Round-up: Printout literary special

by Stine Fantoft Berg in September 2015
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Thanks very much to everyone who came down to The Book Club in Shoreditch for last night’s latest Printout event, co-hosted by Stack and magCulture. We were joined by four literary titles that all began as a response to mainstream literary publishing, but which are all finding their own different niches within the genre.


The Lifted Brow
First up was Simon Collinson, digital director of The Lifted Brow, an Australian magazine that bills itself as ‘an attack journal from Australia and the world’. Simon spoke about their strategies for reaching a wider readership, for example by building a literary community on Tumblr, and by investing in overseas distribution for the print magazine.

It was striking that for the team at The Lifted Brow, success is not merely survival but continued growth. Having upped their print run from 2,000 to 6,500 since their redesign in March this year, this is one literary magazine that seems to be going strong.

Slightly Foxed
Following Simon, we had Jennie Paterson of Slightly Foxed, a London-based quarterly magazine that focuses on “forgotten books”; the sort of titles that don’t get a lot of coverage elsewhere. Community is also important for them – every quarter they travel to a different independent bookshop to host a Slightly Foxed event, and by backing that up with friendly, personal service they’ve built a killer subscription business. Of 8,500 copies printed, 7,000 go direct to subscribers, giving them a fantastically loyal readership and a reliable source of income.


American Chordata
Next came a video presentation by Ben Yarling, editor of American Chordata – a magazine of art and writing based in New York. With just one issue published so far, American Chordata was the evening’s youngest publication, but here, too, were signs of success. Ben reported that the first issue is selling out across the US, and that their free PDF version of the magazine has been downloaded 20,000 times. American Chordata hopes to reach further than the established literary readership, and with the next issue due out in November and an increased focus on the business end of things, Ben aims to quadruple the print run.

The Happy Reader
Finally, Seb Emina, editor-in-chief of The Happy Reader took the stage. The Happy Reader, a collaboration between Penguin Classics and Fantastic Man, was born as a response to the question, ‘What would happen if we combined classic literature with contemporary and current magazine writing?’. With a handy format and 64 pages, The Happy Reader aims to be a relatively quick read, so as not to compete with the time you could spend reading a book.

We love the simplicity of the format – take a look at the video review we posted yesterday for a full explanation of what it does so well. Seb was optimistic in his hopes for the future, aiming humbly for “complete world domination”, but noted that for The Happy Reader there isn’t the same pressure to bring in cash. Instead the emphasis is on reach, and he reminded the audience that thanks to Penguin’s backing, anyone can subscribe to The Happy Reader for just the price of postage.


As always, the best bit of the night came after the presentations had ended and our speakers and the audience stayed around for a beer and a chat about magazines. Watch out for details coming soon of our next Printout, scheduled for the end of November, and in the meantime don’t forget to buy your tickets for magCulture’s annual conference, The Modern Magazine, taking place on Thursday 29 October at Central Saint Martins in London.

See you there!

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