The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s fitting that the man who first wrote that phrase, Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr, worked in media. Sure, it was in France during the 1800s, but media all the same. Karr had been both a teacher and a novelist during his twenties, and then in 1839 at the age 31, he was made editor of the (still operating) daily newspaper Le Figaro to which he contributed regularly. Apparently unsatisfied with the amount of work he had on his plate, that same year he started his own monthly journal Les Guêpes where that epigram was first published.
Karr loved to write, and people loved to read what he had to say. Now, nearly 200 years later, after tectonic shifts in geopolitics, technology, infrastructure, and education, people still love to write and people still love to read. A lot of that reading now – the bulk of it – happens on screens. The medium that giant publishers considered only a complement to their print offerings not even 20 years ago now makes up the bulk of their business. Yet despite all of this, and in some cases because of it, there are still a wide variety of really fantastic print publications. Whether you love reading about architecture, are looking for some inspiration for your next surfing trip, or need ideas on how to replace some old camping gear – there is a title out there for you. We’ve broken up some of our favorite journals and magazines and put them into eight different sections for you to peruse- if one catches your attention, consider picking one up for the listed newsstand price or, if you are feeling bold, subscribing.
Arts and Culture
Like most information we come across on a day to day basis, the way many of us encounter art is by looking at it on a screen. While this way of engaging with visual art can be great in its own right, there is something special about being able to actually hold a printed object. The problem (or opportunity depending on who you are talking to) with screens is that each one is slightly different than the other – reds look a certain way on one laptop, and another way on someone else’s. With print, you have both consistency and quality to the images that you really can’t find anywhere else outside of bound art books. Of course, these publications are much more than just good printing shops. Impressive and striking works of design, photography, and illustration are paired with sharp writing, great stories, and wild ideas.
Most of this list consists of a solid mix between stalwart brands and new upstarts. That isn’t the case in our business section. These and authoritative magazines have managed to stay nimble and adapt to the changing times better than most others out there. In covering businesses both large and small with long profiles, in-depth studies, and cutting insights, they themselves have managed to stay relevant to their readership. Whether you are an entrepreneur yourself, or have a love for business, technology, and economics, these are all top notch titles that will keep you informed and entertained.
Design and Architecture
One of the prerequisites to being really good at what you do is to have a solid understanding of what is going on in your field. It isn’t just a question of competition, it’s one of inspiration. When you get to see what other people are doing, it helps you put your own work in conversation with the world around it instead of letting it exist in a vacuum. While magazines on design and architecture are primarily trade publications, made in large part by and for those who make a living designing and building, they are intriguing to a much broader audience because they concern something we all have in common; where and how we live.
Food writing as a whole has gone through a large change over the past ten or twenty years. As readers, we’ve gone from admiring and paying attention to those who wrote about ‘fancy’ food and expensive restaurants, to reveling in writing about street carts, traditional ethnic cuisine, and wild genre smashing eats. With the rise of this kind of punk-rock and now mainstream way of writing, we’ve seen small magazines like Lucky Peach grow into forces to be contended with, while a publication like Bon Appetit has drastically changed their image to stay relevant to today’s eaters. There is still a good deal of variety in the space, however. From the upscale Pallet, to the scrappy Put A Egg On It, you’ll be sure to find the ideal publication for you.
Literature and Journalism
If your ideal cure for a Sunday morning hangover includes a big brunch, maybe some herbs or hair of the dog, coffee, and most definitely a big stack of great writing to idly flip through – then this section is for you. While many of the titles in this space are familiar – The Paris Review and The New Yorker, of course being chief among them, there are a slew of lesser known and equally impressive publications out there. While we don’t have a list long enough to include them all, we wanted to make especially sure to shine some light on everything from a small South Africa-based lit-mag, to an impressive (and already award winning) Santa Monica-based monthly. Whether you prefer poetry, fiction, or reported storytelling – you can find a great companion for a lazy Sunday in any of these.
Glossy magazines have been the spiritual home of fashion since they were first run off the printing press during the mid 1800s. Fashion, like the the publishing world, changes often, and drastically. This is in part because of its own frenetic and wildly creative energy, and in part due to its own close connection and reliance on the media. With the rise in blogging, a form pioneered by those like Dave Winer and Andrew Sullivan in the late 1990s and early 2000s, came a corresponding turn to online media from small one-man fashion enthusiasts, industry insiders, and eventually entire institutions.
While the revolution shook up and changed both industries, introducing some new brands while seeing others fall by the wayside, it never shook its faith in print. Now, alongside publications like Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ, and Esquire you can find handsomely bound magazines from online giants Hypebeast and Highsnobiety. This isn’t to say that the story of new fashion publications has already been written and set on a shelf however. Smaller upstarts that have one foot in the small blog world and another in the ‘zine world like Men In This Town (MITT) are beginning to make their mark with great photography and attention to design, while more boutique titles like Cereal Travel and Style are taking a print-forward approach.
With a million different apps pinging you with notifications whenever any one of your fantasy football picks so much as sneezes, the idea of getting a weekly or even monthly sports publication in the mail may seem antiquated to some. The news cycle has sped up so much that what may be relevant to talk about in the morning day just isn’t by the end of the day. What publications like Sports Illustrated and ESPN offer is perspective. Away from the go go go of online content – they provide more in-depth looks at the people, the culture, and the stories behind the game.
Of course, we couldn’t just include the classic sports titles. Publications like Alpinist, Surfer’s Journal, and Peloton are all classic and worth note in their own right. Not so much focused on competition, they focus a lot of their attention on deeply reported stories paired with stunning photography and design.
Travel and Adventure
Before the slew of websites and apps we have today, if someone got curious about what was out there in the world, they knew they could find it in a yellow frame. Publications like National Geographic offered a rare window into another world for so many, and even while information has become much more democratized over the past thirty or more years, very few publications can match the quality of photojournalism that the stalwart title has since the late 1880s. Of course, the old warhorse isn’t the only player when it comes to covering adventure and travel.
Magazines like Conde Naste Traveler and Outside Magazine have managed to make it through the most recent media revolution while still managing to tell their readers compelling stories and show them foreign locales with stunning photography. Some of the most exciting publications in the field, however, are those much younger ones like Gear Patrol and Avaunt. With a design sense and voice honed online, they use print to showcase some of their most stand out projects and work.
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