Are you looking for your next inspiring read? If so, you have come to the right place as today we are championing some of our favourite independent publishers. Whether that’s fellow magazine titles providing their readers with content about everything from a mindful, joyous lifestyle to travel and even tea, or books filled with enthralling fiction stories or inspiring memoirs, as well as unique guide books for your next adventures.
Independent publishing carries a personal touch and care from the people behind the scenes that can be felt throughout every printed work and cannot be replicated by mainstream publishers. In our increasingly digitised world, a printed publication is a way to reconnect to the physical world where we can feel and touch the paper and revel in the analogue ways which we hope will never be completely replaced by digital. Despite the failed predictions, print is not dead and it will always have a place in our lives. So, we invite you to get lost in the pages and stories of these wonderful independent publishers….
Heiter magazine started life online in 2016 after its founder and editor-in-chief Katharina Geissler-Evans had suffered from stress that impacted her health, studies and work performance. Katharina found cure in moments of kindness and joy she created for herself, whether that was buying herself some flowers or going for a walk. She called these ‘heiter moments’ after the German word for cheerful or joyful, as Katharina is originally from Austria where she also currently resides. Wanting to share this approach towards a more joyful and mindful life with others, she decided to launch Heiter magazine.
First taking on the form of a blog, e-zine, an Instagram community, events, workshops and networking sessions, in 2022, Heiter magazine was finally introduced to the world as a print publication with the help of crowdfunding. The first issue focuses on finding those moments of joy in new beginnings with content ranging from personal essays and stories, delicious recipes, home styling tips and more. The second volume, now available for pre-order, is set to be released this Autumn and is centred around the theme of homecoming.
If you’re a traveller that’s after the most special (and often most aesthetically pleasing) places rather than the most popular tourist-swamped sights, then Weekend Journals is for you. Focusing on go-to weekend trip destinations, Weekend Journals now boasts four guidebooks in their repertoire – one for London, Provence, Cornwall and the newest Somerset released last summer – each edition features a hand-picked curation of some of the loveliest shops, cafes, boutique hotels, gardens, independent galleries and restaurants, as well as interviews with a few local craftspeople, chefs and business owners, as written by food, travel and interiors writer Milly Kenny-Ryder who has been named as one of the top 10 food and travel influencers.
Another striking aspect of the guides, apart from the unique written content, is the beautiful visual representation. Each book is designed in a contemporary, minimalist style by Simon Lovell with a focus placed on the captivating photography by Gabriel Kenny-Ryder, making each edition a keep-worthy collectible item.
Based in Bath, Peirene Press focuses on bringing the literature of the world to the UK audience. Founded in 2008 by German-born author Meike Ziervogel, the publishing house specialised in translating European novellas for the UK reader to enjoy, publishing over 40 books from 20 different countries before Meike’s exit in 2021 and a complete rebrand in 2022.
Now headed up by co-directors Stella Sabin and James Tookey, Peirene Press has announced a new, widened direction as the duo want to go beyond Europe and publish diverse stories from all over the world. Their first title from Thailand, called Venom by Saneh Sangsuk, was released earlier this year and the first Brazilian book, The Love of Singular Men by Victor Heringer, is set to launch this summer, telling a coming-of-age love story of two teenage boys in 1970s Rio de Janeiro. The overhaul is supported by a new website, modern branding and book cover design created by Glasgow-based graphic designer Orlando Lloyd.
Bloom magazine encourages its readers to get out into the great outdoors, to root and to grow in a beautifully designed format focusing on stunning photography of gardens and wild nature with bold branding and a minimalist layout, courtesy of art director Sarah Pyke. Launched in 2018 by founder and editor Zena Alkayat, the publication is the result of Zena’s personal struggle with her first garden. Feeling like she was out of her depth, she created this space to gain knowledge from gardeners, creatives and experts and to impart their wisdom onto people who might be in a similar situation as her.
Now on its 14th issue, the latest edition marks Bloom’s transition from a quarterly to a bi-annual title with the new revamp taking on a smaller but thicker size. As nature is at the core of this enterprise, protecting it is very important to Zena and her team. That’s why the magazine is printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable oil-based inks using solely wind power. 1% of its sales is also donated to a different nature-focused charity every month.
