Sunday, December 31, 2006

Welcome the New Year

At the start of 2006 Exact Editions was running some test magazines through our system. They are still there. We had no commercial service at all. That began in February.

As the year turns we have:

32 magazines in the shop
506 issues in your hands if you subscribe to them all.
But we have processed many more issues. 1908 have been through our hands so far (as a 'whitelabled' service to publishers, or for test purposes, or part of the stockpile which will appear next month or later in 2007).
That makes, 130,000-ish print pages - rough estimate. Each page appears exactly as in print, with its own unique url.

The most popular page -- by a distance.

The four most popular search terms ,were: 'BBC', 'research','clinical research','london paper', in that order. Many of these searches were performed for users who were accessing the 'whitelabled' content we host for publishers -- eg The New Scientist or Thelondonpaper.

In 18th place for the list of search terms was the phrase 'suck on this' and in 34th place was the term 'doherty'. If you are puzzled by this, here is another link to the most popular page in our service. That should explain the sucking (and that it should be a popular search phrase suggests that some people remember headlines -- tagging works); the 'Doherty' still mystifies me, but Pete is obviously popular with potential magazine readers.

My tip for the alert editor in 2007 -- do not on any account neglect the doings of Pete Doherty or the comfort of the female breast. But the popular end of Fleet Street has been following that prescription for years and years.

Enjoy 2007!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Last Minute Shopping

If, on reading the last posting, you decide that a digital subscription for a friend, nephew, aunt, colleague, or distant lover is the present that you still have to buy before Christmas:

All you need to do is to buy the annual subscription for your chosen magazine in the normal way (using PayPal and/or your credit card as our shop encourages you to do) and then email and tell us that this is a gift subscription, mention the name and most important the email address of your intended recipient. In effect, you buy a sub and then reassign it to another email address, and the other address will have the benefit of your gift subscription for 12 months, with regular reminders as each issue appears.

Its as easy as pie......and will be even easier next year.

Radical Transparency and Web Intimacy

Chris Anderson, who wrote the book The Long Tail and is Editor of Wired magazine, has written a stimulating piece on 'What Radical Transparency would mean for Wired'.

There is a lot to consider in the two-part posting. It got me to thinking about the way the web enables any media business to establish a surprisingly close, immediate and in a sense intimate relationship with the audience (the market, the readership), while at the same time there is still a big distance between those who serve stuff and those who search and surf stuff. It is an inherent advantage of the web that the users can exercise a degree of control any service and to some degree leadership which shapes the offering.

Here is a fairly trivial example: about 6 weeks ago we realised that it would be a good idea to make it easy for our customers to buy subscriptions to magazines as gifts. We were going to make the necessary changes to our 'shopping environment' and at the same time make some other useful enhancements.

In fact, we ended up being so busy with other activities (plenty more magazines coming in 2007, some with big runs of back issues) that we did not get round to it in time for this year's seasonal giving. But the really interesting thing is that plenty of our users have reached exactly the same conclusion as us: buying digital subscriptions through Exact Editions for friends, partners and relations is a GOOD IDEA. So we have had dozens of purchasers take the matter into their own hands. The audience has led the change for us: in the last two weeks we have had a flood of requests to reassign a subscription which the individual has already purchased and these thoughtful customers have been emailing us with the email address of the intended recipient. They have been asking us to notify the recipients, to send our email on 24th December, to mention the name of the giver in the email, they have been asking to include a special message in the email etc....They have actually been designing our improved shopping experience for us. The intimacy and the immediacy, the "shared-ownership" of a web service, the intellignece of the market, all these are huge advantages.

We look forward to bringing you many more Radically Transparent magazines in 2007 (they will be Exact Editions as well as being radically transparent) and to more web intimacy -- in fact to a better shopping experience as we all buy digital subscriptions for our friends in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ancient Egypt

Beginners guide to hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Maps and a timeline.

The Liberal

Ayaan Hirsi Ali contributes an essay on feminism.

Fifth Wreath (poem) by Richard Burns

Monday, December 18, 2006

Guardian notes Dazed & Confused

Jemima Kiss, who writes on web matters for the Guardian, picks up on the Dazed & Confused launch, and ponders personal ads on the London Review of Books.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dazed & Confused

Dazed & Confused is the latest addition to our shop. The sample issue has:

Striking photography

Interviews with stars

Sumptious ads

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Google Book Search and other Book Collections

Tim O'Reilly, who has been a stalwart defender of the Google Book Search project, has picked up on some criticisms of the balkanised searching landscape which is where various Book Search projects are headed. It is the isolation of these privately scanned book-content 'silos' that is getting troublesome to web idealists. Tim O'Reilly has a particularly clever but obvious solution which should win acceptance with book and magazine publishers:

Book search engines ought to search publishers' content repositories, rather than trying to create their own repository for works that are already in electronic format. Search engines should be switchboards, not repositories.
The really strong point about this suggestion is that its exactly what publishers should be doing in response to what they perceive as the Google threat. A groundswell of publishers doing this well, would promptly cut the 'public interest' ground from under Google's feet in the lawsuit with American publishers. O'Reilly is a wily political animal and a publisher. So, maybe, big publishers will listen to his proposal and if they were to do it they would soon start exercising some reponsibility for issues which they have been very slow to grasp: like how to keep and maintain adequate archival versions of the books they publish, in electronic form. His other positive suggestions are also good. Read them in context.

Some comments from Brewster Kahle in reply to Tim's posting are astringent:
Bringing google back into the web-oriented world takes a decision at the top of the organization, but I hope they change course because we have seen the permission-based / licensing-heavy movie before. It tends towards lock-out, monopolies, and holiday bonuses for lawyers.
Brewster Kahle is a an all round web hero, only one rung down from Tim Berners Lee in the pantheon of web all stars, so perhaps Google will listen to his counsel.

We're all for fighting the "search silos" and would be more than happy for search engines to index the contents of our sample issues. In fact, Microsoft's Live service does so already:

Sample search on Microsoft Live for a phrase in magazine copy

but the trick is getting Google to do the same without convincing them we're engaged in shady SEO activity.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Friend

The weekly magazine on Quaker topics published by the Society of Friends since 1842.

The Notices and Classified Ads have immediate utility and added value in a web format. ABC should please take note.

