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Magazine of the Future

Why does it matter what the date is, on each issue?
  [vote for,

As you know, magazines are published in a variety of formats and have a variety of content. Often, though, some aspect of a given magazine is fixed or limited. For example, there might be a restriction on the number of articles that will be published each issue (which could affect total number of pages published each issue). Or, the number of pages might be fixed to suit special presses, and whatever combination of articles that fits in those pages gets published.

There is something of a dilemma that a publisher can experience in today's world of increasing population. On the plus side, more people means more potential customers. And more people means more authors writing articles, which allows the cream of the crop to be picked for each issue. On the minus side, it really does happen that more good articles might be received than can fit in an issue. What to do?

Note that technical journals have long had this problem, and the typical answer has been to put the articles in a queue, to wait however-long it takes, to get published.

Well, I think I have a better answer, and that is what this "Magazine of the Future" Idea is about. Basically, if so much good material is available, then suppose the publisher simply publishes more often....

Let's consider an ordinary monthly publishing schedule. Each issue is marked with the Month and the Year. Also, typically, the month that the latest issue hits the newsracks tends to be the month before the actual month indicated on the magazine. Well, just extend the practice!

Each time enough material is acquired to assemble an issue, send it to the presses right then and there. AND put the appropriate next month/date on it! So, suppose it is March and the April issues are arriving, as is normal. Most customers will get their copies within a week or two, say by the beginning of April. Well, let's suppose that the May issue is now ready, a week early. Send it out!

In six months or so, when it is October, the latest issue being published might have February-of-next-year's date on it. Kind of like a gift from the future. Except you still have to pay for it, of course. Your magazine subscription might run out sooner than you expected, but, hey! --you received all the issues you paid for!

Vernon, Mar 07 2011


       A few points: The number of pages is in multiples of eight or sixteen according to the signature size of the web offset presses in use at that time. Also, using more paper means you have to buy more paper. Not all of the copies of your magazines will sell, and there will be a return rate of unsolds.   

       More people on the planet and more ICT access tends to mean a dilution and erosion of journalistic quality, rather than more real journalists.   

       More articles are usually commissioned than can fit into a single issue, but not all have the same kind of currency that can sell a particular issue. Sometimes at the last minute, one of the minor articles becomes a lead story because of events elsewhere in the world — especially if it has a good picture you can use on the cover. Other stories are cut, dropped or held over — this is normal.   

       If you bulked up the editorial and went to press each time you’ve got enough to make an issue, you’d find:   

       • Your printing costs are going to rise, because most mags book well in advance, typically by finding lulls in the printer’s schedule, or cancellations, to save money. If you want it printed right now, you’ll be paying top rate. Nobody does that on a serial publication, you’d lose money quicker that way.   

       • Due to the unstructured production schedule, the advertising department (who just fanny around all month chatting and schmoozing, and only realise they have to sell ads in the final few days) will utterly fail to sell any ads at full rate- card, and give them away in desparation just prior to going to press. Oh wait, that’s what happens already.   

       • Due to the unstructured production schedule, the production department would never be able to plan the page layout, repro, subediting and drinking with any degree of confidence. The quality would suffer, as you’d never know for sure if you’re still working on an article, or are about to push it out through the door. The ad planning chaos would have a knock-on effect on production planning.   

       • Readers get used to a particular periodicity and a particular day or date that they expect the next issue to be on the shelves. If it’s not there, for some reason, they might take a closer look at your competitors issue instead, and get to like that.   

       • Subscription management would be chaos. That’s all their money you have in your pocket, up front, plus the interest! That relies on a predictable delivery schedule to work.
Ian Tindale, Mar 07 2011

       • And it's actually pretty useful to have great articles which you're not going to publish in your current issue, so you can give readers an incentive to buy the next issue.
hippo, Mar 07 2011

       Advertising would be completely hopeless. I would expect next year's magazine to have next-year's products in it.
RayfordSteele, Mar 07 2011

       Ads for next years products are already commonplace; we call them vaporware.
mouseposture, Mar 08 2011

       It used to be Popular Science.   

       I cancelled them, what's the new one?
Zimmy, Mar 08 2011

       //we call them vaporware//   

       Vernon's ideas could be called hot air ware
neelandan, Mar 08 2011


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