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The beauty of print: the best-looking titles on the news-stand

In the digital era, a magazine's design has never been more crucial to its survival




Created by American entrepreneur Lucas Badtke-Berkow, Paper Sky began as an in-flight style bi-lingual publication running stories in Japanese and English. Twenty five issues old, it now focuses on its Japanese readers. But the messages of good design and sustainability remain in place for the magazine that uses soy ink on recycled paper. "We want to make sure the vibrations we put out are positive," says Badtke-Berkow. The Paper Sky brand has TV, DVD and website elements, but its founder says the magazine will always be central.




Swedish contemporary art magazine YKKY is a large format annual measuring almost A3. Just two issues old, the editors plan to alter the design with each issue, and offer works of art with little or no commentary. The magazine is printed on Munken Lynx, an exclusive, silky uncoated paper and features large artistic spreads alongside interviews with prominent creatives. "In the digital age, information and news is accessible 24/7. We see no need to contribute to this flow of fast information. We like to create an oasis," says co-editor Tobias Rydin.




Launched in 2002, Pol Oxygen is unmistakable for its holed out cover and a special UV varnish. "We wanted POL Oxygen to be as recognisable from its front cover as, say, National Geographic, with its yellow border," says editor Jan Mackey. The magazine, which reports on design, art and architecture, often plays with format from issue to issue, including super-size foldouts and unique page trims. "Using production techniques that make a work of art out of our graphic art is one way we ensure that our issues are collected, and we safeguard the future of print," she says.




A10 is a Dutch architecture magazine published by critic Hans Ibelings and graphic designer Arjan Groot. It has a disciplined, unfussy layout and is marketed as "the most economical architecture magazine possible" according to Ibelings. With this in mind, the editors have used oversized dimensions and print right up to the edge of the page. "We are investing in print, but not to make something precious," says Ibelings. "We know that print is endangered. Paper still has a future; maybe even more so as the internet is becoming more of a junkyard.




Magazine, journal, book: call it what you will, McSweeney's is definitely "out there". The literary quarterly published by Dave Eggers has been known to print a short story on a large deck of interchangeable playing cards. Like sister title The Believer, McSweeney's prides itself on good design (not always a given with literary magazines). "We try to do something physical with almost every issue," says editor, Eli Horowitz. "But we don't see ourselves in opposition to the internet or any sort of technology - we're not trying to be reactionary. In fact, our website plays a big role in how we reach new people, communicate with our readers, sell our books, and build a community. We are trying to take advantage of the inherent possibilities of whatever we're creating."




Biannual Dutch style magazine Fantastic Man is the brainchild of Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom, creators of Butt magazine. Printed in wide format, the magazine uses three paper stocks: gloss stock for advertising; uncoated greyscale paper for editorial content; and a rare, thick stock sourced by the editors for the cover. The Spring/Summer 2008 issue features a loose letter to the reader praising the art of traditional correspondence. "Other fashion magazines are representing old fashion - glossy pages and flashy cars. We want to reinvent it," says van Bennekom. "We're aware we're a magazine versus the internet. So we're offering a disciplined approach to design with super-good writing and photography."




Purple, the Parisian publishing house behind Purple Fashion, Purple Prose and Purple Sexe has inspired countless other magazines with its clean design, long-form essays and use of multiple paper stocks (including 40gsm newspaper). "The object itself is important to me, but less so than the content and the fact it is meant to be read," says Elein Fleiss, publisher and editor-in-chief of Le Purple Journal. The journal is published three times a year in both French and English, and has a circulation of 8,000. "I do it in print because I like print and I don't believe in reading on a screen for more than five minutes. I find the sensual link to paper important." Fleiss says she will now take a break and possibly make the journal annual.




Monocle is the latest creation of Wallpaper* founder Tyler Brûlé. A cross-format media brand taking in web, audio-visual, and podcasting elements, Monocle is more than just a magazine. But weighing in at nearly 200-pages per issue, the magazine is arguably the flagship product. Printed on five different premium grade paper stocks, including triple coated gloss, Monocle has its own "bespoke" size. Recent issues have featured raised foil blocks on the cover (to depict gold bullion) and supplements held in place by a large rubber band. "Monocle invests in print because it believes magazines should be tactile, collectable," says editor Andrew Tuck. "If every year you cut corners to save costs, you can't complain if nobody buys your magazine. And you can't blame the internet for stealing your followers if you are not offering something unique."