Shrewd comment from Skype founder

Greenslade at the Guardian notes some off-hand remarks from Niklas Zennström:

"I don't read as much paper as I used to and I think they will obviously be challenged. The thing that is a challenge is the daily press - you have free newspapers and quality newspapers and they each have to find their own markets, but I don't think they're dead.....There's always going to be a need for in-depth journalism."
Greenslade comments:
I agree with him about the journalism but won't that be delivered on the net rather than newsprint?
To which one can reply "Of course, and newspapers and magazines can work on the web -- provided they (to echo Zennstrom) find their own markets." The most interesting thing about Zennstrom's comments is that he assumes that people of his generation are less into newspapers, less into reading paper, but that there will still be a real role for free newspapers and quality newspapers if they find the appropriate way of living in the web. I am sure that this is what he meant and am surprised that Greenslade does not take the obvious conclusion, that there is a future for digital newspapers. And of course for digital magazines. In the web.

Roy Greenslade is a credible commentator but he sometimes appears to be transfixed, like a rabbit in car headlights, by the evidence that circulation of London papers is falling off a cliff. He should take another look at Rupert Murdoch's enlightened speech on the digital future. Murdoch's enthusiasm is appropriate and necessary for the print industries. Of course print is challenged by the web. But print can use the web to find new ways of serving the market.

There is a slightly fuller account of Zennstrom's comments at

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dentist's waiting room to Newsagent

When we were about to launch Exact Editions, at the end of 2005, we used to show publishers a prototype service with half a dozen very disparate magazines. We sometimes joked that the service was a bit like a dentist's waiting room (boating, fashion, caged birds, current affairs, and rock climbing in a haphazard mixture). All good and reputable magazines but not in the same market segment. Why do dentists have such diverse interests?

So it is a high compliment to have our service now likened to a newsagent. Perhaps Charkin's blog is being a shade generous. A proper newsagent really needs several hundred magazines to fill the kiosk, we are not there yet but we are going in that direction. In 2007 Exact Editions will become increasingly like a well stocked newsagent with a marked fondness for the long tail of magazines.

Friday, December 08, 2006

New Internationalist

How to be an Ethical Consumer

Sweating over sweatshops.

Measurement and readership

ABC (the Audit Bureau of Circulations) is the industry body which measures circulations, news stand sales, subscriptions etc for magazines and newspapers in the UK. It gathers an immense amount of detailed information on thousands of publications, much of it is freely available from its excellent web site.

There is also an 'electronic' offshoot, ABCe, which measures the reach and popularity of some of the large UK media web sites. ABCe has recently amended its basic approach to measurement of web presence. 'Unique Users' not 'Page Impressions' is now the mandatory minimum to be certified by ABCe. This does not mean that they will stop counting things that they have been counting (Page Impressions), but priority and more weight will be given to the Unique User data. The in's and out's of this are helpfully covered by Shane Richmond's blog on the Telegraph.

Now that ABCe has got its act together it is perhaps time that the bigger brother (ABC without the 'e') looked again at its rule book for Digital Editions. This was last issued in June 2004, and unlike all their other Rule Books has remained unchanged (very odd since web technology is moving so fast). There are some obvious bloopers in the present rules. Here are two: (1) ABC expects a digital edition to be essentially the same but it may omit the Classified Advertising. Why should that be? Is the assumption that Classified Advertising cannot work in digital editions??? (2) The rules on Free Digital Editions are written as though all practical free editions will be 'downloads' in which a 'copy' is mailed to a recipient or the reader downloads an issue (PDF-type). Would you only count the circulation of Metro or CityAM if you had the name of the people who were picking it up?

The magazine industry's auditing systems have a brilliant future when they wake up to the fact that auditing can be much more detailed and certain with the web. But you have to be measuring the right things, for example the effectiveness of the Classified Advertising as indicated by click-throughs in the digital edition. It is good to see ABCe moving its goalposts as it plays the new game. ABC now needs a lesson from its scion.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Economist

Is possibly the best magazine of current affairs. It would get my vote. They might not welcome the compliment because, in-house, they have a tribal custom of always referring to it as a (or 'the') newspaper. Last week's issue of the 'newspaper' was one of their regular Science and Technology Quarterly surveys.

Most of the Science and Technology survey is behind their subscription pay-wall, so I can not link you to some of the best articles (good ones on biometrics and social media web sites: think Digg and Reddit), but here is an open one on the future of the phone. There is nothing really radical in the article, but it makes one think in the round about the technology and the culture of the phone and its future. This is the hallmark of The Economist's style: thorough analysis, good overview, and probing insights into what may be underlying the superficial froth of innovation.

The Economist isn't one of ours (yet -- we have had quite a few requests), but we look forward to welcoming them on board one day. Perhaps we should talk to them about getting their Technology Quarterlies up as browseable web resources. This might get their readers familiar with the advantages of web-format digital magazines. (It slipped out. Ermm 'digital weekly newspapers' is what we meant to say).

The Gowers Report is published

The Gowers report, published yesterday, was commissioned by the UK government to review the Intellectual Property framework of the UK and produce recommendations. The report is here as a pdf. The bit that caught my eye, is that Gowers proposes a limited right to private copying for 'format shifting'. It is not widely known that copying a CD to an MP3 player in the UK is prohibited. It is not in the US, or in other European countries, and nobody thinks of it as an act of piracy. In this case the law is certainly an ass and this Gowers recommendation will, surely, be taken up. However such a change in the law will be framed in general terms -- so it will apply to all media. This will have an impact on the way in which book, newspaper and magazine copyrights are handled. Prediction: in 2012 it will be OK to format shift your magazine, Vogue or more likely Mojo, to your iPOD and flip your Citizen Kane across to your Sony eReader. Second prediction: there will be a reason you want to do that.

Two points to keep in mind as you peruse Gowers' 150 odd pages. First, it is only a report. These are recommendations not changes in the law. It is still illegal to copy your U2 CD to your iPOD in London (wait till you get well away from Heathrow). Second, (and this is the serious point sheltering behind the flippant warning), copyrights now have to work in a global environment. What the UK parliament legislates will play catch-up to technological innovations in Korea and is anyway less important than the work of EU and US lawmakers.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Press Gazette revived

Having been laid to rest at the end of last week, the Press Gazette is coming back. We have been following this saga closely and wish the patient a very long and prosperous future.

See the announcement on the PG web site.

Having been withdrawn when the receivers were appointed, the magazine is going back into the Exact Editions shop as we blog this. So now is the time to get your digital sub.

Google Book Search IS page citeable (correction)

Jeff Bartelma (Book Search, Product Manager, at Google) has corrected our suggestion, from last week, that Google Book Search had abandoned print-page/web-page correspondence.

He is absolutely right. The link to page 34 of Skottowe's Life of Shakespeare is fine. We are glad to be corrected on the point, since reliably precise citation must be the cornerstone of the global library service that Google Book Search should become.

