Tuesday, December 12

What a great Yarn

I love a good yarn...

Nothing like sitting by a fire with a warm knitted blanket spinning a few tales. I can light fires, and I can definitely spin... (some would use other terminology), but unfortunately, I can't knit. Never tried. Wouldn't know where to start.

Enter Yarn Magazine.

These guys make knitting accessible. Just as well, as knitting is suddenly cool. Check out the hollywood starts into knitting and you will see why it is gaining media attention. And besides, it is probably a good way to meet girls!

That is not the reason why we are holding a "Knit In" at mag nation this Thursday the 14th of December - the real reason is because we can! In conjunction with the wonderful Yarn magazine, we are inviting knitters of all standards (including yours truly who didnt until recently even know what a knitting needle looks like) to stage a "knit in" over wine and sushi.

Thanks to Yarn, there are door prizes including a weekend getaway for two at Tarndwarncoort and a Namaste needle binder. I don't know what this last thing is but boy does it sound cool.

Come and join us at mag nation (88 elizabeth st) between 6 and 9pm this Thursday. Have a knit and spin a good Yarn.

Thursday, December 7

Wad is wad? Urban redefined...

It is increasingly hard to categorise certain mags. The mag industry got together a while ago to standardise mag categories - the problem with the result was that it was useless. Oooohhh, I am definitely going to get in trouble from someone with a big stick...

Take WAD for example. What is Wad? The cover, apart from being unbelievably gross yet strangely provocative, uses the following tag line "We'ar Different / A Magazine About Urban Fashion & Culture".

There is a new genre of magazine that is getting increasing cut through. I call it "Urban". Urban can cut across numerous genres such as fashion, art, design, literature or even travel (a la Paper Plane). Urban is not about content. It is about attitude. No wonder the industry associations don't get it.

WAD is one of an increasing number of bi-lingual magazines. Written in both French and English, it comes out of one of the centres of Urban in my humble opinion, Paris. Edgy, provocative, and aimed squarely at Gen Y, urban is a category of the future.

This is an unbelievable cover. Looking closely makes me squirmish, but I can't stop looking at it. Urban has this effect on me. At 32, perhaps I am too old to get it, but I can't seem to get enough.

Tuesday, December 5

Serious stuff

And now for a serious entry. Or at least serious in my world (not as if I am about to declare I have found the cure to cancer, learned how to turn lead into gold, or even discovered how to bite into aluminum foil without my teeth hurting).

There is a lot more to magazines than gloss, fashion, cool and funk. How about straight down the line, old fashioned “information”. The kind that makes you say “I really needed to know that and I am a better person because of it”.

A lot of what I blog about can’t be categorised in this way – unless I have had a few too many single malts. But as a Magazineologist, I don’t just read the “cool” stuff, but try to read a wide range of mags from different genres.

I was reading Australian Parents this morning. It may shock some of you to know that I have two kids of my own. The mag cover story was about whether you should have your kids sleeping in the same bed as you.

I have to admit that I love my kids in the same bed as me. They grow so quickly, and at 3 and 1, they are still really cuddly.

Up till now, I had never wanted to admit my co-sleeping. Made me feel like not only a freak but also an irresponsible parent given that many in western medicine advise against it. Reading Australian Parents today made me feel normal. Alleviated my guilt. Reaffirmed what my instincts had been declaring as natural.

I feel like a better person today. A small weight has been lifted. All because of a magazine. These babies of mine (the mags, not my kids) are cool, fashionable, glossy and at times, downright entertaining. But they are also serious tools for the flow of serious information. Seriously.

Friday, December 1

Sneaker Freaker Week

Sneaker Freaker Issue 09 is here. We have been waiting forever and we finally get it 4 days before any other retailer in the world. mag nation rocks.

You read Sneaker Freaker and think that the guys who put these publications together (guy in this case) must be way too cool for school. Mostly they are normal people with a dedication and passion for something. Definitely the case with Woody - just an all round good guy.

The SF team came into mag nation last night and decorated the store in celebration of the new edition. It has 3 different covers, though I am only showing one here.

Sneaker Freaker doesn't need much in terms of a plug from me. They are way beyond needing a MagMan. Woody is da man. If you like sneakers, you want Sneaker Freaker. It is the first and only mag documenting this global footwear culture (took that from their website!)

Take a look at what they did to my store...

Wednesday, November 29

Giant Robot

Has anyone read Giant Robot? If you haven't, then you should. Does amazingly well in the US, but very few people know about it in Aus or NZ.

