Ten Days Around the Magazine World: For Any One Who Doubts the Future of the Printed Magazine, READ ON! Today: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

December 22, 2009

I just returned to the United States from a ten-day-world-magazine-trip that took me to five countries in three continents: Europe, the Middle East and North America. My trip confirmed my doubts that people who made it their mission to predict the demise of the printed word have never been outside their little cocoons and thus have never visited the many newsstands of the world. My trip took me to Amsterdam, Paris, Beirut, Tripoli (Lebanon), Prague and back to Amsterdam and Memphis. The results three suit cases and more than 150 pounds of magazines. (Do not not even ask about the money I had to pay for the extra and excess luggage).

In the next few days I will be writing about each of those cities and the magazines I have encountered during my visits.

Today’s city is Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Aldipress, one of two national distributors in The Netherlands invited me to conduct a “speed seminar” to a host of their clients, publishers and retailers. My title of the seminar was “Ensuring a Print Future in a Digital Age.” The premise of the seminar was based on two basic beliefs: human behavior and the three ships that cruise across all of human behavior, and the need to create a “Must Have” rather than “Nice to Have” print publications. The three ships are Ownership, Showmanship and Membership. The “Must Have” publication must be necessary, sufficient and relevant to its audience. The seminar was a celebration of the world of magazines and the people who produce, edit, design, print and distribute them. At the seminar the publishers of Ode magazine handed me a copy of their special issue that was to be distributed at the Copenhagen summit. Ode, the magazine “For Intelligent Optimists” published the special issue on “The Solutions We Need Now.” The magazine urges everyone to “do the right thing at the right time: now.”

Later that evening Aldipress was the main sponsor of the “Mercur Tijdschriften Gala 2009” the Oscars of the Magazines World in The Netherlands. The winner for Magazine of the Year was G + J’s magazine Quest with its tag line Braintainment. The Editor of the Year was Franksa Stuy, the editor in chief of The Netherlands number one magazine Libelle, a publication of Sanoma Publishers. The Launch of the Year award went to FLOW the new, state of the art use of paper, magazine published by Sanoma Publishers to “Simplify Your Life – Feel Connected – Live Mindfully – and Spoil Yourself.”

The visit to Amsterdam ended the next morning with a visit to the newsstands where I was able to find four new Dutch magazines and one British one. Elephant, the new British magazine about “The Art & Visual Culture Magazine.” The launch issue with its 204 pages costs $19.99. The magazine promises to offer “inspirational pages featuring up to the minute visual material, fresh faces and original voices.”

The four Dutch new magazines are: Reiz& magazine, JFK Style, Janine and WR Watch Report. Reiz& magazine bills itself as the biggest journey in The Netherlands. A travel magazine that is published 11 times a year and offers its readers a wide variety of destinations including a special 16-page section on Oman. JFK Style, a spin off of JFK magazine, the Dutch magazine for men that is named after the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy. David Beckham graces the cover of the classically designed black and red cover of the launch issue of the magazine. Janine, the magazine named after Violinist Janine Jansen, tags itself as the “First and Only magazine of Style.” The latest of a host of celebrity-named magazines on the Dutch market, Janine promises to offer a different kind of content that utilizes a host of celebrity names on its cover and in its presentation.

Last but not least is the WR Watch Review magazine with the tag line “magazine about watches that matter.” A showcase of watches in a presentation fit to a “king.” WR is NOT your everyday watch magazine. It offers a host of profiles, reviews and great photography starting from the double cover and all over its 178 pages.

Needless to say, no trip to The Netherlands is complete for me without picking up a copy of the newspaper that I consider the example of newspapers-to-come NRC-Next. The paper that was started with the motto “News is free, information you have to pay for.” It is “A Must Buy” for me although I don’t speak a word of Dutch. As I board my plane heading to Paris, I feel a great sense of satisfaction: it has been a great visit to Amsterdam where the celebrations of the Mercur Gala Awards and the new magazines that were started in the last few weeks made my trip “necessary, sufficient and relevant.”

Stay tuned: next my magazine world at the Paris airport.



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  3. I’ve never doubted the future of the printed publication, just the sanity of some of its publishers. Too many people are getting soaked up by the ‘pad’. It’s a nice piece of kit but its not going to signal the death toll of the humble magazine and newspaper. The only people that are banking on its popularity are the Apple investors and Rupert ‘micropayment’ Murdoch.
    The biggest lesson for the print publisher as far as I’m concerned must be this, we’ve had it easy for way too long, so use this as a serious wake up call. Make sure your content is engaging and your layouts/photography sharp enough to cut yourself on, The web to the publisher, is the most important tool since on-screen page make up, use its power to back up your publication, not overthrow it. People aren’t ready to give up the tactility of a hands on read just yet, but lets not give them an excuse.
    Mal Lee – Action Network Magazine UK

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