'zines v. 2.0?
June 23, 2008 9:13 AM   Subscribe

MagCloud enables you to publish your own magazines. All you have to do is upload a PDF and they take care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management, and more.
posted by FunkyHelix (43 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
 
This joins Lulu and Ponoko as a site I'd love to use but don't actually have a use for. I'm still very excited they exist, though. Enabling regular human beings to get stuff out to everyone is inexplicably exciting to me (as long as I'm not forced to use the 99% of the result that's utter crap).
posted by DU at 9:22 AM on June 23, 2008


That is extremely cool. Looks pretty cheap too. I've always wanted to be able to do one-off magazines!
posted by CaptApollo at 9:23 AM on June 23, 2008


This is a neat service. I like the site design, too.
posted by wmeredith at 9:26 AM on June 23, 2008


This is a product of HP but they are (intelligently) branding it with a very separate Web 2.0 startup feel. It looks great; makes me wish I had a colorful niche. :)

Will be very interesting to see how and when Adwords-style auto-vertising ends up in a service like this. They'll know not just what you're writing about, but the street address and demographics of the person reading it.
posted by neustile at 9:32 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, so who's going to start putting together a monthly MeFiMag?
posted by burnmp3s at 9:43 AM on June 23, 2008


I was thinking of doing a magazine featuring photographs of nude women. Do you think anyone would be interested in such a thing?
posted by Mister_A at 9:44 AM on June 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


It really depends on what you meant by "doing a magazine".
posted by psmealey at 9:58 AM on June 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


I hope they start shipping internationally soon.
posted by fire&wings at 10:01 AM on June 23, 2008


Are you being cheeky, psmealey?
posted by Mister_A at 10:01 AM on June 23, 2008


Of course, any bits->trees services is a stopgap measure until a good ebook device appears.
posted by DU at 10:10 AM on June 23, 2008


Of course, any bits->trees services is a stopgap measure until a good ebook device appears.

Of course, any ebook device is a stopgap measure until we develop cybernetic telepathy and can just beam ideas into everybody's heads.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:13 AM on June 23, 2008


Of course, any bits->trees services is a stopgap measure until a good ebook device appears.

Of course, any ebook device is a stopgap measure until we develop cybernetic telepathy and can just beam ideas into everybody's heads.


Of course, any device or process is a stopgap measure until we all become one with the universe and ARE infinite knowledge.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:19 AM on June 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


And then everything explodes
posted by ZippityBuddha at 10:22 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oooh!

Now I just gotta come up with enough content to fill BUTTSLOL, Tard Fancy and Digest Digest!

(A pal at work and I have kicked around the idea of doing a magazine called Skanky out of all of the rejects we get here… And I have wanted to come up with a way to steal repurpose MeFi posts into a magazine to compete with Mental Floss… And I figure I could bilk conservatives with an American Values Monthly by giving news features a vague right-wing gloss and telling people what they already know in kind of a patronizing tone…)
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mister_A, that sounds fascinating and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:28 AM on June 23, 2008


Also it is a shame that this is US only at the moment. And invite only, too
posted by ZippityBuddha at 10:29 AM on June 23, 2008


This is kind of neat. It's also a teensy bit completely pointless.

PDFs, while annoying and stupid, do a fair job of replicating traditional page-turny magazines, with only a very tiny fraction of the cost and earth-rapeyness. Hate PDFs? Try something bloggier.

Which is to say that if it's already in PDF form, "printing, mailing, subscription management, and more" are pretty fucking unnecessary.

(There's this crazy new fad; I think the kids are calling it "the internet" or something.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:52 AM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq, reading PDFs on your computer and reading a real live magazine really aren't equally enjoyable experiences. By any stretch.
posted by chunking express at 10:58 AM on June 23, 2008


Reading print mags may be more satisfying than reading a PDF. On the other hand, I don't think I'm prepared to pay $10-15 for just any old 48-page magazine.
posted by chrominance at 11:04 AM on June 23, 2008


Yeah. I know. That's why I described the former as "annoying and stupid."
posted by Sys Rq at 11:04 AM on June 23, 2008


(Um. That was referring to chunking express' comment.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:05 AM on June 23, 2008


And you can't wrap up PDFs of your custom made Minnie Mouse as Samus Aran porn enthusiast magazine to give to your mom for Christmas.

I mean, you could copy the PDFs to disk and wrap those up, but then she'd be all like 'What are these? Coasters?' and you'd be like 'No, mom, they're disks' and then you'd have to describe the Internet to her and that would take valuable time away from her tearfully turning the pages of your latest issue* wondering how she failed as a parent.

