Book Based Magazines

Reviews are coming I promise, I am just getting back in the swing of reading after a particularly bad phase of readers block. Readers block is always a bit of a nightmare and one of the things that can cure it is what my post is about today… book magazines.

I do like a good book magazine and whenever I come across one be it in the library or one of the local book shops. I love reading all the reviews, like I like reading the broadsheets and blogs, in the magazines and the author interviews, features – I just love the buzz about books that I have once I have finished reading one. It is that love of books which comes off the pages and the celebrate of old and new books within these magazine pages that makes me want to run off and read as many books as I can as soon as I can.

I should mention here that I do on occasion write for some, though I always ignore the bits I have written, however recently I have been asked if I might like to do more than just contribute one. Would I be interested in co-founding and editing a new one? Well you know how I love a new bookish project and working with other people on these (hence the joys of The Green Carnation Prize, The Readers and Bookmarked Literary Salon which I have loved working with my lovely co-founders on) so I am currently mulling the whole idea over.

My initial reaction is to say yes, because its more bookish stuff, but I also have a few reservations. In part because I am quite busy with the above mentioned projects but also because it’s going to be an online and download only magazine and I am not sure (and I have told them this so they won’t be shocked if they see it on here) we need one. You could say the more the merrier, but with the world of book blogs being so huge, and the fact a new one seems to start every other week – which I am all for, is there room for another online something? I’d like to think there is but I am not quite sure maybe one more is too many, mind you when I think about the amount of women’s monthly magazines maybe I am wrong?

So I thought I would use you all as guinea pigs and see what you thought (and help me make a decision)? Do you think in this digital world we have going on there is room for another bookish magazine be it online? If we do, what prey tell would you like to see in it? What contributors and what features would you be interested in and what authors? Would a bloggers section be good? Which book magazines do you like and why? Which book sections in general magazines do you love? Does anyone know what’s happened to Waterstones Quarterly?

Your thoughts and advice would be marvellous as always (though I don’t want you thinking I am abusing you as market research, you love books so I am interested), after all I asked you all about podcasts and you know what happened then…


Filed under Random Savidgeness

35 responses to “Book Based Magazines

  1. I write book reviews for an online newsletter called Shelf Awareness. I receive both their “pro” version, twice a week for booksellers & librarians (but available to the public, whoever’s interested), as well as their “consumer” version, 5 days/week for “regular” readers. I think they’re great. You can go check it out… I’m a big fan of what I get out of it, and guess there’s room for another of those. Plus I think SA is pretty much focused on the US (although I don’t know that for a fact…).

    • Ooh thanks for letting me know about Shelf Awareness, I had never heard about this before and I will indeed be checking that out.

      The one I have been asked to work on would be UK based, but we would be hankering after correspondants/columnists reporting from various countries worldwide so that we could get more of a flavour of whats going on here there and everywhere.

  2. I would try it, and see where it goes. There are a glut of online magazines, but there are good ones and bad ones. Another good one will be a good thing. Give it a go and see? x

  3. I think it’s a great idea to add another online book magazine into the mix–the more the merrier I say!
    While I still love to have a physical copy of a magazine to flip through, I realize, as a former magazine cataloger, that magazines are folding right and left (at least here in the US). BOOKPAGE is another magazine that has both an online site as well as a free,monthly paper copy at local libraries.
    Go for it Simon!!

    • Thats the other thing that has put me off a teeny weeny bit too if I am honest Tracy, the fact I won’t be able to hold it in my hands. As I am rather anti e-reader I am worried that I am being a hypocrit.

  4. Hard in such a magazine to walk the line between truth and niceness.

  5. Louise

    I was going to ask you about Waterstones Quarterly 😉 I don’t think they’re doing it anymore, maybe Daunt got rid of it with the 3 for 2’s. I did love the Waterstones mag. I don’t think I’d read an online magazine, wouldn’t it be just like another blog? Where would it be any different? I would love a replacement to the Waterstones magazine though.

    • I do hope that Waterstones havent stopped Waterstones Quarterly, but it does look that way. (I have just googled it and they are ‘evaluating’ it, I think that means bye bye.)

      Your thoughts about an online mag and a blog meet mine, I think its the features etc that might make the difference.

  6. I d love to do pieces on tanslation for bookish magazine ,simon but just shame my english isn’t the greatest but I’d love to pass on my passion to people ,so yes to blogger pages ,all the best stu

    • Stu, do you have skype? We would love you to join us on The Readers in a furture episode on translated fiction. I think we need more translated fiction here there and everywhere – I used to be guilty of not paying attention to if I was reading it.

  7. I would say the more the merrier, they all come at the subject from a slightly different angle. In relation to paper/online, I think the only way to go is online. You could really make a quality read with great presentation if you went this route. I have seen some real killer iPad magazines, really slick and contemporary. The biggest drawbacks with a paper mag is production and distribution costs. I really miss Waterstones Quarterly as well. Picked up a good mag in WHSmith back in Jan, it was called New Books, it had Emma Donoghue on the cover, I think it’s a bi-monthly.

    • The different angles I like Paul, that is a good argument. I like the idea of it being a bookish ‘killer iPad’ magazine too. Maybe a killer e-book magazine… literally – hahahah I am joking.

      I liked New Books and wanted to get more of them but I have never seen it in WHSmith, what section was it in?

