Last week’s Stack Awards were a positive way to end a pretty miserable 2016. Indie magazine makers from across the world gathered at London’s Book Club to hear judges announce the winners, but more than the awards themselves, this was a celebration of independent pubishing.
Last years debut Awards night set the tone: informal, relaxed, beery, a world away from the white-clothed winy ballrooms of traditional awards nights. This years second edition was busier still, the dark cellar room packed with indie figures from Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, US, Lebanon, Turkey. The international nature of indie publishing was well reflected, but London’s central role was evident in the shortlists.
As with all Awards, the winners were left buzzing while those that didn’t win will have felt a little deflated. But ultimately this was a celebration for all, and the night reflected the supportive nature of the indie world. It was great to see people mixing and meeting, surely the main purpose of the evening.
Independent magazines continue to go from strength to strength, and both the shortlists and winners lists demonstrate the breadth of the form. The Launch of the Year list was particularly impressive: three strong but different magazines that will surely grow to join more established titles like The Gentlewoman and The White Review.
As I write here I assume everyone reading knows most of these magazines. But we can’t be complacent, there’s a bigger world out there. I learnt recently that a senior management figure at one of the UK’s biggest magazine publishers had not heard of The Gentlewoman. Absurd though that seems, everyone involved in indie mags needs to make sure we don’t end up in our own filter bubble.
As a judge, it was a particular pleasure to hand the Magazine of the Year trophy to Kirstin and Ernst of MacGuffin (above). Their magazine sums up everything that is exciting about independent mags. It’s an intriguing, original idea that completely reinvents an existing genre (the design magazine) and appeals beyond the core design audience – the way it places design in the contentx of so many other disciplines means anyone with an ounce of curiousity will find it engaging. MacGuffin is a truly original idea that revels in its content, design and production. I could write on about it, but in the end you need to have the magazine in your hands to understand and enjoy it – it’s the physical object that makes it count. What better praise can a magazine attract? And I know my fellow Mag of Year judge Gail Bichler felt similarly definite about the choice.
Congratulations to Steve Watson and his team for the success of the Awards, and to all the entrants, shortlisted titles and winners.
It was great to be back at the Book Club, especially now the Printout evening have ended, but the first challenge for the 2017 Awards has already been set: they’ll surely need a larger venue. Fingers crossed we’re not heading to a hotel ballroom.
We have a year of magazines ahead of us before the 2017 Awards. Bring it on!