Ever wanted to get access to a curated selection of independent magazines without having to commit to a subscription? Our favourite subs service Stack is now offering exactly that, a weekly limited number of a single magazine available to order post-free. The new service, Sampler, launches today, and we caught up with Mr Stack, Steve Watson, to find out more about it.
How long have you been planning Sampler, and what are your hopes for it?
I’ve been working on Sampler for a little over six months. I started sketching out some rough ideas at the end of last year and gave myself the time between Christmas and New Year to ponder them in a bit more depth, and it’s been my main focus ever since.
Sampler is all about helping more people to discover brilliant magazines, so above all else I want it to introduce readers to magazines they wouldn’t otherwise have bought. There’s enormous enthusiasm for independent publishing at the moment but it’s often hard to convert that enthusiasm into people actually buying magazines. I came up with three problems and potential solutions:
1. It’s hard to find the best magazines: This is just really difficult – with so many magazines coming out, it’s hard to know which ones are actually good. That’s why Sampler picks one magazine every Thursday and sends it straight to your inbox with a few pictures and some quick, easy to read information.
2. Postage is expensive: Sending single magazines around the world is expensive. That obviously puts a lot of people off, so I wanted to find a way of getting around it. These days I send thousands of pieces of mail each month on Stack, which means I get access to the best shipping rates. And I’m also happy for Sampler to only make a modest profit, which means I’m able to offer free shipping to customers in the UK, Europe and USA, or subsidised shipping everywhere else in the world.
3. There’s no reason to buy now: When a magazine is printed, it goes and sits in a shop or a warehouse or a spare bedroom with hundreds or thousands of other copies, just waiting to be bought. That means there’s no urgency – there’s no reason to buy the magazine today rather than tomorrow. But on Sampler there are only 100 copies available, so if you see a magazine you like and you want the ease of buying with a couple of clicks, and you want free shipping, and you want 10% off the cover price, you have to buy now!
How will Stack and Sampler work together?
If Stack is the best way to subscribe to independent magazines, Sampler is the best way to buy single issues of independent magazines. There are some people who just don’t want to sign up to a subscription service no matter what it is, and I can understand that. But of course most people aren’t as rigid as that, so I imagine I’ll see lots of Stack subscribers occasionally buying from Sampler, and hopefully lots of Sampler buyers also becoming Stack subscribers. I’ll never send out the same issue of a magazine on both services, so people won’t have to worry about accidentally doubling up on a magazine.
Are there enough good magazines to offer a new issue every week?
Yes! It’s going to be a huge jigsaw puzzle making it all fit together and probably a bit stressful sometimes, but I’m not worried about having enough magazines. I’ll be announcing the 56 launch magazines on the Stack blog over the coming week, and they’re all really strong. If anything there’s going to be too much competition for places!