Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Idea 005: the digital magazine

Posted in Ideas for the future of news by Adam Westbrook on December 17, 2009

In Ideas for the Future of News I’m collecting positive, tangible, practical examples of business models, products and content which could pave the future.

To catch up on previous ideas, head to the Ideas for the Future of News page.

Idea 005: Mag+ concept

By: Berg London and Bonnier R&D

Magazines have a value above newspapers: people don’t just read the words, they buy them for the amazing photographs, lifestyle statements, and sometimes just because it looks great on the coffee table.

Magazines will be revolutionised by technology – but in a really positive way. For proof, see the work of Berg London and Bonnier R&D.

They’ve had a really good think about how future e-readers (like the much mooted Apple Tablet) could work with magazines – and crucially they have started with the benefits of magazines and worked from there. As the creaters explain:

“The concept aims to capture the essence of magazine reading which people have been enjoying for decades: an engaging and unique reader experience in which high quality writing and stunning imagery build up immersive stories.”

They’ve looked not at the e-readers themselves, but how magazine layouts should adapt to them. They have created, I think, a very enjoyable reading experience, which will add huge value to magazines.

“We don’t want to interrupt the core reading experience,” says Jack Shulze from Berg, “we’re very keen to make sure the UI doesn’t get in the way of the experience – it’s not covered in buttons.”

It’s 8 minutes long, but I highly recommend you watch this video, a demo of Mag+ in action.

(Hat tip: Hull Digital)

A business model?

Could the e-reader provide a financial saviour for magazines? In short, yes. For two reasons: firstly, as I mentioned they add extra value to the magazine itself. The experience of scrolling through pages on a touch screen is so enjoyable, people may buy mags just for that.

And more importantly people will pay to download an electronic magazine and experience it on these e-readers.  They won’t pay to view the content on a website.

Berg London and Bonnier R&D’s ideas are very new, but magazine owners should waste no time in chasing this concept and making it a reality. Newspapers too need to wake up to the possibilities and ask how the Mag+ concept could help them.

Their success though depends on the readers themselves. Who will make them and how much will they cost? Magazines will need to think about subscription models again, but that shouldn’t be too hard as that’s how many magazines make money anyway. And how will you download the content? Will it take long?

But these creases will no doubt be ironed out over the next two to three years.

As well as keeping current magazines afloat, they could also inspire a new generation of magazines, and most importantly keep journalists in business doing what they do best: writing great content and presenting it with great designs and pictures.


9 Responses

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  1. Carme R. said, on December 17, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Brilliant! Really inspiring.

  2. Tim Lloyd said, on December 18, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I really like this. By far the most thoughtful development for online reading and much, much better than flicky pages. I look forward to hearing more.

  3. Jon Moss said, on December 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    “And more importantly people will pay to download an electronic magazine and experience it on these e-readers. They won’t pay to view the content on a website.”

    I think you’re spot on here Adam.

    Thought you would like the subject matter and thanks for the hat tip! 🙂


  4. Will Hawkins said, on December 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    It looks like a great concept and a much better user experience than that of a Kindle or Sony Reader.

  5. Alana Wellborn said, on January 7, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Perhaps you’ll tell me where the supply of your post is from? I’m inquisitive about learning additional concerning it.

  6. Alejandro Walker said, on January 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    User friendliness will surely be key for the introduction of new technology.
    2010 can be a great year for changes, given that we need distraction for loosing faith on our principal institutions

  7. said, on February 8, 2010 at 1:22 am

    I highly recommend the Amazon Kindle as the top choice for ebook readers.

  8. […] online magazines Posted in Journalism by adamwestbrook on March 18, 2010 Not long after I suggested the digital magazine could hold a key to the future of journalism, there’s some great stuff being done by the more […]

  9. Verbal. | The iPad: Excited or Blase? said, on March 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    […] Westbrook, a multimedia journalist of note, already picked up on this back in 2009, saying that the way we read magazines is due for a rather drastic change. The technology is […]

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