Killer Startup: mygazines.com
1 month in (beta-)operations – 16.000 users!
Mygazines is a site that allows you to browse through, collect, and personalize all of the magazine articles that interest you. The site is based on uploaded magazine articles, brochures, and pamphlets done by its users, and makes it possible for the community to check them out with a whole bunch of options. Magazines can be viewed in their entirety, or searched and read based on specific articles. When users find articles that they want to hold on to for later, they can save them, bookmark them, share them, or store them for later use. Once articles have been selected, a mygazine can be created, which is basically a magazine including all of your chosen articles organized according to your design. You could search for or upload various nutrition articles and recipes and then create a mygazine with all of those tidbits organized and browsable, so that you don’t have to go sorting through each different publication later on. When viewing the articles from the site, you can flip through the pages as if you were reading and checking out an actual physical publication. The difference is that this version doesn’t waste paper, can be tagged and saved without taking up space or wasting time, and can work as a scrapbook of sorts for all of your favorite articles.
- Are we experiencing a digital déjà-vu from the music business?
- Should information be free – at all?
- Are illegal sites such as mygazines.com stealing intellectual property and about to kill an entire industry?
- Will the iTunes business model work in the same way as it did in the music industry?
- Are we looking at the future of journalism?
Legal competitors such as http://www.digi-zines.com, another online digital magazine aggregator, who also try to grasp the enormous user benefit, seem not to provide the same value of content.
Starting at step 1: the production of the content of a magazine, book, or newspaper is not possible without costs. If those costs will not be covered, this will have an impact on the production of the content. But before publisher associations and big media companies start suing mygazines.com, which provides a fantastic technical solution on meeting a clear user demand, they should reconsider their actions and rather ask whether premium content, even if production costs are involved, could not be for free? Will people really stop to buy and read paper magazines if they can access the content online for free? Or will even more users get in contact with magazines they never had a chance to buy in the store next door? Just think about the Austrian snowboarder being able to read Australian surfer’s magazines? Some time ago I read an interesting case about online publishing a book: for all kind of network, community and behavioral reasons – the sales of the paperback version increased after it was completely downloadable online.
I think the clash of old economy and new online business models will continue in different industries and there is only one way out of it:
1. Start re-inventing your business before others do!
2. Consider the opportunities of the online world rather than the threats!
Magazines should improve the quality of their online portals. Publications such as the Economist, a weekly business magazine, add value to their content which makes it worthwhile to pay for a subscriptions – and harder to copy the model. For example, I regularly download the complete read out mp3 articles onto my iPhone for later audio listening.
Further, publishers should consider the impact on sales if they find smart ways to provide content to a global rather than a local community, i.e. they could find other ways of making revenue such as cross-financing and advertising to cover production costs of content, their are even very successful in the real newspaper world – just consider all those daily free subway and train-station newspapers.
It will be interesting to watch if the industry has learned from the music business – in any way “when the wind of change is blowing, you can build walls or – windmills!” (old chinese saying).
By Bernhard Hoetzl