Publishing Expo starts today!

February 24, 2010

Drop you linen and stop your grinnin, today sees the start of the UK’s Publishing Expo.

Taking place in the sunny suburb of Hammersmith the two day expo is chock full of print and digital goodness. With companies like eDtion showing off cool stuff and more seminars than you shake a stick at, the show will be hugely beneficial for anyone interested in the world of eMags.

Check out their site here!
Check out the free eMag here!

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Are interactive newspapers the next big thing?

December 2, 2009

With the announcement that London will see the release of a new, weekly free paper in February of next year, it has now been made clear that up to 30% of this paper’s content will come from readers.

Adding to this, I have just discovered the very good TheBlogPaper. This corker of a website is there to focus reader content into a printed paper, available free every month in London.

So is reader content and web integration the way forward for newspapers? Will either of these two titles succeed in the long term? Time will tell. I know for a fact that one of England’s largest magazine publishers looked into a digital magazine mostly created with user content, but then binned the idea before it even started…

The London Weekly seems to be focussing on the same content as the London Lite and the London Paper, and by that I mean shite. A brief look at news and politics whilst the main focus will be on Paris Hilton’s underwear and Jordan’s amazing lack of talent.

My first thought is, do people still want this level of crap? If so what will the reader input consist of? Will it be webpage style comments at the end of articles? Or maybe vox pops style box outs. Maybe readers will be contributing entire articles or photo lead spreads? Or will it just be “Hannah, age 24, Receptionist. Today I’m wearing a Top Shop coat that cost me £35…blah blah blah”.

Where will their TV channel and website come into play? And most importantly will they continue to dumb down British papers with z-grade celebrity gossip or will they try and make a new and exciting medium and a subsequent possible new direction for print publishers?

The Blog Paper on the other hand seems to have hit the ground running. It’s a simple and great idea, and like all great ideas; even if it isn’t financially successful the people involved can be proud that they tried something unique. Something that will be copied by others.

So how does it work? Simple; registered users (free) to their website submit articles and / or photos that are then rated by other website members. The highest rated articles get put into a monthly print paper that is distributed for free around London. Simple as that.

There is no Editor (I like that idea!) and only the highest rated articles go to print ensuring a high standard of editorial. Best of all there isn’t a picture of Katie Price’s boobs anywhere in sight.

The only possible downside to this would be that it’s not a current affairs paper, in fact it’s much more of a lifestyle magazine. But I only see that as a good thing, we don’t need more shite papers. What we need is more reader orientated and opinionated publications like TheBlogPaper.

The next print is due on December the 18th so keep your eyes peeled and give these peeps all the support you can, they deserve some recognition!

TheBlogPaper


The Sun does “something good” shocker. Palace prepares statement.

November 30, 2009

UK rag The Sun has shocked the world today by actually doing something original and well though out.
In a radical move away from it’s daily regime of utter shitness The Sun has produced an excellent little viral advert poking fun at the Apple iPhone and “interactive” content.
Kinda goofy but does actually make some great points. No idea if this will air on television, we can only hope so. Just a shame it’s for one of the worlds most shitest papers.


Murdoch Talks

November 10, 2009

As a kid I never really knew the difference between Rupert Murdoch and Howling Mad Murdoch from the A-Team.

I’m still having trouble…

This is a pretty long video at 37 minutes but well worth a view, the old boy covers everything from paid internet content, his evolvement with British papers, the BBC and his retirement.

What amazes me and also re-assures me is that the guy seems to have little idea as to what year we live in. His age is showing a lack of understanding about the internet and it’s users.

Not too say he didn’t have some good points but generally I think he’s a bit lost. A good business man no doubt. A pioneer, no longer. Decide for yourself.

Video was spotted on the rather good


The importance of social networking for eMags

October 21, 2009

Social

Facebook:

Global audience:
305,577,640

Largest users:
1. United States 90,579,320
2. United Kingdom 21,537,820
5. Canada 13,022,640
8. Australia 7,101,920

Average user has 130 friends on the site

More than 10 million users become fans of Pages each day

More than 14 million videos uploaded each month

More than 2 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) shared each week

More than 45 million active user groups exist on the site

Every month, more than 70% of Facebook users engage with Platform applications

More than 250 applications have more than one million monthly active users

More than 15,000 websites, devices and applications have implemented Facebook Connect since its general availability in December 2008

Twitter:

Daily page views 390 million

Daily visitors 58 million

13th largest website on the internet

YouTube:

4.4 billion daily page views

300 million daily visitors

4th largest site

Stumbleupon:

28 miilion daily page views

4.7 million daily visitors

Digg:

57 million page views per day

10 millions daily visitors

That’s a pretty thin selection of stats really but gives you an idea of just how massive these sites have become. The smallest stat there is 4.7 million daily users. That’s an incredible number for anything, anywhere. Nearly 5 million people all focusing on one thing.

