Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Barriers to publishing being broken down by the internet

As you might expect, many of those affected by the ash cloud that overstayed its welcome above Europe have been keeping themselves busy, documenting their ordeal on Twitter, Facebook and countless blogs.

Taking things a step further, marooned magazine fanatic Andrew Losowsky, is launching a (hopefully short-lived) magazine for ash cloud refugees. He announced his plans on his blog, Magtastic Blogspolosion, inviting stranded designers, writers, photographers, illustrators and art directors to help put the project together.

“If there’s one thing my ol’ ma taught me, it’s that when life gives you volcanoes, make magazines. And so we shall ... If you’re out there and interested, email me and tell me what you do. I’ll then give you an assignment to complete. Depending on how long this thing lasts, we’ll work the rest of it out from there.”

The finished work will likely be published via a print-on-demand service like Magcloud with any proceeds going to an environmental charity. Working titles currently include Grounded, Someday We’ll Fly Away and my personal favourite, SkyFail.

Quirky idea sure, but what has this got to do with business or the web?

Well, first off, it's not hard |to see that this kind of project would be impossible without the communication and |collaboration tools we |now have available. Email, blogs, Twitter, project management applications and file sharing tools make this kind of large scale collaboration not only possible, but relatively straightforward.

With a blog post and a few emails, Losowsky is able to employ the creative talents of professionals and interested amateurs across the globe. How could you do the same for your next project? Better yet, how could you re-imagine your business or industry from this perspective?

Secondly, using a print-on-demand service like Magcloud means the cost to Losowsky will be virtually zero — as each buyer will pay for the magazine as it is printed and shipped.

Similarly, a site like NewspaperClub.co.uk allows you to upload and print as few as five copies of your own tabloid-sized newspaper.

The cost of creating an online magazine, unsurprisingly, is also next to nothing.

The web allows the fixed costs of production to be spread across thousands, or even millions, of individuals — meaning anyone, businesses included, can now create and distribute their own media, even in print. They can do the

same with other physical goods through rapid prototyping, DIY manufacturing services and shared infrastructure, co-ordinated online.

Needless to say, digital goods can be replicated and distributed at virtually no |cost too.

Of course, both of these changes are great examples of how barriers to entry are not only being lowered, but disappearing altogether.

The idea of creating and publishing a new magazine, from scratch, with a team scattered across the globe, and with the deliberate intention of shutting it down again almost immediately, seems bizarre.

But if the costs are virtually non-existent, the only thing you're risking is your time.

Which makes the question less ‘why’ do something and more ‘why not?’

After all, if someone can launch a magazine while stranded at an airport, what's stopping you?

Mark Nagurski is a web content writer and publisher. He blogs about innovative business ideas and entrepreneurship at www.iddictive.co m

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