(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
customization, magazines


Time Discovers That Customizing Print Magazines Is Hard

from the not-so-easy dept

Last month, Time Magazine made some news with its plan to experiment with custom print magazines called "Mine," where subscribers could pick and choose from a collection of magazines to create their own semi-custom magazine. Think of it as an extremely limited RSS aggregator on paper. Sorta. Except... apparently Time is still working out the glitches. The first editions were sent out this week, which is when people noticed that what they got often had nothing to do with what they asked for. In other words, "Mine" became "Yours" or "Some Guy's." Perhaps it's best to stick with the RSS aggregator.

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2009 @ 5:55pm


    water is wet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Skyhawker, 17 Apr 2009 @ 7:51pm

    Digital paper

    did everyone see the 'Microsoft vision of 2019' they have digital paper, thats what we need to work towards, one piece of paper that can be my newspaper, a magazine, a map, etc...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jon, 17 Apr 2009 @ 8:54pm


    At least Time is trying something different. Better than just bitching about how the internet is killing journalism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      vince, 19 Apr 2009 @ 7:00pm

      Re: Swing-and-a-miss

      Actually, what they call journalism today (and it has nothing to do with 'journalism' reporting, ethics, etc)...
      Is killing journalism... and brought a whole new life to the internet.

      People want reporting they can trust.

      Almost all of the 'major' news outlets, discarded truth and trust, decades ago.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    KGWagner (profile), 17 Apr 2009 @ 11:32pm

    Bad Ratios

    While I'm glad to see a print outlet at least try, I think that media has run its course. I think I've also finally figured out why those providers are crying. In print, they could sell adspace at 100:1 (or more) ratios to content. Some magazines, you had to go through 10 pages of ads before you ever even got to the table of contents. Some of those same magazine's content wasn't much more than thinly disguised ads itself.

    I wondered for a while why print media didn't just sell ads online to pay for content the same way they sold ads in print, but I'm sure that's why.

    Can you imagine following a link online and ending up on a page of nothing but ads with a link at the bottom to yet another page, and so on 10 times before you ever got to the content? It would be the last time you ever went to that site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jerry Leichter, 18 Apr 2009 @ 5:31am

    Everything has bugs

    Targeted print media have been around for many years - it's just that the targeting has been done entirely by the publishers. I don't know how many versions of Time have been out there, but it's quite a few, selected by general demographics to keep advertisers happy. However, the actual articles have varied as well.

    I think this is a rather clever thing for Time to try. OK, they had glitches during rollout - so what else is new? I see no reason why this kind of thing can't work. Advertisers crossed over to printing out unique mailings for each recipient years ago. Sure, that's more expensive than sending out copies of the same supermarket ads - but the technology is there, even for very large campaigns with complex, multi-page, full-color material. As soon as you've cross the line to generating the page content direct from the digital description - rather than first producing, say, an offset plate and then generating page copies from that - it's "just" a matter of how fast you can generate new digital content. And machines have gotten very, very fast at that.

    Whether this actually helps Time in the market is an entirely separate question. It really comes down to where people find value in Time. Obviously, they traditional *have* found value - they've bought subscriptions. Whether the combination of a traditional very good delivery medium - easy to carry, doesn't need charging, costs very little to replace if you lose it - with digital-age choice of content is something people want enough to pay for ... well, we'll just have to see.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2009 @ 9:08am

    The future is now

    The net will replace print as print replaced scribes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Don Benson, 20 Apr 2009 @ 8:32am


    This is a great start at exporing how to change the value proposition of magazines, to reach beyond the foundation provided by Gutenberg. The focus on reducing costs is always valuable but in the current situation is not a path to long term success.

    Clearly there is a real opportunity for someone to develop the interests or content selection process beyond 5 simple questions (eg., do I crave sushi or pizza?) to help the reader and publisher understand what content that the reader wants to see, and perhaps even pay for, in print.

    Great to see leadership in action.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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