In a slightly out-of-the-way storefront at 52nd Street and College Avenue — across the street from SoBro Café and around the corner from Luna Music, The Aristocrat and Indie Bike — is the newish kid on the block, PRINTtEXT. It's a magazine lover's dream, featuring 300-plus print publications from the worlds of design, fashion, art, literature, architecture, food and politics.
Started by husband-wife team Benjamin and Janneane Blevins — who helped launch the fashion collective Pattern and have served on the editorial team for the collective's magazine — the store is modeled on 0fr., a bookstore and art gallery they frequently visited while living in Paris.
"That is an inspiring place," says Benjamin. "They carried all these back issues of different magazines. It was a small space, and it had gallery openings and a salon atmosphere," something he and Janneane hope to replicate at PRINTtEXT.
Benjamin and Janneane have scoured the Internet for contacts at various types of magazines from all over the world, looking for cool titles to carry in one of the very few independent bookstores in the city.
At first he says ordering was by "trial and error." They would also check out different publications on social media. "We'd notice that a magazine would do a launch party at a particular bookstore, then we'd try to figure out what else that book store carries," he says.
Their customers also ask questions and make suggestions.
"Groups of people also talk to each other about the store," he adds. "Butler professors come looking for poetry magazines, attorneys ask about political magazines. We've had customers ask if we carry anything that has an article about same-sex marriage or transgender issues or something really specific like that. I usually have some semblance of an idea of where to find what they're looking for." If not, he'll do his best to find it.
Magazine publishers have also approached PRINTtEXT to ask if they would carry their titles. One example: Neptún, a magazine published in Iceland that covers design, architecture and the visual arts.
PRINTtEXT carries several other bilingual publications, including Shawati', an arts and culture publication out of Abu Dhabi; the Room, a bilingual English and Hungarian book-zine that covers fashion and contemporary arts; and Too Much, a self-described international publication about "romantic geography" based in Tokyo.
And if you find a magazine you really like, PRINTtEXT offers back issues of many titles, unlike traditional bookstores that only carry the current one.
Benjamin says there has been a good amount of foot traffic from those who live in or visit the area for the existing stores and restaurants, particularly the "people who want to look at weird things."
Benjamin says he is willing to ship magazines to those who can't make it into the store. But it's not nearly as much fun as browsing the titles, chatting with the owners, and meeting the store dog, Huckleberry.
According to Benjamin, it was Stephen Garstang, a local designer who helped the Blevinses when they moved into the space, who "suggested that we don't put the magazines up on bookshelves, but on tables, so they'd be on display like coffee table books. It's really fun to see."
The Blevinses also want the store to have 0fr's salon feel. Since the grand opening in February, they've hosted the Soft River Reading Series in March and Tanjerine Splash (part of Oranje) in April. They have plans for two more events this summer. A launch party for the design magazine Commercial Article, an offshoot of local design firm Commercial Artisan, is slated for late August. And a Blu Dot chair commissioned by the Indianapolis chapter of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) as a tribute to the late graphic artist Gene Lacy will be on display in the store in July.
"We're positioning ourselves in the international landscape of publishers and [book] shops," says Benjamin. "There's something about being based in Indianapolis. It's a fantastic place to test ideas and not go bankrupt and it is small enough you can effect change in it. You can't afford to do something like this in New York City. But in Indianapolis, you can."
Five for browsing
Benjamin Blevins talks up five favorites from his shop:
TOO Much: Magazine of Romantic Geography
Based in Japan, TOO Much gathers thoughts about cities, the people who live in them, and the changes affecting our society and our environment. It's a magazine about romantic geography.
The debut issue from New York artists Knox Robinson and Lee Harrison is billed as "a journal of American fact" — culled from the past 50 years of black culture. "We've seen a suffocating consolidation of our collective approach to urban culture over the past several years. We wanted to introduce some documents — cables, as it were — to get some additional perspective, ideas and visual language out, especially to the youth." The first edition (billed as #070413) includes James Baldwin, Public Enemy, Miles Davis liner notes, A$AP Rocky candids, Gil Scott-Heron's memorial service program and more.
A Magazine Curated By IRIS VAN HERPEN
A Magazine Curated By is a fashion magazine that explores the universe of a chosen fashion designer in each issue. "We invite a guest curator to develop innovative, personalised content to express their aesthetic and cultural values." The most recent curator is Dutch wunderkind Iris Van Herpen, who 3D-prints couture, shrink-wraps her runway models and collaborates with everyone from architects to surgeons on her fashion projects.
A print magazine about pixel people. Produced in Australia, each issue is built around six lengthy interviews with creators and innovators of digital products. "Offscreen talks to aspiring freelancers, renowned designers and developers, and ingenious entrepreneurs to find out how they use technology to solve problems and be successful."
n+1 No.19 (No.20 arrives August 1)
n+1 is a magazine of literature, culture, and politics published three times yearly. We also post new online-only work several times each week and publish books expanding on the interests of the magazine. "Theory is dead, and long live theory. The designated mourners have tenure, anyway, so they'll be around a bit. As for the rest of us, an opening has emerged, in the novel and in intellect. What to do with it?" They started this magazine.