It’s no secret we love print magazines here at 91, and ever since switching from digital to print in 2016, we realised that you guys clearly enjoy print as much as we do! Independent magazines are thriving and this has resulted in a thirst for shops that specialise in niche titles. They are popping up everywhere from Stockport and Glasgow to Munich and Bucharest. Writer and mag fan Sara Hesikova runs Instagram page @magfanatic and shares with us 20 of the best independent magazine stores around the UK and Europe…
Despite popular belief that print will soon be completely replaced by digital, in actual fact, it doesn’t seem like print is going anywhere anytime soon. This is evident in the presence of the many book stores lining our high streets, as well as a newer, rarer breed of retailer supplying customers with their fix of the printed word – magazine stores.
Independent magazine stores tend to be specialised and not as easy to come by as your regular book shops, but as more people discover them, the more sought-after they become. The demand and interest is there from creatives looking for inspiration and magazine enthusiasts alike, making a case for print. There is something special about holding a beautifully designed object in your hands, flicking through (and smelling!) its pages and then displaying it on your shelf or coffee table.
Below are 20 of the best and prettiest independent magazine shops here in the UK and across Europe that are definitely worth a visit, some of which have recently moved to bigger and better spaces, proving that print is still thriving and going strong. But, just like all small independent businesses, they now need your support more than ever before.
Print Matters! – Zürich, Switzerland
Zürich-based Print Matters! existed as a pop up first before Maurice Müller took over from its first owners in 2019. He couldn’t let this venture close down, since it was the only place in Switzerland to offer a good selection of independent magazines. Maurice set up its first physical shop in the heart of the city, building all the fixtures himself. His vision was a place where people could browse the selection, sit down in the lounge – which in many ways resembles the intimacy and comfort of one’s living room – and discover new titles, experiencing the feel and quality, not possible through online shopping.
Rare Mags – Stockport, UK
With its distinctive cobalt blue store front, Rare Mags in Stockport – a town just outside of Manchester – came into existence in 2018. Founders Holly Carter and Martin Wilson have always been big magazine enthusiasts and to this day they get excited when opening a new issue of a magazine.
As the name suggests, the store stocks all kinds of rare titles that would be difficult to find elsewhere, coming in from Canada to Japan and everywhere in between. While browsing their extensive collection, customers are also welcome to an espresso as the shop is equipped with a coffee machine and even sells a selection of coffee beans by Hard Lines coffee roasters. After all, magazines and coffee are a great match.
Magazine Brighton – Brighton, UK
Located in Brighton’s North Laine, an area filled with independent shops, restaurants and cafes, is independent magazine store Magazine Brighton, fitting right in with it’s neighbours. Since its beginning in 2014, the independent-minded residents and visitors of Brighton that frequent this area, have become the customer base that appreciates the vast collection of magazines on offer.
The store’s owner, Martin Skelton, has always been a magazine enthusiast, but it was on his travels that inspiration hit to open Magazine Brighton. While visiting other countries and cities, he came across new independent magazines in dedicated shops, run by passionate owners. And so, he decided to bring that to his hometown of Brighton.
Rosa Wolf – Berlin, Germany
Berlin is a city filled with creatives and there are many stores catering to their needs. It is then no surprise that not one, but three magazine stores from Berlin made it onto our list. Rosa Wolf is one of them and it is the most specialised of the three. It focuses solely on selling magazines.
Opened in 2017 by Domenico Gutknecht as part cafe and part magazine store, the cafe area soon made way to create more room for the mags. And while shut due to the pandemic, this May the store moved next door to an even bigger space complete with some gorgeously ornate plastering work on its walls which makes the store look even more special.
magCulture – London, UK
Located in London’s Clerkenwell, the magCulture store houses over 500 magazine titles under one roof. That is an impressive number. Customers are therefore encouraged to browse and perhaps discover something new before making the final decision of purchasing. magCulture was started as a blog by Jeremy Leslie whose life has always been centred around magazines, creating and art directing them. Its design studio followed and in 2015, the shop opened.
