Review: Print’s Not Dead

Print's Not DeadLike books, magazines hold an immense pull for me. Print magazines, particularly, are something I’ll pore over for hours and keep and display on my bookshelves or coffee tables.

So a coffee table book about magazines holds an elevated appeal. I ordered Ruth Jamieson’s Print’s Not Dead as soon as I heard about it and set about eagerly anticipating its arrival.

With minimal text and maximal examination of the world’s best independent magazines, Print’s Not Dead explains the points that prove its title. That is, that niche, largely ad-free, design-focused, and reader-funded magazines are booming.

This is in large part to their leveraging of the barrier-removing internets and its social media and other faculties. Or, as Jamieson put it: ‘Instead of moaning about the internet moving their cheese, these magazines look for ways to use digital media to their advantage.’

The speed of the internets have also, Jamieson says, fueled and helped fulfill a demand for slower, higher-value products such as print mags. And the producers of these magazines don’t try to beat digital at its own game—they concentrate on what print alone can do to create timeless, keepsake items.

It’s no mistake, then, that these magazines are featured in a coffee table book, AKA the form that arguably best represents that which should be admired and kept.

Some of the incredible magazines featured in the book—a kind of convergence of two of my favourite things—include:

  • Wrap, a biannual magazine that includes news, features and interviews with illustrators, and five pull-out sheets of wrapping paper commissioned specifically for the magazine issue
  • Works That Work uncovers the design stories behind fascinating objects. It’s featured the works of Magnum photographers and World Press Photo winners. So it’s basically extraordinarily beautiful and informative about things you might think about but have no idea how (or the time) to investigate
  • Lalata, which means ‘the can’, and which is literally a magazine in a can—a rethink of what a magazine should look and operate like
  • Another Escape, which came about after co-founders Jody Daunton and Rachel Maria Taylor met and carried out a kind of long-distance relationship. Their weekend-away catch-ups were termed by friends ‘another escape’; their adventures inspired a gorgeous magazine documenting them and other adventures worth having
  • Delayed Gratification aims to be the last to news, instead allowing the dust to settle, the information to be digested, and for research to be conducted in order to provide a richer, fuller picture of an issue. The magazine also uses some incredible infographics. I heart this magazine much.

I’m not sure if Print’s Not Dead will be an annual collation—I’d very much like to see that—or a one-off. Jamieson is active in the industry and is one of the go-to people to discuss the future of print and magazines more widely, so I’d love to see what she predicts coming, or flags what’s worth examining, in coming years.

Even if it’s not an annual publication, it’s a fantastic point-in-time reference. Reading it, I’m reminded that just as digitally rendered books have not swept aside print books, electronic magazines and other media have and will not ushered print magazines aside.

What their future holds, I can’t begin to predict. But I do know they’ll be around and I’ll continue to enjoy them.

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.

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