Independent magazines

Independent magazines act as a springboard for ideas for the whole of magazine publishing as well as addressing niche readerships. Defining an independent magazine is tricky, but they tend to take a different view of the world – though that view can become mainstream over time. Some titles have had a profound effect on the industry and society at large – Private Eye, IT, Oz, Spare Rib, Undercurrrents and Time Out to name a few. However, for most, it is a hand-to-mouth existence with the overheads of distribution, offices and staff being too high for long-term survival. But, like Oz, they're fun while they're there!

The Independent profiled several titles in July 2010: 'Notes from the underground: A fresh breed of literary magazines'.

One key to success for these companies is to seek an international audience and several have joined forces to share resources such as distribution and subscriptions. Independent magazines suffered a blow at the start of 2010 with the closure of the Borders chain. These bookshops had stocked a wide range of titles, giving many of them a presence on high streets in towns and cities around the UK that they cannot get from the likes of WH Smith. The titles listed here can usually be bought from their websites. Shops that stock independent magazines include:

Outside the UK:

Other places to check out include museum shops (where members may get a discount – the Tate Modern shop gives 10% for example), department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges in London and newsagents in areas where there are students or customers likely to be working in the creative industries, such as Soho.

Colophon, an international event for independent magazines, ran from 2007-11. The website is archived. The founders have their own blogs: Mike Koedinger, Jeremy Leslie and Andrew Losowsky.

Table of independent titles

328 Media [closed]

328 Media was based in Lewes, Sussex. It had three titles, two of which have closed, though Kiteworld now thrives in Brighton:
  • Kiteworld May 2001 launch as a worldwide kiteboarding magazine. Distributed in more than 60 countries, six times a year.
  • Kingdom for inline skaters.
  • The Boarder for board riders.
It also distributes DVDs.

Arcwind Publishing

Arcwind is based in Oxfordshire. Titles include
  • Inline Skating
  • Kitesurf 6 times a year since June 2001
  • Powerkite 6 times a year since June 2003 for people who fly sports kites
  • Unity skateboarding title eight times a year
  • Wakeboard & Waterski 8 times a year since June 2002
  • Windsurf published 10 times a year. Launched 1979. Has a digital subscription for £21 ($38) compared with £30 for the print version

As Above So Below magazine

As Above So Below

Satirical magazine produced by David French and Derek Thompson twice a year. The magazine, which is 'not for sale to children, not even inner ones' takes as its targets 'society, religions and philosophies, natural medicine, conspiracies, politics, social justice and anything else that takes our fancy', say the writers.

Bad Idea

Bad Idea is a website that published 7 issues of a magazine. It runs regular meetings – Future Human – in London.

Bad Idea

Bad Idea

Bad Idea was a magazine 'of journalism, ideas and opinion for intelligent young Britain', which saw itself as 'the new stomping ground for ambitious young British writers'. In May 2008, Portico Books published a collection of writing from the magazine, Bad Idea: The anthology. Some of the issues are archived.

(The) Church of London (TCO)

Based in East London, TCO London is a creative agency that undertakes projects for clients around the world. It publishes two magazines, Huck and LWLies, which have won awards for design from the likes of D&AD and the PPA. Alongside publishing, its work embraces design, writing and filmmaking, and staging parties and exhibitions.
Huck issue 17 2009 Malloy Brothers


Huck is a bi-monthly lifestyle magazine rooted in surf, skate and snowboarding but its brief takes in art, pop culture, the environment, fashion, and the world at large. Huck is published in English, German, French and distributed worldwide.

Extreme sports magazines

Little White Lies

Little White Lies

LWLies is devoted – in a serious way – to film. Each issue is often focused on a specific director, film or genre. The issue on them left, from November 2009, was devoted to Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are.

Film magazines

The Chap issue 10

The Chap

The Chap is a 'satirical magazine for modern gentlemen' that harkens back from Lewes in Sussex to an era of pipes, slippers and knitted jumpers. Its readers gather, wearing tweeds, deer-stalkers and plus-fours, to protest against the vulgarities of modern life. If you want moustache news and somewhere to buy a monocle, this is the place.

Fire & Knives issue 1

Fire & Knives

'New writing for food lovers' is what Fire & Knives is all about. It's a quarterly launched in November 2009 that gives 'established writers a place for work that would not be published elsewhere; new writers a place to show themselves; and experts in other fields an opportunity to write about our favourite subject'.

Freestyle Group (closed)

Freestyle Group was set up in 1999. Titles include:
  • BMX Rider [closed] monthly founded in 2002
  • Paddles [closed] monthly founded in 2002 for adventurous kayakers and canoeists
  • Scuba World [closed] monthly founded in 1972
  • Snowboard UK [closed] eight issues a year (September-March). Founded in1991
Its biggest brand was Boys Toys, a lifestyle-oriented gadgets title and retail website, founded in 1999.

Gym Class

Gym Class covers drawing and illustration, magazines and comics, film, photography, graphic design and typography; a zine for 'or the guy chosen last'. In July 2010, it was on its sixth issue, with the format evolving through the issues, from 32-page A5 mono (first issue, sold out), through A5 mono litho, mono tabloid newspaper format (Newspaper Club) to A4-ish colour glossy (with limited edition and newsagent covers).