No Google lawyer has chipped in to address the complaint about unavailable (to ex-US IP addresses) public domain works and Google's copyright hassles. But, to be fair to Google, its hardly their fault if copyright terms and fair use provisions are different in the US, the European Union (Belgium, France) and other countries. The law and the coherence of literary copyright, not Google, will be the ultimate loser if 'proxy IP addresses' are used to run circles round 'national' interpretations of copyright and the efforts of Google-style aggregators to work with such rules. National interpretations of copyright do not square with global technology platforms.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Media Convergence: last orders and the bar-code

Media Convergence -- or the idea that all the different media are moving towards a common and ultimately unitary media puddle -- has its adherents and is probably coming back into fashion (it temporarily went out of fashion in about 2000 at the time the web investment bubble popped).

Whether these various media really are going to converge at one omega point on the near horizon (this omega point looks a bit like Gooooooooogle from this perspective), about this theory we can be sceptical, but there surely are some centripetal pressures.

Have you noticed the way quality typography, in newspapers magazines and books, is increasingly emulating web-design? Take this B2B magazine for which we provide a white-label service:

The contents page of The Publican shows clear signs of being a magazine in the age of web design. The extensive use of colour to separate different information blocks, the horizontal contents banner along the top of the page, the use of a thumbnail image to cue a feature, and of course the clickable links -- which in the case of the page numbers in the print design are just numbers but on the web become formal links and allow the magazine to map itself more closely to the topology of the web. There are probably more features in common which an expert typographer would notice. But one could use this evidence of convergence to argue that whilst magazines and the web may be converging, it is unlikely that they will fully converge. Print typography can emulate the web because it is not the same medium. Emulation works better when there are also some differences. There will still be a place for a print magazine in ten years time, and a role for a magazine web site which serves a different purpose (though one of those purposes is to help in the distribution task by serving a record, and a searchable archive, of the print issues).

There are some features of the print page for which the web has no obvious use. For example, the bar-code at the top right. But now that one notices that ..... perhaps there is something useful to which a digital copy of a bar-code should link? It is clearly a catalogue-type datum, with an ISSN. But this could be a hook for other relevant stuff -- maybe ABC or BPA data. Hmmm......

If there are any good suggestions we will buy the proposer another round. There is a thought for a Monday morning.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

FAQ #2

The FAQs are getting there. They should be up real soon now. Previous blog on this was wrong about one thing. Word and the discipline of putting the FAQs in a Word doc was more fruitful and more necessary than predicted. Before long we will write our FAQs through a wiki, but 'pro tem' the Word document format is a useful staging post.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A to B

The product reviews in this magazine are a compulsive read. Thorough, witty and to the point. Try this one on the Sinclair A-Bike. Which the reviewer finds "...oddly reminiscent of the C5 -- a superb idea, quite well executed but impractical in the real world." Ouch.

Toot, toot!

It also tells you how to build your own.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Usability and the user

David Weinberger's Joho the Blog often has interesting stuff about content, labelling, usability and web styles and fashions. Yesterday he blogged a devastating critique of Microsoft's new music player from Andy Ihnatko in the Chicago Sun-Times. The bottom line (in Weinberger's summary):

Zune sucks because it was designed to meet the music industry's needs, not the users'.

Ihnatko's review is convincing, but then I am not completely enamoured of the iPod either. But this comment about making the user not the publisher the focus of design (obvious really, but worth saying) got me to thinking about how we can make sure that the User, with a capital U, is at the forefront of our design when we improve our service. The great thing about a web service delivered over the web is that improvements can be steady and incremental...Several of our innovations since the summer seem to most definitely meet this criterion of improving the user's experience (navigable contents pages; clickable links for emails/urls/phone numbers; printing of pages from PDF of the page image; and our initial plan of treating the digital magazine as being part of an individual's account to which more content will be easily added -- these design points do seem to be grounded in what user's will need as they digitally encounter magazines). So we may feel that we have been moving in the right direction, but there surely are some dramatic and also some more subtle ways of enhancing the usability and usefulness of the digital magazine that we have not yet considered, or thought about. Some of these enhancements are about how digital magazines will be used alongside other digital content forms -- maybe not Zune, but iPods, for sure, as they get more into our bloodstream......All of this digital-stuff will continue to evolve, adjust, integrate and adapt.

Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Press Gazette -- requiem

The Guardian reports and the Press Gazette site confirms that the paper is to close. I suppose that it is possible that a bid will emerge, post mortem, but it must be much harder to revive a title once its journalists and staff have been let go. So this may be the end of a valuable magazine.....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Google Book Search

Google have changed some aspects of their reading-interface. See their blog announcement.

There are a couple of aspects to the new style that I dont like. Google Book Search now lets you scroll down a book in the way that you might scroll down a PDF file with a slider. It doesnt help me that you get pages in a cut-off situation and not always regularly in the middle of your viewing area. Just because we have had this system for PDF files doesnt make it right. Also, and a related issue but a deeper objection, Google Book Search has moved away from the 1:1 mapping of print pages to web pages (an article of faith with Exact Editions). This was one of the key features of the original Google Book Search in my livre. So its a real drawback that there is no obvious way of making a direct link to page 34 of Skottowe's Life of Shakespeare. "Go find page 34!" Is less helpful than a direct link.

One more grouse: most of the examples that Google give in their blog entry do not work for readers in the UK. Presumably they have been disabled for copyright reasons though why a book on Geronimo published in 1906 should be in copyright outside the US beats me. There is going to have to be a consistent and sensible solution to its copyright woes before the Google system can be widely accepted. Do you mean to say we might have to move to the USA to read most of the books on Google Book Search?

When we first designed the Exact Editions system we paid a lot of attention to Google Book Search (Google Print as it then was). It looks like our paths are diverging. Magazines (and newspapers) make bold use of the double-page spread so a magazine and newsprint system is not going to work well with pages viewed on a scroll.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Press Gazette on the brink

Greenslade has a gloomy but well-informed account of the financial prospects of the Press Gazette.

It will be a great shame if this informative and well-written magazine ceases publication. And if it does, it will be the first time that this has happened to one of 'our' magazines.

One of Greenslade's comment-makers has this opinion:

Funnily enough your blog has helped kill it Roy - people in the media want online news about the media and they want it cheap. Guardian Media plus media blogs = death for UKPG, despite it being a v good product.
{Posted by POLIS on November 21}

This seems harsh. The Guardian is after all a succesful commercial enterprise. Magazine journalism about journalism can surely survive in a digital age. But it is a tough assignment when half the audience are actively blogging and the other half spend much of the day consulting free web resources. It can only be done if multiple revenue streams are properly aligned: advertising revenues, subscription income, trade show or 'awards ceremony' profits (this has been important for the Press Gazette for some years) and digital income. One of the challenges of magazine publishing today is that all these revenue streams can appear to be under threat from web-based services. So discerning and embracing the appropriate web strategy is clearly imperative.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Page Turning -- does it help the reader?

