Tech, web and business magazine Offscreen is consistent. Like Delayed Gratification or Hole & Corner, there are no surprises when a new issue comes out: the magazine about ‘pixel people’ is reliable and has found its formula. The brand new issue 15 is the last of this dependable Offscreen though – publisher Kai Brach has decided that now ‘it’s time for a reset’.
For those who aren’t familiar with the title, Offscreen’s editorial structure is built around six long-form, holistic Q&A interviews with designers, developers and entrepreneurs. The new issue includes such interviews with futurist Amy Webb, web consultant Eric A. Meyer, and creative network The Dots founder Pip Jamieson (see slideshow).
Although it’s a strong issue, change is welcome – the format and vision of the project is appealing but the repetitive structure of Q&A after Q&A can overwhelm and at times lack editorial distinction. Kai has determined that he’ll be rethinking the entire brand on the website for his recent fundraising campaign (which ends September 30th but has already reached over its stretch goal of $18,000). ‘More than just the design of the magazine itself, our website and backend are in need of an overhaul that allows Offscreen to grow with its audience,’ explains Kai. ‘For the lack of a better word, we call it a “rebrand”.’
Kai’s emphasis here is on design and his publishing model, but it’s a shame that sometimes the open publishing project underlying the magazine (he blogs regularly and indepth about process) has proved more influential than the magazine itself, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the rethink extends to the editorial content.
Once a magazine has been consistent for long enough, it’s natural that its publisher feels the need for a change – if not for readers, then for their own sense of progress and sanity. Consistency can lead to predictability. ‘Reasons for the overhaul: to keep things fresh and interesting (for me and my readers) but also because I want to change my process in a way that the brand can grow better,’ Kai told magCulture. ‘The new structure of the mag will (hopefully) allow me to work more easily with a few freelancers which would give me some more breathing room. There’ll also be a weekly newsletter which will become a regular ‘digital digest’ of the magazine – this currently runs under themoderndesk.com.’
Another reason for the rebrand is to make subscribing easier and more flexible (through an auto-renew system). ‘It will all work a little more like using and buying digital services/ apps,’ Kai explains. ‘You can sign up to a certain “plan” and you can cancel or change your plan any time. It’s a bit of an experiment, really, and I’m still working out all the details.’