Just throwing a few notes together here so I don’t lose track of them, but you’ll probably find them interesting as well.
After my previous post titled Printcasting I was contacted via comments by Dan Pacheco, who has founded a company actually called Printcasting that does a bit of what I was going on about in that post. I took a look through his company’s site over the weekend and it’s neat – so here’s some more info about it.
Printcasting – people-powered magazines
The basics are laid out in more detail here, but the main points as they appear to me:
- The Printcasting site provides an automated method for aggregating RSS feeds from any source into articles laid out in an automated fashion for printing, alongside ads.
- In addition, the site provides the ability to view the periodical online in a sort of page flipping fiew, and these can be distributed via a small variety of web based widgets.
- You do not have to make a magazine just to contribute articles. If you set your blog up with an RSS feed that delivers full posts, you can hook up your feed to Printcasting’s service and anyone on the service who is making a magazine can include your posts as articles in their publications.
- You do not need to provide your own content to make a magazine. You can use any of the registered RSS feeds to fill your magazine with content. You can also just do it all with your own content if you want, but you don’t have to.
- As an advertiser, you just set your ad up with the Printcasting service, and it is automatically placed in the magazines created by users. You do not have to do any negotiating. Ad placement will eventually cost a small fee, but at the moment I believe it is free.
- As a publisher, you do not need to solicit ads, they will be automatically placed in your magazine for you by the service.
- There is a plan to share revenue from ad placements with publishers.
- From what I can see, there is no built in step to automatically print your magazine, that is, I think, left up to you to arrange yourself once it is produced.
That seems to be the basics. Dig into the site for more detail. To me, the strength of this model seems to be the automated assembly, pretty hands off and helpful in creating newsletters and local interest small run, leaflet like periodicals. It doesn’t look like a newsstand magazine, it looks more like a newsletter, and the automated layouts are pretty basic and vanilla. It doesn’t look like you have much control over what the ads you accept look like or how they are placed, it all follows a basic set of templated looks that will not wow anyone in a graphic design way. But it is a quick, cheap, uncomplicated way to assemble information of interest to narrowly targeted groups into an easily distributable, printable format.
Another company that requires more upfront effort and design skill on your part, but produces a magazine that looks pretty much like the kind you see at newsstands, is MagCloud:
From their About Us:
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.
How much does it cost?
It costs you nothing to publish a magazine on MagCloud. To buy a magazine costs 20¢ per page, plus shipping. For example, a 20-page magazine would be four bucks plus shipping. And you can make money! You set your issue price and all proceeds above the base price go to you.
How are they printed?
MagCloud uses HP Indigo technology, so every issue is custom-printed when it’s ordered. Printing on demand means no big print runs, which means no pre-publishing expense. Magazines are brilliant full color on 80lb paper with saddle-stitched covers. They look awesome.
What do I need to do to participate?
You’ll need a PayPal account or major credit card to buy magazines, and publishers will need a PayPal account so we can pay you earnings. To create a magazine, you’ll need to upload a PDF, which means you’ll have to create your magazine in a program that outputs high-res PDFs like Adobe® InDesign.
During our Beta orders must be sent to a US shipping address.
This is a pretty cool looking POD magazine publishing service, which is capable of producing what appear to be really slick periodicals.
MagCloud looks like a real magazine. It doesn’t aggregate content for you, you have to do all the content and layout work, and produce a high res, quality PDF to send them, but from there they enable POD magazine sales, apparently worldwide, or at least that is the intent. The Beta seems limited to the US. You don’t seem to have to pay to set one up, your buyers pay per issue at a 20 cent per page plus whatever profit margin you tack on rate when they order one, and it looks like MagCloud will pass on your cut via paypal. MagCloud takes the orders, does the printing and mailing. All you do is all the layout and creation work, and upload files to the service. MagCloud does not help you find advertisers or in any other way subsidize your effort.
MagCloud doesn’t look like it gives you a fully readable online option, but it does provide a preview page flipper thing. Click the “show preview” button on this sample to see one.
I think MagCloud is an HP initiative pointed at selling the POD presses to many local print shops, but as a result it seems to set up a really classy looking POD magazine solution.
I wonder what comics pages would look like in one of these things?
The above two services are geared toward putting digital content onto a printed page. This next one looks like it is being used to put printed content into a slick digital presentation, and to serve as an online platform for native digital publications formatted in magazine fashion:
From their About Us:
Issuu makes your publications look good
Issuu turns your documents into beautiful online publications. Publish to an audience of millions and get your message across to anyone, anywhere. It only takes a minute and it’s free.
Features and benefits
* Upload your documents and we turn them into professional online publications.
* Enjoy the best reading experience online (fullscreen with crisp vector graphics).
* Explore a living library with the web’s most interesting publications.
* Post/embed your publications anywhere online (Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, etc.)
* Get a high rank on Google and receive detailed statistics about your readers.
* Create a custom viewer design and integrate your publications on your website.
This looks really astonishingly slick. It might be a great way to make your POD MagCloud zine readable online as well. It has tools that allow embedding. For example, here is a back issue of Juxtapoz from their library:
There are many, many layers of POD/online publishing possibilities available, and more being born every day it seems. If you want to make beautiful things in both the virtual and real worlds, you have even less excuses not to do it. The tools to enable you are quite literally tumbling out of thin air into your lap.
Hat tips: to Dan Pacheco for Printcasting, Andrew Sullivan for MagCloud and Rick Evans for Issuu
Great discussion of Print on Demand is often had at Warren Ellis’ Whitechapel Forum.