  8. Do it, do it!

    It’s quality, not quality that makes the difference.Don’t think about how many other e-mags there are, just focus on what you want to achieve. I imagine that e-format makes it easier for people to find the mag they want to read since it is more accessible – with print there’s the danger of just folding because people couldn’t find copies or were limited on what they could try.
    I’d like to see extracts or sample chapters, some “if you like this you might like this” recommendations. Maybe also guest bloggers/reviewers and a chain where an author recommends a book or writer who in turn….

    • I like the chain idea, I would have to give that one more thought, thanks Daisie Jane.

      Sample chapters is easy enough but not too many, some book magazines I have come across have left me drowning in them.

  9. Lynda

    If you haven’t seen it before I can thoroughly recommend Good Reading magazine and website. It’s an Australian publication but they have interviews from international authors as well.

    By the way love your blog

    • Awww thanks Lynda, very nice to find new people who like this old bookish zone.

      I am going to look at Good Reading Magazine, I do love most bookish australian things… First Tuesday Book Club, an utter favourite.

  10. Annabel (gaskella)

    Go for it Simon! Quality writing with an easy to navigate snazzy layout would be lovely. I don’t really follow any on-line book mags, although I do follow several group blogs which are not quite the same thing. It’d be lovely to feature some bloggers too… 🙂

  11. Are there that many book blogs? I struggle to find them so please point me their way!

    I’m no expert, but I have tried to answer a few of your questions.

    Do you think in this digital world we have going on there is room for another bookish magazine be it online?
    This really depends on what you do with it. I’ve not seen a lot of literary ezines but the main problem I find with the few I encounter is a lack of variety (a problem I worry about a lot when I write my blog). It is great contributors have things in common but debate and difference are interesting things for a reader. Have things which encourage discussion and you are onto a winner, in my opinion. I also think if marketed effectively it can be difficult to fail.

    If we do, what prey tell would you like to see in it?
    Reviews, author discussions, articles on genres and themes, everything!

    Would a bloggers section be good?
    Yes! They contribute and anyone who reads their blog will read that, it widens your readership. Plus I’d find it very interesting.

    The key thing really is exactly what you are concerned about it, will it get diluted in the sea of this sort of thing that’s out there? Find your niche in that sea and you’ll be fine, otherwise it could be difficult

    • I am planning on updating my blog roll soon, as its out of date, Alice and it will be overflowing with about 20- 30 of my favourites (I am a bit picky).

      Thanks for all the suggestions of the sections and what you would like to see, really, really helpful.

  12. I’ve been waiting to reply to this blog post because I almost set up my own book magazine last year with a designer friend of mine. I have to say, if you’re going to go ahead with this idea, please don’t go digital. With so much furore in the industry about print Vs digital, I think you’d be safer offering a print magazine or newspaper with a PDF version available to those who want it.

    You should check out this site – That is where my designer friend ended up setting up a very pretty and successful music based newspaper. Something like that would work very well and could be ordered online through supporting blogs. The prices are very good with free delivery to the readers.

    Just ideas…

    • Great ideas thanks Dan. Lots to think over, and oddly its the second magazine I have been asked to be involved with in the last fortnight, though the other one is an even bigger project so it might take precedence. We will see…

  13. I think there is a gap in the market for a UK-based online book magazine. Looking at the ‘Shelf Awareness’ magazine mentioned above – that’s the sort of thing I’d love to see a UK version of. I love reading blogs but they are very personal and completely at the whim of the individual blogger. A magazine could provide a one-stop shop of all the current goings-on in the book world with contributions from lots of sources. When I’m having a bored housewife moment I search the web for a good book site and have yet to find one that hits the spot – I tend to end up in the Guardian books section or the Bookseller website. I think a good online magazine backed up with a website that’s kept up to date and archives past articles would be fantastic. Hope that helps. Liz.

    • Yes I know what you mean Liz about the personal side of blogs, which is lovely and what I aim to bring across, but I think with an online magazine you can have that slight distance. I would want all reviewers to be passionate book lovers though, even if they didnt love the book they were reviewing.

  14. I think there’s room, and though a print mag would be risky it would also be lovely. You’d have a ready-made distribution network in bookshops (or the ones that remain, ahem) and it wouldn’t be confined to one chain – for me always a problem with the Waterstones quarterly, as I’m miles from a W.

    Personally, I’d like to see something reflecting backlist as well as current titles, and not just fiction, but that could just be because of my current reading/blogging project.

    • Print magazines are having a nightmate at the moment Kate, I am lucky as one of mine is a tax loss to a millionaire so it keeps running, alas not many magazines have that luxury. Maybe I shouldnt have put that tax loss thing in print… oops.

      I think most print magazines are all about new books, with an online mag you can do more different things. I think lots of people want to hear more about older books, I know I certainly would.

  15. Quality not quantity is what I (we) are all looking for and I’m sure you are the sort of person to provide it. The only book-related publication I read with any regularity is the New York Review of Books, and I do like like its mix of novels, factual, and other media although some brevity might not come amiss and visually it isn’t appealing.

    Good luck to you!

    • Thanks DP! I am still mulling it over but think it could be fun, and even if it dies a death its good for the CV I guess, though if it fails actually maybe not so much.

      • About 6 years ago a lovely colleague suggested that I needed more fun in my life. I took her at her word and quite honestly I haven’t regretted for one moment taking up her advice (despite the new challenges it has brought …). Go for it!

  16. This is a sore topic for someone who has been made redundant as a magazine editor and cannot find full-time work! 😦

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