In a time where social news content and news outlets are channelling their efforts to digital platforms, print magazines can be seen as a bit of a redundant (plus expensive) glossy. But that doesn’t mean that physical media are becoming obsolete; Odd One Out Magazine joins a small cluster of local independent print magazines that each strives to showcase well-crafted content in a design-focussed presentation. Currently in the midst of assembling its third issue, Odd One Out is composed of substantial writing, interviews, and photography that all exist in a beautifully detailed volume. JUICE talks to the Editor of Odd One Out, Hamizah Adenan, about establishing a specific content direction for the magazine, and most importantly, the value of offering an information-saturated audience with a product that is both thought provoking and visually appealing.
Images Hamizah Adenan
You were previously in IT, and then you transitioned to becoming a production editor at a US financial publication. Did your interest in writing only start at this editorial job or had you always have an underlying penchant for writing?
I’ve loved writing from a very young age. A lot of people who know me well will firmly agree that I’m not much of a talker. And when I do talk, the words just come out all wrong, jumbled-up and in a mess. So it’s nice to actually sit down and organise your thoughts on paper. For me, it’s so much more effective because the ideas are a lot clearer. I used to run a music blog called dontbeacoconut.com all throughout university just to keep my sanity in check.
Having worked with Desiderata magazine before starting Odd One Out, what were some of the lessons that you learnt that you applied to setting up your own publication and some of the things that you tried to avoid?
It’s important to remember that Desiderata was doing something that nobody else was doing and they were also figuring out their way without an inkling of whether it would all work out, all while trying to stay afloat. If anything, I think Desiderata has proven that an appetite for local independent titles does exist and that the market is prepared to embrace it and show their support.
We see that you conduct a number of interviews for the magazine yourself; you take beautiful pictures of the interviewees as well. Do you have a benchmark of quality when it comes to your journalism?
I feel that it’s important from the very beginning, that I establish a particular voice and style for the magazine that I’m happy with. So it’s not just about benchmark, it’s also about a particular style of conducting the interviews and a particular style of photography.
“Print media provide a complete experience
that goes beyond just consuming content.”
Odd One Out doesn’t have a theme when it comes to accepting submissions. But what are the main criteria you look for when you are deciding which articles or stories to publish?
I look for pieces that create conversation that makes you pause and think that even after you’ve closed the book, the story still stays with you. So it’s crucial that writers are not only open and honest, but they’re also able to tell their story in a very elegant way.
We’re sure when you expressed interest in starting your own indie magazine, you must have had some sceptics who advised against it as we’re in an age where digital media and social media content/news take precedence. What was your reasoning to these naysayers?
Well, I might be a romantic, but I think that because we are so inundated by content from the digital world and from social media, people are now actually yearning and craving for some digital detox. And I think print media provide a complete experience that goes beyond just consuming content.
What are your personal thoughts on producing and publishing quality content in a time when most people only have the patience or time to skim or digest bite-size content (i.e. listicles)?
The main issue here is when you’re impatient and you start to have a fragmented attention span, you’ll start to consume so much content at a single time. So actually, you’re not consuming anything at all because you’re not getting much out of it. So it’s exactly like what I mentioned earlier, print publication in particular needs to offer what digital content, and e-readers and smartphones can’t do; offer an experience that goes beyond just reading. The advent of digital content has forced publishers to not only consider the content but also the packaging and the type of paper so that readers are no longer just buying a book or a magazine for its literature – they’re also buying it for the aesthetic value.
“Those who have held the magazine, and have felt
the quality of the magazine in their hands, understand
and appreciate all the hard work that has gone into it.”
Odd One Out is coming to its third volume, how would you say things are going for the publication thus far? How have locals fared with the price of RM50 for the magazine?
It’s going quite well so far. Ever since we released our second volume, a lot of people have now been asking for our first volume. Those who have held the magazine, and have felt the quality of the magazine in their hands, understand and appreciate all the hard work that has gone into it, so they are more than happy to pay the designated amount.
How is your plan for international distribution of Odd One Out going? Any updates that you can share?
International distribution still remains a huge problem particularly for independent publications. At the moment we will be focussing on self-distributing the magazine internationally.
What do you think of the publishing industry in Malaysia in general?
I can’t say much about the mainstream media, but I feel that there is currently a massive lack of locally made independent magazines and we need more of it. We need more voices represented within the local community and independent magazines provide the perfect platform for it.
Volume 3 of Odd One Out Magazine is expected to arrive by the end of the year.