*("Minnie Aran VS Plutroid: The Penetration of Justin Bailey, Part II")
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:06 AM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I want to play with this, but I can't help but imagine Dennis Weaver in a cowboy hat trying to figure our the different between RGB and CMYK.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:14 AM on June 23, 2008


I applied to be a publisher on this, but haven't had a reply yet, sob sob. I think it's a genius idea, depending on exactly how good the printing turns out to be. It's like Apple's App Store -- handles all the drudgery and lets you get your focus on your work.

Sys Rq: PDFs are annoying and stupid, and magazines have scope for design that well exceeds where the web is now. Added to that all the pleasures of offline reading, and there's still life left in printed material. The printed media isn't dying because it's worse, but because it costs.
posted by bonaldi at 11:25 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


This joins Lulu and Ponoko as a site I'd love to use but don't actually have a use for.

Exactly. Logistics are no longer an excuse to cover up my lack of creative abilities. Thanks for nothing, HP.
posted by GuyZero at 11:34 AM on June 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


I was thinking of doing a magazine featuring photographs of nude women. Do you think anyone would be interested in such a thing?
posted by Mister_A at 12:44 PM on June 23


Too late, my friend. The latest edition of Cheeky Birds & Randy Blokes is already rolling off the presses. This month's pictorial special: Mayweather stops by to assemble Eustace's Victrola on the advice of her father, but imagine her surprise when the first music that bursts forth from the device is the Jazz! Watch humours inflame and loins engorge as this strumpet trumpets! Engravings by W.G. Alcott.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:24 PM on June 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


"Earth-rapeyness" is my new favorite word.
posted by brundlefly at 12:40 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


The printed media isn't dying because it's worse, but because it costs.

WORSE: Higher cost, higher price, trickier logistics, devastating environmental impact (the millions of trees, the pulp mill stink, the poisoned watershed, the fuel for thousands of delivery trucks, their exhaust, the ephemeral--read: landfill-bound--nature of the medium...)

BETTER: You can hold it in your hand?

all the pleasures of offline reading

...which would be what, exactly? The eye strain? The awkward, uncomfortable positions? The papercuts?

The true pleasure of reading is in the content, not the delivery device--unless you're some kind of a fetishist who's just really into the superficialities of printed paper products. (FWIW: I am a printmaker and fall well within that description.)

magazines have scope for design that well exceeds where the web is now

Baloney. Granted, web developers have yet to effectively produce the perfect online equivalent of those fally-outy/un-flip-through-able subscription cards that make browsing at the newsstand a real pain, and sure, it's tougher to get away with such high ad-to-content ratios, but it's otherwise entirely possible to put a full-featured (and then some) magazine online, be it in the form of PDF, Flash, or whathaveyou.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:50 PM on June 23, 2008


By Jove! The Jazz, you say?
posted by Mister_A at 1:00 PM on June 23, 2008


The true pleasure of reading is in the content, not the delivery device

I think the delivery device is important though.

A magazine is light, it doesn't get hot, it doesn't have a docking station, I can use it wherever I want (such as the beach), it has a high definition display that doesn't burn my eyes after I spend 8 hours at work staring at code, I don't have to worry about it getting stolen, my mom can use it without getting lost, I can drop it down a flight of stairs and it won't break, and I don't have to wait for it to boot up when I start reading it.

And probably most important of all, I can do exactly one thing with it: read a magazine. Nobody can interrupt me with an IM, I can't let my ADD kick in and start answering AskMe questions with it, and it doesn't run WoW. When I have all of those options in my face I rarely spend a large amount of time reading a single text, which can be more relaxing than bouncing back and forth between all different kinds of activities.

I own a Sony Reader, which solves some (but not all) of these problems. I definitely think that digital media will eventually replace most or all print media, but there are some significant barriers in the way of completely replacing the experience of offline dead tree reading.

Also, if you kids could get off of my lawn that would be great.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:25 PM on June 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


Hey MeFites, I'm working with HP on MagCloud. I'm so glad you found us. I've been hounding Matt to make a MeFiMag for a while now.

If you're interested in some of the motivations behind the project, you can read my take here. Personally, I think it's the future of magazine publishing, and what we've got online now is just the tip of the iceberg.

And, hey, if there's a magazine you'd like to publish, I've got a few publisher invites left. Hit me at "fraying" at the gmail and I'll hook you up.
posted by fraying at 2:28 PM on June 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Baloney. ... it's otherwise entirely possible to put a full-featured (and then some) magazine online, be it in the form of PDF, Flash, or whathaveyou.

I'm not sure exactly how to respond to someone quite so aggressively blinkered, print maker or no. But there's just no way to compare the two kinds of design. Web design is ultimately interface design -- it's translating content to fit both into a viewport and make it navigable. Print design is illustration and presentation; the interface handles itself.

