By Ian Griffin, August 2008
Ever dreamed of publishing your own glossy magazine? Now you can – without emptying your pockets -- thanks to a new service developed by HP Labs and HP Corporate Ventures.
Called MagCloud, the service makes it possible to create digitized magazines and economically print, promote, sell and deliver them on demand.
It costs nothing to publish a magazine on MagCloud.com. You simply upload a high-resolution PDF file, and the system takes care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management and more.
You may even earn a few dollars. Readers can browse and order publications (paying with PayPal or a credit card) via MagCloud's online newsstand.
MagCloud uses HP Indigo digital press technology to custom-print each issue when it’s ordered. Printing on demand means no large press runs, no pre-publication expense and no waste.
The resulting publications have the same professional look as any other slick magazine.
Digital technology famously disrupted the music business. Now publishing is being democratized as well – print is becoming personal, and readers want to choose what content they consume and how they consume it.
"The future of publishing is moving away from mass distribution and toward more personalized and customized publications,” says Patrick Scaglia, Chief Technology Officer for HP’s Printing and Imaging business. “Many mass circulation publications are facing serious challenges, but specialty publications are growing. MagCloud offers a way for publishers to move from analog to digital and produce mass, customized magazines."
MagCloud is now being tested by a small community of users. If you'd like to be one of them, please contact the team to determine if your needs fit the current testing model.
One of the first MagCloud customers was Stanford University's Athletics Department, which published a souvenir photo yearbook for its women's basketball team after the team made it the Final Four for the first time in 11 years.
“Inventory costs currently prevent us from exploring fan interest in specialty publications,” says Director of Photography David Gonzales. “A big advantage of MagCloud is that we can create publications specific to the sports interests of our fans without worrying about that cost or warehousing unsold magazines."
The university also published a 48-page awards program listing the premier student-athletes of the 2007-2008 season and their accomplishments, with biographical information and more than 100 extraordinary color photographs. Fans can access these programs from the Stanford Athletics Web site.
With more than 40 current and former student athletes participating in the Olympics, Stanford can, for example, publish a magazine on Stanford in the Olympics at almost no cost. After some analysis, Stanford will consider opportunities to publish photo publications for all 35 collegiate sports.
"The print quality of our first magazines was incredible – people love to see great sports photography in this format,” Gonzales adds.
Erin Loechner, creator of the Design for Mankind blog to showcase the work of emerging designers, wanted to convert her online mankind mag into a print publication.
Loechner was facing a bill for $2,500 for 500 printed copies when she stumbled upon MagCloud. She used it to publish the magazine and sells it at cost to buyers; her profit comes from advertising.
"MagCloud handles all the administrative work, the orders and shipping that I’m not that good at," she says. "I’m a creative type, not a businessperson."