Australia and Australians have a great love for innovative print. In creative industries, Perimeter Editions, World Food Books, and Bloom Publishing are household names. The former and the later are two Melbourne publishing houses (specialising in artist editions and home grown zines and photobooks), whilst World Food Books is a book service (based on Level 3 of the iconic Nicholas Building in Melbourne) that describes itself as being ‘dedicated to presenting a quality selection of international contemporary art journals, monographs and artists’ editions.
In the last two years a spate of incredible independent publications/zines including: Fossil Fuels, Museum, Karakia, House Wear and Hosting to name a few, launched in Australia. Even Sydney, a new small gallery in Surry Hills recently released Redleaf, a publication depicting its first exhibition in print form. So at a time when major Aussie publishing houses are being taken over by international conglomerates (think Bauer Media’s 2012 purchase of ACP), and iconic Australian magazines, like the once controversial and avant-garde Cleo magazine recently discontinued (lest we forget the dark month of January this year, when we saw the end of Ita Buttrose’s 44-year legacy of female-focused journalism), what’s not to applaud when someone enthusiastically tells you they’re starting a publication or ‘self-publishing?’ Of course the pessimist in us all is quick to strike.
‘How do you intend to fund this?’ is a common catchphrase. Let’s be clear here, we’re not talking about a blog or active Facebook memoir, we’re talking about producing a real, ‘flesh and blood,’ print magazine or journal. It. Requires. Money. Plus sweat, tears and a coterie of professional connections (or favours to ask!) to keep it afloat. There’s the graphic design fees, the printing costs themselves, and shipping to take into account. That’s not even considering the rapid depreciation of the Aussie dollar for those who feel their publication has a niche audience abroad. Even a small print run can set you back upwards of $2000. And that’s before you even think about PR, stock lists and the inevitable losses suffered on gift copies and reprints if (God forbid) something goes wrong.
Enter the enabler: advertising. However, these days, because print readers are more discerning, the ethics of advertising is a territory that requires careful navigation. You have to consider the compatibility of ads to your content. You then have to convince companies that you feel align with your brand why they should, why they need to advertise with you. Sourcing advertisers can be a long haul process of cold calling and rejection before you find a handful of people or businesses willing to help support your vision.
Private backers are another possibility, however, post GFC, where people play their cards (and their dollars) close to their chests, they’re few and far between. The truth is that publishing in this day and age is a labour of love, from conception to fruition. It’s hard work and more often than not an uphill battle. That’s why it’s so important to support and foster independent publications and through them print itself.
So, why publish if it’s so difficult? Why not just publish online – surely it’s easier, more cost effective?’ The answer is simple. There’s nothing quite like holding a print edition in the palm of your hands, feeling it’s weight, the texture of the paper grade. There’s that new magazine (or journal) smell, the visual aphrodisiac of great graphic design, and the emotional attachment you form with a print publication because it’s a real, tangible thing. Print publications, because they’re physical, have a sense of purpose.
The Office Space sees this importance and nurtures it. As a share workplace provider, it is a huge supporter of small businesses, including small publishing houses. In the last two years we have supported our Virtual Office Residents Museum magazine, and local, small time art and design journal Apathetic in an advertorial capacity. Whilst in recent months we have been joined at our Reservoir location by independent Aussie publication Frankie magazine and Smith Journal.
Naturally, we are avid subscribers to InDesign, Habitus, Smith Journal and Museum, to name a few of the incredible home grown publications you can find in either our Paramount concierge booth magazine rack, or our Level 5, Reservoir Street library. This month we proudly announce that BIG EGO books, a boutique bookshop specialising in rare and ‘hard to find’ print publications, takes up a residency in our Paramount office space.
Read more about BIG EGO HERE. And don’t forget to check out The Office Space’s 5 Antipodean publications you NEED to read, for key insights into what should fill those holes your magazine collection is lacking.