I couldn’t ignore this story in the NY Times yesterday about a new magazine printing service that Hewlett Packard has launched charging a mere 20 cents per page for full-color magazine printing—with no minimum order. The service, called MagCloud, appears to be targeting narrow, niche markets that would not otherwise be able to afford to produce a printed publication. Customers simply upload a PDF to the MagCloud server and HP fulfills individual orders to the end reader directly as they come in.
I find myself at once excited by the possibilities this could offer for small-scale self publishing and content development, and bristling at the thought of the designer-less garbage that will likely be churned out by MagCloud. I liken this to the reaction many of us had with the advent of desktop publishing back in the early 1990’s, “oh sure, now even the secretary will think she’s a graphic designer.”
Of course, I also have a twinge of sympathy for our cousins in the printing industry (remember them?) whose heads must be spinning every time the game changes in their industry.
In the end I come down on the side of opportunity: smart designers will always find a way to take advantage of a great new service like this by using it in an innovative way…rather than just griping about it.
If you’ve tried MagCloud, please chime in. I’d love to get an assessment of the print quality (cringe).