Observation - Issue 59 - Magazine | Monocle

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Our December/January issue used to mark the official passing of one year into the next. That was back in the day when we were all hunched together in our small downstairs space on the other side of Marylebone Road and our ambitions were largely confined to producing 10 issues a year, making films and selling a few items via our website and tiny shop on George Street. While we’ve never been ones to put our feet up, I do recall there was always a moment (even a whole week) after we closed the issue that allowed for a deep intake of breath, a more leisurely stroll to the office, an extra travel day tacked on here and there and maybe a slightly early departure on the odd Wednesday or Thursday.

Our year-end double issue now marks the start of a race to squeeze in as much as possible over the next seven weeks – full edit cycles for monocle Alpino and our February issue, the opening of our new café on Chiltern Street, a host of new specials for Monocle 24, the mobilisation of a broadcast unit to St Moritz over Christmas and the relaunch of monocle.com – more on this in a moment.

You’ll notice we’ve pushed things in a few new directions this year and adjusted our metrics ever so slightly for our annual Soft Power Survey – the results have seen a couple of nations drop out of our rankings while a few new ones have crept in. The addition of a special q&a series across all sections (that also lives in an expanded version on Monocle 24) along with a single focus section E, that uncovers the best of Vienna’s retail offers, nods in the direction where we’ll be taking things editorially in 2013.

Having just wrapped up two tours across Asia and North America we’re also going to be expanding our distribution across markets established and emerging. Unlike many others in our sector who are taking a depressingly defeatist view towards the business of putting ink on paper we see the retreat and collapse of others as an opportunity. In many ways the newsstand has never been a more exciting place to do business as bigger players lose their nerve and think the world is in a great race to “lean back” with various bits of glass and titanium. For sure, some people have converted much of their media consumption to such a format but we still feel it’s a narrow channel that has some way to go in terms of figuring out a business model that works and has the presence of a physical issue. Which brings us neatly to the overhaul of monocle.com and some key changes to our site.

On the eve of its sixth birthday, our site will be getting more than just a new haircut and a kicky outfit. We’ve gone for a full overhaul that addresses the shifts in our expanding editorial model. By the time you’re reading this issue we should be about two weeks away from relaunching the site (or may well be up and running with our new look if you’re living in Port Moresby or Kodiak) and offering more stories, a vastly expanded presence for Monocle 24 (an easier to use archive, an ever-present radio player and, finally, track-listings so you don’t always have to listen with pen and paper at the ready), more space for our 300-plus films to breathe and a broader retail offer. Perhaps most importantly it will be easier to subscribe and purchase gift subscriptions. While I feel I’m in danger of stepping beyond my grip of all things digital, monocle.com will also be friendly to tablets and will conform conveniently to any mobile device (I didn’t want to use the word “optimise”).

At about the same time we’re switching over to our refreshed site we’ll also be unrolling the Christmas lights, erecting Santa’s grotto, herding the reindeer (I’m not joking), dressing the elves (still not joking) and limbering up for our Christmas Market at Midori House. When we hosted our Country Fayre in summer there was considerable disappointment from many readers who would have liked to have been invited to sample Bills’ breakfast fayre, sway their hips to Cecilia Stalin and mingle with their favourite editors. Let this serve as an official notice that Christmas will be coming to our hq on the first weekend of December with all the trimmings from our favourite nations, craftsmen, bakers and makers.

After a couple of weeks spent working on our February issue, opening the café and nursing hangovers from our Christmas bash, a special squadron from Monocle 24 will be taking to the airwaves from the heart of St Moritz from 26 December. While the news will be coming from London, our daily shows (The Briefing and Midori House) will be coming from a special set-up at 1,800-ish metres above sea level. Bundled up around the mics will be Sophie Grove, Andrew Tuck, Markus Hippi and a host of special guests who’ll be popping by midday and early evening. As I’m a local and will be just down the hill from our broadcast site, I’ll be putting in daily appearances as well. If you happen to be up in the Engadine over the holidays we look forward to clinking mugs with you. From all of us in London, Zürich, Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York and Toronto we wish you a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays and all the best for the New Year. Thank you for all your support and making this our best year yet.
For more from our editor-in-chief, read his column in the FT Weekend.

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