time, in addition to telling you what it was in 2021 with a ranking, let's try to draw the lines of what 2022 will be in the world of indiemags. We try to photograph the phenomenology of a still small sector, which contains a beauty and a very important cultural value, but which necessarily has to deal with the outside world without closing in on itself. We do it, and you will grant us a license, with a mainly European vision, the main market to which we address, and with still a few numbers in hand besides our interiors, which we however try to condense in this article. But let's try to be as pragmatic and complete as possible to give a 360 ° overview of the trends we expect in 2022, starting with a small overview of the year that has just ended.
2021 sees several publications cease, including some very popular ones. However, we are not talking about "victims of COVID", except in rare cases such as that of the withdrawal of Flow from the international version, because the pandemic was for many the stimulus to discover the paper world and venture into the launch of new ideas made in a magazine. Simply, and it's one thing to keep in mind, the independent magazine industry isn't profitable at all (we've told you why WHO). Many projects that are born on the wave of enthusiasm die behind the economic unsustainability that holds back even the best wishes.
Among the excellent stops in 2021 we point out a series of magazines that we jealously collect in our private selection for the content they brought to their sector:
1 Granary - London independent fashion magazine. He had fascinated many fashion design students with a critical look at the world of fashion. In 2021 it took a break, stopping at number 6 released the previous year. The project continues online, but we are really confident in a revival of print publications for the quality of content in a "crowded" sector such as fashion.
Hacking Finance - French business magazine. Excellent graphic interpretation in an innovative sector for independent magazines, which stopped at number 1.
Flaneur - travel magazine that with each issue explored the story of a single street in the world. A unique and fascinating object and idea, which stopped at the peak of its beauty in a reportage on Taipei as early as 2020.
Kajet - Romanian magazine on the Balkans and Eastern Europe. A contemporary study of art and culture of a little-told part of the world. Very deep and accurate magazine in its contents.
Joon magazine - Art magazine which illustrated the artistic flair of the city of Portland in the USA with exceptional graphics.
Then there were the closures of two magazines that decided to put a point on their editorial adventure in their tenth edition: Pipette and Wallet.
NEW RELEASES 2021
Among the new born we are spoiled for choice, as the new production titles between 2020 and 2021 were really many and, to be honest, there are several that have not thrilled us too much. Here we point out some projects to follow because they dictate an innovative line at least in one of their characteristics:
Orlando magazine (WHO the number 1, WHO the 2 and WHO 3) was born in Christmas 2020, but we include it in this list because the aesthetic and content care of the project is very high and is accompanied each time by a cover that becomes the synthesis and spur of its excellent content.
Those stores (WHO the number 1, WHO 2), an Italian journal of anthropology. It crosses academic boundaries and breaks into the world of independent journals with scientific rigor and popular passion, fully achieving the mission of exploring new thematic horizons.
Balcony magazine (WHO the number 1), an art magazine that in the difficulty of doing something new in this sector meets the interview format and makes the project pleasant, in-depth and very interesting.
Wild Alchemy (WHO number 2) is the magazine that has literally bewitched us with its mix of alchemy, science and esotericism and its crazy graphics that marks a turnaround ... bye bye clean and minimalist lines!
Perfect magazine (WHO number 1), is one of the pillars of the 2021 launches. A striking example of the "big name" that created its own magazine. In this case it is the turn of Katie Grand, successful editor in the fashion world and founder of LOVE magazine. We have to admit that the excessive patina made someone turn up their noses in the second edition.
Inque (WHO number 1), is the new release that closes the year, but does it in a truly memorable way. A masterpiece literary and cultural magazine, a magazine that will come out in just ten editions, one a year, to immortalize a key decade in the history of humanity (and beyond) in all its complexity, "bothering" authors of the caliber of Margaret Atwood in an interview with the dead man (Orwell) e Jonathan Lethem who will write a 10-year serial novel.
Without naming names, we just say that the balance between new launches and discontinued publications is largely in favor of the former. Production in the indiemag world is significantly on the rise and the pandemic, as with so many things, has given a further boost to this trend.
We can say that for at least a decade the rediscovery of independent magazines has aroused a certain interest in niche environments, from fashion, to graphics, to design, ranging from art and architecture. This translates into an ever increasing availability of titles and the emergence of new magazines, as we have just seen. But why are so many independent magazines born? Although not exhaustive of the whole panorama, i promoters of new projects have four main origins, very different from each other:
- Historical magazines that are relaunched in the world of independent magazines, such as Lotus or Cineforum.
- Great publishers who resell as independent titles largely belonging to the Olympus of large-scale distribution o creative agencies who find a new way to sell luxury advertisements (we don't like these, however).
- Ferment for the paper of those digital natives who rediscover it not as a vintage object (more "millennial" fashion), but as a true alternative and inspirational tool for the chaos of the web. Individually or in association with each other, they are among the best generators of innovation.
