I should have written something about Monocle straight after buying the first issue in March, but somehow I just couldn't muster up the energy.
Too late now because 'Ian' has said just about everything that I would have said in this blog entry.
In some ways Monocle is a brave venture (I salute anyone who starts a magazine and this print/online project is nothing if not ambitious) but it also illustrates many of the pitfalls which people less experienced than Tyler Brule make when they launch. The editor's letter in the first issue made it clear who the target reader was but the magazine itself was much less focused, too bitty, too incoherent overall.
Lousy photography too. If you're aiming at design conscious trendsters then you need to be right on top of the images but too many of the pix in issue 1 were dull townscapes (funny how many towns look the same when photographed from a high rise hotel bedroom window) with colour casts and really boring compositions. The captions were even duller.
And my dear, the product placement. Ian comments quite scathingly on the Manga cartoon, which I thought was OK and a possible reason to buy the next issue, but the very obvious placement of an Audi TT and the new Prada phone (coincidentally also featured in the 'fashion briefing', so you could compare the photo and the drawing – very lifelike) was extremely off-putting. Likewise the editorial choice of a Skeppshult bicycle to do some sightseeing/shopping in Lisbon and my goodness what's this on page 178? A full colour advert for the very same brand.
To be fair I found interesting material in between the fluff but not enough to motivate me to make another £5 purchase.
What Monocle reminded me of more than anything was James Brown's brave new venture after loaded, the pocket-size Jack. Charismatic editor with a certain reputation and one successful launch behind him? Check. Small format? Check. "Different" content? Check. Not quite all there? Check.
I doubt, however, that Felix Dennis will come to the (short lived) rescue of this one.