Many of the digital magazine systems that use a 'file download' approach allow the user to 'turn the page' herself, eg by pointing and clicking to the bottom right hand corner of a virtual page. The page then moves across the screen before your amazed eyes to lay out a new two page spread (or a full single page if that's your preference). Click on this link to find a page-turning example.

At an early stage our programmers produced code for such a page-turning option. It would be straightforward to introduce it to the Exact Editions system. It does not significantly impact on the computer resources used, but we are not convinced that it really helps the user. We have a suspicion that it is used by some of the other systems because the moment or two that it takes for the page-turning to be complete allows the software to retrieve and build the next page. The page-turning effect is really being used to conceal or distract from the fact that the software doesnt work fast enough in real time. A sour-grapes reaction? Perhaps but there is no question that a speed reader, who is actually using the web to read a substantial body of material, is soon going to be irritated by the mechanical sameness of a page-turning eleent to the software. Google do not have such a page-turning feature on their Google Book Search, but Google is not right about everything. If you think we should offer page-turning please leave a note in the comments area.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Newspaper and Magazine advertising friendly to Yahoo?

Battelle spreads the news: Yahoo unveil an alliance with US newspapers clearly aimed at jostling Google's attempts to corale the local classified ads market. Google's attempts to syndicate newspaper ads is not a promising runner (earlier comments on the magazine episode apply). Yahoo looks a bit different.

Its not easy to be sure what the Yahoo deal amounts to (and coalitions of publishers often come unstuck), but the thing that sounds promising about this is that it seems a synergistic development is planned. Both parties are moving forward. Classified ads in newspapers work and the Yahoo Hotjobs site works, exchanging information and leads can improve the service on both sides. Of course, newspapers still need an effective way of deploying their print ads on the web. That goes without saying, but a partnership with a business that is looking to improve traffic to the newspapers looks like the way to go...Yahoo has been losing ground to Google, but its not yet Game, Set and Match.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Read/write web

This is another of the themes that one encounters in explanations of Web 2.0. The idea (roughly) is that Web 1.0 was a read-only web and the new era is a read/write era.

Dont know about that, but there are questions that one could ask about magazines in such an environment. Would publishers want to encourage this kind of user response? Will digital magazines, to the extent that they can be shared, become vandalised beyond saving? Will users really want to share reactions? Or read others reactions? Will this type of interaction bring the magazine world even closer to the blogosphere?

There are some solutions out there already that enable this kind of public annotation. Fleck is one. Their solution might be one way of taking the Personals Page to the next level....see this example.

Well, having quickly checked this out. It looks as though my 'Sticky Yellow Notes' survive under Firefox, but when I check out the annotated url with Safari, I get the Fleck toolbar, but not the note. Stuff on the Fleck site makes me doubtful that it will yet work with IE. But since I am now a confirmed Mac user I dont use IE often.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Classifieds are a lot more fun when they are clickable

The London Review of Books is famous for its small ads, its personals. They are witty, elusive and often double-edged. One is never quite sure whether the advertisers are completely having us on, or not.

They are just as amusing on the web, and possibly more effective: but somebody should find an interactive alternative to the Box Number system. This is just too retro. Do the missives accumulate in the "Box" for a week or so, to be forwarded some days later to the box's owner? This is a very 19th Century modus operandi.

Although the personal ads make us laugh, it is the holiday properties that seem particularly compelling. Try clicking on the Muskokaprovence link, or the gite-french link, we did and now are sorely tempted to book next summer's holiday on the spot. Those properties with a web site, an email address and a clickable phone number will win in the popularity stakes. The callable phone number is particularly enticing.

I suppose there is a message here for the publisher planning the next generation of personal ads. Naughty Lola, in the next decade, is going to need a web site, an email box (replacing the numbered box) and a pseudonomised Skype account.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Economics and ecological impacts

Greenslade, who blogs at the Guardian media section, has an item on Sony's decision to close its official Playstation magazine in the US.

As Roy Greenslade notes this will be worrying news for the computer games magazines. The cover mount with a trial game or demo has been a crucial asset, and incentive sales tool, for some years. Are music magazine publishers also moving away gradually from the music CD cover mount? It is bound to happen as digital distribution takes over.

The challenge is to reposition the music or games magazine as a digital resource which is not dependent on a physical disk. This is an ecological benefit, which forces some creative publishing and business strategy on the industry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

FAQ #1

Yesterday we started work on an FAQ. Our project-leader posted the first set of questions (questions without answers as our starting point) as a Word document. All the subsequent work - group thinking about the right questions, not much about the answers yet, took place in email. In fact, the list was soon being amended and re-ordered in lengthy emails; so we dropped the Word doc.

It is probable that we will carry on working on the FAQ without using Word. In fact, Word and Excel, which five or ten years ago seemed to be the essential tools of daily business, are now increasingly like formal clothes which one will only don, reluctantly, for a funeral or special occasion (eg drafting a new contract, or producing a five year plan). Chances are that this is not a view limited to web startups, and there is a cultural shift away from desktop applications towards web solutions. So Google's move towards documents and spreadsheets is timely. I registered with Writely months before it was taken over by Google. Unfortunately, if I go to use it now I get this message "Safari support for Google Docs is coming soon!" Google's takeover of Writely happened about the same time as I switched from a Windows machine to a Mac. From Internet Explorer to Safari.

Wikipedia has an informative explanation of the origins and applications of FAQs.....

Our FAQ needs more work, but it should be ready within the next month.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Wonderful adobe architecture from West Africa.

Web 2.0 and HCI

Or Human Collective Intelligence, as it now is, not Human Computer Interface/Interaction as it was a month ago. The Web 2.0 conference has finished and this post mortem from Tim O'Reilly caught my attention. There is a powerful attraction in the idea that Web 2.0 is broader than simply 'social content', or the 'User Generated Content' that seems to be the most obvious feature of services like Flickr or MySpace. If Web 2.0 is about collective intelligence there is obviously a major challenge in capturing the legacy of the past and the undigitised cultural knowledge that is stored in books, libraries and museums (cf Wikipedia, Google Book Search etc). Or indeed in newspaper and magazine archives.

