Magalleria: innovative magazines

Retail and online magazine store Magalleria has an extensive range of independent, specialist and luxury magazines from around the world, with close to 2,000 individual titles. Here, Daniel McCabe talks about the Bath store and the specialist magazine business.

We think of a magazine as something published in more than one issue, but it can be a deliberately finite project – we’ve had trilogies and many six and ten-part series dealing with a single theme. The contemporary magazine is a very agile thing (nimbler than a book) and it’s still arguably the most effective way to access established facts and thinking around almost any topic. Bi-monthly, quarterly and biannual releases in particular are well-geared for putting you right at the hub of things. Magazines have improved enormously in production quality to a point where most of the exciting innovations in the print industry are seen in this area. Even if circulations are down from what they were, the number of new magazine titles is rocketing, and over the last eight years Magalleria has become the go-to place to find them. It’s also not just about having the latest issue but also making back issues available. Often this means having to import stock from all over the world.

Established by myself and Susan Greenwood in 2015, Magalleria moved to Upper Borough Walls in 2021. Fortunately our customer base appears to have followed us, and with the store at the heart of the city many more people have found us here as well. Our shop is almost three times the size of the previous one in Broad Street, with the retail space packed with back issues. There is also a spacious and airy ground floor and a downstairs area with an office and workspace for our online operation.

There is no typical Magalleria customer; They’re all ages and from all walks of life

Magazine-buying customers
There is no typical Magalleria customer. They’re all ages and from all walks of life, but I’ve formed a theory that they fall into two categories: those who come in and know exactly what they want, and those who come in with a completely open mind. Many of the latter enter the shop unaware of any upswing in interest or a ‘print renaissance’ and are astonished that so much non-book print matter is still published and available to buy in this digital age. For many others it’s all new. They often say to us, ‘I’ve never been in a shop like this before.’ And they mean it in a good way. We have many sessions with university and higher education class groups from around the south west who arrange trips to Magalleria because teaching staff recognise what a useful resource it is – not just for information but for inspiration.

Most of our customers are local but we’ve seen a huge spike in sales to tourists, both from around the country and from overseas. More and more people tell us that they’ve come to Bath on a mission to visit us, even from outside the UK. When we first opened someone said to me about our magazines “I’ve only ever seen these on the internet. It’s amazing to see them for real” and this interest has been building ever since.

Popular magazine genres
Interior design has been our consistently strongest category and I’m sure this is connected to being in Bath. There’s a very strong and enduring interest in renovation and decoration – so much so that we’re often the sole supplier for certain titles because we were forced buy up the entire UK allocation just to meet local demand. At the moment we’re finding increased demand for design/graphic design titles, not just from students but because more people are self-employed or freelancing in this kind of work. Fashion, too, remains very popular with us. At the other end of the spectrum there’s suddenly huge interest in the likes of British folklore, folk horror, neo-pagan lifestyles and ‘New Nature’ publishing. This covers everything from the occult and ancient stone formations to natural textile dying and living in a tree house. It really is something of a phenomenon.

Magalleria, 5 Upper Borough Walls, Bath;

The Analog Sea Review
This pocket-sized journal of essays, stories, poems and pictures has been a word of mouth sensation. It’s rooted in offline culture to offer readers shelter from what it regards as a non-stop bombardment of noise from everyday digital culture. It has no social media presence, and the TASR website reveals nothing but their street address. The editor and publisher, Jonathan Simons, argues that by integrating so many digital channels into our lifestyle we’ve fragmented our thinking so much that no one individual thing commands our attention long enough for us to properly understand it. So The Analog Sea Review aims to restore more meaningful and rewardingly complex reading | £14.99

Hellebore is named after a tribe of beautiful, perennial plants which happen to be poisonous and with links to occult belief – that it has the power of altering perception and is known for opening up portals to the Underworld and the subconscious. The magazine is a cleverly assembled collection of writings and essays devoted to British folk horror and the themes that inspire it: folklore, myth, history, archaeology, psychogeography, witches and the occult. It’s also beautifully designed and, dare we say it, addictive | £7.50

We’ve seen Cabana described somewhere as gloriously opulent and that describes Martina Mondadori’s wondrous interiors magazine perfectly. Wrapped in designer fabric or wallpaper and constructed from sumptuous contrasting paper stock, Cabana is something of a precious object in itself. Reading the magazine can feel like accompanying an obsessive collector as they trawl through undiscovered houses and buildings around the world to uncover unique and unusual design treasures | £27

46PGS describes itself as ‘a magazine with a graphic heart’. This fascinating, dense and immersive magazine is an international collaborative effort created out of what it calls a ‘virtual guerrilla-gallery atmosphere’. Contributors take something they’re passionate about – a song, a movie, a a poem, a book or anything at all – and design it. The work embraces the distressed, collagistic grunge/trash aesthetic pioneered by the likes of 90s giant David Carson, which is now being reconsidered and re-energised by a new generation of graphic artists | £23.99