- Companies who use the vehicle of the independent magazine as a tool for communicating content that is anything but advertising or predictable, creating real works of cultural diffusion that reflect a typical phenomenon of the 50s and 60s (see magazines such as Bracco or Skema in Italy)
The value of this uninterrupted ferment, which we will continue to enjoy in 2022, is certainly that of one continuous expansion of the catalog available to readers.
The increase in titles, however, poses some problems and limits to quality. Thus there is a risk of having on the one hand extremely commercial projects that have only the colorful patina of a good press office on the one hand, and on the other, the extreme amateurism of some projects that are born on the wave of enthusiasm and speed, without solid foundations behind it. with poor consistency. As the world of books teaches us, excessive production does not always correspond to a growing response from the public.
There is a great hunger for magazines in the technological and economic fields, sought after by those who work in these worlds and are really submerged by the clickbait junk that the network makes available. Theater and poetry are still orphan subjects of projects with a solid editorial structure, remaining more linked to very amateur and localized realities. Education and pedagogy are topics covered by single issues of many magazines, but never on an ongoing basis. Environment and science have some good examples peeping out, but they leave boundless spaces in the various facets of their subjects.
What do we mean? That again in 2022 the production of independent magazines will focus on the sectors of fashion, photography, art and travel (together, 68% of the titles appeared in the Frab's catalog of 2021). With all due respect to those who decide to make yet another new title in this field and satisfaction instead for those who decide to explore niches that are almost untouched today, which prove to be quite satisfactory. A tip to publishers and potential publishers: look for unexplored areas of interest and build your project here.
Since this summer we have been hearing about inflation and we see every day an increase in prices that our adulthood had never made us know so sudden. We are not economists and this is not the place to look for the causes, but to understand the effects, yes, and how. The Economist (WHO the source) a few weeks ago saw in the increase in paper prices compared to 2020, estimated between 30 and 50%, yet another coup de grace to the daily newspapers, which are caught in the grip of product obsolescence, the need for large numbers and price competition to compete with online. In our world, paper inflation is tangible.
The political and economic world is divided between those who believe that the inflationary phenomenon may be transitory or still long. In the first case, prices should settle around next summer and, even if they do not return to the levels of 2019, at least the increases should end. In the second scenario, the increases could continue for the next 2-3 years with very complex scenarios.
The first certain data for 2022 is therefore the increase in the prices of paper, that is the most essential raw material, but also of transport and storage, with a consequent adjustment of the selling prices upwards.
TO THIS IS ADDED BREXIT AND THE PROBLEMS OF PROCUREMENT.
2020, for those who remember it, before COVID was also the year of Brexit which led to very serious supply problems in the world of independent magazines. 40% of the securities we deal with are produced in or transit from the UK, a country with a still very lively market in this sector.
The distribution market outside the UK is reorganizing, but there are still no clear winners and the UK production remains very interesting.
Another trend, which is perhaps more correct to define a problem, that we will continue to see in 2022 is that of one Significant "deferred" availability between the release of titles of English origin and their European availability, especially for those who, like us, have renounced the use of Italian large-scale distribution.
It will be the increase in costs, it will be the fear that we often perceive from publishers of "overestimating" their editorial product economically, but in 2021 we clearly saw a trend that worries us in part: the gap between editorial products that seek great care in 'object and new or old magazines that are created or reinvented in much simpler and unfortunately less well-finished formats.
Magazines "printed on the internet" from the other side of the world (in the face of sustainability) or staple bindings on poor quality paper appear.
It just recently happened to us that a nice American magazine we loved informed us that the new issue would be self-produced by the author on home-made photocopied paper to keep the price down. We do not judge the editorial choices, but we warn many who, frightened by increasing the price of their indiemag, choose the path of devaluing it. It is a cat that bites its own tail: content and design are the two pillars on which the future of independent magazines is founded. If one of these is missing, the magazine itself risks diminishing its value and losing the interest of those who follow it.
The increase in the qualitative divide between independent magazines is a phenomenon that we will continue to see in 2022. We, as far as possible, will try to help this world to raise the quality of its products.
Let's start with the binding
In the last 2 years the Swiss paperback, for non-experts that thing of the spine not glued to the cover that seems to the less accustomed to be a production defect, has spread widely among the titles in the catalog. It may be for the authentic and handcrafted effect it gives to magazines, but many have chosen it as their trademark. In recent months, perhaps thanks to a Swiss paperback hangover, we have seen the phenomenon and the advent of the spiral in metal or plastic materials return. This will probably be the "fashion to effect" of 2022 with regards to binding and the new issue of A Magazine Curated By (For Gucci) coming to Frab's also anticipates it.
