Your favourite hard-to-find magazines...?
March 13, 2021 5:00 AM   Subscribe

I own an usual (mostly records) store run out of my loft in Toronto. During the pandemic, I've been approaching great, hard-to-find magazines about stocking their publications. The first two I'm carrying are Apartamento and Noon. Berlin Quarterly is next. What are some uncommon, keep-them-forever magazines that you love that you have difficulty sourcing?

I'm steering my shop to carry things that I find beautiful (self-link), rather than just vinyl records (which I've been selling for almost 20 years and find zero challenge with), so am looking for the kind of quality publications that people keep and refer to again and again rather than "disposable" magazines you'd find in a doctor's office.

I chose Apartamento and Noon as my first two because I find purchasing Apartamento consistently in Toronto to be near-impossible and have never in my life found a copy of Noon in the city.

I'm looking for great publications from around the world with an emphasize on terrific writing, art, or design. The only stipulation would be that if it's text-heavy it be in english and that it not be something so common that I'd be competing with my local bookstore. (An example of the latter would be Kinfolk -- nice magazine, but very easy to find.)

posted by dobbs to Shopping (22 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a fan of The Gentlewoman - it's ludicrously posh*, I assume it's the pet project of some trust fund fashionista, and a chunk of it is bonkers high fashion advertising, but it has multiple long form interviews with interesting women in every edition. Costs a bomb but is book-sized and definitely a keeper.

I've only ever found it in two shops in the UK, where it costs £6.50/copy, and a subscription inexplicably costs 36 Euros for two annual copies, so i'd definitely file under hard-to-find.

If you do find a way for getting it regularly for a reasonable price, let me know the secret! (Though I'm in the UK so YMMV).

*I mean, for some reason their website also offers a £160 cocktail needle for sale. I can only assume it's designed by the editor's bezza mate from their days at an extremely exclusive private school or something.
posted by penguin pie at 5:46 AM on March 13, 2021

Electronic Sound is a fantastic magazine from England mainly about electronic music (but it's definitely not just techno and house — really anything that includes some electronic element, including jazz and classical, and avant garde). It features long, well-written interviews, and is consistently and beautifully designed (they only use the typeface Univers, so everything always looks very consistent).
posted by jonathanhughes at 5:47 AM on March 13, 2021

I am fan of the Glass Quarterly. It's a niche publication, but it's beautiful and interesting.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:09 AM on March 13, 2021

I really like Retro Gamer from the UK, I've kept every one I've bought because of how much great stuff is in every issue. Also, it's carried more and more places now but 2600 gets bought every time I see it on the rack.
posted by signsofrain at 7:20 AM on March 13, 2021

I like Lake Affect magazine. It's published in Rochester NY, which is across Lake Ontario from you.
posted by alex1965 at 7:23 AM on March 13, 2021

They're not super hard-to-find, but Wax Poetics and The Wire are pretty rad.
posted by Dr. Wu at 9:03 AM on March 13, 2021

Cabinet, a smart & weird art magazine I'm always happy to stumble across. Their website lists only one shop in Toronto that carries it, though that list may be incomplete.
posted by miles per flower at 10:43 AM on March 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Current Affairs has a beautiful print edition (long form articles, but also beautiful illustrations throughout), and excellent leftist writing. I keep all my old copies not only to re-read articles, but because they are really nice-looking magazines as well to have out for guests. Of course, whether it's appropriate or not for your store clientele is something only you can judge, but they republish many of their articles from the magazine online after a few months, so you can see some older articles from the magazine on the website. As far as being hard to find, I'm fairly certain it's only sold as a direct subscription and not sold in any stores.
posted by unid41 at 10:57 AM on March 13, 2021

Weird Walk is a delightful British zine on the folk horror/psychogeography beat. Perfect accompaniment to the Wicker Man soundtrack.
posted by neroli at 11:06 AM on March 13, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you for your suggestions thus far, follks. Some great ones here!
posted by dobbs at 11:47 AM on March 13, 2021

Offscreen is back in publication and it is delightful. A print-only magazine about technology..
posted by third word on a random page at 12:13 PM on March 13, 2021

I will buy all of these and more from you (if you ship to the states):

Macguffin Magazine
Every issue is about one thing. Like, rug, or, desk, or, window. Looks like there's no distro in Canada.

Point 51
It's about stuff going on in Europe. Longform writing. Good pictures.

Luncheon Magazine
A mag that reads like a convo you have with a friend over lunch.

Scenario Magazine
A quarterly about the future.
posted by Foie G Biv at 7:08 PM on March 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Grand Royal Beastie Boys run magazine. it was awesome. I still have one copy.
It has a great article entitled Aaron Burr American Badass.
posted by markbrendanawitzmissesus at 9:08 PM on March 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Letter Arts Review.
posted by Nosmot at 11:00 PM on March 13, 2021

The Fretboard Journal is like a coffee table book in magazine form for fretted instruments and the people who play them.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:04 PM on March 14, 2021

Tape Op is a magazine about music recording - their interview articles are generally fascinating and the magazine's always visually interesting too. I don't know if they're set up for retail sales (they do free subscriptions in the US - used to be worldwide!) but I'm sure they wouldn't mind you asking.
posted by offog at 3:20 PM on March 14, 2021

The Hand magazine is always full of gorgeous artwork (and no ads, it's totally reader supported). "The Hand is dedicated to being the world’s premier forum for “alternative” and historic photographic processes and all types of printmaking. We want to encourage inspiration, education, and community for artists using unique, mixed media, experimental, and idiosyncratic “reproduction-based” techniques. We do also print digital art work and art work where the subject matter has been manipulated, directed, or staged by the artist."
posted by Sublimity at 6:51 PM on March 14, 2021

I once had a copy of the Australian magazine Frankie that I enjoyed the aesthetics of. I never saw any other issues. Adult Magazine is also unusual in this way. And I'm reading the gorgeous Compound Butter right now.
posted by knile at 9:46 PM on March 14, 2021

posted by sundrop at 10:38 AM on March 15, 2021

Chickpea magazine is good, but it's aimed at a niche audience (vegans). It's also hard to find in stores (apparently, only one store in Canada carries it, and it's in Nova Scotia).
posted by alex1965 at 1:35 PM on March 18, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your answers.

I've spoken with Electronic Sound, The Gentlewoman, and Luncheon, and will be bringing those in. (As well as one not mentioned here, American Chordata.)

I'll be speaking with Frankie, Cabinet, Offscreen and MacGuffin to see if I can secure those as well.

The other ones suggested aren't really a fit for me but I appreciate hearing about them!

Foie G Biv, sorry, but I do not ship anything or anywhere. Being a local-only business is one of the more satisfying parts of my job.
posted by dobbs at 7:42 AM on March 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I see this thread is getting more love in 2022 so will update on some other titles I brought in, some thanks to this thread and others due to research stemming from the thread.

American Chordata is a Brooklyn-based literary and art magazine.

Inque literary mag.

Berlin Quarterly is a European review of long form journalism, literature, and the Arts.

Get Familiar is an independent and award-winning print publication that explores the intersection between hip-hop culture and the world around us.

Point.51 an independent print magazine dedicated to long-form journalism and original photography from across Europe.

Bikevibe is a Norwegian based journal documenting cycling culture in cities all over the world.
posted by dobbs at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2022

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