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HP Introduces the Future of Magazine Publishing

HP Labs has launched a new project called MagCloud that aims to make anyone with an internet connection and the tools to generate a PDF a magazine publisher.

By Adam Dewitz
Published: June 17, 2008

HP Labs has launched a new project called MagCloud that aims to make anyone with an internet connection and the tools to generate a PDF a magazine publisher. According to HP Labs, "MagCloud enables you to publish your own magazines. All you have to do is upload a PDF and we'll take care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management, and more."

HP Labs worked with Derek Powazek to develop the new print on demand service. Powazek is no stranger to print on-demand magazines. He is one of the founders of JPG Magazine, the magazine that uses an innovative community-driven approach to magazine production. Check out JPG's "How it Works" page if your unfamiliar with the magazines approach.

Announcing the collaboration on his blog, Powazek stated, "The idea is simple, really. MagCloud enables anyone to start a magazine - a real printed magazine - with no giant pile, because every magazine is printed to order."

What's not clear at this time is what HP's long term plans are to do with the site and the technology they are developing. The MagCloud about page states, "MagCloud is an HP Labs research project evaluating new web services that will provide small independent magazine publishers, online content owners, and small businesses the ability to custom publish digitized magazines and economically print and fulfill on demand."

One thing is certain, Web-enabled Print projects like MagCloud are a model of the future of print.



By Michael Josefowicz on Jun 18, 2008

It will be interesting to see if HP develops this as a functionality for their Indigo channel, or whether they will do the customer contact and fulfillment and distribute the printing to Indigo installations.

In either case, thanks for the post. This is a significant model to keep an eye on.


By BoSacks on Jun 18, 2008

I agree that we need to watch the development here with MagCloud. It is another web-to-press application and not a bad one. It is a piece of the future, a transition product, till e-paper takes over the world of reading and information distribution.

I see no mention of advertising. To whom do we direct that question?


By Adam Dewitz on Jun 18, 2008

Bob, the question of advertising is a good one. It looks like the initial concept is going to rely on subscription revenue. Will this business model work for magazines that target a hyper targeted interest group?

In the long term, I see integration with "location-Intelligent" advertising. Perhaps Google will provide this service via an expanded AdWords in Print program.


By Steven Brown on Jun 19, 2008

Article references software to convert into a magazine but not what is required to produce and distribute? Does HP plan on building an infrastructure or lining up with current HP customers? As their biggest Indigo customer, we will have dozens of Indigos globally this year and even I would worry about potential bottlenecks in the manufacturing arena - substrates, binding, etc.

Great idea - looking forward to seeing how it gets done in reality.


By Michael Josefowicz on Jun 19, 2008

@ Bob,
I don't agree that "e-paper (will take over) the world of reading and information distribution". This is not to say it might not become a new channel. But TV didn't kill radio and movies didn't kill TV. My bet is that the internet will not kill newspapers.

IMHO, communication is not a zero sum game. More leads to more.

Meanwhile, no doubt that the pain of new business models and product redefinition are causing lots of pain. In that framework, for the next couple of years everything in communication is a "transition product."

@ Adam
You make a great point about locational advertising. Google Ads are small, no graphics. "Just the facts, ma'am". But delivered at the right time in the right form.

I would think that hyper local advertising could be very attractive, if someone gets the tech right. Given Google's track record with the Ad words money machine, it makes sense to look at them.

Maybe similar to the web, the real disruptive innovation is a combination of a "subscription model" or even free print with really relevant but very simple ads.

Consider Yahoo's banner ads vs Google's ad words.

Does anyone know people who are working on the technical infrastructure to deliver hyperlocal content for print output? The AP? One of the newspaper chains? A magazine publisher?


By Patrick Henry on Jun 19, 2008

Fascinating! Here we have what appears to be the first practical, broadly accessible application of digital POD technology to magazine publishing. I've signed up, downloaded the how-to guide, and applied for a publisher account.

Consider the possibilities: for example, a B2B publishing company empowers its editors to create and manage their own publications using MagCloud. The publishing company assists with ad sales and promotion but leaves content creation to the editors and all other publishing functions to MagCloud.

The editors are liberated to develop magazines that epitomize editorial quality and reader service; the publishers are liberated from the expense and the time constraints of conventional production.

Advertising dollars flow naturally to the magazines that grow in popularity because of their value to readers willing to pay for them. The editors reap some of those dollars in the form of incentives tied to circulation growth.

Everybody wins, and B2B publishing rises to a level of reader-driven quality that its present business model--one that compels editorial planning to conform to advertising sales goals--typically prevents it from attaining.

Utopian? I don't think so. After all, just a few years ago, the same could have been said about the entire concept that MagCloud appears to be making a reality.


By Michael Josefowicz on Jun 20, 2008

I found an interesting link about Google and local advertising that might be relevent to the discussion.

The last two paragraphs follow:
"This is relatively new, and my first impression is that too many of the ads have been ads for national advertisers rather than local businesses. This falls short of the potential of a true local ad network but does solve the scale problem: few local blogs have enough traffic to warrant direct ad sales efforts.

No one has really figured out this market yet, but I have a hunch that a traditional media group like the Tribune Company, CBS, or some other company that has actual human salespeople on the ground across the country will have the best shot of winning this game. While Google certainly has the technology, it's going to take face to face meetings to really make this happen."


By Patrick Henry on Jun 21, 2008

Actually, someone has figured out how to deliver hyperlocal content for print output: Cox Target Media, the producer of the famous Valpak "blue envelopes" that deliver 20 billion neighborhood-specific coupons and advertising inserts to about 46 million unique U.S. households every year. Need a pizza parlor, tire dealer, or rug cleaning service that's close to home? You'll probably get a coupon for at least one of them in the next blue envelope you receive. To keep this precision-targeted content flowing, Cox recently opened what may be the world's most fully automated print manufacturing and mailing facility: a software-controlled, robotized, "lights-out" plant in which the machines talk to each other and all but run themselves. For more information, visit http://www.coxtarget.com/vmc/

Now, if only the blue envelopes carried editorial...


By Michael Josefowicz on Jun 23, 2008


Thanks for the info.

I've got to believe that some really clever designer could figure out a way to make a special envelope that carries some local news along with coupons.

Maybe that's something that someone might want to read...


By Michael Josefowicz on Jun 30, 2008

Here's another take on the HP thing.
It's from a blog called if:book

"A new project by HP Labs aims to make print-on-demand magazine publishing available to everyone. MagCloud uses a similar model toLulu for books, or Moo for stickers and cards: upload your digital content here and we'll deal with fulfillment".



By sanjay chaudhary on Jul 04, 2008

It is a nice and very practical and applicable approch for the Indians and SAARC countries. The only thing in this region to compete with the existing media will be the new business model integrated with google and localisation of some local editorial.this will help in giving small time magazines to come in league with the old magazine. But what are the cost involved that is the most important factor. It would be better for HP to show us some business model first for the publishers in this part of the world.
regards, Sanjay


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