The store regularly hosts events and talks with magazine creators to celebrate them and to inspire others as everything magCulture does is about championing magazines and their makers.
under the cover – Lisbon, Portugal
Coming from an unexpected background for magazine shop owners – health science – Luís Cunha and Arturas Slidziauskas made it work and made under the cover into one of the most popular magazine shops in the world. Despite their background, the two founders have always loved magazines and they used to seek out the local magazine stores on their travels which they felt their home city of Lisbon lacked.
In 2015, their dream came into fruition and the result is a store with a carefully curated selection of publications, as well as a stylish display to make sure the titles are being presented in the best way possible. With the help of architect and graphic designer friends, the store has a clean and contemporary feel, a lovely space to browse and buy in.
Coffee Table Mags – Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg-based media designer Thorsten Keller is passionate about coffee, magazines and photography which he combines perfectly in his brand Coffee Table Mags (as well as his signature Instagram shots of magazines with a side of a frothy cappuccino!)
Rather than setting up his own brick and mortar shop, Thorsten decided to go down a different route. Instead, he runs an online store while supplying two chic cafes in Hamburg, Public Coffee Roasters and Balz & Balz, with a curated selection to introduce people to independent well-made titles they might not come across at a regular newsstand and further marrying his love for coffee and magazines.
Colours May Vary – Leeds, UK
Magazines have been central to the selection, interests and ideals of the creative concept store Colours May Vary in Leeds and its owners Becky Palfery and Andy Gray since the store’s opening in 2012. The founders were inspired by other magazine stores in Europe but also concept stores like the famous and now-closed Colette in Paris, which is reflected both in the bright and colourful look of the store and its thoughtful offering.
Born from the lack of stores stocking magazines and design publications in Leeds and the founders having to travel to London or Manchester to get them, Colours May Vary focuses on graphic art and design, typography and illustration, both in their curated selection of titles and other products like homeware and art prints. It was also the first store in Leeds focusing on design publications.
do you read me?! – Berlin, Germany
Established in 2008 in Berlin’s Mitte district in the midst of the world going digital, who would have thought that opening a printed magazine and book store would be a good idea. But turns out it was, as 12 years later do you read me?! is thriving, constantly buzzing and busy with customers. Earning something of an icon status in its industry, do you read me?! is one of the longest serving curated magazine stores and one that is often referenced by other magazine store owners as inspiration.
As co-founder Mark Kiessling puts it, “Sometimes you have to do things yourself instead of complaining that it does not exist.”
Reading Room – Milan, Italy
Citing Berlin’s do you read me?! and magCulture in London as inspiration, Reading Room‘s founder Francesca Spiller felt Milan was missing a space dedicated to the world of magazines. Born from Francesca’s passion for photography and visual culture, the store is clean and minimalist in design but maximalist in the selection of titles it houses – over 300 to date.
Reading Room also acts as a gallery space and regularly hosts talks and radio shows with photographers, writers, artists and magazine editors. However, adapting to the post-pandemic world, the store currently operates a by-appointment system where customers email to set an appointment before coming to visit the store.
Magalleria – Bath, UK
In the midst of the cultural hotspot that is Bath, in 2015 Daniel McCabe set up his magazine shop Magalleria. He noticed a shift in the perception and creation of magazines from something disposable to something thoughtfully made and treasured. He wanted to give this new breed of publication a platform where people could discover and learn more about them. The idea behind the store was of a gallery space but for magazines – hence the name – which is also reflected in their display.
Dispozitiv Books – Bucharest, Romania
After much pondering for almost three years prior, Dispozitiv Books finally opened its doors in 2019. Testing the industry’s waters first by starting a magazine, the owners Laura Naum and Petrică Mogoș felt encouraged by the positive feedback and the new connections they made with people who were equally as passionate about print. The result is a magazine and book store with a collection of international titles mixed with Eastern-European and local publications, a collection unparalleled anywhere else in Romania.
La Biblioteka – Sheffield, UK
La Biblioteka opened in 2016 in a small shop in Sheffield’s city centre, offering a wide range of independent magazines with a focus on design – a subject close to the heart of its founder Alex Maxwell – a trained architect. But outgrowing its little space, last year the magazine store moved to a more unusual and experimental space. Kommune is a trendy food and social hall which houses not only food traders, but also retail kiosks the size of a standalone store. This is where La Biblioteka can be found nowadays. Alex and his wife Julie made sure that their kiosk setting feels inviting and homely with the addition of many house plants and wooden fixtures.
