Magazine and Booklet Printing

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One of the biggest topics in the printing world is one we barely touch on in the Hotcards blog. That is, magazine print and design. I can't really explain this lack except to say that it's such a massive world unto itself that it seems daunting to cover it as well as everything else about full color printing.

That being said, we do print magazines and booklets here at Hotcards. We get to work with a lot of small, cool publications that print in limited runs, and it would be interesting to talk about that process now and again.

I was inspired to get into this topic by a post on print design over at the excellent design blog, Abduzeedo. The post got me looking through some awesome collections of book cover, magazine, and booklet design. It's amazing how diverse magazine printing is – everything from art theory zines to corporate booklets can run through our printer – and yet, a common thread throughout is obviously the importance of visually arresting design.

As with the rest of the printing industry, cultural critics love to buzz about the death of the zine and the magazine. Replaced by the internet! The future is paperless! These are common rallying cries, but the truth is that although magazine circulation has dipped, and many zine publishers have turned to blogging, there are still tons of readers who feel a special connection to the print medium, and just as many artists and writers who seek “artistic expressions not replicable on a computer.”

I can't speak for newspapers, but from a printer's perspective, it's obvious that the art of the (maga)zine is far from dead. In fact, as super-fast access to instantly produced information becomes the norm, magazine and booklet publishers have greater opportunity to refine their technique and their product, and to provide readers with an experience that is other than what they get online.

This can translate into gorgeous original imagery, well-plotted, carefully researched content, and an overall aesthetic experience that is deeply satisfying. Conversely, many mainstream magazines have shifted their content to look like a series of web pages, with virtually no difference between what you read in their online publication and what you read on the rack at the check-out counter.

But I'm not all that interested in what US or People is up to. I want to learn more about the little guys. The print magazines scribbling away in internet-free obscurity are where the real beauty of this print tradition is still blossoming.

Expect to read a lot more about that particular topic around here in the days to come.

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