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There is Nothing Bobo about “Anikibo.” Using Digital to Bring a “Print Revival.” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Anikibo Founder Deborah Causton

January 22, 2013

Picture 1“Anikibo is the first peer-to-peer online marketplace specifically for independent publishers making, creating and
publishing beautiful physical magazines, zines & comics. As a curated e-commerce platform it enables publishers
to sell direct to customers via a one check-out process…” so starts the press release announcing this new e-commerce venture using digital to sell print.

The brainchild of Deborah Causton, Anikibo was born of her passion for the printed word “and the frustration of not being able to bring home everything of newly discovered materials from trips abroad. Spending the last 10 years building websites it was time to merge the two avenues of her creative and digital life.”

Intrigued by the concept of both using digital to sell print and the idea of a “print revival” led to this Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Deborah Causton, the founder and creator of Anikibo. Anikibo’s Facebook page, all magazines sold on Anikibo are selected for producing products which are deemed to be unique, clever, beautiful, and creative and have an absolute passion for paper!

Have you ever heard anything more beautiful? Anikibo’s creator, Deborah Causton, believes there is a resurgence emerging with the printed product (of which, I agree…if I ever thought there was an extinction on the horizon for print at all), but the fact remains, the naysayers out there certainly did. Maybe the birth of Anikibo will once and for all show the killjoys of print what most of us have known all along: While you’re scrolling and squinting, the rest of the world is enjoying turning pages…ink on paper pages!

So, sit back and enjoy my recent interview with a delightful lady who is using digital to support print in a unique and innovative way!

The Sound-bites:

On the definition of the phrase “print revival”: Ultimately, I guess it would just be nice to see the print industry bathed in positive headlines again. It’s a digital age for sure, but like you said “…it took 500 years to build up this tradition. You don’t just throw up the white flag and say, ‘OK, everything is digital now.’ ”

On plans to promote Anikibo and the story behind the name: Someone told me once when launching a website that a 20/80 rule applied: 20% website / 80% marketing. As for the name, it came from a nightclub in Luxembourg, where I used to live.

On whether or not there is going to be a print product, or just a digital platform to sell print: There are so many technological avenues to be explored – this will be my primary focus. As to whether I’ll actually print something from it, maybe eventually, but probably a magazine!

DeborahCaustonAnd now here is the Mr. Magazine™ Interview; in typical Mr. Magazine™ Interview lightly edited style, with Deborah Causton of Anikibo.

Samir Husni: You used the phrase “print revival” in your press release, how would you define the meaning of this phrase?

Deborah Causton: Ultimately, I guess it would just be nice to see the print industry bathed in positive headlines again.

It’s a digital age for sure, but like you said “…it took 500 years to build up this tradition. You don’t just throw up the white flag and say, ‘OK, everything is digital now.’ ” I own the digital suite: smart phone, tablet, laptop, smart TV – but they’re all just practical objects that basically facilitate the delivery of digital content. I don’t really treasure them or the content on them; I replace them with the next model, watch the next episode, read the next item.

We all got excited by the new stuff, but we don’t love it in the same way. That’s why we’re seeing resurgence in the popularity of vinyl. There’s a strong sense of nostalgia from the emotional connection we got from physical objects like magazines, records, books and zines, especially those that represent a passion – we won’t let that go so easily. In my opinion, this is the driving force behind the coming print revival.

Unfortunately, I don’t think vinyl will manage to avoid becoming obsolete, mostly because of the cumbersome technology required to play vinyl records. Magazines don’t face this limitation. They can and have embraced the technologies available to them. We still have plenty of time before somebody pulls the plug on the production of paper.

Samir Husni: What are your plans to promote Anikibo (and what is the story behind the name)?

Deborah Causton: Someone told me once when launching a website that a 20/80 rule applied: 20% website / 80% marketing. Working almost completely independently, I’m sure I will face some challenges in the promotion – a lot of trial and error no doubt.

The formulation of this project began as far back as 2007, but the timing feels right now somehow. I just have to protect my investment and announce to as many people as I can reach, leveraging myself from the positive reactions I receive. I’m of course greatly thankful to the magazines and zines that have decided to stock thus far. It’s very encouraging to get this support having come somewhat out of nowhere.

As for the name, it came from a nightclub in Luxembourg, where I used to live. It was called Anikibobo, but I learned that “bobo” means silly or stupid in Portuguese so I opted to drop the second “bo”.

Samir Husni: You are based in Berlin, Anikibo is a British company, and you are dealing with publications from 7 countries… tell me your story…

Deborah Causton: I’ve been somewhat of a transient person. I’m British, but only by birth. I’ve found many other places that have become home. Currently Berlin is that place. My ambition for Anikibo was that it would always be an international platform. It is in some ways a selfish development since I wanted easier access to magazines and zines I’d find when travelling, but never had the space in my suitcase to bring back with me.

The only reason for incorporating the business in the UK is the ease with which it can be done.

Samir Husni: Is it passion that drives you or a business plan?

Deborah Causton: I’m not sure if I should admit publicly that I don’t actually have a business plan per se, but then it looks like I just did! Ideas on the other hand – ten to the dozen! My initial plan for an online marketplace goes back as far as 2001. I’d traipse up to Portobello Market in London with a friend who was selling handmade bags and scarfs. We’d be standing there at 3am on a Sunday morning queuing for a good stall, freezing cold, with a questionable cup of coffee in hand. It occurred to me then that the internet would be the perfect place for all these independent designers to get together and sell their stuff. I should have got my act together then: 4 years later Etsy was launched. Luckily, there are plenty of independent niches that haven’t been organized yet. I’ve been toying with this current incarnation of Anikibo since Colophon (Luxembourg’s Magazine Symposium).

Samir Husni: Are you planning to produce a print product to help sell the publications? Or it is going to be only a digital platform to sell print?

Deborah Causton: I studied graphic design, but have been very involved in tech for the last 12 years. One of the things that excite me most about this project is that I can combine my two passions. There are so many technological avenues to be explored – this will be my primary focus. As to whether I’ll actually print something from it, maybe eventually, but probably a magazine!

Samir Husni: Any other thing you would like to add…. such as will you be mailing publications overseas, adding countries, etc…

Deborah Causton: The platform has already been set up to enable worldwide distribution. Any publisher from around the world is invited to stock at Anikibo, providing they meet the minimum criteria: they love to make!

Samir Husni: Thank you. Check Anikibo for yourself at www.anikibo.com
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