Shelf Life

There aren’t many magazines out there who get the honour of being shelved. Most mass-produced glossy mags slip from fingertips to recycle bin as soon as the small ads are reached at the back. A magazine doesn’t have to live such a life, and it’s starting to begin to not be designed that way.

One subtle detail conveys their bid for permanence, a feature unnoticed until vertically aligned; the spine. Save from the title and issue number, you would think there was not much point adding much else to the half-centimetre chunk of space. It’s obviously not the make or break of a purchase, but it’s a design feature that shows a sincere care on the creator’s part to produce a fully formed, well-rounded keepsake.

A lot can be gleaned from a well-designed spine. The pastel-coloured Four&Sons instructs Sit! Stay! Drop! to the culture and dog-driven individual. The geographical coordinates pinpoint the featured country in Glory, an exquisite merging of football and travel. Images and words can be used playfully together, such as Lunch Lady, which is bound with a strip of bold, soft fabric, a mixture of ingredients and a single foodie image to plug it as the perfect recipe book for families.

Travel magazines are probably the best example of an attractive spine, the cover photograph wrapping around the entire product, so that the set when shelved can be traversed by eye without much need of words.

Tidal, Uppercase and Dumbo Feather use vivid patterns to decorate and describe their creative, aesthetic content, enhancing the collection in a medley of popping colour.

Travel magazines are probably the best example of an attractive spine, the cover photograph wrapping around the entire product, so that the set when shelved can be traversed by eye without much need of words. Sidetracked as a series is as cool and expansive as arctic air, whereas Lodestars Anthology zooms to the highly textured microcosm of broken earth or prickling grass.  Ernest and Collective Quarterly allow the cover photograph to curl over the spine, so when pulled from the shelf the image steadily expands. Travel magazines contain some of the best wild photography, so giving a slither of it on the spine is as seductive and tantalising as spying through a keyhole.

These features appeal to the perfectionist within, the simple joy of collecting and displaying to be traced with finger and eye. The true magic comes from the accumulation, as they gradually paint a portrait amongst the shelves of barren landscapes or strips of technicolour. Whilst some are still better suited to the coffee table, some have had a graduation to the shelf life of luxury.

By

Libby Borton

March 11, 2017

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