Spotted the premiere edition of Spot Magazine sitting on the free-literature shelf at Flightpath today. For those who have not heard of this ground-breaking, earth-shattering, epoch-making periodical, it is a content-lite lifestyle magazine for trendy Austinites and their dogs (though there’s a token article for cat-lovers too). This is almost certainly the most unnecessary exercise in print onanism I have ever seen.

Do we need this? Does anyone need this? Has there been any unmet need for a designy magazine that advises you whether you should take your dog in for reiki treatment (for crissakes), reports on the way dogs fit in with the local music scene, or profiles of pet-friendly workplaces? Going out on a limb, I will answer that with a No. I am amazed that this wankfest made it past the five-minute “wouldn’t it be neat if” bull-session, and not only that, somehow actually got made. Anyone want to bet on whether we’ll see an Issue 2?

5 thoughts on “Sputter”

  1. The ex-magazine editor in me wonders how they could find sufficient advertising to support the project. Who cares if there’s an audience for the book; are there enough pet stores and groomers in town willing to spend money for space in a glossy to keep the book afloat? There may have been an inflection point for a book like this ten years ago when desktop publishing tech was now cheap enough that editors and designers could have it running on their Macs at home and category-killers like PetSmart hadn’t reshaped the pet business, but now it seems like a lost cause.

    Regarding the hi-design/lo-content format that Austin seems to incubate, I recently chatted with an editor of a local lifestyle book, and we wondered why so many of these books like Cityfold and Feedback are driven by design considerations, rather than editorial content, or even advertising. She complained about having to truncate too many stories in order to meet the demands of the art director. Speaking as a communications student, the design of the book should complement or support the message of the book, rather than the other way around.

    On the other hand, it is nice to see people in town have the drive and resources to take risks and try out ideas, even if they don’t work out in the long run.

  2. The mother of a friend of mine uses a pet psychic. When her 15-year-old cat was having seizures and wouldn’t eat or drink, the psychic was called in and reassured her that the cat wasn’t ready to die yet (!!!???). She also has a pet acupuncturist. My vet used to have an alternative care vet in practice with him. That’s here in Boulder. So yeah, I think it’s entirely possible that a town like Austin could support a magazine like that. Unfortunately…

  3. damn adam, the whole office was laughing as i read this aloud (right now i work in a print department). props on pointing out the stupidity in a very funny manner.

    um… keep austin weird? or something?

  4. I haven’t seen Spot yet, so I don’t know how it compares, but Houston had a very low-budget (and low production quality!) pet rag for a long time. The emphasis seemed to be on pictures of animals in need of adoption, so maybe it was funded by contributions from animal rescuers in addition to advertising. And of course Houston’s a bigger market.

    Regarding the art department reigning supreme: I would guess there’s a school of thought in publishing, as in retail, web design and some other endeavors, which could be called If You Build a Style, They Will Come. If the business model is all about creating an image and the ads aren’t really floating the boat yet anyway, then I can see how some publishers might give the art director absolute power. To me it sounds like a pretty quick way to burn up your capital, but what do I know?

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