I have been thinking quite a bit about eMagazines recently. I don’t own a Kindle, but have played around with one, and I’m not quite ready to go there yet. But having seen some mock-ups of e-readers that we might be using in the future, I’m excited. Not about books, mind, but about magazines.
I’m a huge fan of magazines. I think they highlight one of the key problems with the web. As a friend put it recently, ‘the web is never finished.’ If I’m looking at BBC Sport, for example, I can read a bunch of stuff… but then as soon as I navigate away, a certain reading anxiety forms: what if I’ve just missed a new story? What if something has just been added. So I go back. And keep having to go back. And it is never finished, and I never have the satisfaction of getting to the end.
With a magazine, there is this lovely sense of closure. An issue is produced as a finite entity. I can read it, re-read certain bits, flick through, think a while, and flick back. But all without the anxiety that something else is going to be added that month. I can relax with it, and let it breathe.
But magazines are expensive to produce, and most rely on loads of advertising (The Believer, one of the best things in my life, is an exception). This, I think, is all going to change with the advent of a good eMagazine reader. Full colour, fast, I think it’s going to precipitate a resurgence in fanzines and on-the-boundary issues-based publication. It’ll mean people can relax more, and read more of higher quality, without worrying about constant new flows of content. The ‘mag+’ conceptual piece is thus so exciting:
Just can’t wait, not because I think it’s a great-looking idea, but because I think it’ll represent a significant move in the way we interact with digital content, which in these uncontrollable, information-hosed times, is desperately needed.