The Stack Awards 2016

At Stack we spend our days immersed in fantastic independent magazines, as we select outstanding titles for our subscribers around the world. Independent publishing is booming at the moment, and the Stack Awards is our attempt to capture that sense of excitement and innovation – an annual celebration of the best, most interesting independent magazines being created around the world. We launched in 2015 with a fantastically successful awards programme, so the pressure was on to make this year's awards even bigger and better.

Affordable for all

Most awards programmes need to make money for their organisers, which is why they're expensive to enter, and even more expensive if you want to attend the ceremony. But it's essential that the Stack Awards reward the most interesting and exciting magazines, regardless of who makes them, so we fixed our prices at just £30 to enter a category, and £30 to attend our ceremony.
But we knew it would cost money to push this year's awards to the next level, so we started the search for sponsors and were delighted to find support from WeTransfer, MailChimp and the Ace Hotel London. With their help we were able to offer more awards across more categories, reaching more publishers and delivering a more rigorous judging process.

The judging process

Entries opened in mid-July, and by the time they closed on 7 October we'd received more than 390 submissions from independent publishers around the world – more than double the number in 2015. We then spent a week shortlisting the entries, before sending the qualifying magazines off to our expert judges, who lived with them for a full month before coming together for our judging day on 17 November.
Our judges flew into London or joined the sessions via Skype, in an intense day of magazine discussion that ended with all our winners and commended titles decided. And with so many magazine experts in town for the day, we couldn't pass up the opportunity for a party that night, inviting shortlisted publishers to meet their judges.

The winners

Publishers flew in from far and wide for our awards ceremony, and we packed out The Book Club with magazine makers from across the UK, Europe and beyond. But it was the UK and the Netherlands that dominated on the night, picking up seven of the 11 awards on offer, with winners also coming from Italy, Lebanon and the USA.
A full list of the winners and commended titles, is available on the Stack Awards site, along with all the shortlisted magazines. And a few select winners are listed below, along with our judges' thoughts on what made them stand out above the rest...

Magazine of the Year

Winner: MacGuffin
Commended: Ladybeard, The Gentlewoman

Launch of the Year

Winner: Real Review
Commended: Ladybeard, Racquet

The aftermath

Every publisher had to submit three copies for every category entered, so we were left with an enormous number of magazines at the end of the process. So we made one more trip to the Ace Hotel on 10 December for our Magazines for Good sale, selling the magazines at half price with all proceeds going to Refugee Action. We raised just over £2,500 on the day, and managed to sell almost all the magazines to eager readers. The remaining stock was donated to universities and colleges running publishing-related courses, and to the Ace Hotel, for them to display the magazines in their rooms and public spaces.
And now, with the 2016 awards finished, our thoughts turn to 2017. Of course we want to see another incrememtal improvement on the awards next year, so we're once again looking for sponsors to help us deliver an even better awards programme. If you'd like to associate your brand with the exciting work being done by the world's best independent publishers, drop me a line!
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