Magazines have started to take notice of these sites and are slowly and clumsily climbing on board. They pump RSS feeds into Twitter, they stick any old shite onto YouTube and sites like Digg or Stumbleupon are left to next year. Maybe.

The number of people sharing website url’s is staggering, in email and web its incalculable. The amount of people who send videos recommendations and pictures goes into billions. Billions no less.

Lets not loose site of how large these numbers are.

For an interactive magazine to launch, thrive and survive these sites (and many more) need to be taken advantage of. They can all be used to drive people to your magazine and enforce your brand. And in nearly all cases they are free.

Not only can they drive people to your mag, giving you high open rates which can subsequently develop more revenue. But they can also provide content, news, word of mouth, awesome SEO and also help develop a sense of community among your readership – something magazines used to have back in the day, but not anymore.

I would not launch an eMag without a sound and substantial social network plan in place, it’s just crazy. If you don’t have time then find someone that does, get a work experience kid or an intern. Better yet get a 16 year old kid with a big mouth. Those little douchebags know these sites inside out (you’re getting old don’t forget).

Use YouTube and video upload sites to post half a video with a link and a web url at the beginning and end, and the promise of seeing the whole vid inside the mag, and without the obligatory watermark.

Use Twitter to drive people to specific pages “Did you miss our exclusive Palm Pre review? url…)

If you’re out on a shoot or a press even Tweet whilst you go, use TwitPic to post teasers. If it fits your style, you can also post videos straight to YouTube.

Use Twitter to promote feedback. Post polls or questions, set challenges to get people chatting about you

Make sure your eMags have Digg and Stumbleupon icons easily accessible (like eDition offers within it browser).

Use podcasts and video casts if you have time. Make them entertaining and you’ll stand a good chance of getting a good download rate. Total Film’s videocast has done great guns recently, an excellent bit promotion whilst really upholding editorial principles and personality.

Forums are an excellent way to promote your magazines. iMotor has a great thing going by featuring simple Flash based games within a magazine page. The game relates to a recent motoring news topic and the gets posted on a few forums, and before you know it, it’s gone around like wild fire.

Facebook has become mandatory in 100 countries. Well not quite but it’s an immense resource. A friend of mine recently started a fan page for the Lions Rugby Tour, within weeks he had 10,000 “fans” all of whom are contactable via mail. All of whom can also see your updates and posted links… directing to your magazine.

Use social networks as much as you can. Use it to promote your products but also to create a brand, to get across your editorial opinions and personality  to create a following.

In the absense of Flash on the iPhone social networks are a great tool to keep your readers in the loop and entice them into visiting when they find something capable of Flash (ie, everything else!).

It’s all about open rates and getting subscribers to your ever important email list.

Don’t underestimate the power of social networking. Or the Force, that’s pretty powerful as well.


World Magazine Congress

May 17, 2009

Picture 1
I was really looking forward to hearing what some of the publishing industry’s top people had to say about the future of magazines. I was kinda disappointed. It seems everyone believes we are in a “crisis”, in fact this word popped up a hell of a lot over the day.

The first thing that struck me about WMC was the lack of young people. I was probably the only person under 35 and definitely the only person wearing jeans and a Blues Brothers t-shirt. Where were all the creative people? You know those people that actually put the magazine together, the people that really push this industry forward… where were the talks from Editors and Art Directors?

Most of the speakers were old fuddy-duddies who not only seemed reluctant to acknowledge a deterioration in magazine popularity but didn’t even seem aware of online interactive magazines.

Everyone spoke about electronic media naming websites, eReaders and pocket devices as the obvious future, but not one person on the Wednesday approached the subject of eZines. Why not? I don’t believe they don’t about them, Zinio and Ceros are both pretty big companies now. Are they scared to approach the subject because of the lack of knowledge or experience? Or do they just think they are shit and not worth mentioning?

Jonathan Newhouse, Chairman of Conde Nast UK was the first to really big-up the internet stating “Its possible the internet will dominate our industry”. No shit Sherlock. Now I’m pretty sure he figured this out years ago but it’s amazing people still feel the need to say it like its a new thing.

He mentioned Wired (US) magazine having a print readership of about 703,000 but a web audience of over 11.4 million. But he didn’t mention the prospect of an online mag despite Wired UK now teaming up with Ceros. I would love to have heard his opinions on eZines and how they can bridge the gap between web and print.

The common consensus is that the choice to go to digital is not ours to make, it’s upto the consumer and they have chosen. Web is now the future. Finally people seem to be listening. Although when anyone said “I love print” they would get a round of applause. I love print too but don’t fool yourself, it’s time to look at the wider picture.

