Of the dates marked on a magazine lover’s calendar, the Stack Awards is probably circled in bright red ink. Launched last year by the Stack, a monthly, UK-based subscription service that sends an exceptionally well-curated selection of independent magazines straight to your door, the call for entries for this year’s awards is now officially open. If you’ve ever wanted to get your magazine in the hands of judges like the The New York Times Magazine’s design director, Gail Bichler, art director, graphic design writer, and AIGA Medalist Steve Heller, and Design Matters founder and host Debbie Millman, now’s your chance.
Prizes are awarded in 11 different categories including Magazine of the Year, Cover of the Year, Launch of the Year, and Best use of Illustration—plus three new categories this year: Editor of the Year, Art Director of the Year, and Student Magazine of the Year. The awards cost £30 (around $40) to enter, and all publications are sent to the judges a month before judging day “so they have a full month to live with the magazines,” says Stack founder Steven Watson. Following the announcement of the winners at the awards ceremony on November 29, Stack will hold its Magazines for Good event, which makes genius use of all the titles submitted to the awards by selling them off and donating the proceeds to charity.
The mags that win this year still remain to be seen, of course, but if last year’s winners are any indication, it’ll read like a newsstand shopping list of the best and most exciting new publications. Last year the Dave Lane-designed food magazine, The Gourmand, scooped Magazine of the Year, with Weapons of Reason (edited by our very own James Cartwright) winning both the Best use of Illustration and Launch of the Year Prizes. New York-based literary magazine American Chordata was commended in the Launch of the Year section and named the overall winner for the Best Original Fiction Prize to boot. Other shortlisted publications included Latvian magazine Benji Knewman, New York’s Gather Journal, and London film magazine Little White Lies.
The popularity of the Stack Awards mirrors the growth of the independent magazine sector in general—the Stack alone has seen its subscriber base rise 76% from 2014-15. Last December our blog friends over at magCulture even opened their first brick-and-mortar space in central London with an aim to “reflect the resurgence in innovative printed publications… and focus on the new independents that have established themselves in recent years.”
After judging the 2015 Stack Awards, magCulture founder Jeremy Leslie called it “a watershed for indie publishing, another landmark in its growth and a definitive move towards broader recognition.” He added, “Perhaps once independent magazines meant rough and ready, half-formed but intriguing. There are plenty of magazines like that still, of course, and we need those titles, but we are now seeing some that started that way develop into serious editorial projects. The rest of the publishing world should be paying attention.”