30 March 2009

Technology: Print your own magazine

What could you, your genealogy society, organization or institution do with your own bound glossy, full-color magazine printed on-demand and inexpensively for about 20 cents a page?

MagCloud is a new way to print magazines on demand for that price. Developed by Hewlett-Packard, it's a way to print a few hundred copies of a bound glossy, full-color magazine.

Tracing the Tribe believes MagCloud has great possibilities for genealogists. Imagine preparing a magazine for your ancestral town or your family. Groups involved in restoration projects of cemeteries or recreating histories of families or geographic areas could use this. How about a glossy full-color magazine documenting your roots trip or your family history for a milestone event?

Use your imagination. What could you use it for?

The company isn't yet sure of the market for small-run niche mags when the Internet is full of free stuff. The service has so far produced nearly 300 magazines. On the other hand, HP may not be aware of how genealogists and family historians might want to use this service!

Read all about it in today's New York Times' Technology section here. Do click on the slide show for more.

Charging 20 cents a page, paid only when a customer orders a copy, H.P. dreams of turning MagCloud into vanity publishing’s equivalent of YouTube. The company, a leading maker of computers and printers, envisions people using their PCs to develop quick magazines commemorating their daughter’s volleyball season or chronicling the intricacies of the Arizona cactus business.

“There are so many of the nichey, maybe weird-at-first communities, that can use this,” said Andrew Bolwell, head of the MagCloud effort at Hewlett-Packard.
Samir Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi who plans to use the technology in his classroom, said, “We’re not talking about replacing the Vanity Fairs of the world. But it’s a nifty idea for a vanity press that reminds me of the underground zines we had in the ’60s and ’70s.”

I'm sure Andrew Bolwell is not thinking that genealogy is in the category of "nichey, maybe weird-at-first communities."

HP could - if this idea takes off - sell more digital printers to companies that would print the publications. Of course, it would also sell tankers full of HP inks. All-in-all, it could be a big money maker for HP.

Of course, the "publishers" must do their own writing and design. The completed PDF is sent over the Internet to MagCloud, and HP sends the job to worldwide partners around the world and handles billing and shipping of orders. The cost to the publisher is 20 cents a page, but they can charge anything they want for the end product.

Doreen Bloch, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, who created and runs a fashion publication, said MagCloud had made it much easier to produce her magazine, Bare, on a tight budget.

Ms. Bloch used to send final versions of Bare to a print shop in Arizona. If the editors noticed a typo or wanted to make a last-minute change, they had to pay $60 a page. “If we needed to change the cover because it had the wrong date, they gave us so much trouble,” Ms. Bloch said. With MagCloud, the editors can fiddle all they want free.
Local print shops could also see their business improve. According to one print shop which bought five of the HP presses at a cost of $300,000-$600,000 each, it needs to run presses eight hours a day to break even and 12 hours to turn a profit; that shop prints about 50,000 pages per month for MagCloud.

HP's research labs have developed software that automatically arranges photos on a text page, and it might be added to MagCloud. HP is using similar technology to make out-of-print books available, to scan old books, clean images and send to a digital press.

“By using electronic processes rather than humans, we were able to get our costs down from $2,500 per title down to about $50 per title,” said Phil Zuckerman, the president of Applewood Books in Carlisle, Mass. He said he can now afford to print single copies of old titles.
Read the complete story here.


  1. What cool technology! The possibilities are endless and exciting. Thanks for sharing this info Schelly!

  2. Hi, Jasia. I think many imaginative people and groups will be using this to their great benefit. I wonder who'll be first and report on it?

  3. Paul Hosse8:12 AM

    The possibilities are almost endless!