The panel about magazines around the world was very interesting. Africa and Russia’s publishing history is something I haven’t been aware of before, but it was India that raised an eyebrow. 400 million mobile phones are currently in circulation in India alone. Mobile devices are as important, maybe even more so now than computers.

eReaders and Kindle’s were mentioned a few times, people seem to think that is the only option at the moment. Not so, online publishing is a viable option and as free wireless becomes more widespread it also becomes more accessible. And as soon as Apple stop dicking around and allow Flash onto the iPhone there will be the potential for a whole new wave of magazines.

“Content is king” this was phrase number two of the day. Finally people are understanding that what is important is the transfer of information from us (the publisher) to them the readers. Whether that be through print, books, bookazines, eZines, web, mobile or even event hosting, we need to promote brands as a whole package not just a single entity.

There also seems to be an agreement that content has to be original and you can’t just duplicate magazine content and bung it up everywhere, original content for each platform is a must to ensure quality.

Overall there was a lot of old shit being talked about, it was interesting to see what the big wigs had to say and it was great to see Ceros and eDition on show and creating a buzz. It was also massively frustrating to see no ones with any balls speaking. Everyone was playing it safe. Where was the passion and enthusiasm that I see in the office on a daily basis?

I hope next year FIPP can line up some people that aren’t afraid to speak their mind, even in this delicate economic time. In fact, as far as I’m concerned this is the best time to people to talk up.

For more info check out the FIPP site below;

http://www.fipplondon09.com/


What is the future for print designers?

May 4, 2009

v66

Moving forward under the assumption that eZines like iGizmo take off massively and become a key part of modern publishing, what role will a print designer play?

As Brand Art Editor of iGizmo I have been lucky enough to be in a position where by I feel I have made a positive contribution to the future of publishing and magazine design. Having been in the job since launch (just over a year now) I consider myself in a unique position to comment though my comments are purely my own and in no way affiliated with the company I work for.

One battle I find myself having during pub discussions is the idea that web designers are taking over from print designers. After all eZines are online, surely it makes perfect sense to have web designers at the forefront of this new medium? In fact it must an essential right? Well not up until now. I have always treated iGizmo as a print magazine and have designed it as such, 10 years of print design experience have gone into what I produce and past experiences have moulded what I deem to be one of the best eZines out there.

I use Adobe InDesign to lay out all the pages using multiple layers to show various levels of interactivity, i.e. pop ups. Then the InDesign docs are exported as XFL docs and given to our Flash Designer who then follows my direction and animates any interactivity before exporting a SWF. This SWF along with a static PDF are combined to make a page.

But is this the most efficient way of making an eZine? No would be a popular answer.

Why not do the whole lot in Flash? Or even Illustrator? 2 reasons, one all members of an editorial team are now required to write on page and not using Word docs. Writers write on page as dictated by my design. InDesign is already known by a lot of editorial staff and is much more accessible then Illustrator. Secondly InDesgin is primarily a layout package. It is made to be used as a design tool for laying out magazines. It’s better than Flash or Illustrator for this function, in fact it’s fantastic. It gives me complete control over a page and allows me to easily modify or completely change existing or new layouts. Why use another programme that doesn’t allow you that ease of freedom?

A year on however it is becoming clear this may not be the best way to do things. What is? Well I’m not that sure to be honest. A lot of people still tell me I shouldn’t be using InDesign and should do all the work in Flash.

In the next year or two I can see Print Designers that work on eZines being slowly pushed out of a job by people with good Flash skills. Why employ a print designer and a Flash designer when one person should be able to the whole lot?

My advice would be to start learning Flash. Not an easy task at all, it’s a huge programme, but get started anyway, in two years time when hopefully more of these magazines will be around, you’ll find it a lot easier to get a job. You will have the ability to design and publish a magazine on your own without need for people like me.

If this happens will companies try and train their existing print designer in Flash or will they just make redundancies and look elsewhere? I would love to say the former but the expense and time involved would make me sway towards the latter. Flash designers are ten-a-penny in London at the moment, you can get them for a smaller wage than ever, and most publishing company’s only care about the cash.

I do believe however that if you push out all the print designers and their valuable experience quality will slide which may result in the whole medium failing to grow. Not that web designers aren’t good or can learn, we all know they can, my point is they have spent the last X amount of years looking at different things, designing in a different way for a different format. Print designers need to always be a part of the process if you are trying to imitate a print product on line. Their experience is an indispensable asset in the future of eZines, so don’t push them away just yet, it’s still early days and you need a good print designer as much as you need a good Flash designer.

Have I started to learn Flash? Not yet, it’s on my list of things to do but there are only so many hours in the day. My job takes up most of my time and normally when I get home I like to relax or do other things besides sit behind a computer. But when I do get a chance I’ll be learning whatever I can, my future may very well depend on it.