Print journalism and Scottish football may not be the forces they once were, but the support for a new crowdfunded magazine dedicated to the game north of the border suggests there’s life in both yet.
Nutmeg, pitched as 'a Scottish football publication that is all about the writers, the writing and great stories told at length', has smashed through its £10,000 Kickstarter target with days still to spare.
The magazine is the brainchild of Edinburgh editorial consultancy Palmer Watson, which has worked on the design of newspapers including France’s Le Monde, Spain’s El País and Norway’s Aftenposten. Co-founder Ally Palmer is now turning his attention to designing the first edition of his own home-grown title after securing almost £13,000 in pledges from 375 backers so far. "We currently have a cover and 200 very blank pages," he laughed.
Palmer had long had an idea to create a small format football publication in Britain after seeing similar titles abroad. The subsequent UK success of the Blizzard, a well-regarded football quarterly noteworthy for selling issues on a 'pay-what-you-want' basis, encouraged him that a Scottish-focused equivalent could attract readers. "I’m a Scottish football fan. I just thought, surely there’s a market out there for likeminded people who are interested in reading about the game in a different style – more longform, less tied to the news agenda."
The Kickstarter campaign was Palmer's way of "testing the market", with prospective readers urged to part with £10 for the first edition or higher amounts for a continued subscription to the quarterly title. The money raised has provided the necessary funding to get the first edition commissioned, printed and distributed to those who pledged and it is expected to be published in September, with the Blizzard editor Jonathan Wilson among the contributors. Broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove, the Times’ Scottish football correspondent Michael Grant and author and columnist Alan Pattullo are among other established names who have agreed to be involved.
The arrival of a new magazine offers some relief from the prevailing misery facing print media; the New Day is already floundering a month after its launch and Nutmeg hit its funding target in the same week the Independent printed its final edition. "Our background is primarily in newspapers – both in print and digital – so we’re totally aware of what’s happening in the print market," Palmer said. "But that’s information which is very easy to get for free. And people are just not paying for it in the same numbers."
Conversely, Palmer said, Nutmeg’s promising start is indicative of the increasing support for smaller publishers. "This is very much about the independent magazine scene in Britain which is growing. There’s a lot of small publications, produced by committed people to a niche audience. And they can survive – just look at Delayed Gratification. We’ve got no idea how many the first edition will print but we’re not expecting huge numbers.
"I liken it to the early punk scene. Anyone could start a band, and it’s a bit like that in the publishing industry now. Anyone’s been able to do it for years because of desktop publishing but I think right now the market is ripe for small, well-focused publications aimed at a niche market. There’s people out there who want something different – a different tone, a different pace. And people want print. I’m convinced of it."