Soda Books – Munich, Germany
A veteran in this business, Soda Books opened in 2004 after its owner Sebastian Steinacker returned from his studies in London and felt there was a lack of stores focusing on contemporary art and design publications in Munich. To this day, Soda caters for the tight-knit design scene that makes up its customers and it is one of the biggest art and design magazine/book stores in Europe, with its 140 sqm space filled to the brim. The store was a pioneer in its field at the time of its opening. No other store in Germany offered an equal number of books and magazines and mixed them in its display on an equal level complementing each other, like Soda did and does.
Shreeji News – London, UK
Established in 1982, Shreeji News on Marylebone’s Chiltern Street has been a well-known fixture for many years and a go-to for a great selection of magazines. But this year, Shreeji got a serious makeover. From the outside the store already looks more inviting due to the change from a dark black store front to a bright cream. The clever addition of outdoor seating and a coffee and pastry bar means customers can read their just-purchased magazines straight away and pair them with some refreshments. The store has been fitted with wooden floor-to-ceiling shelving, displaying the array of magazines on offer and going through a narrow corridor to the back of the store, one comes across the new and extremely stylish reading room coloured in a mix of pastel hues and darker jewel tones on the walls and furnishings.
Ripe Studio – Glasgow, Scotland
Another recent addition to the world’s magazine store scene is Ripe Studio, opened in 2019 in Glasgow’s Barras Market, an established weekend market filled with antiques and vintage goods. The setting is perfect for Ripe’s founder and magazine lover, Linda McIntosh, who was inspired by a trip to Paris and the city’s legendary weekend flea markets where sellers communicate their passion for antiques or vintage clothing to their customers. When putting together her own cosy little store with a plenty of character, Linda aimed to communicate her own passion for magazines with that same energy she had seen in Paris.
Chandal – Barcelona, Spain
Chandal, found in the trendy El Born area of Barcelona near the Picasso Museum, is a design concept store aiming to stock a collection of objects which one couldn’t find anywhere else in Barcelona. Analogue photography is at the heart of the store and the passion for printed photography extends to their carefully curated selection of magazines. The owners came across many new magazines on such variety of subjects that they couldn’t find in their city, so they decided to add them to their offering. These magazines can be considered as design objects themselves with care being put into their look and feel, layout and of course, photography.
Village – Leeds, UK
Another Leeds gem is Village Books which coincidentally, was also born in 2012. Set in a beautiful historical arcade in the centre of Leeds, Village was also inspired by the lack of stores stocking small-press independent titles, photography books and fashion publications in their city. That is why its founder Joe Torr, who has always been interested in visual language and feels the printed page is the best medium for it, wanted to bring all of these under one roof. When putting the store together, the aim was to offer the customer a unique experience, one that couldn’t be replicated online. The addition of a reading room where customers can get a coffee and browse the magazines and books on offer, with regular exhibitions and workshops took care of that.
MAG kiosk – Lisbon, Portugal
Set up in 2010 in central Lisbon near the river Tagus and the famous 25 de Abril Bridge, MAG kiosk is housed in quite an unusual setting – a bright yellow container. For founders Pedro Sottomayor and Carlota Ferrão, the container setting represents something coming from far away, just like the titles on offer in their store. They make the most of their little space which is as charming as any other bricks and mortar shop could be. MAG kiosk is part of the LxFactory, a historical industrial complex built on a site of an old factory which is now home to around a hundred arty shops, restaurants and cafes, providing the store with a buzzing and creative setting.
Zabriskie – Berlin, Germany
Zabriskie, located in Berlin’s creative and cool area of Kreuzberg, is a magazine and book store specialising in publications on the topics of nature and counterculture, offering anything from gardening and sustainability, to social issues and underground film and music-themed titles. Zabriskie is another store that took advantage of the shutdown during the pandemic and moved around the corner from its original location, about half a minute away. The new store, with a contemporary and vibrant design, opened its doors this April and now includes a cosy seating area where coffee is served, too.