To stay on the subject of aesthetic trends, which we fanatics of the independent magazine love so much, let's now come to the cards used. Here, too, the numbers are those that have passed to us on Frab's and we have no third-party surveys in counter-proof. What is certain is that usoman and all that is porous, recycled and natural has dominated the last two years of the independent magazine scene. However, we are seeing the return of glossy papers, which even if they make us think of the newsstand product, offer great potential in the expression of images and photographs. Probably the one-man-patinated mix, with an important advance of the second, will be the paper trend of 2022, while we will probably say goodbye to those wonderful embossed papers with mind-boggling prices.
We have already written it to you a few lines up ... bye bye clean and minimalist lines, welcome back color, full and even a little chaotic pages, sinuous fonts (like the one chosen for the cover of this post) and curved lines.
Do you remember Cioè and all the magazines with our idols on the cover? Well, this pop fashion could be overbearing again. In 2021 there was a mad rush to grab the 90th issue of Little White Lies with Timothée Chalamet on the cover, it's happening now with an issue of Dazed with Harry Styles on the cover (yes, it will come but in its own time) and with that of The Face with Adele. The passion for independent magazines has nothing to do here; given the numbers we expect, but we do not hope, that the incursions of very famous characters on the covers of indiemag will appear more and more often.
BOXES AND "DI RECAP" EDITIONS
Here we are talking about something more imperceptible on a numerical level, but still emerging. Among our titles the masters in this field have been CTRL editions, which met with great success for the boxed version of their 3 magazine books (soon again on Frab's).
Wallet magazine, for the closure of its cycle of existence, has created a box set in only 100 pieces in the world, in a limited edition on a Gucci pattern, which was sold out, despite the very high price.
Rubbish FamZine is preparing to produce a summary book of 10 years of publication.
In short, the last decade has seen the birth of many editorial projects and those that have resisted many springs could only be successful. What better crowning of a good career than a box set? This trend and that of "recap" editions will certainly continue in 2022.
Here, this is a topic that is starting to get really hot. You know well that a magazine is independent when, by definition, it is not conditioned in its editorial line by any sponsors. In short, it is not necessary to be completely free adv to define yourself as an "independent magazine". And since investments in print are now increasingly rare (see global investment trends table in advertising, source Statista), the few that remain really have a value that can make the good and bad times of this niche.
Among the investors in print media we see more and more dominating a sector, fashion and its most illustrious protagonists. Advertisements of fashion brands are not only seen in fashion magazines, but also range in the world of art, photography and design. In short, being in an indiemag is now "cool" and more and more niche publications are approaching the world of luxury. 2022 will continue to see these brands advance and dominate advertising in the world of independent magazines. Patronage, effective communication, fashion? We do not know, but we hope that the omnipresence of certain fashion brands does not become hegemony of support for independent magazines.
An emerging trend in many magazines in our country is absolute Anglophoneization, something that we also see happening in Portugal and Spain. Particularly in Italy, excellent projects with medium runs for the sector (500-1200 pieces), choose to speak exclusively in English. This despite the fact that Italy is one of the countries where the level of knowledge of this language is among the lowest in Europe. EF (WHO the source) in the recent 2021 survey throws this reality in our face: Italy and Spain in the European region are among the countries with the least competence in English.
In the catalog managed by Frab's in 2021, 10.4% of the titles are in Italian or double language English and Italian and this generated 32% of the volumes. Also noteworthy are the searches on Frab's for the keyword "magazine in Italian" and the need, even if not statistically detectable, to provide editorial products in Italian in our physical spaces.
In short, even if this trend seems to go against all sales logic, an increasingly widespread phenomenon, especially in Italy, remains the creation of a magazine in English only. As much as we ourselves love a world with open borders and believe that a good indiemg should immediately aim at an international audience, the language of your country is important. The advice, to reverse this trend, is to provide complete translations of the magazine also in a separate booklet (see the case of Give it to me).
2022 will bring us a sea of more magazines to choose from, which will probably cost more than in the past, but which we will have to be increasingly careful to select carefully. A large part of the new born on the wave of paper enthusiasm could be short-lived in an increasingly competitive niche on the demand side, but which still does not find a statement among readers and, above all, among retailers (thanks to myopia of small bookshops unable to free themselves from the yoke of large-scale distribution).
In this rather selective list of key factors for 2022 we have not mentioned the most important one and that will truly be the game changer of our world. If we have not mentioned it, in truth, it is because more than a trend it is a wish we make to small publishers, certain that it would be a very useful element in the affirmation of their project: be extraordinarily creative. Do different things, use paper in a really useful way to stimulate the intellect, imagination and even the senses: work not only on sight but also on smell, touch and, if you can, also on hearing (our very personal praise to the promising TBD X POST in the issue you will soon find on Frab's). We expect a 2022 where the proposals in terms of titles will increase and to emerge we really need to create something unique.
We have the task of telling it.