More recently, Bloom has also arrayed into book publishing, now having six titles under its belt including a seasonal garden guide titled What to Sow, Grow and Do written by gardener Benjamin Pope and Pots by Harriet Rycroft filled with advice on how to grow plants in pots all year round, among others.
Stationed in London, Fitzcarraldo Editions specialised in long-form essays and modern literary fiction, easily recognisable by the publisher’s signature white and Henri Matisse blue cover designs created by Ray O’Meara. Ray is also responsible for designing the custom serif typeface Fitzcarraldo, named after the publishing house.
Established in 2014 by Jacques Testard, the company’s name references the 1982 Werner Herzog film of the same name, drawing a comparison between opening a publishing house and bringing a 320-ton steamboat over a mountain in the Amazon rainforest in order to become a successful rubber baron and build an opera house in a small Peruvian city. But it wasn’t so crazy after all as since going to print, three of Fitzcarraldo’s published authors have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature – namely Svetlana Alexievich, Olga Tokarczuk and Annie Ernaux.
Started by Ben Mervis, Glasgow-based food writer and researcher for Netflix’s documentary series Chef’s Table, Fare Magazine is a bi-annual travel publication with each issue focused on a single city explored through its food culture, history and community. Led by Ben as the editor and designed by London-based art director Ric Bell, Fare aims to work with as many local writers, photographers and illustrators to authentically capture the local spirit of the destination.
From Istanbul to Kyoto, Lima and most recently Budapest dropping in July 2023, the magazine has been all over the world in order to bring its readership stories original and varied stories from different neighbourhoods, homes, cultural hotspots, workshops and eateries, both casual and highbrow.
Based in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, Pauline Egge launched Petite Passport in 2010 when she started collecting and sharing the most beautiful, unique and design-led addresses around the world. With a background in journalism, she took pictures of the most original and inspiring cafes, shops, restaurants, hotels or spas she would come across and wrote about them on her site.
This soon transferred into print and today, Pauline has nine guidebooks and two issues of the Petite Passport magazine under her belt, stocked in over 100 stores worldwide. But the personal approach and touch have stayed the same as Pauline visits every spot recommended in the pages of her guides.
While the Petite Passport website offers tips for destinations all over the world with over 1000 addresses listed, the nine guidebooks are focused on European cities and destinations, at least for now, be it Amsterdam or Lisbon.
The Preserve Journal
In recent years, we have all slowly come to recognise that a more sustainable approach to living and consuming is a necessary step, whether it’s the way we travel or shop. But The Preserve Journal focuses on the way we eat. The Vienna-based bi-annual publication aims to educate and inspire its readers to explore a more sustainable food culture through recipes, stories of traditional techniques, interviews with experts in self-sufficient growing and more.
Led by the seasons, as one should when it comes to their food choices, the magazine is filled with beautiful photography and artistic illustrations and can be revisited for tips and tricks year after year. And this May, following five years of creating this independent title, co-founders Michelle Skelsgaard Sørensen and Sebastian Reichmann started a new additional venture arising from their collected experience and knowledge of publishing The Preserve Journal named Kompost – an interdisciplinary studio specialising in content creation, events and consultancy surrounding the topic of food and sustainability.
Lodestars Anthology is a guiding star of a magazine for your travels. First published in 2014 with its debut England issue, the publication promotes a slower, more considered approach to travel, focusing on a single country each volume. Produced in Bristol, Lodestars is the brainchild of Australian-born travel writer, photographer and editor Liz Schaffer.
Every issue radiates a feeling of serenity, focusing on wild natural beauty with occasional ventures into a city setting as the reader is taken on a journey through the country in question, be it Mexico or the latest edition celebrating Ireland, making stops along the way to learn about special places, traditions or local dishes through excellent writing and photography.
Dead Ink Books
Dead Ink Books makes developing the careers of new, emerging writers its mission, bringing out some of the most experimental contemporary writing from the underground scene and presenting it to its readership along the way. Whether it’s a story of a scheming interior design Instagram influencer whose marriage and life start to unravel in Waiting for Ted by Marieke Big or the twisted post-apocalyptic tale centred around an incest-descendent family with of Doloriad written by Missouri Williams.
