The Early Bird

Photography by Jovian Lim

It wasn’t so long ago that copious amounts of ink and paper were spent discussing the impending death of the beast known as print publications. But, while we were all caught up arguing about the ways in which print media can co-exist with the Internet, a surprising form of journalism quietly emerged, like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes.

We’re referring to the rise of niche publications; from now-established ones like Kinfolk, which has single-handedly made wooden tables and fairy lights a thing, to The Plant—no prizes for guessing what it’s about—and countless other titles in between. But with new magazines being launched literally every week, how do you know which are the ones for you? That’s where Magpie comes into play.

What is Magpie about?

We’re an indie magazine retailer that brings the best niche titles, from across all genres, together under one roof. Magpie’s premise is “for magazine lovers, by magazine lovers”. As fans of the medium, we sift through the sheer range of titles available in the market and select the best ones to place on our shelves. Going to the newsstand can be an overwhelming experience; we’re here to offer a curated selection of titles you know you can trust.

Why magazines?

It’s not just about the tactile effect of magazines. While I’ll never deny the power of printed matter, it’s more about how magazines take what is going on in the world, translate it via their specific lens, and present it to you in a way you’d previously never thought of. The Internet can produce its mind-numbing lists and quizzes ad nauseam; that just leaves time for print publications to showcase things in their own unique, elegant way.

Have you always been a magazine lover?

It’s been a life-long obsession. I started buying—and stockpiling—magazines in primary school and it hasn’t stopped since; the genres have just evolved through the years. Before starting Magpie, I was on the other side of the business, working first as a sub-editor, then a fashion editor, at a local publication for eight years. So, I know first-hand how much time, effort and dedication it takes for the magazines we stock to consistently come up with timeless, quality content—and it never fails to blow me away each and every time.

What made you decide to quit and work on Magpie full-time?

When we first came up with the idea for Magpie a few years back, we spoke to other distributors and retailers, and everyone told us the same thing: magazines are a dying trade, and you can’t survive on selling them alone—especially not niche titles. So, we crunched some numbers and shelved the thought. But we kept coming back to the idea over and over again; and as more niche titles began appearing in the market, covering all manners of diverse, random topics, we knew we owed it to ourselves to take the plunge and do it—for the love of magazines.

Read more in The U Press N˚7 (Singapore edition).