On Mondays, we post pieces that fit that month's theme. In March, we're hearing from four writers about their experience of "Making It Into a Book". Today, Zoya Patel shares the journey of Lip from print, to online, and back to print again.
It’s a curious thing when you take something from online to print. Lip has travelled the journey both ways over the course of its ten year history.
Founded as a print magazine in 2003, Lip first launched as a fully online publication in 2010, with the occasional print issue as well. Why did we transition to online? Well, as any independent journal or magazine will tell you, times are tough for print. Our circulation was the lowest it had ever been, largely due to our drastically reduced print run and lack of real funding. An even bigger issue was continuing to grow our audience without a big enough online presence – as editor-in-chief, I was growing so used to explaining what Lip is, I had a pre-formed one-liner that I said almost automatically when I met new people.
The move to online saw drastic growth in the scope of the publication, and hugely increased reader numbers. From the time we launched the new website in 2010, our audience has grown from 20 unique visitors per day, to over 2,000. We publish new content daily, and have a core team of close to 30 regular editors and writers.
Despite this success, however, something still felt missing – a certain nostalgia for the printed magazine lingered on. Our website was packed full of content, but the fast-paced turnover of online meant that nothing seemed to stick around for long – and often, really great work didn’t seem to get the time or attention that it deserved.
In 2013, we decided to release our first Yearbook anthology. The Yearbook is a printed anthology featuring the best of Lip’s online content as well as some new work, in a high quality, well-designed format.
Although we have a rich history of producing print magazines, the Yearbook presented a unique challenge. What works on screen doesn’t always work in print, and even though the pieces we chose were the best of our website, it was difficult to always recreate that magic in the Yearbook, knowing it would be consumed as a hardcopy object.
The language we use online often lacks the gravitas we might use for a print article; the articles were generally a lot shorter than what we would usually print; and without hyperlinks, it was a lot harder to provide the instant access to further reading that we like to include with our online articles for Lip.
We got around these issues in a number of ways. For all of the reprinted online articles, we had the writer put together a short blurb about why the piece was included, or had a sub-editor curate a selection of articles from their section with an accompanying foreword. This helped provide context, and also fill the pieces out somewhat.
We also included lists of links where relevant, or fleshed the articles out with more in-text references where needed. And having the additional content that was commissioned for the Yearbook alone also helped give it the ‘print feeling’ that you just wouldn’t get from a stack of reprinted online articles.
And that’s why publishing the Yearbook was important for us – as much as we’re all digital natives who embrace technology, there’s something kind of special about a print product. The response to the Yearbook validates our motivations too – it acts as a sort of ‘Lip souvenir’, something tangible that connects people with the magazine in a more permanent sense than our ever-changing website.
Ultimately, print is expensive and as an independent, not-for-profit publication, online publishing has been a lifesaver. But by publishing the Yearbook, not only do we have the pleasure of a printed object, but our connection to the words we publish online has grown stronger through the process of selecting and editing, and republishing them.
Zoya Patel is a writer, editor and all-round culture collector. She currently works in Communications, and is finishing her Masters degree. You can read more of her work at zoyajpatel.wordpress.com, or follow her @zoyajpatel.
If you'd like to purchase a copy of the Lip Yearbook, you can do so here.
Sam van Zweden was Writers Bloc’s Online Editor from 2013 - 2015. A Melbourne-based writer and blogger, her work has appeared in The Big Issue, Voiceworks, Tincture Journal, Page seventeen, and others. She’s passionate about creative nonfiction and cross stitch. She tweets @samvanzweden.