Monocle Magazine

Print is dead.

What that really means is that the old print magazine business is dead. You remember: Print a ton of copies and stack them high on magazine stands. Try to sell half of them (a sell-through rate of 50% was considered great) for dirt cheap (12 issues for only $10!). Fill each copy with no fewer than seven (7) subscription cards, some bound in and some loose so they would fall out onto the floor to beg the reader's attention. Oh, and don't forget the big celebrity photo on the cover, with another big celebrity in a bubble near the top. And use orange (or some other color du jour) on the cover. And the single-copy price has to end in $.95. Those are scientifically proven to increase circulation.

Yeah, that business is dead.

You know what isn't dead? Making a great product for an audience who cares and charging money for it.

The guys at Monocle get this. The British magazine blends crosses several different categories, as the site describes: "a global briefing covering international affairs, business, culture and design."

It's well written and well designed. And the content is interesting. But Monocle is much more than that. There are shops in London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Hong Kong that sell exclusive products from small home furnishings to bikes and clothing. There are events available only to subscribers.

In other words, there's a complete brand experience.

The best part: a year's subscription is $117 (75 pounds). They're not begging you to pick them up with two issues FREE! They're making a good product and charging real money for it.

That may not be the future of print, but it may be the future of business.

Mine Magazine Part 2 // Don't Believe The Hype

Mine MagazineSecond issue of Mine came today. Let's see if they did any better than the first issue... My name in the Lexus ad upfront: check. By the way, the ad is for an RX. Shouldn't they know I'm a sedan guy?

Articles: - What to eat in New Orleans: not bad - Buyers guide to reusable shopping bags: is there anyone who'd be interested in reading that? Ditto the history of credit cards, and the one-pager on why the $100 bill is too easy to counterfeit. Unless it's a how-to, why would we care? - Recipes for roast beef leftovers: I don't eat meat - How to make strawberry-lemon mojitos: I don't drink hard alcohol - Bob Dylan retrospective: I'm into hip hop - Environmentally conscious architecture round-up: This one was worth about 30 seconds to scan - Five pages on building a bond portfolio: Shouldn't this be an interactive tool so I can just make it happen?

My name in the Lexus ad on the back page (also for the RX): check.

I don't know if this issue was worse than the first, but maybe my expectations are too high that over time they'll start to get it. If they cared, a simple reader survey would tell them enough about me to dig into their recyclable content archives and spit out something that at least has a shot.

What they should be doing is using one of the great conversation monitoring tools out there to learn what I'm interested in by seeing what I'm talking about on Twitter, Facebook, Blip.FM, and here on this blog. That's all automated, and could easily help create something that actually is mine.

A lesson here, similar to the one for the guys at GM: Just calling it Mine doesn't really make it mine. It's still yours, and you can keep it.

Mine Magazine // Don't Believe The Hype


Time Inc. launched Mine Magazine earlier this year, leaving Slate and others wondering "Could a personalized magazine help save print media?" Seems like a fair question to me, so I went ahead an ordered my own copy by filling out a brief survey to tell them about my interests. Mainly, it involved clicking on cover images of the five Time Inc. magazines that talk about things I want to know about. Well, Time Inc. doesn't have five magazines that interest me — maybe this is part of the problem — but, to be a sport, I went ahead and selected Travel & Leisure, Real Simple, Food & Wine, Time, and Money. Mine is paid for by Lexus and features Lexus advertising exclusively.

The premise is that I'll get a personalized amalgam of these titles to suit my unique tastes. I missed the deadline to get it in print, so I get mine digitally. The first issue came today. It opens in a browser window. Looks pretty good, but I quickly realize that Mine has missed the mark, despite the intro letter's bold promise:

"Imagine your ideal magazine. Chances are it looks a lot like the one you’re holding right now. And no wonder. This is the premier issue of Mine: My Magazine, My Way, which was designed especially for you—by you. In fact, Mine represents a groundbreaking shift in the way magazines are made, because what’s on each page reflects what you asked for when you subscribed. The customized result, which comes to you compliments of Lexus, includes great writing and reporting from your favorite magazines. You’ll find stories that will surprise, delight and inspire you, whether you’re interested in South African wine or solar power. This is truly your magazine, your way."

