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“People publishing their passions” or mass print: one magazine at a time: MagCloud marries print expertise and Cloud services. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with HP’s ‘Chief MagClouder’ Andrew Bolwell

March 23, 2011

When I started the Magazine Innovation Center more than one year ago, my goal was to help amplify the future of print. The goal, was, is and will continue to be, to use digital and the new technologies to help amplify print and its future. Last month I had the opportunity to visit one such company that is practicing what I am preaching: they are using technology to amplify the future of print.

HP, through its MagCloud operation provides a service that offers publishers a complete publishing cycle. From uploading magazine pages, to printing, distributing and banking, MagCloud opens the opportunity to any one with an idea for a new magazine to use its services to make dreams come true. While print on demand and MagCloud is still in its infancy compared to the traditional printing model, I saw a lot of hope and a lot of possibilities for the future and power of the printed word. Some major magazine editors such as Jackie Leo, the former editor in chief of Reader’s Digest magazine used MagCloud to publish her first print issue of The Fiscal Times and the same is true for LiveStrong magazine published by Lance Armstrong and his LiveStrong organization. So what gives?

Well, to find out, I’ve opted to ask the folks at HP’s MagCloud about this “service” and they were generous enough with their time and information that led to this edition of the Mr. Magazine™ Interviews. Andrew Bolwell, HP’s Chief MagClouder answered my questions about MagCloud and its stated goal of “People publishing their passion.”

In typical Mr. Magazine™ Interviews here are the sound-bites followed by the complete interview:

MagCloud really sits at the cross roads of marrying our expertise in print and cloud services

For us it’s never been a matter of print or digital it’s been about choice.

We aim to be a one-stop shop for content publishers so they can focus all of their attention on their content and their customers.

We see MagCloud as much more than print-on-demand service; it’s a content publishing platform.

With MagCloud, publishers can now focus all their attention on content creation and marketing their products

I think at some point nearly all magazines will be printed on demand.

The beauty of digital printing is you can offer the same professional quality consumers expect from traditional magazines without the overhead of large print runs and long lead times.

And now for the full interview:

Samir Husni: When a normal consumer thinks about HP, their brains don’t jump directly to ink on paper. So why is HP interested in something like MagCloud?

Andrew Bolwell: HP has been a leader in both consumer and commercial printing for a long time. If you think of the number of HP digital presses used in the publishing industry we’ve been putting ink on paper for quite some time now. We’ve also been focusing a lot of attention on the cloud with web services and back end infrastructure. MagCloud really sits at the cross roads of those efforts, marrying our expertise in print and cloud services, so is a natural extension of what HP does well.

SH: How much do you believe in the future of ink on paper printed products?

AB: For us it’s never been a matter of print or digital it’s been about choice. You can’t deny the beauty and wonderful tactile nature of print. People buy magazines in print every day and we don’t see that going away anytime soon. We also think if you can take that beauty and permanence of print, and marry it with technologies that allow printed content to be highly customized, then you can start to imagine some pretty interesting new print products and advertising models. But back to my point on choice, we also appreciate the convenience of digital and that’s why we’ve been expanding to offer a digital option to our publishers and readers as well.


SH: Digital printing and print on demand is gaining ground around the globe, how does MagCloud set itself aside from other print on demand companies?

AB: We see MagCloud as much more than print-on-demand service; it’s a content publishing platform. What our customers appreciate is that they can simply upload their content to MagCloud and make it available in a variety of formats—print and digital—at whatever price point they want, with MagCloud managing all of the heavy lifting and providing the publisher with royalty payments. So order taking, printing, distribution etc.

With MagCloud, publishers can now focus all their attention on content creation and marketing their products, because we handle all the other aspects of production and distribution that in the past have made publishing a relatively expensive and risky endeavor.

SH: What do you see as the future of print on demand?

AB: Very bright. I think at some point nearly all magazines will be printed on demand.

SH: What are the goals of MagCloud?

AB: We want to transform the publishing industry, and create a model where anyone can easily publish content and distribute it as print and digital products worldwide. All as easy as uploading a video to YouTube.

We also want to remove the barriers and mystique of traditional publishing in order to proliferate the creation and distribution of highly customized, targeted content. People publishing their passion.

And we want people to have access to a much broader and diverse range of highly targeted magazines than is available using traditional publishing models today.

SH: Entrepreneurs seem to be a natural fit for the advantages of MagCloud, but how can an established magazine or media company benefit from MagCloud?

AB: It’s a good question. MagCloud is enabling existing media companies to be more experimental allowing them to adopt that same entrepreneurial spirit.

The beauty of digital printing is you can offer the same professional quality consumers expect from traditional magazines without the overhead of large print runs and long lead times.

With MagCloud established magazines can create customized and versioned issues based on audience, location or special interests, repackage existing content archives or test market new titles.

SH: What is the MagCloud model and how does one publish through MagCloud?

AB: MagCloud is as simple as uploading a PDF. A publisher uploads a PDF of their publication to the MagCloud website, selects their binding type and sets a price for both print and digital versions. The MagCloud service takes it from there with order and print management, as well as global distribution. We then pay publishers monthly based on sales.

SH: MagCloud seems to work as a pre-press, a printer, a distributor and a banker, can you elaborate on how exactly the role of MagCloud is defined?

AB: Yes, we aim to be a one-stop shop for content publishers so they can focus all of their attention on their content and their customers. MagCloud’s role is as content service provider; we provide publishers a self-service content publishing platform that takes their magazine from PDF to print and digital consumption.

SH: In a few words, what is vision and future of MagCloud?

AB: In a few words? A content service that enables a world of publishers to easily make their content available to a world of readers, in both print and digital formats.

We want to be the service that enables that. And looking forward, we want to evolve the MagCloud platform with additional services, such as content targeting and advertising, that will offer publishers new ways to make their content profitable and allow it to be consumed in new and compelling ways.

SH: Can you tell me about some of the pleasant surprises and biggest disappointments Magcloud faced in its first two years?

AB: One of the greatest surprises has been the diversity and creativity of the publications that are published through MagCloud. We have magazines on almost any topic, created by publishers of all ages all over the world, and have seen publishers collaborate using only the web to create magazines that until now were just not possible.

It’s been truly exciting to see the breadth of content that MagCloud has unlocked.

Disappointments? Maybe that established media companies would become greater innovators and take more advantage of services like MagCloud to deliver a new breed of custom content to their subscribers. There are great editorial and creative staffs out there that without the logjam of traditional publishing economics and distribution barriers could create some truly amazing targeted publications for their readers. I’m still waiting for my custom golf magazine, but we’re working on that…

SH: Thank you.

And for those of you who are still reading, what are you waiting for? Go get your magazine ready, upload it and join the wonderful world of print: one magazine at a time. Enjoy!

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One comment

  1. That’s our magazine 3rd from the top left side (the orange cover)! Love MagCloud, its an asset to our system and our readers. Great interview!



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