do you read me?!, Berlin
With the magCulture Shop opening its doors at the end of next week, it seems appropriate to wind up our series of Source interviews with a visit to Berlin and the bellwether of independent magazine retail, the magnificent Do You Read Me?!
Speaking with different stores over the last few months, many shop owners site DYRM?! as one of the reasons they first got into magazine retail – without it, it’s difficult to imagine the independent publishing scene would have become what it now is. Last month we featured a long interview with the store founder and graphic designer Mark Kiessling about his career. Today we’re focusing on the shop, and we catch up with Mark and his co-founder, DYRM?!’s Jessica Reitz.
When and why did you set up do you read me?! ?
Jessica: We established DYRM?! in 2008. As well as selling magazines and books in our main shop in Berlin’s Mitte, we organised lectures, exhibitions and talks. The idea was to bring readers and publishers together and create a meeting place for everyone interested in the different aspects of print.
How do you lay out the magazines around the shop and how did you decide on that set up?
Mark: Our store is quite small with windows on both ends of the space - this gives us a good amount of daylight and a nice atmosphere, but leaves us with only two walls for the display. So we decided to install several rows of wall-sized shelves I designed with Berlin product designer and good friend Rupert Kopp to present as many stacks of magazines cover-up alongside the defining walls.
On the floor we have some flea market benches from Berlin hinterland, a simple ply-wood counter and street-side, in the window, we have two displays I initially designed for our travelling satellite store at Design Miami/ Basel six years ago. The set-up of titles is changing quite a lot as we only have a very rough general sorting arrangement. We like to place new titles next to established ones, create changing groups of interest, due to the varying frequency and seasons of publishing.
Who are your customers?
Mark: We are happy that our clientele is a good mix of locals and tourists, creatives and people that simply share an interest in printed matter, photography, design, art, fashion and/or literature. Our assortment is quite subjective and admittedly might seem a bit random sometimes, but then again it holds many surprising titles…
What's your best-seller this month?
Jessica: Like every half year, Apartamento, The Gentlewoman and Fantastic Man. We are also very glad that the Happy Reader, a new, emerging title from 2015, is already selling so well, and that titles like Brownbook and The Outpost, focused on the middle east’s art and culture scene, have so many dedicated readers.
Do you have a favourite local magazine?
Mark: More and more magazines are made in Berlin, but if I have to choose, I’d favour mono.kultur for its simple and striking concept of interviewing one person per issue in a given format (A5), whilst always changing the design.
What has the biggest challenge been?
Mark: I think besides finding and keeping the right staff, the biggest challenge is to keep an eye on the stock, both in store and in the storage. Limited space and time sets us natural problems, but sometimes it is really hard to say no – to yourself as well as to the guy in front of you – and to clear out titles to make room for new ones…
What changes have you seen in the magazines since you opened?
Mark: As we opened our doors in the middle of another big end of print debate we’ve seen a lot of titles come and go, but all in all, especially independent publishing really became more and more independent due to new ways of publishing, distribution and working together.
It’s somewhat grown up, proving every day and with every new title that the idea and the people behind a magazine are much more important than money alone.