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Is the Magazine Dead?

At Wikia we are announcing this week the launch of HP MagCloud print-on-demand for Wikia users. The concept here is simple but powerful: let communities create magazines from their work seamlessly.

We have no idea how popular this is going to be at first, but I see the potential for a huge future here.

Recently, Conde Nast announced the closure of Gourmet Magazine. What happened there? It’s really very very simple: the traditional magazine has not kept pace with the needs of readers or advertisers. It isn’t that reading is going out of style – quite the opposite. It isn’t that people don’t care about quality – quite the opposite. The death of the traditional magazine has come about because people are demanding more information, of better quality, and faster.

Take a look at the web traffic rankings (according to Quantcast) of Gourmet Magazine’s site and Wikia’s recipes site.

October 21st Quantcast rank for Gourmet Magazine

October 21st Quantcast rank for Gourmet Magazine

October 21st Quantcast rank for recipes.wikia.com

October 21st Quantcast rank for recipes.wikia.com

How did this happen? How did a Recipes wiki become more popular than one of the most famous food magazines?

It’s because Gourmet offered a handful of recipes and articles per month, while Recipes offers literally thoughts of recipes on-demand anytime anyone wants.

But there still *is* value in the paper form-factor and there still *is* value in carefully selected “best of” content, delivered on a per-issue or subscription basis: and that’s where the MagCloud/Wikia partnership comes in.

Communities can now produce print magazines of higher quality, and of a more timely and customized nature than traditional print magazines can. YOU can publish your own cooking magazine or cookbook on Wikia. (Make one for your family, with all your great grandmother’s favorite recipes?)

I predict that this could end up having a huge impact on dozens of titles.  How soon will car magazines be replaced by our auto wikis?

I’d like to hire the former publisher of Gourmet Magazine – and the publishers of many more magazines, because I think they will be valuable assets at a company which knows where the world is heading.

It won’t happen overnight.  But the growth of Wikia appears to be on a trajectory as overwhelming and consistent as what Wikipedia experienced.

As Clay Shirky put it in the title of his book, “Here Comes Everybody”.

7 comments on “Is the Magazine Dead?

  1. This is exciting and I think I completely agree…
    Am launching a little magazine myself about enhancing the everyday, a little happiness companion called ‘Spoonful’ (TM).

    Perhaps I should consider Wikia…

    thea.

    (www.forthevisionaries.tumblr.com)

  2. The increase in use of online resources has definitely killed traditional media but in so doing has it killed the communities that were built around traditional media? I think so, but i think wikipedia could remidie the situation by devising a way (navigator) to synthesize the community forming nature of facebook and myspace with the relevant facts individuals believe in, that are hidden within it’s pages.

    Such a navigator would only work if it allowed anonymous users to be associated by data that they would mark as significant. If people are associated together by their work ethic, their interests and by what they find significance in history and culture they are more likely to produce quality independent publication that would enrich both wikia and their own communities.
    Does Wikipedia have anything like this?

    • I agree in principle with Novyharris and Suzy; Wikipedia is a vital part of making a village and. equally, a global network of education and ideas. Wait, I think I have it: launch another part of Wiki and call it, say, Wikihumana, where I can post something of alleged significance, candled by entries that would be important to the interests of the community and the education at large of our global existence for the good of scientific and spiritual health.

  3. Jimmy,

    Thanks for making Wikipedia. It was brilliant.

    But “Here comes everybody” has already become “there went everybody”. Years ago I used to make little edits here and there on Wikipedia (everyone knows something about some things, right?). I’m proud that some of my edits, some in the lead paragraphs of major articles, in many cases still stand.

    Those days are gone. The last few times I’ve tried to edit an article, and even comment on discussion pages, my edits have been removed by the owners of the article. I say “owners”, because that is what they are.

    The problem is that the rulebook has metastasized to the point that editors who are half lawyer and half dungeon-master have their pick of rules to quote when removing items that, if the truth were acknowledged, they just don’t like in their little garden.

    Until this problem is fixed, you will see the flight of the good-willed generalist, and Wikipedia will continue to descend toward the viewpoints of the more dogged and doctrinaire.

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