Stack America: Bringing “Magazines That Matter” to Your HomeOctober 25, 2009
There are over 7,000 magazines distributed on the nation’s newsstands every month and few of the aforementioned magazines ever makes it to the heartland of American homes and customers. In fact more than 3,000 independent magazines never engage in any type of direct mail solicitations, so they remain unnoticed by many.
Well, not after this coming January. My friend Andrew Losowsky, author, writer, editor and co-curator of the independent magazine forum Colophon, has embarked on a new venture: Stack America. He writes about this new subscription service, “Think of it as a private magazine club that brings a fresh perspective on the world every two months. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who works in editorial, graphic design or advertising – or even a doctor or dentist looking for something fresh to put in their waiting room. If you live in the USA and you’re at all interested in modern storytelling, Stack America is for you.” (Just a side note, did I mention that those magazines arriving at your home are Ink on Paper magazines and not digital entities!)
The goal of Stack America is “to help connect amazing magazines with curious readers, showcasing the best in imaginative, independent publishing.” The idea of Stack America comes from Stack Magazines, a subscription service that was founded in London in 2008 by journalist Steve Watson, to bring the best independent publishing to a wider audience. The majority of its magazines are European-based. Stack America is its New England-based offshoot, sending out mainly American independent magazines.
The subscription price to Stack America choice of magazines is $71.99, quite a hefty price compared to the majority of the traditional American magazines. So I asked Andrew:
Why do you think people will pay such a high price for magazines they do not know about? While the average sub. price is still under $25, why do you think readers are willing to pay that high price?
AL: Part of Stack America’s mission is to help people rethink what they understand as being a magazine. In reality, we’re talking about two different kinds of magazine.
Those who have subs under $25 are the big name glossy magazines, where much of the editorial is sourced from press releases and PR. Though there are occasional exceptions, these are publications created for advertisers ahead of readers, and by editorial teams who are scared to innovate much, in case they lose their market position and put off a potential advertiser.
Stack America, however, deals with a very different kind of magazine: publications created by imaginative, groundbreaking people outside of the mainstream, telling stories through words, design and images as they want them told. Not all of these are successful experiments – but when they get it right, they point to a future for print, showing the mainstream how and where to go next. Their biggest problem is distribution – which is where Stack America comes in. We’re handpicking only the best magazines to showcase to an audience that we think will love them too. No magazine can pay to be part of Stack America – the credibility and selection is our guarantee, and we think that people will agree it’s worth the price (which still works out cheaper than buying the magazines individually).
It isn’t for everyone – and we don’t expect the majority of glossy magazine buyers to sign up. However, those people who love great design, storytelling, creativity and imaginative publishing are in for a treat.
SH: What are the obstacles that you envision to see in the near future?
Stack America is only as strong as the magazines who are a part of it, but for the next few years at least, I’m not worried about that. There are plenty of fantastic magazines out there that we’re either talking to already or will be soon, about being a part of Stack America. It’s amazing the work that’s being produced out there, and a tragedy that it isn’t reaching its natural audience. I’m hopeful that we can help make at least a small difference in giving them a boost.
Thanks Andrew. It you have started such a service years ago, you would have saved me hundreds of dollars in airline tickets traveling the country searching for those magazines, because I knew that I can’t find them in small-town USA. Indeed, a fantasy service for magazine lovers all over the United States, a fantasy that can now easily be fulfilled. Sign me up!