The Future of the Magazine


It is well known that with the boom of technology publishing has been on the decline. People are not only consuming different kinds of content, but also through different mediums. The Internet has established expectations that content should be free or very cheap and with the high costs of printing it has become very difficult to provide a profitable product that people are willing to buy.  

How does this affect the publishing world? I have a Kindle and for reading books it serves its purpose. Do I miss the feeling of holding an actual book in my hands? I think I do, but I’m not sure. I know the Kindle is more practical, cost-effective, and keeps my bookshelves from getting cluttered. With the launch of the iPad, perhaps now magazines can experience technology the way books have with the Kindle.

The most important requirement for a successful magazine UI (user interface) is its ability to display stunning graphics. Bonnier Research and Development produced a video in December 2009 demonstrating how technology might successfully translate to the magazine.



“The concept uses the power of digital media to create a rich and meaningful experience, while maintaining the relaxed and curated features of printed magazines. It has been designed for a world in which interactivity, abundant information and unlimited options could be perceived as intrusive and overwhelming.” -Digital Magazines: Bonnier Mag+ Prototype


We are all familiar with the launch of Apple’s iPad, but have we really thought about how this will affect our world, our magazine world? I’m 100% positive that I will buy an iPad once I can (expected to come out in March) and mainly just to see how magazines will be adapting to the UI. I almost jumped out of my chair on Friday (February 12) when Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine, announced at the TED conference that they have been working on an application for the iPad for almost 6 months.


Wired Magazine on the iPad

“The iPad allows periodicals for the first time to do digital content with all of the same values and artistic range that are the hallmark of print magazines.”

“The device allows for integrated media so readers can read a product review and touch a photo to jump into a video of the product. Advertisements can also be interactive. Touch a Camaro ad to flip the car around 360 degrees.”-Wired Magazine


*(For those unaware of the awesomeness that is TED, TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. This is THE place to find out about bleeding-edge innovation and tech design trends.)


All of these developments are game-changing for the magazine industry. And by game-changing, I mean life-saving. We all know that viewing magazine content on a Website doesn’t quite work. It feels slightly unnatural and forced. Paper Darts has tried its best to ease the Website reading experience with the inclusion of heavy graphic design. For the next months, maybe years, I am going to be thinking about how Paper Darts might jump on the iPad platform.


Questions streaming through my mind about Paper Darts and the iPad:


1. Will the iPad make it easier for small magazines to “publish,” or will the technology requirements exclude us?

2. Will we have the resources to design our own iPad app? If it has taken Wired Magazine 6 months to design their iPad app (and it is still not expected to be out till summer—granted it is a first adopter and very advanced) how will a magazine as small as Paper Darts ever hope to have an app of its own?

3. Would it be better to invest our resources into getting on the iPad (which might just be an upfront cost in app development, but once it’s made, it’s made) or invest into future prints (which really isn’t an investment…since you’re always needing to spend more and more to print more)?

I suppose ideally it would be great to do everything: a beautiful print edition, a free graphically designed Website, an interactive iPad application…

But in the end, everyone is going to have to just do what is most practical and efficient (as unromantic as that sounds). One thing I’m sure of though. For the first time in decades, the future of the magazine industry is looking bright, LED bright in fact...(sorry I couldn't resist).

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