It’s been a long time coming but the homies over at Serie B magazine have finally gone online! Considering the amount of magazines choosing to make their printed material available as a pdf it’s obvious to me, and anyone working in publishing or the internet with a grain of common sense, that a combined online and physical presence is now essential for any magazine which wants to survive. I remember being surprised at seeing XLR8R go that route last year and make their mags available as pdfs as soon as they are in the shops (or pretty much as soon as I think). Think about it for two minutes though and it makes total sense. Most people don’t read magazines these days, and everyone wants everything at this very minute, which the online version of a magazine provides. For mags like XLR8R though, giving the content for free doesn’t necessarily damage their physical readership, because who wants to read 50+ pages in pdf format, who wants it printed in b/w rather than nice glossy, and those who want to read the mag because they enjoy it and have a relationship with it as a physical product (much like a lot of people do with vinyl) will continue to buy and read it.
On the flipside you got mags like The Fader that seem to have gone fully online, or Dazed & Confused who are also moving towards heavy online content. I really do think there’s a very feasible middle point here for the print industry, and people need to realise it before it’s too late. Oh yeah and then you’ve also got efforts like Woofah who go for the whole physical fetichism of magazines and do print only. While I’d love to read their content online I can respect their approach, just never have the money to buy when they’re putting one out though!
What all this does show though is how old media industries can work with new media rather than fight desperately against the change in their business models, like say how the music industry cocked up (and continues to after 10 years) the whole internet thing. It’s even more ironic for me considering I lost my job at the Asahi Shimbun (one of Japan’s most established newspapers) precisely because according to them they were being ‘killed’ by the internet and losing advertising money by the bucketload. Following the announcement it crossed my mind a few times to put it to them that trying to establish a presence on the internet might provide a solution (albeit small but still a solution) to their problem of lost readership. Thing is, this was Japan, and I was a contracted gaijin aka I got the chop straight up (alongside the other contracted gaijins). And I didn’t really hold any hope of being able to go in and put my idea to those in charge. Newspapers stand to lose, and are losing, much more than magazines which can have a physical relationship with readers which most newspaper don’t. There is still a physical relationship with newspapers, like say the traditional sunday papers in England, or the paper for the daily commute, but compared to the relationship one can have with a magazine, printed less often, more visually appealing, with a longer lasting content value, it’s a lot easier to break. And then newspapers also face the problem of being daily when the internet is instant. Still I read newspaper, but I do so online and I read them physically when I have no other choice, and I still enjoy doing that but given the choice I would go the online way pretty much every time. Which doesn’t mean a newspaper has to lose its readership, just adapt to it.
Back to the point, Serie B now has more than an online holding page. Jump to the newly minted blog and see what you think. It’s Spanish only for now, and they aren’t giving mags away as pdfs yet either, but I’m hoping to get in there and do some English content and also somehow convince them of the whole pdf argument. It’s funny too because I was about to email them and suggest an online English/Spanish version of the mag – there’s too much good shit in there that needs to be read outside of Spanish speaking countries (though the whole physical fetichism also applies to Serie B much like it does to Woofah). Oh yeah and peep the previous issues section to see just how dope this mag is and how it’s been keeping up ridiculous visual and content standards for nigh on 3 years since its relaunch. I’ve never felt prouder to be involved in a magazine than since working with these guys.
On a slightly less happy side note, I discovered today that the site had been hacked and some shitty code included in the footer that has been spewing cloaked links on google for Viagra and all sorts of shitty shit. Am less than impressed but it only further proves the point that if you’re running WP you should make sure you always stay up to date with the latest install, and that when you start seeing weird keywords crop up in your referrals you should pay attention to them. Looks like I’m spending time tonight with the ftp and the updater…