What’s on the coffee table?

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When browsing the newstands after the gym one Saturday morning in January I noticed that many of the magazines I used to read, or flick through, were no longer in print. But I found myself browsing through a different range of magazines that I hadn’t looked at before. Working in editorial design, and specialising in at for my masters at University, means I have a whole other perspective on what makes a magazine successful – it’s not just about the advert revenue or its readership, it’s about the feel of the paper, the smell of the fresh press and just the look and overall comfort of holding a physical product.

I’ve picked up five magazines this month, and as expensive as they are – sometimes £5.00 each, it feels great to have these physical copies of magazines on my coffee table to flick through while dinner cooks.

What’s on my coffee table this month, and why?


It’s off that a magazine made for men has one of the UK’s biggest sex symbols of the millennium on the cover – David Beckham. Is that what men really want to see on the cover of their magazine niche these days? Who knows. One thing I like about GQ is it’s timeless and traditional serif fonts that are used from the cover right through to the article headlines. Some may argue that such fonts make the magazine look aged, but in a time where many magazines favour san serif fonts for their simplicity, GQ stands out to be a traditionalist in a modern world. It works for them and exhumes the high quality product it truly is.


Snowboarding is top of my list of things to learn to do. What better way to get inspiration and make up for the lack of snow in the past 12 months than to have a snowboarding magazine on your coffee table. I love how Snow Magazine have taken the opportunity to increase their pagination to use double page spreads with one large image and a headline to introduce an article or feature. Such things make all the difference and have you believing that the designers and editors take pride in the way their product is laid out for the readers.


As a music fanatic it’s constantly a struggle to find new music that is obscure, independent and virtually unheard of before it becomes mainstream. Acoustic magazine has a nice few pages at the back with reviews of new music from the folk and alternative scene that is great get your teeth, or ears, into. What’s also nice about the magazine is how they teach you techniques and skills with a few bars of tabs that are suitable for all skill levels. Not to mention that cover is a nice thickness with a matt finish that nicely complements the idea of an alternative music magazine to the likes of Kerrang.


Aside form the women’s lifestyle section of the newsstands, sports is still a dominant niche for publication sales. I’m huge on sports, but typically American sports of my cup of tea. So when it comes to British sport, rugby is my main interest. Sports magazines are never shy from being bold in terms of creativity and there’s a few spreads that have used large imagery to really make the sporting action jump from the page. It’s branded as ‘The World’s Best-Selling Rugby Magazine” so Rugby World must be doing something right if they have made it from W H Smith to my coffee table this month.


I’ve heard many positive things about The Simple Things magazine. When I picked it up and began to flick through it I was amazed by the quality of the paper stock and how they are not afraid of white space – in fact they embrace it. It’s a clean magazine throughout, indeed living up to it’s name as simple. It’s more about content than it is looks, yet even from a design perspective you can see it’s a quality product to have on your coffee table.

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