It describes itself as Asian Pop Culture and Beyond. It comes out of the US. Personally, I wouldn't describe it as Asian Pop Culture. Makes it seem as if it is less relevant to non Asians, and this is crap. I would prefer to call it Global Pop Culture with an Asian perspective.

Giant Robot have retail stores in LA, San Fran and NYC. They are a very funky brand and the mag seems to be an extension of it (or perhaps it is the other way around). In any case, I would go as far as to say that it is one of the best mags I have come across. I have known about it for a while, but you don't get it in most places. mag nation to the rescue. Again.

One of my favourite parts of the mag is the regular "book collector". These guys really do find the cool stuff to read.

Check it out. Pop culture from an Asian perspective is going to be huge. Asia is the future and their influence on the streets here in Aus and NZ is only starting to be felt.

Giant Robot is already huge in the US. It deserves to be huge here too.

Tuesday, November 21


Ok, so if you hadn’t heard, OK! (Australia) has gone weekly. It was fortnightly, and it was previously $5.95, but it has been repositioned as a weekly and the lowest priced of its competitors at only $2.95.

Now I have no vested interest in saying this, as the money I make on selling one OK! at mag nation ain’t going to be putting my kids through college any time soon.

I really like OK!

You might have guessed by now that I am not much into weeklies. My personal tastes are more towards a mag that challenges my withering intellect. But, I recognise that there are magazines for everyone (my entire business is based on this premise), and the weekly celebrity gossip mag has its place in the market. (It also happens to be the best selling category of magazine and what keeps your local newsagent ticking along).

We don’t really depend on the weeklies at mag nation like other retailers of magazines. But I have to tell it as I see it. OK is different. It is “cleaner”. I am not the expert in how magazines are put together, but the people who do the setting out for OK should be congratulated. It just feels easier to handle and navigate.

Well done OK! You are definitely OK by me. And so far anyway judging by our sales numbers, your readers seem to agree.

Monday, November 20

The Power of Controversy

Nothing sells a magazine like controversy. Brad Pitt has apparently been photographed in white undies and put on the cover of Vanity Fair. He is suing. And Vanity Fair couldn’t be happier. Nothing like a juice law suit to sell more magazines.

We have ordered in more copies.

My NZ readers will know of Pavement – a very popular lifestyle and fashion mag from Auckland. It is also sold in Aus, but has less of a profile. This is old hat for you guys in NZ, it has already hit the news and died down.

The Spring edition of Pavement caused a lot of controversy. Entitled “Lost Youth” it features fascinating snippet insights into the lives of today’s teens. And yet, people will probably remember this edition for the flashes of breasts belonging to girls who look as if they are underage.

I am told that the Pavement team might get a fine. They are known for pushing the boundaries and this part of what gives Pavement its positioning.

If the powers that be wanted to draw attention to Pavement and guarantee that every pervert in a trench coat buys this issue, then they have done a great job. The fact that I am blogging about this is a case in point.

There is a controversial debate underlying all this, and I am not going to get into it here. But you have got to hand it to Barney and the guys at Pavement. They know how to sell magazines.

Shame that I read in the NZ papers over the weekend that the magazine is about to fold due to lack of advertising support. After 13 years, I wonder if this is just another controversy in the offing…

Thursday, November 16


I love my job. One of the perks is I get to see sneak previews of some of the coolest mags in the land.

And the POL Oxygen Stretch Special Expanded Issue is one of those magazines.

I really like innovation, but especially so when it happens in my industry that rarely dares to dare. (mag nation is all about innovation and challenging the established norms in the magazine industry).

POL Oxygen has shown a sense of adventure in creating a beautiful magazine that needs to be folded out vertically.

Beautiful in the sense that great imagery is made even better at a large scale with great content to boot.

They have called it the Stretch Edition. It will stretch your mind and your visual senses. Hopefully it will add to the groundswell that might finally act as a catalyst to stretch the magazine industry as well.

Tuesday, November 14

The Kylie Wars

Kylie is back. In case you didn’t know, just take a look at the mag covers of the popular women’s titles.

Vogue Australia. Marie Claire Australia. Elle UK (probably won’t find the airfreight version in most places). All of these have Kylie on the front cover. All vying for our attention.

Make no mistake about it, this is all out war. The average punter won’t be buying Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle at the same time. Therefore, the magazine publishers, knowing that Kylie sells, are all vying for our allusive custom.

Vouge hit the shelves first, and we sold more in the first few days than ever before. We have always known that covers are what sell the popular women’s mags, and some stars have more pulling power than others.
Kylie is one of those with amazing pulling power. No wonder everyone is doing the pulling.

