Expanding Choice with Print-On-Demand

It is, or should be, a basic new-media mantra that people want content when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it. The rise of new media does not mean that print is dead. Rather, it means that print is just one of many ways people will choose to get information, depending on their preferences and circumstances.

This point was reiterated for me by today’s announcement that new-media icon Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, has made a deal with Hewlett-Packard to use its MagCloud print-on-demand service for his commercial wiki network, Wikia. The concept, in brief, is that a user can assemble content from a Wikia wiki into an electronic proof of a custom magazine and then use Magcloud to print, bind, and mail one or more copies. The Wikia magazines won’t win any design awards, to judge by the example provided , but it gives the user another option for how to format and use content.

A more traditional approach to using Magcloud’s service comes from the Atlantic magazine, which has created a special 60-page issue of archived articles by “the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Woodrow Wilson and Vannevar Bush” for a price of $6. Each issue is printed on demand, so the expense to the Atlantic is limited to the cost of creating the layout PDF.

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Will Digital-Only Save Your Magazine?

Where's the Logo? The Aftermarket brand is played down on its Web page.

Where's the Logo? The Aftermarket brand is downplayed on its Web page

Yesterday the wires buzzed briefly with the news that Advanstar will be converting one of its print titles, Aftermarket Business, into a digital-only format. Is this a brilliant leap into the new-media world, or a stop-gap attempt at survival?

I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of digital magazines—i.e., electronic formats that aim to replicate the look and feel of print on your computer screen—but there is certainly a place for them as companions to print products.

But when the print product itself is eliminated, does a digital version still make sense? Having spent a frustrating year myself trying to make a digital-only magazine take off, I’m inclined to doubt it. But let’s look at what Advanstar has planned.

According to its press release, the company has “developed a new state-of-the-art digital format that far exceeds the print experience.” Hmm, will it make coffee for me? Probably not, but I’ll bet you can click on the ads to get to the advertisers’ Web sites, and the advertisers can get their leads right away (what Advanstar refers to trendily as “real-time” delivery). And maybe there will even be some embedded videos. Plus, that monthly electronic magazine will “be enhanced with the latest technology to improve navigation and readability.” Cool. But that’s not all. Readers will also “receive electronic delivery of alerts and twice-weekly e-newsletters.”

How very . . . 2004. Would it be unfair to suggest that Advanstar is showing a certain lack of imagination here?

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New Ethics for New Media? The FTC and Press Junkets

Since the publication earlier this month by the Federal Trade Commission of new guidelines on endorsements and testimonials, the place and nature of ethical guidelines in the new-media world have been a hot topic. The guidelines, frankly, are plain stupid. But they do shine an interesting light on how new media ethos is shifting from objectivity to transparency.

In the new guidance, the FTC specifically calls out bloggers for close attention. According to the FTC, “the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

Responses to the new guidelines have spanned a wide range of opinion.  ASBPE president Steve Roll had a standard old-media response in a post entitled “First, Kill All the Bloggers.” Roll’s position is that bloggers, as an “industry,” have failed to police themselves and hence deserve to be regulated. For Roll, it appears, the FTC guidelines validate his belief that bloggers are unethical and not real journalists. (Might one venture to suggest that Roll is just a shade behind the times? As NYU’s Jay Rosen said almost FIVE YEARS AGO, “Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over.”)

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Three New-Media Lessons from Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk on New Media

Gary Vaynerchuk on New Media

If you are from a traditional B2B background and are neither an oenophile nor a new-media geek, the chances are good that you haven’t heard of Gary Vaynerchuk. Twenty years ago that would have been no cause for concern. But if you hope to be a player in the 21st century media business, you need to pay close attention to what Vaynerchuk is doing.

It’s a testament to the profoundly disruptive impact of the Internet that a guy who sells wine for a living should have valuable lessons for B2B professionals. Pre-Internet, Vaynerchuk would have been—and was—a big advertiser and marketer, but not a media maven. But he caught on early to the potential of the Web, starting an online outlet for his business at WineLibrary.com in 1997. His involvement in new media really took off, though, in 2006, when, inspired by Ze Frank’s  online video project , he started a daily video Webcast, WineLibraryTV.com.

As seems to be the case with most new-media celebrities, Vaynerchuk’s status has been confirmed by an old-media milestone: the publication of his first book. Released last Monday (Oct. 13, 2009), Crush It! looks to be above all a motivational book for nonprofessionals, but perhaps as well a useful guide to new media.

There will be a full review of Crush It! on B2B Memes soon. But in the meantime, I refer you to this brief ABC News  interview with Vaynerchuk [Update: no longer available online]. From it can be gleaned the following three lessons on new media.

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Truthiness and the Dark Side of New Media

True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society by Farhad Manjoo. Wiley, 2009

The Internet is cool, and it is easy to mistake coolness for goodness. So for every few new-media optimists I read, I like to pause for a quick a dose of counterbalancing pessimism.

The latest dose for me comes from Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. Manjoo is the technology columnist for Slate magazine and, I infer, an Internet enthusiast. His book, however, is not as much about the new media per se as it is about the interaction of new media with the psychology of belief.

Manjoo acknowledges that the fragmentation of media is good, in so far as it allows a diversity of views to be aired. But, he argues, it is bad in that it allows people to choose to hear only those viewpoints that reinforce their own beliefs. Instead of reaching out for truth, society is willing to settle for truthiness. (For those who are unfamiliar with the word truthiness, here is Manjoo’s definition, paraphrasing that of the word’s progenitor, Stephen Colbert: “the quality of a thing feeling true without any evidence suggesting it actually was.”)

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