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Publishing Idea #2: Magazines

March 23, 2010

a sample page of diverse content in Wired Magazine

Today I was thinking about magazines. Magazines are designed so well (or at least, so intentionally). There’s art, there’s variation in font styles and sizes, there are boxes for extra info, helpful graphics, photographs…magazines, to me, have achieved a higher level of evolution than novels.

And yet nobody keeps them.

What do you do with a magazine when you’re done with it? You recycle it. Maybe you give it to a friend. But you don’t keep it and treasure it like a book. Why is that?

I’d predict that it’s possible to have a magazine-novel hybrid that would be way more well designed than most novels and yet be treasured (unlike most magazines). And I think that’s something that ebooks and tablets will never achieve…the treasuring. You might treasure the technology, but it’s hard to separate the technology from the work that went into the diverse content the technology holds. Well after the technology is obsolete, you’ll still treasure that tattered copy of your favorite book on the shelf.

Also, this is almost another topic, but it still relates to magazines: What happened to serial novels? I think some have emerged online, like Maxx Barry’s Machine Man, but do they still exist in magazines like they did in the days of Dickens? That’s right–Dickens wrote his novels in serial form. It’s one of the reasons they worked so well, because he had to write something that left the reader wanting more the next month. Couldn’t that work in a beautifully designed magazine in the present day? Is there something that could be done to make that magazine–or that series of magazines–worth treasuring instead of discarding?

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