Indie Magazines, London – The New York Times


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Owen Richards

Yesterday afternoon, Jeremy Leslie sat at a makeshift table behind rows of empty shelves, trying to get the music started. “Apart from putting the mags out,” he said, staring halfway between a laptop and a portable speaker, “this is probably the best job.” Leslie was in London’s Clerkenwell neighborhood to prepare for the unveiling of his new shop, a brick-and-mortar extension of magCulture.com, the magazine review site he’s been running since 2006.

Magazines are central to Leslie’s life: He’s been designing them for 30 years and reviewing them for a decade. On his site (tagline: “We love magazines”), he and a devoted cohort of media journalists assess independent, often obscure titles from around the world. One day it’s an issue of Lucky Peach, the popular U.S. food journal from Momofuku’s David Chang. Next it’s Motherland, an Indian culture magazine, or Mushpit, an indie glossy Leslie described as “a cross between Private Eye and Just Seventeen.” Here, mainstream titles are respected, but niche journals are adored. “These are magazines that are well-designed and meant to be kept,” Leslie said. “They deserve love and respect.”

The shop, a terrazzo-floored former newsstand at the base of one of London’s first 1960s tower blocks, stocks more of the same: indie titles about architecture (Pin-Up), cycling (Mondial), film (Little White Lies), food (The Gourmand), and, inevitably perhaps, magazines (Gym Class). Previously hard-to-source titles are now spotlit on Vitsoe shelving — and lingering is encouraged. Armchairs have been shipped in specifically for this purpose, and bespoke plinths (by the designers South London Makers, who refurbished much of the shop) display titles at waist height, for easy grabbing.

“When you travel, you see magazine stores that are really impressive,” Leslie said, “and it always upset me that London didn’t have something similar.” He continued: “This is meant to be somewhere to visit, take your time, browse. People will come in and buy four or five magazines and spend the best part of 100 pounds. They deserve the chance to flick through in peace.”



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