▲ Smell is versatile, similar to the writers of independent magazines. Provided by www.purdue.edu.
“I wish we could see perfumes as well as smell them,” said the Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. “I am sure they would be very beautiful,” she commented. Smell, if only visible, would indeed be more colorful than colors themselves. Depending on when, where, how, and with whom it is shared, the same smell could be remembered as anything in between a fragrance and a stench. The magazine Scent gives off these different stories associated with smell and seduces readers into their own memories of a specific odor.
In the novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, written by Patrick Süskind, the protagonist Jean Baptiste Grenouille stalks and commits murder on virgins in search of the perfect scent. Perfume explores the sense of smell as the core of one’s emotions and communication with others. By the end of the story, though, the author concludes that there is no such perfect scent, that everything has its own unique smell which arouses a certain emotion, with this emotion re-giving new value and meaning to the smell.
This is the message of smell that the magazine Scent wishes to spread. This magazine, that actually does smell, is sealed in a plastic bag to preserve it as long as possible, and holds the motto, “Spread Your Scent.” It does not insist on a fixed meaning of a particular smell, but rather waits for readers to open up their bag of reminiscence as they open up the plastic bag of the magazine. Believing that human’s sense of smell is the longest-lasting and the most versatile, it aims to awaken the readers through the smell of the magazine, so that their emotions can, in turn, give new value to the magazine.
▲ The future of independent magazines is searching for more people with their own smell, like the magazine Scent. Provided by blog.naver.com.
The Scent of Independent Magazines
Scent was published four times a year—usually in January, April, July, and October, but flexible—and the first one was released on January, 2014. “I was doing extra-curricular activities when I encountered friends of my age that shared my concerns,” said Park So Hyun, the director of Scent. In the postmodern society where people are somewhat forced to work reluctantly and thus lose passion, people are increasingly searching for new independent fields of work where they can express their talents. This is why people like Park who are willing to put their interests into action are increasing, leading to the revival of independent magazines.
Since 2009, this type of independent magazines has steadily increased. Independent magazines are small-scaled magazines that deal with diverse topics of their own in unconstrained formats. Since the producer handles every stage, from production to sales, it more effectively captures the producer’s creativity and more directly delivers its message. This characteristic of the independent magazine was what made it possible for the producers of Scent to arouse the essence of smell to the readers. Who would have ever imagined a magazine that has a smell in addition to letters and pictures?
Another improvement is the formation of a more stable distribution network. Scent now has its magazine launched in more than 20 bookstores, restaurants, and cafes, not only in Seoul but also in areas such as Pohang and Jeju-do. These fruitful outcomes were possible thanks to the Social Network Service (SNS). “Scent did not use SNS that actively from the beginning,” confessed Park. “The readers were the ones who contacted us through the Internet, which became a motivation for us to make our own blog, Facebook page, and Instagram,” she added.
Comparing to six years ago, the independent magazines have grown even more independent. Like Park, the directors can start out their plan confidently if they discover and share their common interests. Also, while it was mostly people from the design field like Park and her four friends who started magazines, nowadays, this is not necessarily the case nowadays.
To Turn Stench to Fragrance
“In every single stage of making the magazine, we underwent trials and errors,” recalled Park. Although there were readers from all around the world whopraised their creativity, the results were sometimes unsatisfactory. Due to the strong smell of ink and paper, the magazine did not always hold the scent they wanted to deliver to readers. Although it was tightly packaged in vacuum-packs, the delicate and swift fragrance was not always on their side.
The biggest obstacle was overcoming their independence. Because independent magazines mostly involve only minimal directors, the outcome always has flaws. “We could have relied on outsourcing to make the best out of each stage, but the problem was money,” said Park. Since they were students and not part of a mainstream magazine company, they did not have a main source of income. From the contents manufacturing process to printing, they had to handle everything with their own money.
The characteristic of independent magazines was what blocked their popularity. Eventually, their uniqueness became a hindrance in attracting the maniacs. Park decided to stop its publication, making the October magazine of 2014 its last edition. “It is unfortunate, but the past one year was a new source of vitality,” said Park. With four other friends who also happened to be interested in smell, her independent magazine was her first opportunity to express her interests in a unique form.
Park noted that the past year she devoted in producing the magazine would become a new scent for her and the whole field of independent magazines. “People are ceaselessly struggling to widen the future path of independent magazines by opening promotional events all around Korea,” said Park. For any Korea University (KU) student desperate of a creative activity as a means to express their own scent, an independent magazine could be their starting point.