Kickstart a magazine

by Steve Watson in February 2010
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At the start of the month we wrote a post that ended by asking whether anyone out there had come up with a clever way of starting a new magazine. And the answer, all the way from Brooklyn, is yes.

Remedy Quarterly is a lovely food magazine – small format, perfect bound and mixing storytelling with recipe writing, it draws upon the personal recollections of food lovers to create a worthy addition to America’s current crop of independent food magazines.

But if Remedy is in good company thematically, it’s entirely unique when it comes to the way that it’s funded.

I spoke to Aaron Carambula, one of its editors and designers, and he explained how he and his co-editors had talked about starting their own food magazine and had always assumed they’d have to fund it themselves and try to recoup the cost later. But then they came across a new site called Kickstarter, and realised that they could use it to drum up support and get people to pay for copies before the magazine even existed.

Aaron explains: “I don’t know how many NPR pledge drives you’ve had to endure because you live in the UK, but Kickstarter works the same way. You say, ‘well, for this amount you get this, for a higher amount you get something else’. We set it up so that for $7, which is 50c off cover, people got an issue, and they got it before it was available anywhere else.

“But then we had to fill this space between the $7 single issue pledge and a $34 subscription, and we thought maybe people would like to give them away as a gift, so for $14 you get two copies, and a lot of people have opted for that. And we went from there. We designed a tote bag to give away, then we went up into the more generous sponsorship areas, where you get your name in the back of the book and you can be a bit more of an altruistic sponsor rather than just buying your copies, and we got a few of those.”

Just 15 days into the pledge drive Remedy was mentioned on US blog Design Sponge, and within 24 hours they had exceeded the amount they needed for start up, allowing them to amp up the paper and print quality and generally make Remedy even better than they’d hoped.

Now Remedy is out in shops and it’s being sold via the website, so it needs to find readers in the same way as any other magazine, but Kickstarter not only funded the set up and print of the first issue, it’s also provided a boost that gives it the sort of momentum a new magazine always needs.

Kickstarter is a relatively new idea but it’s growing fast and seems ideally suited for starting magazines. It has a whole section dedicated to journalism and a clear bias towards the independent, so if you’re reading this and thinking about creating your own independent title, get yourself over there and take a look. And let us know – we want to hear about all the new Kickstarter magazines as they happen.

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