Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BoSacks Speaks Out: Google Offers Digitized Magazines

BoSacks Speaks Out: I have long held the theory and prophesized in this newsletter and elsewhere, that digital magazines will save our industry. Aggregated data and web sites are not the solution to our woes; paginated performance and delivery is. If there is a future for magazine publishers and you have a part in it, it is that simple.

There are many companies that provide digital magazines today and there might be many more on the horizon. Some will make the test of time and prosper and others will not. But those that survive will be part of our new infrastructure for a long time to come. In magazine geologic time, we are finally minutes away from the right-reading, easy-to-use digital substrate. When that happens, the brilliance of the digital magazine format will become clear to dullest of luddites. The magazine industry needs to be working on competent easy-to-read digital editions now that are built for the substrate that they live in.
There are good digital editions and there are terrible digital editions out there right now. The publishers that have retooled their content and designed their product for ease of use and ease of the reading experience are doing quite well.

One of the best examples that I know of is
VIV magazine. They are pioneering the non-zoom-in digital edition. If you haven't seen it, please check it out. Look at the ads, look at the edit and look at the amazingly pleasant reading experience. Any topic can be covered this way. This just happens to be woman's fashion. Popular Science has done the same thing with their Popular Science Genius edition.

In the article below you see that Google is getting onto the digital magazine space. We had best as publishers prepare our own editions of paginated media before someone else takes that space away from us. If we don't do our best to absolutely own that turf, someone else will.

Google Books has just launched a digitized magazine stand. In their never-ending quest to archive all media, from Web sites to books, Google is taking on the publishing world and scanning entire issues of magazines, ads and all. Most issues are usually two or three years old--or even a few decades old. It's kind of like heading into your parents' attic and checking out all the yellowingLIFE issues--only online.

Jeffrey Pang, a software engineer at Google Books, built the new feature. He kept getting requests from friends and family to allow them to browse all the magazines available on Google Books. Before, they had to search for them individually. "Someone even created a Facebook group called Get Google Magazine Search to provide a list of indexed titles," he wrote on the Google Book's official blog yesterday. "The group has 45 members and growing, so before it reached millions of members and there were protests in front of my house, I decided that I better act fast."

Users can browse magazine covers or look at an alphabetical list of titles. There's also links on some issues' tables of contents, so users can go directly to specific articles.

Google announced last September that they would add more magazine archives and current magazines online. As they wrote on their blog, if someone searched for "hank aaron pursuing babe ruth's record" on Google Books, they'd find a link to a 1973 Ebony article about Hank Aaron, written as he closed in on Babe Ruth's original record for career home runs. You can read the article in full color and in its original context, just as you would in the printed magazine. "Explore other publications, like Popular Science, New York Magazine, or (for you physics enthusiasts) the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, to rediscover historical interviews, do-it-yourself articles, and even a piece on canine eyewear. In many cases, these magazines aren't just history as history, but history as perspective - a way of understanding today."

There's plenty to click through, but here are a few titles and issues we suggest you check out:
Mother Jones' January/February 2000 issue - Read Ian Frazier's tribute to pay phones and how they "recall a commonality in our culture." Or Richard Dreyfuss on how Agent Orange continued to affect the Vietnamese 25 years after the U.S. originally dumped the chemical weapon on their land.

New York Magazine's Dec. 22, 1997 issue - Oh, David Denby onTitanic! MOMA's expansion, Daniel Boulud's Daniel restaurant, Ted Turner's Media Magazine are all there. And, Janeane Garofalo, Leigh Feldman, Jerry Speyer, Stephen Stondheim are featured as New Yorkers of the Year. Ah, the good ol' days.

Best Life Magazine's November 2008 issue - Mark Zimmerman's big profile of Anderson Cooper.
The Rotarian Magazine's December 2008 issue - Judith Dimentuncovers the "British Schindler." How Sir Nicholas Winton saved nearly 700 Czech children from the Nazis.