So, we find this broader vision for Web 2.0 attractive, but the new meaning for HCI is amusingly at odds with the old acronym. The old meaning sees computers as objects/tools with which we interact and frankly they are pretty obtuse and stupid, which is why we would like to have them smarten up, soften up and we try to conjure up a human interface to them (WYSIWYG if not smiling paper clips). But now HCI is about us, as a group or a species, and about the computer network as a primary manifestation of human intelligence, and the network as cultural phenomenon. Its getting to be quite fluffy, dont you think?

If we have much more of this we will see a revival of interest in the noosphere and Teilhard de Chardin. He was clearly thinking along Web 2.0 lines.

Today's Flyfisher

I am going to get my waders on and try to land some of those North Atlantic bass from Cape Cod.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Blogging, Magazines and Newsprint

David Sifry the founder of Technorati has just released his quarterly State of the Blogosphere report. There is lots of detail and here are a few of the highlights:

== Technorati now tracks 57 million blogs
== About 1.3 million postings happen every day (so most of the 57 million blogs are really slow moving)
== Japanese blogging is nearly as numerous and noisy as English-language blogging (39% of blog postings are in english as opposed to 33% japanese).

The report gives a lot of attention to trends and the way the blogosphere is maturing. It is maturing. Magazine publishers who worry about the 'threat' that the web poses to their business should focus on that point. Blogging is not inimical to print and now that it is maturing, it is that much easier to see how it can work with the grain of print and conventional media.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Shop for Digital Magazines

Our main service to the magazine industry is to be building a kind of shop where the public can buy subscriptions to digital editions. Today we have 24 titles, by the end of the day we may have 25 or 26. In a few months we will have 100+, and a while later we will have a lot (thousands). So it is still early days and our shop is still a small shop, but the reassuring thing is that the customers are coming, their frequency is increasing and we are now starting to see purchasers acquire 2 or 3 titles on the same visit.

We have not yet had someone buy 6 at a time, but that will come....We will let you know when it does.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Web 2.0 and referencing

Web 2.0 was a fairly simple, but slightly fuzzy, idea that has already become very complex. Today there is a big high level conference on it -- the third Web 2.0 conference. In my (probably excessively) simple-minded view the basic idea is that NOW, about 10 years after the web got going, it is possible to build new types of web appliances, objects, communities, information systems and processes. New, new stuff in which the web is taken to be the primary platform and action space. Web 2.0 sees new and wonderful environments blooming in which the users and service providers are intimately involved in a collaborative and rapidly evolving richness.....Before we were building the web, now we 'stand on the shoulders of giants' and deploy web tools to do all kinds of stuff that nobody every thought of (like build an artificial world, or have a 3D zoomable atlas of the world to the resoluton of a sun lounger or flowerbed, or grow an endless, multilingual and ever improving encylopedia).

The Exact Editions system is not dependent on Web 2.0 -- magazine back issues needed to be archived even in Web 1.0 -- but in one crucial respect the Exact Editions platform helps Web 2.0 to flourish. Our system is one in which every print page from a magazine or newspaper has an equivalent and uniquely corresponding web page. No other newsprint or magazine system works in this way (although Google Book Search and Amazon Search Inside do work in this way -- for books). Magazine and newsprint systems all put a digital download inside a browser or onto your hard disk, they do not lay it out on the web as a sequence of referenceable pages. This is crucially important in the world of Web 2.0, because anything may be usable for some other person for purposes that may not have been considered. Everything in Web 2.0 should be componentised, referenceable and isolable. That is what we do with urls -- reference them, they are after all 'Uniform Resource Locators', and it is by engineering and manipulating existing web resources that Web 2.0 weaves its magic.

It took us quite a while to see that this 'referenceability' might be our USP, but about 6 months into our evolution we made a presentation to Jonathan Newby at CMPi, a trade publisher. When he had heard our presentation he said simply: "You mean every page can be referenced, that is an important and distinctive feature." At the time I thought he had made an interesting observation, but perhaps it was really the heart of the matter. We knew that in the Exact Editions platform all our pages were urls, but we had not seized on the importance of this citeability/referenceaility issue -- an observer told us that this was really key.

The more that stuff can be referenced, the more it matters and the more can be done with it. Web 2.0 can roll all over it and mash it up. Magazine communities, membership blogs, readership wikis and tagged publications all can use the url-to-equivalent-page convention.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Gotcha Headline

The new evening paper Thelondonpaper comes from News International, the same stable as The Times and the Sun.

Some of its headlines owe more to the Sun than to its stately sibling the Thunderer. The lead story about Martina Navritilova's outrage at geneticists research into the sexual preferences of sheep, in last Friday's issue, was in the Borat class of outrageous cheek and very funny:

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Google's Book Search Reviewed

Peter Jacso is a Professor of Information Science and a very thorough and perceptive critic of information services especially in the research library context.

He has just produced a thoroughly devastating review of Google Book Search, which suggests that the Google plan to create an archive of all published literature is wildly off-beam. Jacso gives many examples of absurd results from the GBS service, Even with simple searches, there is enough confusion because of the ignorance, illiteracy and innumeracy of the software........ Read the piece. Jacso knows what he is talking about when he examines the way Boolean searches work with Google -- disastrously and wrongly. Google prides itself on its technical proficiency but the nonsensical un-numerical and illogical results produced from the Book Search service merit public explanation and prompt repair.

If the Google Book Search project is poorly implemented that is going to be a disappointment to the publishers and libraries who have supported the project, but is there perhaps a deeper problem? Jacso mentions but does not dwell on Google's unwillingness to document its activities. Is Google working on an assumption that simply feeding stuff into its search engine is all that is required? And that Page Rank will do the rest -- in effect that the pattern of citations and user behaviour will provide the necessary order to make a useable resource?

Could this disdainful neglect of catalog(ue)s, lists and the public bibliographic record be simply a matter of hubris based on excessive faith in Page Rank? One would hope not.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Advertising and the pressure on publishing revenues

The Los Angeles Times is for sale, classified and displayed ads are under pressure. Magazine and newspaper publishers and TV companies feel the threat of the web in the search for advertising dollars.

There are at least two suitable weapons of retaliation, readily available, which publishers have been slow to seize on and wield. Print publishers should make sure that their advertisements appear on the web exactly as they do in print and are usefully clickable when they appear. Web distribution of the print ads reinforces the value of the print service. Useful 'clickability' means making the urls, the emails and even the phone numbers an instant means of reader response: a simple click-through. Second, why not deploy Google text ads as an additional source of revenue? It has been interesting to see the way this works for Thelondonpaper -- try a search on 'dentist' or 'Arsenal' to see how Google copes with the London context. Google text ads have been running on this service for the last week and they are mostly 'spot on'.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Reddit acquired by Conde Nast

I got this from David Weinberger's blog Joho.

