Thursday, January 20, 2011

The New Magazine Experience

When I read on Techmeme that AOL was launching a Flipboard killer called "Editions," I thought it was a joke. When I watched the video teaser featuring Tech Director Ethan Nagel singing his argument for his tag line for the product--"The app for when you crap"--everything made perfect sense. Unfortunately his spirited musical argument was not enough. The marketing department thought "The Magazine that Reads You" was a much better tagline. He got a proper dressing down from the various layers of management for his first-hand bathroom research,  The teaser ends with the scatalogical chorus, everyone in. One blog post reminded us that this marketing department probably came up with earlier tag lines, including "Music that Listens to You, and "Internet that Logs onto you."

OK, "Editions" has a homepage so it must be real. Hats off to AOL for the cheek and ability to poke fun at iitself. Now we'll keep an eye out for the app.

That said, it wasn't the scatology that interested me; it was the name of the project as well as the tag line. When I was at MPA we had many, lengthy discussions about using the word magazine in the association's title and more generally in descriptive statements about the industry in general that was becoming more media-centric. Please go to for background on the issue.

When the content consortium Next Issue Media was formed, some people asked why "Issue" was included in the title because that suggested the frequency of a print magazine. AOL's "Editions", that seems to be an app like Flipboard that figures out what you like and personalizes that content, suggests a magazine-like experience. The tag line--"The Magazine that Reads You"--is unmistakeable. If "Editions" delivers on its early promise, it will offer a timely, curated, personalized magazine that is targeted exactly to your dynamic interests and information needs.  And perhaps with a leaner social network. All this and mobility.

Magazines publishers are still experimenting with the iPad, looking for the right UI and business model. We might learn something from "Edtions." 


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