A review of Monocle issue 101: the magazine ten years on

Monocle issue 101

I wrote a review of the first issue of Monocle just under ten years ago, and an update a year later in 2008. The hundred-and-first edition has just reached subscribers, and here’s what’s changed:

  • Editorial voice: remarkably consistent (still global, still obsessed with traditional media, neighbourhood culture and Japan – not that any of those are necessarily bad things).
  • Design: looser than it was, but for the better I think. I’ve enjoyed the pushing and prodding at the edges of what was a pretty rigid system (I described it as ‘staid’ in 2007 which was probably a little unfair).
  • Website: still disappointing. Search is abysmal and micro-content difficult to pin down. It’s crying out for a proper directory – I would love to be able to pull up a list of great homeware stores in Bangkok, for example, but can’t, partly because every search result is treated alike, but also partly because many of those recommendations are buried in longer articles.
  • Brand extensions: many seem to be here to stay. Shops have closed and new ones opened, events run, podcasts made, all without detracting from the essence of the magazine itself. The travel guides are excellent and, with hindsight, seem like such an obvious thing that could have been done earlier.
  • Price: it’s gone up by a bit more than inflation, but not egregiously so.

I still buy it.


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