Blog: Upside Down

If you’re reading this then you probably have a nostalgic place in your heart for magazines. The smell, the photos, the articles, the way the pages slide through your fingers like butter… I’m one of those people. And I’ve found myself wondering which magazines will actually be around in a few years time. Many will have disappeared from store shelves, and reappeared in the upside-down of pixels and LED screens. Others will have been lost forever to the vicious Demogorgon of time.

But some titles are prepared to survive the next few years. And they’re not necessarily the ones with the highest subscriber counts.

These are magazines you may never have heard of. May never see. Magazines that focus on wealth, art, high fashion, and fine food. Books that can charge obscene cover prices, because their audience can afford it. And there’s more of them than you may think. Here are five of the most fantastical magazines in the world.

Bespoke Magazine: a Middle Eastern book published in English (to exclude anyone in the area who can only read Arabic), and aimed at the super-rich of the Arab world. You won’t find ads for perfume and clothing here. Instead, you’ll find double-page spreads for private jets, luxury yachts, and apartments selling for the GDP of a small country.

Sur La Terre International: a Swiss collection of magazines that focus on rarity. The things in life that sometimes even the ultra-rich cannot afford. An aspirational magazine for people who are already billionaires. This is a publication you cannot subscribe to. You have to be sponsored by an existing subscriber, and then work out a personal subscription plan that can cost more than some cars.

Portfolio Magazine: A young magazine, only beginning publication in 2017, Portfolio appeals to the “New Wealth” of Asia and ignoring the “Old Money” types who are more frugal, this magazine focuses on bleeding-edge technology that most people won’t even know exists for ten years, and the globetrotting lifestyles of people who can afford it. Known for its crisp minimalism, and stunning photographs, Portfolio Magazine is one of the fastest-growing books in Singapore and Shenzhen.

Elite Traveler Magazine: Marketing itself as the private jet lifestyle magazine, this book targets a more specific audience: the elite of the elite wealthy. The people who have separate private jets for their children so that the parents can travel in peace. There are a few hoops to jump through in order to subscribe to this magazine though. Like proving that you own at least one private jet, and having an annual income of $5.3 million. Minimum.

Town & Country: The granddaddy of “Don’t you wish you were me?” magazines. T&C intends on being the master of all luxury. Following the lives of the .1% of Americans. Artists, athletes, tech moguls, investors, and financiers. The places they visit, the clothes they wear, the houses they buy, and the schools they send their kids to. Unlike the other books on this list, T&C can be found on most newsstands. Just like fantasy novels can be found in most book stores.

The world you see between the covers of these magazines is one that would have been fantastical even on an episode of Dynasty. A world where yachts less than 133 meters long are practically rowboats. A world where owning a penthouse in Manhattan is for commoners, and wearing clothes not designed especially for you is embarrassing.

These magazines, unlike so many of their mainstream kin, aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They don’t care about mass circulation. In fact, being widely available just makes them less prestigious. A yearly subscription to some of these publications is so expensive that the income from a hundred subscribers would dwarf the revenue of some of the worlds biggest magazines. Advertisers can’t even buy add space in them. You need a special invitation to submit ads to these books.

Are they worth it? Is their content so much more amazing than what you’d find in other books? In most cases… not really. You’re paying for the exclusivity. Your paying so that when you host a fancy dinner, your friends who are mere millionaires will seethe with envy. So that guests on your private jet(s) will be astonished that you managed to get a subscription.

And you thought your father was a show off for wanting the perfect lawn.

-James Somerton

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