Monday, November 13

T-World rocks my world

Simply put, some magazines kick arse. T-World – The Journal of T-Shirt Culture is one of those mags.

People who know me well will have heard me speak about T-World before. I had my doubts about it when I got a sneak preview of the launch edition. Would anyone actually buy it? I like T-Shirts as much as the next guy or gal, but would I actually buy a mag about it?

I was wrong. We have sold more of the first edition of T-World than nearly any other mag we get. The magazine and its creators even inspired us to hold T-Week at mag nation – a week long celebration of the humble t-shirt with a limited edition T packaged with 100 copies of the magazine.

T-World rocks my world. I enjoy nothing more than seeing something take off and T-World is doing just that. To think that I played just a small part in it by giving it a wonderful retail environment warms by heart.

Go you good thing T. I am now a believer…

Sunday, November 12

Out of action

Two weeks with no blogging.

I have a good excuse - Chicken Pox.

Ugly thing to have as an adult, but all good now.

The only good thing to come out of it is that I have had a million things running through my mind, all to do with magazines, and all that will end up being poured out here.

Had lots of time to read mags - in between itching like crazy.

I love mags. I hate the chicken pox.

Tuesday, October 24

Quality vs Quantity

Men are such primal creatures. Or maybe the word is shallow. Or maybe we just think with parts of our body other than our brains. This is is what the majority of men's magazines would have us believe.

Who cares about the quality of the magazine. Just make sure there is quantity and you have the recipe for success. Quantity for mens mags seems to mean big boobs and lots of them.

As a magaholic, I find this quite disappointing. There is much to be said for style, class and magic when it comes to magazines. I am not being all snobish and talking about the niche and art-like publications that I normally go on about, but even with your main stream stock standard titles, some stand out from the others.

Take these two mags. GQ Style is almost 3 times the price of Loaded. The latter has quantity in quantities. GQ appeals to our desire for style rather than drooling. What I have never understood is why those of us out there who buy the latter type of magazine don't simply buy Hustler, have a good wank and be done with it.

We have sold much more GQ Style at mag nation than Loaded, despite the price point. Kind of restores my faith in the male gender. Quality is important.

But the cynic in me says we are buying GQ Style so we can learn a thing or two and eventually get laid anyway. Perhaps quality is our guise for ending up with quality. Taking this argument further, men would buy business magazines to help them get rich so they can impress women and eventually, end up with someone like Loaded girl. All way too confusing. Maybe I should just stick to music mags...

Friday, October 20

Blender you bloody mind bender

I quite like Blender. Or at least I did. Their tag line is "The Ultimate Guide to Music and More"


I am soooo sick of this girl. And how relevant to your average music lover is Paris in a "I don't know what the f#*k type" bra and fish nets?

In the mag industry, they say that covers are what sell a mag. I really hope that this particular issue doesn't sell well. Hopefully, Blender will go back to doing what they do well - being a music mag and appealing to beat rather beat off lovers.

That's my hand in the photo by the way (yes everyone - I'm bleck - as in Lethal Weapon 2 for those of you who think I can't spell "black"). The positioning of my finger hopefully conveys my opinion of this particular cover...

Blender will bounce back and I will like them again. Pity I had to blog about the cover because the content is as always, pretty good. Integrity is a dirty word in today's world where a young girl with heaps of money and the propensity to take her clothes off gets so much attention. This blog entry is not helping the cause... maybe if I had ignored it, it would have all gone away.

Tuesday, October 17

To all the magazines I've loved before

who've travelled in and out my door...

I'm in a musical mood today. Must be the kick arse playlist that is currently on at mag nation (and no - there is no Julio Iglesis or Willy Nelson on it)

We are having a mag nation launch party tonight. Or more accurately, a 6 month celebration. Everyone said we would die within a month of opening. You are allowing people to browse??? The evil B word. What - you mean you actually encourage it???

Imagine buying a pair of jeans without trying them on I say. They just scoffed.

So, I have to give a speech to say thank you to heaps of people. Staff, family, customers - the really important people.

What about the magazines. I get so excited when cool new publications come in (hopefully by tomorrow I can show you some unbelievable cool new zines in the design space that we are going to be stocking - just beautiful things).

Thank you to all the magazines. Can't say this during my speech or people will think I am off my rocker. But thanks guys (and gals). Can't imagine mag nation without you. I guess we'd just be nation and frankly, that would be quite boring.