Conde Nast (with the slogan 'There's a connection that our readers have with our magazines') recently purchased the Wired web site. Perhaps Conde Nast has some strategic plan. The Reddit acquisition looks interesting, and complementary to a culture of web-delivered magazines. This is a forum on which all and any magazine article (newspaper story, blog entry, TV program, etc. can be analysed and controverted). But surely Conde Nast now need a reliable platform on which any magazine (theirs or someone else's) can be accessed through the web? And it would not work if that was a proprietary publisher-owned platform would it? The platform that meets this need would have to be one in which individual magazine articles, pages and issues can be consistently cited......Reliably citeable web publishing platforms are in short supply. Connections need direct links and reliable citations.


Two new magazines for our shop in one day. The pace is hotting up.

If you read nothing else in insideout, you should certainly read the interview with Barbara Frost of Water Aid.


When I first heard about this magazine the name did not mean anything, but of course my wife, sister and daughter knew exactly what the word means: (according to juteworld) The longitudinal edges of a fabric formed in such a way that the component thread(s) ravel.
I like the way that juteworld's component threads ravel. Most things unravel but well-behaved or selvedged threads dont. They ravel.

But I had no need of a dictionary to appreciate how beautiful the magazine is, its full of fabulous stuff and fabrics, and here you can see a gorgeous Hudson Bay blanket -- as a child I slept under one. One was enough.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Publisher Portal

The publishers who use our system get a number of marketing and promotional services as part of our deal. There are already a dozen different tools to which they have access from individualised private accounts. The services are broadly of three types:

(1) Statistics -- on usage, page by page and link by link for live links. Therefore on a very busy page with a lot of links, the publisher has a wealth of information about what is of interest to the readership. But this information is aggregated. There is no way to track individual readers usage. The privacy of readers is preserved.
(2) Administration -- so the publishers have access to all the subscriber details that we have (most important the email address) and in real time. The publisher is also able to manage her own distribution of digital subscriptions (eg for combined print/digital subscribers, or for voucher copies).
(3) Marketing and promotional -- a set of web services which publishers can use to help in promoting their digital edition from their own web pages. For example our system produces the relatively simple HTML which is needed for a magazine to have a button link on its own home page: code a bit like this

href="imgborder="1"src="" />

I have scrambled the code a tad; if its not messed up, Blogger uses the code to put our handy advertisement widget onto this very page:

The advantage of web-service based software is that the system grows incrementally and painlessly. In three years time we will be supporting a much more sophisticated set of publishing and promotional services for our publishers. The publisher's portal today feels a bit like the cock-pit of a Tiger Moth. In 2008 it may feel more like the set of controls for the Space Shuttle. I hope that isnt a dangerous comparison.

Friday, October 27, 2006

When Saturday Comes

Inside story on Abramovich and Mourinho

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Google, Yahoo Show Publishers Some Love

Advertising Age carries a report on this week's American Magazine Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. This encounter suggests mutual interest, but with it a degree of reciprocated suspicion and bemusement. Google and Yahoo are not going to gobble up the magazine industry, of course not, but until the magazine industry can fully embrace the web it will continue to lose attention and market share to the likes of Google and Yahoo. Getting those rich archives onto the web is a part of the answer. Not the complete solution, but a crucial step.

Press Gazette part 2 -- a creative solution

The editor of the UK's trade journal for magazine and newspaper publishing makes a creative proposal.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Prospect Magazine

Prospect Magazine was the publication with which we demo-ed a prototype of the Exact Editions system in the summer of 2005. We were given permission to use the June 05 issue. For this reason the magazine was allocated the number ONE in our system for ordering magazines and also in our ordering of publishers. It joins the Exact Editions shop on Friday with a succint and unique address '1/1':

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Press Gazette

Having recently come into the world of magazine publishing from previous experience of book publishing and software, I am often struck by the relaxed and 'no nonsense' views of most magazine publishers. One of the first magazines with which we have worked has recently announced that it may be for sale. This being the magazine industry the information is posted on the web page and pops up as an article in the current issue.

In some industries the fact that a publication or a portion of the business might be for sale is usually treated as a deep secret, to be spoken about only in hushed tones and under pain of threat from a weird NDA. But there is no need for secrecy, business is business, and if the Press Gazette acquires a new owner, he will inherit and benefit from a raft of digital subscribers who already get their weekly press-news fix with the help of Exact Editions.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thelondonpaper five days rolling archive

Starting on Monday, we will be running a 5-day thick (thin?) archive of Thelondonpaper which can be accessed from Thelondonpaper web pages. When will everything be archived indefinitely?

Reading Styles

There is no question that our reading styles change when we read stuff through the web rather than on paper. In a similar way listening styles change when we listen to music through an iPod rather than a CD player, or in a live performance.

But what do these changes amount to, what do they signify? In the Exact Editions system there are really three styles of viewing a magazine page:

Full page: best for reading an article
Double page spread: good for pictures and ads
Sixteen page view: mode for skimming or flicking through an issue

The usage statistics from our system, and once a month we get very complete data which is shared (in aggregated form) with the publishers, suggests that about 1 in 10 pages is a 16-page view, 5 in 10 pages is 2-page view, and 4 out of 10 pages is a 1-page view. This may suggest that looking at magazines online is at least as important as reading the articles, and flicking through or skimming them is a minority pursuit. I shall remember this next time I see someone flicking through Grazia in the tube.

Mind you, searching them, with our excellent and quick search system, is even more of a minority pursuit -- about one page in every hundred viewed, triggers a search. Perhaps this search ratio will increase as users get more magazines in their account (multiple subscriptions or longer tailed archives).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Music is good for the Soul

Says Steve Jobs in an interview with Steven Levy for Newsweek.

The iPod is five years old next Monday. Steve Jobs makes an interesting remark about how and why Apple got it right: 'One of the biggest insights we have was that we decided not to try to manage your music library on the iPod, but to manage it in iTunes. Other companies tried to do everything on the device itself and made it so complicated that it was useless.'

That is surely right -- library functions must work from the network and belong to the centre. Its a mistake to build the library at the periphery. A good architectural principle, which must apply to magazines, periodicals and books just as much as music.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ecological impacts again

Some evidence from an authoritative source which bears on our recent posting. The Charkin Blog reports the conjectures of an expert on the ecological impact of a typical paperback textbook. David Reay the author of Climate Change Begins at Home estimates that the average textbook uses 3kg of carbon dioxide emissions, or 4.5 KWh of energy. He also focusses on the pointless waste involved in the practice of 'sale or return', which bedevils the book publishing almost as much as the consumer magazine industry. David Reay's comments are taken from an article he has published in The Times Higher Educational Supplement.

