Friday, 7 November 2014

Kids in the typo/graphic playground

Laura Meseguer looks at twenty-nine magazines in this mid-size paperback and they can easily be divided into two sections. Firstly, there are five professional titles: Architectural Review; Monocle; Neo2; New York Times Magazine; Wired. These have an editor, features editor, art editor, picture editor, production editor, sub-editors and each of these has addition staff. Secondly, the other twenty-four are a selection of indie monthly, bi-annual, annual and irregularly published magazines (plus closed ones) that are very personal to their editors and have very little connection to the professional publishing business.

Of the indie ones 'Sang Bleu' is a good example. Published twice a year with three to six hundred pages, the cover and some inside pages are shown and it's clear from these that the visual look is most important element and the readability of the headlines and copy is a poor second. In so many of these indie titles headlines run over text and pictures and perhaps the common element in these pages is that the story is handled as a visual item rather than something that is to be read. I think some of the designers of these indie titles would come completely unstuck if they had to design a real magazine, say a TV listing weekly or maybe a business monthly. Both of these have huge amounts of copy that has to be presented on the page with clarity and intelligence.Some details about each magazine are shown at the start of their chapters but I noticed that there are no circulation figures, obviously the professional ones sell thousands but the rest I would guess are a few thousand or less, maybe in the hundreds only. Some of the covers don't have bar-codes suggesting they are not distributed through regular channels and are mail only.

The book is a very lightweight look at magazine publishing because of the poor examples used to show the elements that make up pages. For anyone who wants learn about this area of publishing check out Yolanda Zappaterra's 'Editorial design', plus Baines and Haslam's 'Type and typography' is well worth a look.

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