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Start your own print media company with MagCloud

March 30, 2009 |  9:57 pm
Kalina
Kalina Magazine, an independent photo magazine that's printed on-demand with HP's MagCloud. Credit: Noah Kalina

And you thought starting a blog was easy…

Why start a blog when you can start a nice, glossy print magazine? Hewlett-Packard recently launched a new service called MagCloud, which flattens the entire magazine distribution process into one website. Give HP the content in PDF form and out comes a magazine. The cost: 20 cents per page. HP handles all the printing, mailing and subscription management. Users can set the subscription price for their rag (above the base price plus postage), leaving some room for profit if they choose. Gutenberg would be proud. And so was the New York Times

It used to be that only companies the likes of Amazon.com had access to such print-on-demand power, but MagCloud lowers the barrier of entry for niche blogs about gourmet cashews or antique typewriters seeking to become 'zines. Print-on-demand allows Amazon to offer a slew of niche titles without investing in the actual books unless they’re sold. For a blogger who’d like to see their stuff in print, it’s the same business model: pay only for what you can sell.

Using MagCloud, a one-person blog can go to print with only a little design experience. In fact, with sites like FeedJournal and Tabbloid (which, by the way, HP developed), a blog could completely automate a not-so-shabby print layout, simply by handing over its RSS feed.

It's not free: A 10-page monthly magazine would cost the blogger $24 plus postage per year, per subscriber. But if a dedicated audience is willing to pay a few dollars per month so that they can hold the blog in their hands, then there’s nothing to lose. Make that into a quarterly, annual or one-time e-book, and the profit margin starts to grow quickly.

This could have a impact on the already woeful print publishing industry. Though it seems like a step in the wrong direction, the indie blogs that bite into their online product can take a shot at their stubborn print subscribers as well. And why not? It’s about as risky as starting a blog.

-- Chris Lesinski

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