Thursday, October 12

Its Just Wrong

I love the French editions of various magazines. They have so much class and style. Even having a French Vogue in hand sort of makes me feel glamorous. It doesn't matter that I understand bumpkis. French mags are the type that need to be read with sunnies on.

Was flicking through a newly arrived title this morning - Vogue Paris Hommes International. French Vogue for men - now that is cool. Anyway, was flicking through, looking at the various fashion gods, wishing I was able to look like them... stop, wait, now that it just wrong.

I definitely do not want to look like this.

Don't misunderstand me. Ralph Lauren is a great brand (the suit belongs to them and I don't want them to sue me). The suit in question is actually quite nice (a mon avis). But I do not want to look like that. What is the world coming to? In order to be glamorous and fashionable, do I need to take estrogen but grow a mo so that no one thinks I am a chick?

The French can keep their style and glamour. Maybe I will just stick to my tank top and faded boardies. Even women would beat me up if I walked around like that. If that is fashion, then its just wrong.

Wednesday, October 11

The Faces of Q

Q is one of my favourite music mags. It obviously has a huge following for a reason.

The current issue out from the UK is the 20th anniversary issue, and how cool is this, the magazine comes with 20 different covers. We got in 12 copies to mag nation in Melb and sold all within a few hours. When there were 9 left, I was going to snap a photo for this entry, but someone obviously shares my opinion that this is a very cool concept, and he bought all 9!

Check out the link to see more details about the mag. http://www.q4music.com/nav?page=q4music.about.currentissue

Trying to get more in for anyone who cares. If not, I will keep them myself. These will be collectors items one day.

I am going to be rich baby... Q - you are my sugadaddy

Monday, October 9

Cover Power

In the mag industry, covers do matter. Its amazing how a particular title can sell like crap for one particular issue, and then go gangbusters for the following issue.

I remember about a year ago in NZ, BBC Topgear (a car title for those who don't know it) had a pronounced drop in sales for one particular issue. Till then it had been selling consistently well, but they then did an issue on Japanese cars and the cover was pink... now I love pink and even have a number of pink shirts but I'm guessing that your average revhead (an affectionate term - I love all magazine lovers) ain't quite into it. Sales of that issue tanked.

The current issue of Harper's Bazaar has sold more copies at our Elizabeth St store than any previous HB issue that we have had. The difference after one week on sale is almost an increase of 80%. Take a look at the cover. Whether or not you like Posh is not the point here. The cover is gold. It reflects light and looks very nice and shiny. And when you are confronted by the mass of titles that is our world, some titles stand up and say "buy me" more than others.

We are such visual beings. Many of you will love Harper's Bazaar, many of you will hate what it stands for. But if you come into our store in the next few weeks, I bet most of you will see it.

Friday, October 6

Small Publishers

Think of that little niche mag that you love. It is very specialised, doesn't have a huge circulation, but speaks to that sweet spot in you which makes you go out and buy it. Often, the more niche it is, the more you tend to love it.

Next time you are enjoying this mag, spare a thought for the person behind the mag. It really often is one person who has put all on the line and is managing a small staff who are all idealists and believe their little publication can change the world.

And if it does change your world, even just a little, write to them and tell them this. Unless they have obtained a cult following (and some of them do this amazingly well), then you can bet your bottom dollar that your bottom dollar is about the equivalent of their net worth. They may struggle to feed themselves but your little note will sustain them in another way and may just keep them battling against the odds for that bit longer.

Hats off to all those small publishers out there. Without you, the world would be nothing other than mainstream.

Thursday, October 5

White Wallpaper or Paint?

Has anyone seen the new airfreighted edition of Wallpaper*? It is the 10 year anniversary edition and very cool.

I find it quite interesting how increasingly publishers are producing two (or more) front covers for the same issue of a magazine. This month's Wallpaper is all white - quite a daring move from a style perspective but I'm just your average magazinehead and what do I know about style. The cool thing is that the title appears in black on some versions of the mag, and in white on others (look carefully at the mag on the left and you may see the writing in white).

Makes it very hard from a retailer's perspective. You can't read the white writing on a white background, so people are thinking what the hell is that? I have had to put the black masthead version above the white masthead version so that people don't think I am trying to sell them a blank piece of A4 paper with a few orange splotches on it.

I have to admit that I quite like the all white mag and masthead. Sort of intriguing. But Wallpaper* are certainly not living up to their name with this issue. Perhaps they should have called this one Paint*

Wednesday, October 4

Dumbo feather, pass it on

What's the best named magazine in the market? Very subjective question but I am going to put my vote in for Dumbo Feather Pass It On. It also happens to be one of my favourite publications out there.

