As the pandemic continues to cause countless casualties across multiple industries, we look back at the printed world and the magazines we lost in 2020. It’s been a tough time for printed publications; not only has Covid limited advertising partnerships and sales but they’re also feeling the impact of Brexit – causing exports to Europe to slow or close. The lack of advertising revenue plus the added pressure of Brexit has left an indelible mark, causing the loss of some of our most loved and heritage titles in its wake. We look back on the magazines we lost in 2020, revisiting some of the popular titles that won’t grace the shelves again.
Q Magazine (1986 – 2020)
Synonymous with the music industry, Q shut its doors in July 2020. Founded in 1986 by broadcast journalists Mark Ellen and David Hepworth, Q was a staple on newsstands for 34 years. A glossy format publication, Q created a hub for world-class music journalism and photography, paired with its own creative flare. You may know its logo, a single character in a serif typeface placed upon a vibrant red square; a simple but strong presence on the shelf.
The album reviews personally stood out to me since discovering the title in the early 2000s. Its reviews gave impartial views on an artist’s latest work, and gave strong retrospectives that allowed the reader to do their own research. It was a pleasure to read. The subscription cover photography was also in a league of its own; generating a strong readership over the years. This readership waded in the last decade due to its renewed focus on subjects rather than music, and its total page count halving. Ultimately changing and adapting content is the only way to survive – especially through the digital music revolution that emerged at the same time. Q steadied their course until the pandemic hit, with their Editor at the time Ted Kessler revealing on Twitter that the last issue will hit newsstands July 2020. He tweeted, “I have some bad news about Q Magazine. The issue that comes out on July 28 will be our last. The pandemic did [it] for us and there was nothing more to it than that.” Q has certainly left a gaping hole in the printed music journalism genre.
Computer Arts (1994-2020)
Throughout it’s illustrious career at the leading-edge of the design industry, Computer Arts continued to adapt until its end in 2020. It featured interviews with creatives and their studios, the latest trends or movements in design but also techniques and insights from a range of disciplines – graphic design, illustration, motion design and many more. CA paved the way for knowledge of the creative industry and the people inside it making waves. It ultimately helped birth generations of new creatives, me included. A monthly publication by Future Publishing, CA ultimately came to its unexpected end in mid-2020 – at the height of the pandemic. It was on in December 2019 whereby it celebrated its 300th issue after 25 years on newsstands. By this point we had no idea of the longevity; readers were excited for the future.
The news that the last issue was set to hit subscribers and newsstands in May 2020 came as a surprise. The Editors (and owners), Creative Bloq, released the news via their usual blog posting. They say, “For the past quarter century, it’s inspired countless creatives to go freelance, to start up their own design events, and to pursue passionate careers in the creative industry. And yet, faced with the strains of faltering international distribution, reduced footfall at the newsstand, and a lack of advertising revenue, this month’s issue of Computer Arts is the last.”
Their unfortunate downfall is a huge loss for the design industry, with only illustration and tech related titles left on most shelves. As an avid reader since 2006, Computer Arts gave me an invaluable insight as an up and coming designer and artist. Through the next ten years we witnessed multiple re-designs which ultimately saw the page count decrease and the content less focused on the movers and shakers of the industry but more on trends. The move (from speaking with designers) alienated some of their readership. This might be due to the trends being readily available on online blogging platforms and large-scale portfolio sites. Although the magazine had taken a new route in the last few years of its shelf-life, it still leaves a huge mark on the design industry and its mainstream visibility.
Read the farewell blog post on Creative Bloq
Bilingual design journal Novum had its humble beginnings in 1924 in its home in Germany. Labelled as ‘Novum world of graphic design,’ the magazine existed for over 1,000 issues before announcing its final issue in December 2020. Its content focused on the “very best” in graphic design, illustration, photo-design, corporate design, paper, packaging, advertising and typography.
Speaking about the final issue on Instagram, they say, “96 years – that’s how long Novum has been writing design history. It even survived a World War. In well over 1,000 issues, it has inspired and informed designers around the world. This is a proud legacy. Sadly, now it is time to say goodbye.” The news came as a surprise to its huge international readership – but it ultimately came down to the pandemic which shorted its longevity.
Due to its wide readership the final issue says thank you, in all the native tongues of their readers. This is a final issue that only Novum could pull off – the beautiful foiling detail brings the spine to life and the immersive black cover feels like an ending, but not a sad one. This issue is clearly a celebration – their normal coverage of impressive design topics and journalism are enhanced by their ambitious production efforts to finish on a high note. It’s an issue to be proud of.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. More and more titles are emerging from the printed abyss almost weekly, just check the likes of Kickstarter. Crowdfunding models are allowing independent titles to launch into the public eye (as it has for many years now), but there’s a difference. There is an apparent trend of print-to-order publications coming from crowdfunding, ensuring that direct-to-consumer sales continue but in limited runs (the fear of missing out is real). Type One magazine, a new publication dedicated to the love of typography, launched itself on Kickstarter last year and had the support of People of Print, a physical and online community of printmakers, designers and artists. The magazine hit its target quickly and has since become a huge success, finding its way into independent stockists around the UK. Type One proves that it’s possible to establish and break-through into the magazine industry in the midst of a pandemic – an inspiration to us all.
The three titles discussed aren’t the only magazines we lost in 2020, there will be more and it would be great to feature them here. Do you know of any further magazines that we’ve lost in 2020? Let me know over on our Twitter!