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We discover the world of independent magazines together with the founder of Frab's Magazine & More

Why open a shop selling printed magazines in 2023? Anna Frabotta, who started the e-commerce and physical store with the mission of making independent magazine culture in Italy, explains


We met (alas, only virtually) Anna Frabotta, a former press officer, Molise-born, Forlì-based founder of Frab's Magazine & More, a project that stems from the desire to spread culture and that accompanies the sale of independent magazines with the organisation of artistic-publishing activities. For her “the magazine is an act of endurance over time that makes inculture a value”

On the screen appears a girl with dark hair and eyes so big that they seem to cross the screen.

How did the Frab's project come about and what is its mission?

The idea had existed in my head since 2018. In January 2019, I opened Frab's Instagram page. I had set myself the goal of an independent magazine story a day. Slowly, the community grew and responded positively to my cues. At that point, I plucked up courage, invested my savings and created the first Frab's e-commerce (completely different from today's). Shortly afterwards, the physical shop was born. The mission is to make independent magazine culture in Italy. To make people understand that the magazines that exist in the world are not just those you buy at the newsstands.

So digital was a testing phase?

Yes. When I do consultancy I always recommend building a community on social. It is the only way to test people's real interest.

How complex is the world of independent magazines and how is it juggling the crisis of the print media?

In general, the publishing world is a complex world. Its crisis is, in my opinion, due to two fundamental factors: people no longer read and those who inform themselves do so in other ways. The magazines on Frab's, however, respond to a different logic and could hardly be replaced by digital. Very often, because of their structure, they physically engage the reader. A certain amount of printed paper will disappear, not all of it.

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Un post condiviso da Frab’s Magazines & More (@frabs_magazines)

Why did you open a physical store and sell a physical product when the trend is in the opposite direction?

I have a physical store in Forlì and one in partnership in Rome. The former is a provincial town and certainly not the right place to run a business of this kind. However, I had a need, stemming from my attitude. I rode the post-pandemic wave where rents were very low compared to now and I took the step. I would add, the publishing world, which as I said before is an extremely complex world, is suspicious of those who do not have a bookshop. To be taken seriously? You have to have a physical store.

What are the requirements to be selected and sold in a Frab's store?

First of all, there is a difference between online and offline: in the shop I also include more commercial magazines. Frab's online catalogue, on the other hand, is built on the desire to only refer to independent magazines, unrelated to large publishing groups. What we look at is content and editorial design. Magazines have to be akin to our ideals: culture and magazines are an act of resistance in a way that makes inculture a value. We prefer small issues, 500 to 5000 copies. We like to select experimental projects, something that is not available in Europe. We particularly like Asia and its projects that are far removed from Western logic.

How much does aesthetics weigh against content, does it win?

It does not win. Aesthetics and content have equal weight. The editorial staff of independent magazines is horizontal, not vertical. In the independent world, the editorial director and the art director have the same weight.

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Un post condiviso da Frab’s Magazines & More (@frabs_magazines)

Do you read all the magazines you sell?

I leaf through them all and of all of them I read editorials and one or two articles. Unfortunately, due to time, I am not able to give the same attention to all of them.

Your favourite indie magazine?

Among my favourite magazines is Meantime, a magazine from Singapore that I had intercepted in 2019 by scouting online. Born as a thesis, the first print run was 100 pieces. Today it is in its fifth issue. Beyond beauty, each issue is semi-crafted, it tells the story of Singapore, a very young and tiny state that doesn't have such a strong sense of identity, the magazine tries to build it by telling the stories of its inhabitants.

Any answer to a question that does not exist?

In wanting to make magazine culture, our goal has never been turnover. From the very beginning, we started to organise events and participate in trade fairs, so it seemed coherent to us to create a publishing festival in Italy dedicated solely and exclusively to the world of independent magazines. This year, in cooperation with the municipality of Bologna, we will be in the Sala Borsa from 6 to 7 May to tell the story of the world we cover through a series of dynamic educational talks. The main theme will be connections in the broadest sense of the term.

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Good luck team Frab's!

Image Alessandro Cardona