I'm all about good web design, by the way, but I have to read tens of thousands of words on screen each day, and damn do my eyes ever appreciate shockingly high resolution print (and pictures bigger than 3" across) when they can get it.

Pretending its otherwise is wholly facetious. Everything you listed under "worse" is purely about the paper. I firmly believe that when e-paper comes of age, there'll still be a demand for bound sheaves of it of appropriate size, and we'll design to pre-made paginations. Until then, we've got magazines.
posted by bonaldi at 2:35 PM on June 23, 2008


web developers have yet to effectively produce the perfect online equivalent of those fally-outy/un-flip-through-able subscription cards

Sure they have. They're called pop-ups.

You probably just don't notice anymore, because like everyone else, you have a blocker installed.

I've been working on a physical equivalent for the magazine subscription cards, and right now (version 3.7) involves a monkey which sits in a backpack and grabs the cards before they hit the floor. I think for version 4 I'm going to update from the simian engine it to the newest in magpie technologies.
posted by quin at 2:36 PM on June 23, 2008


I hate to miss out on the drama, but the fact is, the old print vs web debate is irrelevant.

Some people will get all the media they need online, some will live entirely offline, but most of us will be somewhere in the middle. We'll use the web for what it's good at (community, conversation, quickness) and print for what it's good at (permanence, batterylessness, tactile awesomeness).

More and more, "content" (for lack of a better term) will live in both places. Some stuff will be better suited to online (news, collaboration), and some will be better in print (luscious photography, cherished keepsakes). You'll make the decision about how and when you want to consume your media: online, in print, or with those newfangled infospores that make me sneeze.
posted by fraying at 2:54 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


bonaldi: I'm not sure exactly how to respond to someone quite so aggressively blinkered, print maker or no. But there's just no way to compare the two kinds of design.

(You then go on to compare them.)

Blinkered, schminkered; I buy a shitload of magazines and understand fully the desire to do so; that's really beside the point.

Web design entails what you have referred to as "interface design," yes, but it also has the same capacity for "illustration and presentation" as print. Therefore, your argument that "magazines have scope for design that well exceeds where the web is now" is indeed baloney. If fit it into a rectangle somehow represents a wider scope than what is currently possible in web design, colour me corrected.

Anyway, all I'm really arguing is that if the content already exists in digital form, it seems kind of silly to expect readers to sign up to some third party site AND pay out the nose AND wait 7-10 days for delivery, just so they can view it at a reasonable resolution. It's just a bunch of expensive and extraneous steps between content and viewer. Why bother?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:59 PM on June 23, 2008


My mind is reeling at the above implication that there is no environmental impact from computer and internet usage.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:06 PM on June 23, 2008


Funny thing...

I was going to make a comment about it looking like Derek has something to do with this...

And I was going to ask if anyone knew where I could get an invite (I did use their form, but I don't know how well that will work)...

Turns out I didn't need to make this comment at all.

So just ignore this.
posted by vertigo25 at 4:17 PM on June 23, 2008


implication that there is no environmental impact from computer and internet usage.

What you've inferred is not what was implied: "No," no; "less," yes.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:30 PM on June 23, 2008


Magazine publishing doesn't have a future.
posted by fire&wings at 5:10 PM on June 23, 2008


Therefore, your argument that "magazines have scope for design that well exceeds where the web is now" is indeed baloney.
Show me a website that unfolds my monitor to three times its size for one spread, then.

Anyway, all I'm really arguing is that if the content already exists in digital form, it seems kind of silly ... Why bother?
Because of the reasons that people have for desiring magazines, the same reasons you say you understand. Unless all those reasons are automatically trumped merely by being able to have it on a computer, in which you're wrong in thinking you understand them.

Magazine publishing doesn't have a future.
No, it doesn't, and neither do the record, newspaper or book retail industries, and probably driving cars for that matter. Doesn't mean we can't enjoy them while we've got them.
posted by bonaldi at 5:32 PM on June 23, 2008


So, I signed up (THANKS DEREK). Anybody got any content they want published that they don't really want to be paid for? I'm inventing more magazines tonight!
posted by klangklangston at 8:20 PM on June 23, 2008


I read this as MageCloud and was drawn in by my love of fantasy.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:16 PM on June 23, 2008


Actually, this is pretty cool. Yes, I consume the vast majority of my news & information via the internets, but there are LOTS of people that don't. If - for instance - I operated a neat little community-oriented blog (local news, events, profiles, food reviews, etc), it's great to have it read by a few hundred local folks. But being able to print a 'zine of it and have it available to the many, many people who DON'T use the internet for anything other than e-mail and such...definitely possibilities.
posted by davidmsc at 9:30 PM on June 23, 2008


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