Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm Shrinking

A couple years ago, I complained on this blog about periodicals that published miniature versions of their magazines even while they continued to publish the normal-sized versions of their magazines. It seems to be a thing that fashion magazines are doing, for no reason I can figure out.

And yet, here I am today, to show off the new miniature version of my print-on-demand digital magazine Galaxis. A little background: I use issuu.com, an online digital publications platform. On Issuu, people can publish, distribute, and read digital magazines, all displayed wonderfully in high-quality formats that even replicate the visual appeal of a physical magazine. At the same time, I use MagCloud, an online print-on-demand digital publications platform created by HP, to distribute my magazines to anyone who might wish to purchase a hard copy. Print and digital: friends, not enemies.

But upon logging into my Issuu account recently, I noticed a new option, one only available for me to use on my own publications: I could order a print-on-demand hard copy. Among the options were to have the publication perfect-bound (with a square, glued spine instead of staples), color or converted to grayscale black-and-white, and even to shrink the publication and print it in a smaller format. I chose the latter, with color covers but converting the full-color interior of the second issue of Galaxis to black-and-white.

The mini-Galaxis arrived a few weeks later, sent from Europe, where Issuu is based. (See photo above.) It looks fantastic. It is still a ridiculous extravagance to have a mini version of a full-sized magazine, but since my digital magazines are largely a self-indulgent extravagance anyway, I'm pleased to have it.

I continue to believe that these digital platforms are great steps along the way to reinventing and saving magazines (in both printed hard copy form and digital form), but for now, the per-page cost is simply too high for someone to launch a commercial magazine through the print-on-demand options. And launching a commercially successful magazine (in print and digital) is my goal. MagCloud charges about 20 cents per page, which adds  up pretty quickly to eye-popping prices; Issuu's print-on-demand service is even more expensive.

I still think that the long-term resolution will involve greatly evolved print-at-home capabilities, but for most people, that would be science fiction. Hence, I love it.


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