Wednesday, March 4, 2009

As I said: What Distributors Should Fear

The shift is already happening. I've written here and elsewhere before that I believe the biggest losers in the technological tsunami washing over the periodicals business will be distributors, not publishers. The publishers will still be able to make their magazines and distribute them digitally; the distributors are having their expensive business model fall apart around them. And now I've found a company that's making this shift happen.

It's called MagCloud, and it's a great first step. It's a service used by publishers (many of them small publishers who couldn't even dream of having the capital to publish a print magazine and get it distributed the traditional way) who upload their magazines in PDF format. MagCloud then does a print-on-demand service, printing the magazines and mailing them to readers as requested.

The per-issue cost is high (20 cents per page plus postage, plus whatever income the publisher would like to earn), but other than that, this is exactly what I have been talking about. It actually increases the ability of people to publish, to publish what they want in their own voice and design, and it drastically cuts production costs (which makes me wonder if some small publications that actually do have budgets might be able to take a portion of the money they're saving by not printing and mailing and/or going through the newsstand and use that savings to subsidize the mag's purchase price on MagCloud; they might still come out ahead of where they are now, financially).

Any of you using MagCloud? What are your experiences and feedback?

1 comment:

S.P. Webster said...

Hey John,
It's almost a year since you wrote this piece. What are your thoughts about MagCloud today?
I'd be interested in your continued feedback.