It took me about 3 minutes to scroll through the 36 pages and realize that there's nothing to read. The thing is, I'm not interested in South African wine or solar power, or how to get my kids involved in packing and moving, or how to turn my basement into an entertainment center, or any of it. This is really simple stuff. If these guys were thinking about me, the customer — instead of about how to save their sinking business model with a technology-driven gimmick, they might have asked more important questions than which of their product offerings did I want them to scan and combine into a single PDF.

They might have found out that I have no kids, that I live in a condo that doesn't have a basement, and that I'm very interested in Californian and Italian wines. What this tells me is that they don't really care about what I want, they care about repurposing their own content. That's the message.

Here's another small-to-medium gripe: it looks like a magazine. This means the pages are the wrong shape to fit on my computer screen. They're either too small to read or else I have to scroll up and down and side to side. Not the way to leverage technology — why not design it to look more like the Keynote presentations we're used to seeing on-screen? Why not make the websites mentioned in the articles clickable? Even the PDFs I create can do that. Even Zinio, whose technology ain't that great, is way ahead of Mine.

The back page is the only one truly personalized part of the magazine, achieved by inserting my name into the Lexus ad copy: THE ALL-NEW 2010 RX. NOW WITH MORE JOSH LEVINE

This is just about as lame as it gets. A huge waste of my time and Lexus' money.

Don't be like Mine. Put your customer first. Ask what they want and deliver content in the way they want it. It's really as simple as that.

Hey Time Inc., Rebel Industries offers custom publishing and custom web development. We can do this for you much better by applying the simple rules I mentioned above, probably much cheaper than what you're spending on it now.

Evil Monito // Down With Us

Mr. Kim reading 944 What comes to mind when you hear the word “tastemaker?” Is it a celebrity? The cool guy in the back of the class with the shades and leather jacket? The girl with 10,000 “friends?”

For me, it’s a dude like Rickey Kim. Rickey is the new editor of 944 Magazine’s LA edition. In only a couple months, he’s changed the face of the magazine, putting Common on a cover that’s usually reserved for models, and adding a bit of Eastside culture to a very Westside rag.

But wait, there’s more. Rickey is also the editor of Evil Monito, a very cool, very progressive fashion and culture online magazine.

And he writes a personal blog at Mr. Kim Says.

And he’s a partner in, a blog network for urban tastemakers.

And he’s a snappy dresser.

We recently had one of our occasional sit-downs, and I got to hear more about his visions for all of his various ventures. This dude has a lot going on, and he seems to be getting it all done.

What I think separates Rickey from the rest of the hipster set is his level-headed approach to being on top of everything new and cool. Most of the guys doing a lot less than him are so caught up in their own swagger, they become caricatures of themselves. Rickey keeps it humble, and it seems he never sleeps.

Brands who belong at the cutting edge should probably be doing business with Rickey.

Dispatch Magazine // Down With Us

Kids hanging with NBA Live 09 Today we kicked off a 12-school event series promoting the new EA Sports title NBA Live 09, in cooperation with our friends at Dispatch Magazine.

Dispatch is the nation’s only publication distributed directly into public school classrooms. Dispatch holds events on campus nearly every day of the school year and offers unprecedented access to teens.

Today’s event was at Franklin High School in Mt. Washington, held during lunch period on-campus, enabling kids to get their hands on some actual game play and get free branded notebooks. We also gave away a custom NBA Live 09/Nike backpack, a free copy of the game, and the latest T.I. and Plies courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Thanks to Rugged Concepts for putting this thing together. And if you need to reach teens and you aren’t working with Dispatch, you’re missing out on big opportunity.