Created in London, Anorak Magazine has been providing happy families with a peculiar colorful publication since 2006. Every issue is an explosion of illustrations based around an entertaining theme relating to sports, travel, cooking and many more. TV and video games should thread carefully, because Anorak’s some serious competition! Q&A with editor Cathy Olmedillas.
Baron: Let’s do Anorak’s bio…
Cathy Olmedillas:Anorak Magazine is aimed at children aged between 6 and 12 years old and celebrates all aspects of childhood. It comes out quarterly, with each issue based around a theme: travel, sports, writing, dreams, play, etc. It carries comics and stories as well as games, activities and educational features. It is sold worldwide via newsstands and bookstores.
I launched Anorak Magazine in 2006, when I discovered that the kids’ magazine market was very poorly served. I had become a Mum a few years back and was looking for a magazine that would be like the comics I used to read when I was a kid. I realized that while there were lots of magazines around, there was something missing: a magazine that would be fun and not tied in to a brand or a TV program.
B.: How does that translate to an editorial policy?
C. O.: I edit and write pretty much everything that goes into Anorak and its content is inspired by anything, from a conversation with my son to a visit to a museum or to watching a documentary. I’d like to think that Anorak inspires kids to draw, write and learn while having fun. It is a place for them to explore their creativity and tap into their imagination. That was my mission from the start and, judging by the letters, stories and comics we receive from our little fans every day, we seem to be doing a good job! (Modestly speaking of course!)
B.: Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why? Typography?
C. O.: Print was the only option, back in 2006, as smartphones had not been invented yet! Kids magazines were printed on very flimsy paper, which, after a couple of reads, gets torn off or thrown away. I wanted a paper that kids could draw on without having the ink bleed over the page. So, I naturally went for a matt paper, as most pencils don't work on shiny paper. On top of that, matt paper gave us a weighty magazine, which could be read again and again, just like a book.
B.: What has been the readers’ response?
C. O.: At first, we had a lot of educating to do because distributors didn't think launching a unisex magazine would work. But we soon got a distribution deal directly with Borders, which meant we were available all around the country. We never had great marketing budgets, so we built our audience via word of mouth and then social networks. We have a brilliant dialogue with our readership, via Twitter or Facebook, for parents and kids write to us very frequently. I am very grateful to everyone who takes the time to write to us or tell their friends about us!
B.: Good print mags get a lot of love, but this isn’t always reflected in sales. How are you doing, financially?
C. O.: This is very true and something no one ever talks about. People imagine that because you are well known, you are swimming in money but the reality is that it takes a lot of PR and marketing to sell a decent amount of copies. We sell around 10,500 copies every quarter, which, if you compare it against the big mainstream kids mags, is small but if you compare it with books, it’s very good.
From an advertising perspective, we are extremely choosy. We only carry two ads every issue and only do projects with brands and charities if we feel an affinity with them. http://www.anorakmagazine.com/projects
B.: Are there future projects in the works?
C. O.: We are launching in September a teen magazine called Teepee! The concept is similar to Anorak, but it is written by teenagers and aimed at both boys and girls aged 14+. It will be available as a print magazine but also as an iPad app. We are currently exploring making a regular Anorak app (mostly for the iPad), to update the one we did a few years back. . The plan is for it to mirror the theme of the current issue and bring together all the content we produce, from Anorak TV to the print edition.
Watch this space!