While I don't know for sure, it would seem to me that it has been named after the magic feather that helped Dumbo the baby elephant fly and achieve his dreams (I loved that story as a kid). Kate Bezar and her team from Dumbo Feather are trying to give flight to the dreams in all of us by telling us the stories of normal but at the same time, inspirational people. They use what is sometimes refered to as "deep structure" interviews to get beyond the surface and into the hearts and minds of their interview subjects. The publication itself is also a beautiful work of art - wonderful images and paper.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up Dumbo Feather last night, started to read one of the stories, and thought "I know her". Brigid Hardy (second interviewee in Issue nine) was a workmate of mine. This was when I was still a management consultant; prior to having been hit on the head, lost all my senses and given up future riches beyond belief to live for magazines.

While she was a consultant, Brigid met a really rich dude called Stephen Tindall who backed her to achieve a dream. While at the same company, I once met a guy who knew another guy who had dinner with Nicole Kidman's gardener's son...

Dumbo Feather Pass It On speaks to me at a personal level. Not sure whether it is the word Dumbo (people's take on my intellect) or the word Feather (my desired weight). I think rather that I am hoping that the Pass It On part is what will apply and that despite the stupidity of dedicating your life to magazines, my dreams will also fly.

Tuesday, October 3


When we started mag nation, we were pretty clear that we were not going to be a newsagent and that we were going to focus almost exclusively on magazines.

So what is a magazine?

How do you distinguish between a magazine, a newspaper, a journal and a book?

The somewhat cheeky answer is that being the magazine experts, we can stock want we want, call it a mag, and hope everyone else follows our lead. But in reality, some of my favourite titles blur the line between a mag and a book. I don't know who coined the phrase, but we refer to them as "mooks".

Some of my favourites are Semi Permanent, Curvy and Dumbo Feather Pass it On (ok, so Semi Permanent looks and feels like a book. I don't care - I love it and am claiming it as a mag, or in worst case, a mook).

Mooks provide content taken to new levels in the format of a magazine. Much more beautiful than your average book, mooks are often works of art in themselves.

I am now eagerly awaiting the marriage of a newspaper and a journal (a newnal), a newspaper with a mag (a nag) and a book with a newsletter (a bewsletter). Don't tell me the magazine industry is not interesting!

Thursday, September 28

Mia Timpano

I met the head writer from Frankie yesterday - Mia Timpano.

I came across as such a dawk. Gushing over how much I liked her writing and how I had just been reading "10 ways to retain your dignity when you are drunk" as well as her moving and intense piece on refugees.

Mia, next time you need to write some advice on 10 ways to look cool in front of someone you want to impress.

She was snapping some photos of the store. Just your average everyday girl with a wicked quill and a following of thousands. I love my job... colour me influential. Ok, colour me standing next to people who are influential. God damn it, just colour them then.

Suri Cruise and the Obvious

Vanity Fair with Suri Cruise on the cover just came in. People are going crazy over it. We had requests for this title for weeks before it even arrived.

Ok, so Suri is pretty damn cute (did anyone know that Suri means frog in Switzerland?)

But what just knocks me over is the intellectual discourse that accompanies the wonderful photos.

The Caption reads as follows:

Mother Knows Best. Katie has grand plans for her daughter. "I want her to enjoy her life," she says, "and accomplish all her dreams."

Now seriously, this is not riveting journalism. What parent doesn't want that for their kid? While the article wasn't bad, most people won't read it but will simply gawk at the photos and perhaps read the photo captions.

Good on Katie for loving her child, but Vanity Fair, please give us more than the obvious. Maybe their brains went gaga after stairing too long into Suri's eyes...

Wednesday, September 27


My first foray into the world of blogging. Bit of a no brainer what I will be blogging about.


My life, my passion, my world!

Ok - so I also happen to run a magazine retail business called Mag Nation so I depend on magazines to help feed my kids (although Mag Nation doesn't really pay the bills as yet), but I wouldn't have left safe corporatedom for magazines if I didn't have a love affair with them.

Sooo lovely and shiny...

I am a self-proclaimed magaholic.

Don't ever ask me what my favourite magazine is. I get it all the time and it shits me. Like asking me which of my kids I love more.

So, what am I reading/flipping through at the moment:

Dazed & Confused
Ha! (new mag on Aussie Humour)

Have no clue if anyone will ever read this. Too many blogs and so little time. Perhaps other magaholics might come across me from time to time. Maybe we should form a support group...