It would be interesting to know whether the average magazine has a larger or smaller ecological footprint than the average textbook -- one suspects that the energy costs in manufacture are comparable. I guess, but have no evidence for it, that the returns percentage is higher in consumer magazines than in mainstream book publishing. But from Reay's estimates it would seem that the weight of carbon dioxide emissions is greater than the weight of the product. That is true for the products we buy as well as for the bin-loads that are landfill. It is a sobering thought.

One assumes that the ecological impact from digital magazines/books is much less, but is this reduction a matter of orders of magnitude, or a kink in the upward curve? What should one measure -- the cost of maintaining a database and of accessing it once, once a week for a year, or once a day? What if people tend to use digital resources more than they would the physical equivalents? These comparisons are tricky.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

EBook readers

Roughly every four years the book publishing industry goes through a bout of wide-eyed enthusiasm for portable ebook readers. The periodicity tends to fall in with the World Cup cycle (not the Olympic cycle -- that is when book publishers espouse enthusiasm for printing on demand, or remote jukebox style devices that will print and bind any book for $15), so this year just after the Frankfurt book fair we have another bout of ebook enthusiasm.

Paid Content have blogged a summary of early reactions. The Sony Reader may or may not catch on for the world's great literature, but we can be sure that it will not, in its current form, catch on for magazines. The device is apparently very good at giving a crisp image in black and white, viewable from almost any angle, with sharp text ideal for reading in sunlight or in the bath. That is not enough for magazines. Magazines absolutely require colour. Colour, colour, colour and again colour. For that reason alone the magazine industry will not be disturbed by this wave of publisher enthusiasm for ebook readers. In 2010? Who knows, by then the clever technology may be supporting coloured balls.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Clickable Contents Pages

During the summer we improved our content management service so that web links and email addresses in magazine articles are now generally live and clickable. This was a big improvement in navigation from the magazine (clicking on a link or an email opens a new window and doesnt lose your place in the magazine). At the same time we introduced clickable Contents Pages. So all the magazines that we have imported to the system since August have click-through navigation within the magazine from the contents page. You need to click on the actual page number in the contents list, and you will notice that each live number has a ghost green box to show that it is live. This is the same conventional green outline that is used for emails, urls and international phone numbers. See how it works here:

Music Tech -- contents double-spread


The Baptist Times -- summary contents

As a complement and reminder of the Contents Page function we introduced a small icon which allows the user to access the contents page for each issue from any page in that issue. If you ever get lost in massive magazine, reach for this little icon:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Long Tails and magazines

Chris Anderson is the author of the most discussed business book of the moment. The book is short, it is stimulating and the author waves his theory energetically so that it smacks almost anything you care to think about: The Long Tail.

He is also the editor of Wired magazine and there is a very intriguing interview with him about the implications of his theory for the magazine industry here.

There is much of interest in the interview. This paragraph shows Anderson lassooing a key thought with his flexible tail:

The old model of media is all about freshness while yesterday’s news is fishwrap. The new model of media relevance is determined by the community. It matters less and less what’s on your front page. What matters is what’s struck a chord, and what strikes a chord sees people linking to stories. A study recently showed that half the traffic to Web sites is after 36 hours. The old model of newspapers was that 100 percent of their readership is within first 36 hours and zero after that. The extraordinary interest in things we previously discounted, like archives, is the real lesson of the search and blog traffic era.

That fact has radical implications for the industry. Archives are MUCH more valuable than anybody realises. Much more interesting too! More interesting when they are accessible and valuable when they are interesting.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Advertising and the web

When an industry (advertising in this case) goes through a radical technical change, the participants get confused about the way the new technology is going to work. Funnily enough, Google (more of a 'founding father' than a mere participant) made a significant false step when it launched a program for selling magazine print ads through its web-based advertising sales network. Business Week ran a good story on this with the wonderful headline: Can Google Go Glossy?

The general verdict, one year later, is that this is one of the few Google experiments that had no chance at all of working (I even heard a Googler admit that it WAS a mistake). But its an odd co-incidence that many magazine publishers have been making a similarly confused assumption in the other direction. There is a view abroad that somehow digital magazines might become a good forum for selling and delivering video ads: music clips or short video promotion movies. Many of the big consumer publishers have experimented with what are sometime called Rich Media Format ads -- bundled into the digital magazine download experience. As though magazines were going to morph into the business of the TV and Radio networks. The scenario is as intrinsically implausible as Google's dream that the AdSense network could become a vehicle for selling quarter pages of PC Magazine or Closer real estate. But that all these forms of advertising will become inextricably enmeshed -- about that there can be no doubt. Google has just bought YouTube to general astonishment. That has promising implications for the magazine based advertising sector. Clickable links to the YouTube ad within the Google network -- that will be a fruitful direction to explore.

Rich Media Format ads -- dead in the water. Clickable links in the magazine to anywhere and everywhere ...... that has to be the way to go.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The Deputy Editor of The Baptist Times writes about religious newspapers and the internet in yesterday's MediaGuardian, mentioning their use of Exact Editions to deliver weekly issues.

Monday, October 09, 2006


K9 is the twentieth title to join our service. This monthly magazine appeals successfully and simultaneously to the British love of dogs and of puns.

If you need to know more about dogs with royal pedigree, the sample issue has a fascinating survey.

I now know something more about King Canute, that he had a concern for the rights of small animals, than the single fact (fable?) taught to every British schoolchild about him sitting on his throne in an effort to repell the tide.

20 magazines, but if you subscribe to all the publications you would have access to 328 issues.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ecological Impact

One of the most popular magazines in our service is The Ecologist.

There are several reasons for its popularity: the publishers have been active to promote the service both from their web pages and in print; the free trial issue includes a very popular article on breast feeding -- this brings lots of traffic: the price is attractive (20% off the list price); there is a large international audience, etc. But clearly an important factor running for this magazine is that the digital edition has a very light (small?) ecological footprint. For many of the core readership that must be an important factor leading to the decision to purchase the digital edition. Also the publishers and writers on the magazine are equally passionate and activist in regard to ecological issues, so they are right behind the concept of digital magazines and reduced environmental impact.

But this all raises the question -- how ecologically damaging is the magazine industry? It is certainly a matter that concerns industry heavyweights. For example the PPA has an Environment Committe which looks into these matters.

