Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Now at Newsstand, we are either incredibly intelligent or we’ve completely missed the point.

You see, we’ve launched one of those android apps, allowing you to browse and buy over 3,000 single UK and overseas magazines, even current ones, as well as subscriptions of a length that you can choose yourself (more here).

I hope I know what you’re thinking….Brilliant, reading all those magazines on my phone, I’ll never have to rag around the shops searching for my favorito magazines again.

Only thing is… our app doesn’t let you buy the digital versions, oh no, we show you the front covers and let you buy the print version only – posting it out to you on the same day by first class post. What we don’t know, is whether your average app user is going to be excited about ordering old fashioned paper ‘n’ ink – or just think we’re daft.

Will they want digital only, will it all seem a bit backward – or will they relish the old and new combination like a steel kitchen in a 17th century steakhouse?

We deal only with print versions of magazines because we are traditional bunch, and for a couple of other, probably ill judged, reasons.

Firstly, we aren’t sure what digital magazines are for. They seem to have no more attributes than a website, and yet are still quite clunky to use, despite all the headway being made. When the digital magazine is finally perfected, will a big penny drop that they’ve actually just created a website? If not, we can only assume it’s a way of converting non paying website users into paid content customers (via digital edition subscriptions), as the likelihood remains that online advertising rates will forever stay in free fallen mode. What will be interesting is the relationship between apple and the publishers as the simmering control issues come to the fore…and of course whether in 5 years time, Newsstand has to start selling oranges.

The other reason we stick to print is just for the love of it; the further it falls out of fashion, the more we love it, (not a great business ethic but we’ll leave that to one side for now). Magazines are here for a long time to come, but they’ll have to evolve; what doesn’t? We aren’t clever enough to say which types of magazines will fare the best going forward, but the romantics division at Newsstand will tell you it’s the tactility, quality and thought provoking content that’s the key to longevity. Quite.

Then there is the publishing world trying to stay ahead of the fellow on his laptop as brilliant ideas such a MagCloud gather pace. The increasing ease with which websites, digital magazines and apps can be not only created but marketed across the web, means that publishers should be running in the other direction. Back to design, back to print, back to the things they know best.

We’re convinced that the printed magazine should rise above all this iNonsense, revel in its position as the oasis in a world where skimming across webpages has become the normal way of reading. The two things are barely comparable products.

As we are told, quite rightly, to re acquaint ourselves with slow and lovingly prepared food, so Newsstand starts the call for slow, relaxed reading with lovingly prepared contents. Where the words and ideas actually sink in, including even the ads. Yes, it’s more expensive, so just buy one magazine a week and make it a damn good one…

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