I'm quite excited by Port magazine, if only for the article How to Manage the Effects of a Military Attack By Daniel Day-Lewis … which I now realise I may have misunderstood …
It's a decent looking men's mag, joining the likes of Man About Town and Esquire (the UK Edition at least) as titles that bother to treat men as grown ups. I have high hopes. Now for the big problem: where to get it. If you want to go out and buy a magazine in York, you pretty much have one option: WH Smiths. And they hate magazines. From what I can gather by the way the stock is flung at the wall with little respect for publisher or customer, they only stock magazines as a means of insulation.
Smaller titles are starting to avoid Smiths altogether. Angharad Lewis recently explained to Andrew at Magtastic Blogsplosion why the back-from-the-dead Grafik won't be appearing on the high street:
The aim is to cut down on wastage and sell to people more directly. We used to spend a lot of money and waste a lot of copies being stocked in WH Smith. They take a massive percentage of the cover price and pulp about half of all copies they stock. So we’re aiming to replace WH Smith and newsagent sales with direct online sales. You can buy a single issue online and have it delivered the next day.
I used to be part of this ridiculous machine myself. When I worked at Game (oh so many years ago), whenever new issues of Dreamcast Apologist Quarterly, Playstation Shut-In and Patrick Moore's Terrifying Floating Head Gazzette arrived, we'd have to tear off the covers of the old ones, post them back to the distributors, and then chuck the rest of the magazine in the bin. Absolutely ludicrous.
I understand why publishers would want to make the most of direct online sales, but it's a shame that I can't browse through physical copies magazines in a friendly environment anywhere. I don't want to have to buy a magazine just to see if it's any good. I need to flick through it first. Feel the weight. Smell the ink.
I think there's a real gap in the market for a shop that sells a considered, curated selection of magazines and, while you're at it (because we're probably about to lose HMV), books, music, comics and movies. A kind of miniature Borders/Fopp/Magma hybrid. Curation is the key. Shops – you will never be able to stock the quantities or range that websites can, so don't pretend that you can. What you can offer is tangibility and quality of selection. Make the most of the haptic. Do that and you keep the high street just that little extra bit more alive.
And that is how you manage the effects of a military attack by Daniel Day-Lewis.