Source: PRINTtEXT, Indianapolis
To coincide with our new site, we’re starting a new feature today. Source is a weekly interview slot with the owner of a magazine shop, and a chance for us to showcase different independent publishing stores from around the world. As we’re based in London, most of the magazines that we’re immediately put into contact with are UK-based, yet there are so many faraway, local magazines being produced that we’re just not aware of. As is becoming increasingly apparent, a love of magazines is a worldwide phenomenon, so we hope that by speaking to those that are the source of a particular community’s magazine fix, we’ll be able to cover more ground.
This week, we’re starting off with Indianapolis’ PRINTtEXT, a shop fronted by husband and wife team Ben and Janneane and their adorable, sleepy brown dog, Huckleberry. Anyone following them on Instagram (if you don’t already, definitely start) will know the shop for their impeccably executed, personalised set-designs for the magazines that they stock. PRINTtEXT also hosts regular readings, discussions and other events in their salon-like space, and they often collaborate with various cultural organisations. Over to Ben and Janneane:
When and why did you set up PRINTtEXT?
We opened PRINTtEXT in December 2013, right before the holidays. We’ve always enjoyed magazines and loved the idea of sharing our favourites with other people. The germinal idea that inspired us to opening a shop like PRINTtEXT came from several shops we’d explored while travelling abroad. In particular, we fell in love with several shops in Paris’ Marais district. Their stock was carefully edited, but still felt delightfully overwhelming. With that sort of space in mind, we decided to open a shop that was simple, but not minimal -- a place that could function as more than just a retail spot. We’ve used PRINTtEXT as a venue for poetry readings, magazine launches, art opening, and salon-style conversations with a variety of writers, activists, and thought leaders.
How do you lay out the magazines around the shop and how did you decide on that set up?
We worked on the shop’s layout and look with our friend, designer Stephen Garstang. We didn’t want the shop to look like a bookstore, where all that was visible of each publication was the spine, lined up vertically on shelves. Instead, Stephen suggested the displaying the periodicals in stacks, laid out like coffee table books, fully visible and accessible. One of the words Stephen used to inform his aesthetic approach to the space’s design was ‘monumental.’ From a monolithic Karl Springer table to elegant Thonet pieces, each design element was chosen to elevate the idea of periodicals from being mere newsstand accessories into objects worth showcasing (and reading!).
Our online product photography is something that evolved slowly, and then quickly (especially once we launched our online store). We have both enjoyed styling and photography in the past, and the idea of creating unique sets for each publication became an outlet that enables us both creatively and commercially -- more specifically, it allows us to bring dimension, explore the issue’s contents, and integrate them as objects. The blend of art and consumerism has long fascinated us, and PRINTtEXT has provided us with a place to explore how those elements blend together.
Who are your customers?
Our customers vary wildly -- from professors (we’re near several university campuses) to young(-ish) hipsters, from left-wing activists to local chefs and restaurateurs. It’s been incredible to watch new demographics discover PRINTtEXT, and then spread the word to their peers and colleagues. Online, our domestic sales tend to come from either California or New York. Internationally, it’s pretty scattered, with the majority located throughout Europe.
We also have agency subscription packages, where advertising, architecture, and design firms can “subscribe” to our shop and receive magazines each month -- a selection of titles we edit to match the agency’s focus or area of expertise.
Do you have a favourite local magazine?
We have two favourites (hope that’s okay!):
Pattern Magazine began four years ago as a fashion community for local designers and makers to meet up and learn from each other. Their magazine is an oversized biannual, and issue seven was released in March. Not only is it a wonderful publication, but it has helped catalyse the growth of Indianapolis’ burgeoning fashion industry. (Note: we helped found Pattern, and served as editors until a year ago, so we may be a little biased!)
Commercial Article is the work of design duo, Jim and Jon Sholly (two brothers who work as graphic designers under the name Commercial Artisan). They publish it annually, in limited print runs. They describe it as ‘an offshoot that explores our interest in Indiana's regional design history. The individuals profiled here have all made significant contributions to their fields, but remain less known than other, more well-documented contemporaries. Commercial Article is our attempt to change that.’ It is an immaculately designed labour of love.
What has the biggest challenge been?
Initially, we faced a learning curve with what to stock. There were magazines we had admired from afar and couldn’t wait to have them in our shop. Some of these titles, however, were hard to sell. With the introduction of our online shop, we gained access to a more varied audience. This allows us to keep a fresh, diverse mix in stock, which is part of our utmost goal at PRINTtEXT -- the import and export of ideas.
It’s also been a bit of a challenge (albeit, an invigorating one) to balance our work at PRINTtEXT with our work consulting with various arts and civic-minded organizations. Ultimately, though, we find great energy as these two vocational spheres interact and inform one another.
What changes have you seen in the magazines since you opened?
Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen countless new titles start publishing. And the subject matter they cover ranges from all-inclusive culture and lifestyle publications to super-niche titles. Many of the newer publications (i.e. less than five years old) live for about nine issues. Then they stop publishing -- some temporarily, some permanently. And the ones that stop permanently usually start up again, but under a different name, with a slightly altered masthead, joined by members from another shuttered magazine.
But the new magazine they create is usually even more astounding than the last. It’s really quite beautiful to see this cyclical pattern of new publications generating newer publications, each reaching further into various cultural crevices, writing for myriad readerships, and inspiring so many diverse demographics. It’s truly a bewilderingly delightful time for anyone involved in the world of publishing periodicals.