A Place To Rate, Comment On and Share Magazine Stories

- - Magazines

I think that magazines need to spend more time and effort on the distribution problem. The less time people spend around newsstands and the less there are of them means that they need to seek alternate ways to allow consumers to browse and buy a single copy of a magazine. Also, the inefficiency of shipping magazines all around the country in hopes that someone will pick one up seems like a place where you can save some cash as opposed to say, cutting your contributors fees. Maggwire is a new site where you can view magazine stories (from their websites) by topic and vote, comment on and share them. I like the idea of an aggregator that only deals in magazine content. Looks like a winner to me.

magwire

via, Mr. Magazine.

There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

  1. Its not a bad idea – similar to Zinio except without the need to host files. In fact, if they set it up right, it could be entirely automated to just pull feeds from the magazine sites. But so far they have no way to make money. Their entire business plan is based off of people paying THEM for content created by the magazines. Which will happen AFTER Maggwire becomes the “central destination” for content, AND there is a standard, inexpensive e-reader that supports a standard file format. Its a long shot.

    Obviously the future of content delivery is in some kind of digital distribution, and its a race to see who can become the iTunes to the magazine industry. Apple had the advantage of having the hardware/software to make it happen, and so far Amazon seems to be ahead in becoming the aggregator for text + images. They even have a store already set up to support their device. But until they have color, its not going to be profitable to sell single stories with images. Whoever wins the race will have ALL the publishers pay them for distribution – its a potentially lucrative target.

    If anything, all these changes mean greater accessibility. Magazine quality will rise to the top. There is always going to be a need for amazing photos – Michele McNally said herself, and this is so true, the Web (and by extension e-readers) is a “very visually hungry medium.” A lot of people are doom and gloom but to me the future of commercial photography is very, very exciting.

  2. An interesting concept, but it has a ways to go to be useful.

    1. On the Internet an article is an article. Whether it’s published by a magazine, newspaper, blog, etc. So the focus on magazines seems a bit artificial — especially if you agree the future is Web distribution of content vs. going to a magazine stand and buying a hardcopy of a magazine.

    2. The credibility/integrity of the ratings is important to make this site useful. I didn’t see any explanation of how many ratings comprised the multi-star ratings on the site, or any description of the methodology used to manage the ratings. Nor did I see any assurance that an effort has been made to limit votes to known users. If one person gives an article a 5-star rating, does that make it so? If one person creates 15 userids and gives the same article 5-stars, does that make it so?

    3. The Web is full of “ratings” sites that are nothing more than sites pandering for a few bucks from would-be advertisers — pay for a listing and you get a great rating. Pay for a lot of listings and your publications will be featured prominently. This site has that “feel.” I could be wrong, but it just feels funny to me.

  3. Thank you all for your candidate feedback, we will definitely take them into consideration as we try to make Maggwire better.

    @Mason

    Our goal is to provide users with an easy, convenient central destination for reading and managing magazine content online. We truly believe in the philosophy that if you make the process of discovering great magazine content easy and convenient then our users will be willing to pay for our service. I think it is safe to say that advertising alone cannot support quality magazines going forward, and we want to start the transition of getting readers paying for content again. Users are not just paying for content, they are paying to save time and for the added convenience of our product offerings.

    iTunes is an excellent example, it validates the fact that people are even willing to pay for music when there are multiple channels to obtain it illegally/free.

    @Tom

    1. Content is content, but there is a significant difference between content being offered by Newspaper and Magazines. Newspaper content is more time sensitive and a lot of times, merely states the facts (what’s going on). Whereas Magazine content is more heavily researched and less time sensitive. NYTimes and Economist may both publish an article on the financial meltdown crisis, but I can guarantee you that you will learn a lot more from reading the article from the Economist. The Economist will educate you on exactly what happened, what was the cause and effect, what is the global implications in the Third World and also in the Emerging Markets.
    2. We launched Maggwire.com a week ago, our goal eventually is to use user’s rating to provide personalized recommendation based on his/her historical reading behavior. Similar to Netflix, your ratings determines how we will recommend articles to you and similar minded readers. We are not like Digg, there is no incentive for users to ‘game’ our recommendation engine.
    3. Rest assured we want to provide the best experience for our users. We are and will remain independent to avoid favoring any magazine publishers or titles.

    I hope I clarified some of your concerns. I really hope that you each found something interesting and engaging to read on Maggwire.

    All the best,

    Jian Chai
    Co-Founder
    http://www.maggwire.com

    • @Jian, Thanks for the update. My first issue was more a forward-looking one. If everything eventually moves to a Web-publishing/distribution model, then it seems the distinction between newspapers and magazines will blur. Hardcopy magazines, by virtue of their publication schedule, are forced to cover news differently than daily newspapers. When they publish primarily on the Web, they have the same potential immediacy as newspapers. And newspapers, no longer limited by a newsprint format (and print quality) are free to delve into longer more in-depth coverage. Maybe traditional magazines are a reasonable starting point, but I think you need to be willing to adapt as things evolve.

      On my second point, I probably sounded too accusatory. I’m simply saying that given the many phony rating sites on the Internet, credibility is going to be vital to your success. To that end, I think you need to articulate how the ratings are going to be calculated and indicate how many independent votes were cast for any specific rating. Otherwise a 5-star rating is meaningless.

      I also believe you need to demonstrate a strong commitment to ensure the rating system is not corrupted — either by revenue opportunities or by spurious voting. The details of how you plan to do that is probably not something you want to publish, but it might make sense to articulate the commitment. Maybe I’m just a cynic but I’m predisposed to view any Web rating as suspect until proven otherwise.

      • @Tom,

        Hi Tom,

        You definitely raised some good points.

        For many magazine titles, the line between magazines and newspaper has blurred with the internet. A good example is Time who has started to publish articles on a daily basis almost like NYTimes or CNN, however, it is interesting to note that Newsweek took a totally different approach from Time online. At the end of the day, it is up to the magazine publishers to know their readers, their target audience, and to distinguish themselves from newspapers, blogs and the other vast amount of content online. The ones who don’t know what their product is or who their target audience is will perish.

        As for the future, I believe that magazine content is here to stay. I think it’s very similar to the concept of books, audio books, and movies. A fictional story such as Harry Potter is told the same way via all three mediums, yet they each offer readers, listeners, movie-goers something unique and enjoyable that cannot be replicated.

        Lastly, I would like to make it clear that our mission is to help users find magazine content. Content is recommended based on ratings, if we risk the integrity of our rating system then users will not find our service as useful and convenient. It is in our best interest to maintain the integrity our rating system so we can recommend articles with the highest accuracy. Perhaps we will need to do a better job communicating to the users.

        Jian

        • @Jian,

          Thanks for taking the time to engage in a dialogue.

          There’s a lot happening in a very short time – one thing that comes to mind is the AP’s decision to apply DRM to their stories. This will soon be the same for magazine content, applied in such a way that your system would have to sync up with each publisher’s DRM so that a subscription with Maggwire would work across all titles.

          Tom makes a great point that there is a convergence happening. Newspapers were daily and magazines were monthly, but now they’re turning into one and the same. The physical object matters less than the content. Words are a different medium than audio, but a short blog post is still the same medium as a researched article. The only difference is that users apply a different kind of rating. Is it based on style, likablity, interestingness, or factuality?

          In that regard, why not open up the ratings system to peer-reviewed journals as well? Focusing on magazines is a great way to get started but ultimately that would be like an iTunes for only long songs.

          Best of luck with your recommendations algorithms – I’m a voracious reader and would definitely be able to use something like this. Thanks again for responding.