Inspired by a riffing im conversation with David Maybury it occurred to me that I might with some advantage, link back to some of my archive material and update my thoughts on the topic. Appropriately enough my first choice was this one on magazines and archives. So here it goes.
The New Magazines ~ August 2006
Magazines provide space for longer more considered pieces of journalism and discussion. Admittedly (and this is pretty important when we consider blogs as new magazines) the web provides that facility too but it has limitations.
~ Firstly the archived material of a given blog can be hard to find. This is especially true if it is very old and not highlighted (oddly enough Chris has mentioned these issues on his own blog in a previous post). A good quality magazine could leverage historic content from a blog, expose it to new readers, form a coherent time based archive with a proper index and contents table (requiring only a little forward planning) which would in turn help the blog improve its own archive situation.
~ Secondly while we often have long hours to read magazines too often our access to computer screens is in between meetings, work and other commitments. We have time to consider brief posts but go beyond the 700-800 word range and you encounter trouble in attention and readability (or maybe you don’t let me know what you think). A magazine on the other hand can craft a truly impressive article of 5-10,000 words and be read effortlessly. It will not be until good, cheap, robust and long lifed portable e-reader appear that entirely web based magazine/blog achieves this goal
And where are we now?
To a large extent not much has changed. There have been some initial efforts towards POD in books most recently Faber’s, Faber Finds move. But Random House also offers a POD service as do others.
On the digital front online magazine sites are building large readerships. Mainstream media outlets have started really pushing online development and are succeeding in attracting readers if not in all cases a profitable base quite yet.
Publishers have embraced blogs and communities of interested readers and authors are being built, most successfully at Tor where Tor.com is proving a wonderful Sci-Fi & Fantasy geek’s haven.
I’ve seen no efforts t sell the printed product as added value though perhaps Penguins e-specials is a prelude to that type of offer.
When you look at what has been achieved by online efforts like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog (it is selling very strongly through iTunes and will no doubt sell very well in DVD when it comes out) I think it is fair to say that online popularity can deliver offline sales.
I think there is more to write in this. I’ll need to think it through but this Archives Series has some promise.
Still not depressed about the state of publishing.