When looking at shops like Do You Read Me in Berlin recently, so full of people, it is difficult to say the print is dying…Dirk Mönkemöller: I totally agree. The point is: Most magazines of the new generation are small and have way less readers then the big shot magazines used to have. This is how they work and survive. But it's not easy... There is much passion involved. And not so much payment...
Dirk Mönkemöller, Credit: Frau Babic
Is it hard to fight against digital trends?Dirk: Not at all. In fact the web helps us and other small magazines to find readers. Local ones and some from around the world. I think that the people enjoy the possibilities of the digital world (just like us) – but sometimes they enjoy the slowness of a well made printed magazine in contrast to the fast and steady stream of things that pop up on the web.Konstantin:
I do not know German, but remember I bought your magazine several times. Something in the covers is always taking my attention. How important is the cover and how do you decide what to put on the cover?Dirk: Obviously it's important. The cover of a magazine is like a window that shows just a tiny bit of the world that is inside the magazine. We usually just use a nice picture or illustration, we don't explain the content of the magazine on the cover. So it's a bit challenging for potential readers. They either find interest in the cover – or not. But I think many people take a look at The Weekender because it's so different to other magazines. Especially the cover.
You are not a monthly publication? Ever thought about going monthly?Dirk: We publish 4 issues a year. Of course it would be wonderful to go monthly. But right now that is impossible. We still don't earn a lot money with the magazine (which is okay) and we are just a small team of 2 persons and both of us have to go and work and earn money elsewhere. This may sound shitty, but it also gives us a lot of freedom. And I think freedom is important for a magazine like ours. It sets us apart from others.Konstantin:
What is your media menu? What helps you feel young, innovative, curious?Dirk: This is a hard one... Maybe it's a good idea to not be young, innovative and curious. We rather stick to older classic magazines that inspire us. We enjoy issues of National Geographic or Merian (from Germany) from the fifties and sixties. This is where we find inspiration. The up-to-date magazines from around the world are interesting, too. But we try not to follow trends because too many magazines look the same nowadays.
It seems to me the magazine has an old-school print feel… How can you describe the magazine in few words?Dirk:
Like I said: We enjoy old magazines. Of course our contents are very much zeitgeist – like interiors, traveling, nature, food, handcrafted stuff. But somehow we seem to be struck in the old days.
Konstantin: Do you beleive in the rules of writing - for example someone once said that a good writer is supposed to read at least twice as much as he writes, otherwise he is not improving his skills. Would you agree?
Yes, I would agree. It's always good to read a lot. No matter what... magazines, newspapers, books. But once a writer finds his (or her) own style of writing it's all good. It's a profession. I can imagine that there are some writers who just do their thing – no matter what is happening around them. But this is rare.Konstantin:
How long does it take to compile everything for the magazine?Dirk:
I would say 2 month. Maybe some more days. It feels like a long time. But this is time we need to make the magazine that we want to make.Konstantin:
When people reach a certain level they often hire assistants to do a lot of their work. Do you have help or do you have to battle the beast yourself?Dirk:
We have help. There are some people we can rely on. But we don't have assistants or so. We pretty much take care of everything ourselves. It's not very glamourous. It's work! But it feels great to know that there are like-minded people who feel the same way and help us to create a unique magazine.Konstantin:
Finally, choose a book for the beach you would love to have time to read this summer?Dirk:
Right now I enjoy reading the books by Karl-Ove Knausgaard from Norway, they are about his life and family. But I would recommend reading the weekend edition of Süddeutsche Zeitung at the beach. These people from Munich are doing a great job and it's feeling kinda old-school to read a big-size newspaper with oily hands on a sunny beach.
***Dirk Mönkemöller is the founder of the Weekender magazine (http://www.the-weekender.com), an independent magazine on housing, travel, food and nature. It appears every three months.