Targets are being set and there are certainly wasteful practices in the industry: eg the use of CD and other types of 'covermount', and the widespread use of sale or return. One publisher of a specialist magazine title told me that he expects to get up to 50% of his news stand distributed copies as 'returns'. Technology can help with this. Wasteful physical sampling will be reduced by the use of digital sampling and an increased drive to get subscriptions through web-based promotion. But there is a lot to be said for the print product. The paper edition has a permanent place, so we hope that environmental awareness defines 'best practice' and leaves space for the quality of print.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Felix Dennis

The Independent has a fascinating interview with Felix Dennis.

The magazine industry has its fair share of eccentrics and larger-than-life characters. Mr Dennis is one of the largest and liveliest. One would not want to bet against him (though he admits in the interview to some hilarious and disastrous mistakes). One of his claims caught our eye:

"This is going to be a huge thing for us, the most money we've ever spent on a website," he (Felix) says. "You just can't take The Week as it is and put it on the web. I am looking to create an environment that the people who love The Week will go to at least two or three times a week. If Dennis Publishing fails at this then we are all going to have to go and shoot ourselves, because these are our best boys and girls working on the best product and this should be a knockout."

The Week is a great magazine and a very successful magazine. If you really could put it on the web exactly as it is it would be a great magazine on the web. Chances are it would be a very successful magazine on the web. Very slowly but surely magazine (and newspaper) publishers are finding that putting the issue onto the web is a good idea. Two three or four years ago it WAS a bad idea and it could not really be done. If Felix Dennis's brilliant team can do something else which complements The Week on the web all credit to them. If they are building a service which complements the print publication it would be a good idea to have the print issues up there with their creative output. The fact is, putting The Week on the web as a fully searchable, easily readable, citeable and clickable publication can be done as easily as falling off a log. Dennis doesnt need a brilliant team to do that.

Memo to self -- make an appointment with Mr Dennis.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Thelondonpaper has now gone live through our platform to provide online access to the current issue of London's latest daily paper.

We look forward to finding out more about the usefulness of providing access to a free newspaper; now available on the web as well as in the tube and handed out on the street.

The newspaper can be browsed, read and searched if you click on the link here

Each day the new issue will be posted as the print copies come on to the streets. Here is the thumbnail of the October 2 front cover in case you missed it.


Our latest title is Shattered -- which carries the subtitle 'breaking the glass ceiling'. It joined our 'shop' today. The magazine is the brain child of a transatlantic team based in New York and London and is recently launched. They are now on their second issue. So this our latest but also our newest title (The Spectator -- founded nearly 300 years ago -- is our oldest).

The launch and trial issue available in our shop has a fascinating article on ambitious plans for one of London's best galleries, The Whitechapel.

The Whitechapel Art Gallery If you dont already know it, you should plan a visit on your next trip to London. The development plan discussed in the article will expand the art gallery by taking over the former library next door. The Whitechapel team will be working with Rachel Whiteread as an advisor to their plans -- and knowing the work of Rachel Whiteread one wonders what this might lead to? An embalmed model of the old library in the new art gallery perhaps? It might look like this.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Free Newspapers

The Exact Editions platform was designed for use with digital magazines. But there is really no reason why it should not also be used with newsprint. So we have been running trials with a few of the new free newspapers that appear to be mushrooming in the European market. I have also been taking a personal interest in the phenomenon. Six weeks ago I relocated to Florence -- which will become my permanent base -- with regular visits to London. Florence has a thriving competition in the free newspaper arena. There are four daily freesheets.

The one I read most often is nice and short (which suits my rather minimal and slow Italian comprehension); but it is a really excellent newspaper called simply: Il Firenze. It is one of a stable of 13 freesheets from the Italian company Gruppo Grauso. This week they are launching editions for Milan and Rome.

There is a good page of information on the diverse European freesheet market.

P Bakker's list looks pretty comprehensive, though he has not yet caught up with the changing London market. This is the newest entrant in London.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pro Bono

Earlier this week we delivered the pilot issue of a new newspaper for the youth of Rwanda. This has been conceived by the group Never Again International. They have produced the pilot to test the market and to help them raise funds for printing regular issues in the Great Lakes region of Africa:

Clicking on the 'risingvoices' logo takes you to their pilot project.

The publication includes a review of the autobiography of the brave and heroic Canadian soldier, General Romeo Dallaire

Read the review and then read the book! And also the Wikipedia article

We trust that Never Again have success with their project which we are pleased to support.

Back again

It is nearly 6 months since we last posted to this blog. More magazines in our system, more subscribers, more user feedback and we have paid our first revenue shares to participating publishers. Accompanying the growing traffic, steady improvements to the delivery platform.

Perhaps the most important improvement is that the Exact Editions system can now render as clickable urls, email addresses and phone numbers (if they are in international format) that occur in print. This improved interactivity helps readers, but is also very valuable to advertisers through increasing response rates, and to publishers in getting strong data on which clicks work and where.

One of the first magazines to benefit from our improved interactivity was The Green Parent.

Which has some directory pages full of urls.

When our system went live with these clickthroughs, I spent 20 minutes shopping for a new summer shirt. Shopping off the page is straightforward and the clickthroughs are seductive. I have a new hemp shirt to prove it. When explaining our system, we sometimes characterise our pages as 'dumb' JPEGs. The web pages that we deliver are in effect images of the print pages, but with these clickable links the JPEGs are no longer so dumb.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The system goes live with the first magazines

The Spectator is our first live title.

The Spectator currently has 32 back issues in the system. Hot on its heels the second magazine up is the Literary Review, with 6 issues loaded. The Spectator is a weekly, whereas Literary Review is a monthly, so they both have about half a year of free back issues available to new subscribers who will get a full year's worth of new issues for their subscription.

Running some trials of the search engine we find that "David Cameron" the new leader of the British Conservative Party is mentioned 118 times, whereas "Dave Cameron" is mentioned only 7 times in The Spectator. It looks as though the "Dave" concept is not going to stick. We mentioned this curiosity to Richard Charkin and he passes it on in his blog --which is the first to take notice of our service.

Each magazine has a single trial issue, available for inspection and free reading, in our 'shop' area, and they are full of entertaining articles. A search on 'lobster and Titanic' leads to a hilarious but also revolting passage in the Literary Review. Not for the squeamish.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Company Reports

Company reports are not magazines. But they are widely consulted, carefully written and designed, periodical publications which are frequently distributed on the web in PDF form. For this reason it seems to us that there could be widespread interest in the ability to rapidly search across and consult a broad range of company reports. We have now created a demonstration account from which a collection of company reports, currently 27 from 5 companies, can be browsed and searched.

Companies want their annual reports to be widely accessed and we are grateful to the companies who have given permission for their reports to be used in this demonstration version.