Stacking the odds for Indie Magazines Success

Here’s an idea which some enterprising comics publisher, or comics distributor, might consider as a way to drum up interest in their full range of titles.

The financial crisis will make 2009 a year of high innovation for independent magazines, according to Stack, a new association of independent publishers, described as the world’s first independent magazine recommendation and subscription service.

In an interesting way of drumming up new readership for the magazines, using Stack’s new service readers can sign up to a single annual subscription and every month a different independent magazine is sent direct to their door. They never know exactly what’s coming next, but they do know that it will offer a beautiful and intelligent view from outside the mainstream, and at just £3 per issue, it’s cheaper than buying the same magazines in the shops.

“When we were researching Stack, people told us that their personal tastes were creative, intelligent and independent,” says Steven Watson, the group’s founder, “but when we asked whether they read magazines that reflected those values, nearly 60% said no. Stack aims to bridge that gap by making it easier than ever for people to get hold of fantastic magazines.”

Without the marketing budgets of the bigger publishing houses, independent magazines have always had to find creative and cost-effective ways of reaching readers, and Stack is just one innovation currently emerging from the UK’s cash-strapped independents.

Magazines featured on the service include titles such as Russia!, Worn, Bearded, Plan B, Bad Idea, B-East and Electric Sheep.

BAD IDEA presents… Printomortis – Episode 1 from BAD IDEA magazine on Vimeo.

In related news for indie magazines promotion, the features magazine Bad Idea ( has this week launched Printomortis, a fictional TV mini-series that follows life at an independent magazine in the dying days of print. (The first episode may ring bells with many indie comics publishers, I suspect…)

Made in association with Channel 4 filmmaker Bronwen Parker-Rhodes, the series will run online and takes a satirical look at the troubles currently faced by print magazines.

“In the current climate, publishing businesses who remain overly reliant on advertising revenues will find life difficult,” says Jack Roberts, a founding editor of Bad Idea. “We’ve had to diversify our business and also experiment to reach new audiences, whether that’s by creating a web TV mini-series, conceiving and running new event concepts for clients like the V&A and Channel 4, or setting up the world’s first fully integrated online submissions facility for aspiring contributors. Stack is a brilliant example of the kind of fresh, imaginative thinking that is necessary if independent magazines are to hurdle the financial challenges we all face.”

Meanwhile, movie magazine Little White Lies is demonstrating that a magazine can both profit from and remain independent of the industry it covers. Renowned as the UK’s most honest and unmerciful film title, LWLies’ design team also create award-winning movie posters and branding for individual film distributors. The synergy between magazine and industry is demonstrated perfectly in the posters currently advertising the LWLies ‘Che’ issue.

The posters, which feature the magazine cover and the release date of the movie, were paid for by Che’s distributors Optimum, in a mutually beneficial move designed to get people into cinemas to see Che, and to get people into WHSmith to buy the magazine.

“We never pick cover movies for commercial reasons, or are paid or influenced by film distributors for our choices. We just love them, and we want to shout about them,” says Danny Miller, publisher of LWLies.

“When we work with great film distributors like Optimum, they understand this and are keen to help us out.”

• Check out Stack and the titles offered at:

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

Categories: Magazines

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