Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Libertine - a new magazine for women launches

When was the last time you bought a magazine? No, really, be honest here. Not a Sunday supplement that came with your paper, or a freebie that dropped through the postbox, but a real life, glossy, expensively produced magazine that you read and thought 'that was worth the outlay!'

So? Well I can't honestly remember. I have tried, oh goodness me yes I have tried. I've stood for ages in front of the display of glossy magazines and weeklies reading the coverlines and staring at the image and willing myself to dig deep and layout cash for an industry that provided me with a living for over 20 years. But I just can't seem to do it. I'm not interested in celebrity gossip - I get all the latest via Twitter. Fashion is not aimed at me, and even when it's meant to be it isn't, because it is all too expensive. I don't want to replace my kitchen-bathroom-hallway (delete as appropriate) and my beauty tips and updates I can get online.

I'm from a generation that grew up with a magazine. I started with Bunty, moved on to Jackie and raced to the newsagent with best pal Julie for our latest copy of Look Now. My first glossy magazine job was on She and I worked on the launch of Best. I've worked on home interest magazines and bridal - I'm someone for whom magazines are as natural a part of my media landscape as TV. And if I'm not buying then what about the generation below me for whom buying a magazine is not part of their weekly routine? These young women won't be adding a magazine to their budget whatever the magazine industry says,  it's a shame but that's evolution.

So the launch of a new magazine aimed at women could be seen as foolhardy, but Libertine is something different and may just have enough of a difference to survive these tough times. It isn't just a glossy publication as they have plans for online and ipad. It's an intelligent read which should attract intelligent women to read it. I hope this will in turn encourage the traditional advertising industry spenders of the beauty and fashion worlds to take a leap of faith and support a title that has little (actually no, beauty or fashion) but will still have an attractive audience. It's expensive (£6 for an issue is a heck of a lot of money for a magazine) but good quality writing and photography printed on glossy paper stock costs money.

So what's the content? Issue One has a feature on the politics and philosophy of space travel alongside an interview with Gillian Anderson on books and brains. There are focus features on manners, swearing and even a feature by american writer, Joan Didion about having self respect. The closest thing to a shopping feature were some lovely shots of fountain pens (though who needs a fountain pen really?)

Sadly the website isn't called Libertine but has the url of the magazine's strapline Interested Women where they curate interesting features and themes from around the web - worth a visit. The magazine is bi-monthly and funded by private money. The people behind it (who I met at the launch) are passionate and brave. I think they deserve a little support and wish them well - maybe a more niche approach to magazine publishing is just what the women's market needs.

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