All made possible by ongoing support and grants from Arts Council England, a national agency looking to develop local creativity and culture. Now based in Liverpool, where you can also visit the Dead Ink bookstore with all the titles in one place, the publishing house originally began life in 2011 as a digital-only publisher, but in its present form was established in 2015 by its current director Nathan Connolly.
You will find a little bit of everything in the 130 or so pages of The Weekender magazine. Published in Germany, this title comes out twice a year and up until last year it did so in two different versions – one in German for the local readership and one in English for the rest of the world. But sadly, since the winter 2022 edition, the magazine has gone exclusively German. However, back issues in English are still available.
Founded in 2011 by Dirk Mönkemöller and Christian Schneider, this ‘magazine for insights and excursions’ shares interesting stories from the world of travel, interiors, food, nature and overall living as the duo doesn’t put limitations on their creativity by sticking to a single topic. That way, you can have a read about anything from how an Australian family lives in a house made entirely out of glass to how a London-based brand combines traditional wool weaving with a diverse sense of community.
Immerse yourself in the culture of good, specialty coffee with SOLO Magazine, named after the word the Spanish use to order an espresso. Originating from Valencia, SOLO is a bi-lingual (English and Spanish) and bi-annual magazine with content centred around one thing – coffee, complemented by a bit of lifestyle and design sprinkled in for good measure.
Sometimes, the theme is loose, as when starting a conversation with an artist about the nostalgia of the morning scent of coffee but ends up talking about his art and moving away from the city. Other times, it’s full on as with the deep dive into the process, taste and industry views on decaf coffee. Each issue is filled with creative content consisting of personal stories, industry interviews, expert observations and city walk-throughs guided by specialty coffee culture.
The magazine was started in 2015 by graphic designers Bea Bascuñán and Albert Jornet after discovering the intriguing world of specialty coffee culture. And with the pair’s prior experience in independent publishing, gained through their publishing house Publications for Pleasure established in 2011, Bea and Albert enthusiastically threw themselves into this new project. Now on its 10th issue, SOLO shows no signs of slowing down.
Poetic Pastel Press
Poetic Pastel Press is a creative venture started by French-born multidisciplinary artist Johanna Tagada Hoffbeck in 2014. Based in London, the collaborative publishing house puts out experimental titles, most of which would be best described as zines, often centred around the natural world and highlighting that people are part of nature too.
But perhaps the most notable title in Poetic Pastel’s repertoire is Journal du Thé, a magazine exploring contemporary tea culture. That’s right, just like there is a magazine all about coffee (see above), there is one about tea too. For this ongoing project launched in 2018, Johanna collaborates with Tilmann S. Wendelstein who designs the tea-centric publication, which has just come out with its fourth chapter this June.
The journal perfectly captures the calming sense and serenity of the inevitable slowing down when one drinks a cup of tea. Travelling across the globe from India to Japan to Zimbabwe, Journal du Thé does a great job at exploring how different cultures view and consume tea but also how this simple drink connects us all.
Design Anthology UK
Based in London, Design Anthology UK is a publication covering the topics of European design and architecture, as well as travel, art and style. Favouring a clean and elegant aesthetic, it is published three times a year by the independent creative agency Astrid Media, founded by Design Anthology UK’s editor Elizabeth Choppin.
The reason we stress the ‘UK’ part of the magazine’s title is because this edition is a sister publication to Design Anthology published in Asia and Australia by Fifth Black, which has its own team and different content, reporting on the design and architecture scene of its respective base location. Now on its 14th issue, Design Anthology UK is a premium, collectible volume with some of the best in design featured on its pages, captured and written about in creative and innovative ways.
Of course, we couldn’t write a post about great indie print publications without including our very own 91 Magazine. Established by our lovely editor and founder Caroline Rowland, 91 is a bi-annual interiors and lifestyle publication, championing independent businesses and always striving to inspire our readers to create beautiful interiors.
Very excitingly, 91 is no longer solely a magazine publication, joining the other independent book publishers on this list as last week, our very own book series titled 91 PLACES was announced. Taking a different approach from the likes of Petite Passport and the Weekend Journals that focus on a single destination with each guidebook, 91 PLACES will be a selection of places from all over sharing a common theme, starting with PLACES to shop, a collection of independent lifestyle stores from across the UK, coming out later this year and now available for pre-order here.