Hot Rum Cow

Hot Rum Cow is about beers, wines and spirits, and the stories behind them. The title comes from a warm cocktail made from rum, milk, brown sugar and nutmeg. The publisher is publishing agency White Light Media in Edinburgh.


Karen has been praised by the likes of the Observer and even Emap since it first appeared in 2005. Karen Lubbock is the brains behind it all, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary things of everyday life in and around Malmesbury in Wiltshire.


Meat is run by Nick Hayes and James Pallister and does a good line in scary covers. It comes out six times a year under the tagline 'Publish or Perish' and aims to discover fresh writing and art.

Issue 8, was based around the theme of birds and beats, with the contents, put together by guest editors Tori Flower and Naomi Wood, described as:

'a veritable (and vegetarian) feast featuring the Institute of Critical Zoologists, a history of escaped zoo animals, origami dinosaurs and many other birdy and beasty delights. Lots of beautiful illustration, fine writing and gorgeous photography.'

Each issue was hand numbered!

Oksar Ltd

Oksar was founded in 2007 to publish Anorak magazine for children.
Anorak magazine cover 2010 spring


Cathy Olmedillas, who had worked on The Face and Sleazenation, launched Anorak in 2007 as a quarterly art magazine for children. The core target market is children aged 5-10 – and their parents – with stories, games, art and fashion. Each issue has a theme, such as'birds, fear or bugs. After putting out a test issue, 'the happy mag for kids' was distributed through Borders and Tate Modern's shop. It 2007, it signed an export deal to 22 countries including Ireland, France, Spain, Morocco, Australia, the US, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Canada. The magazine has an app.


Based in Newquay, Devon. Publishes three surfing titles:
  • Carve: surfing magazine published eight times a year. Launched 1994
  • Surfgirl: quarterly with Carve. Launched in 2002
  • Threesixty: specialises in bodyboarding. Published 11 times a year. Launched in 1981. Claims to be Britain's longest-running surf magazine.
The company runs an online shop selling surfing DVDs, posters, books and accessories such as boardbags.


British surfing magazine founded in 2004.

The Ride

For people with bikes who 'don’t want to be pigeon-holed as roadies, freeriders, track racers, BMXers, XC riders or even commuters. They are just riders.' The Ride can be bought at some bike shops as well as specialist magazine retailers.

Rotten Apples first issue
Rotten Apples – first issue with dog standing on cheesburgers

Rotten Apples (closed)

Rotten Apples was launched in August 2010 and was about ‘the extremes of Food Culture’. Thankfully, says editor Ed Vaughan, ‘We are not suggesting that the funny little Pup [standing on cheesebugers on the first issue cover] is in any way a delicacy or should be eaten a la cheeseburger’. Coverage related food to art, design, film, history, death and sex. Questions asked include: 'Does Sophie Dahl really represent what we truly think about food?' Rotten Apples was published in Bristol at £3.95.

Vaughan set up a Rotten Apples blog, which carried the following entries:

  • After a 2 year stretch in the Bristol Clinic for the insane. following the self publishing of Rotten Apples magazine.
  • I am going to begin this journey by saying that there are a few copies of Rotten Apples issue 1 still available. I originally sold 800 copies (very pleased) Self publishing an old style magazine with actual pages was a stimulating if not nauseating experience. I have dragged myself into the present day to produce Rotten Apples in a .com format.

VNA Very Nearly Almost 11 cover


Very Nearly Almost is a quarterly launched in 2006 that features street graffiti from London and covers artists and designers from across the world.

Independent magazines (2010)

Title Publisher Launch date Sales
(publisher's statement)
Anorak Oksar 2007
As Above So Below As Above So Below 2009
Bad Idea Good Publishing 2008 closed – website
Boarder 328 Media closed
(surfing )
(8 a year)
Cooler Factory Media
(4 a year)
Dig BMX Factory Media
(6 a year)
Dirt Mountain Bike Factory Media
(6 a year)
Document Skateboard 4130 / Factory Media
(9 a year)
Fire & Knives Funistrada 2009
Gym Class Gym Class 2009
Hot Rum Cow White Light Media 2012
Huck Church of London
(6 a year)
It's Nice That It's Nice That
(2 a year)
Karen Karen Lubbock 2005
Kingdom 328 Media closed
Action Sports Media
(9 a year)
Factory Media
(6 a year)
Little White Lies Church of London
(6 a year)
Meat James Pallister 2008
Moto Factory Media
(6 a year) Factory Media web portal 2007
Onboard Factory Media
(7 a year)
Pitpilot Pitpilot 2004
Ride BMX Factory Media
(9 a year)
Rotten Apples Rotten Apples 2010 closed
Factory Media
(12 a year)
Snowboard UK Freestyle 1991 closed
Surf Europe Factory Media
(7 a year)
The Surfer's Path Factory Media
(6 a year)
(free with Carve)
(4 a year)
(11 a year)
Unity Arcwind
(8 times a year)
Urban Climber Factory Media
(6 a year)
Very Nearly Almost VNA
Wakeboard & Waterski Arcwind
(8 times a year)
Factory Media
(6 a year)
Windsurf Arcwind
(10 a year)

*Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC)