Sky cools on UK’s most read magazines. But what does their closure mean for publishing?


Huge news this morning from Sky which has anounced that it is to massively cut its magazine output. The hero brand for customer publishing for many years now is to close Sky Sports Magazine and Sky Movies Magazine, which are each published every two months and have a combined circulation of nearly eight million copies, and reduce the distribution of its flagship Sky Magazine, which has an average circulation of 7.3 million copies, and its frequency from 12 issues per year to four.

The magazines will be replaced by email and reflects the company’s shift from print based promotion throught to digtial products. There is also some speculation that rising paper prices and the increased cost of postage might have forced the company’s hands.

Sky Magazine has been a poster publication for the customer publishing industry for many years now. It was produced by John Brown Publishing but is now put together in house. The Sky Movies mag is however produced externally by Future Publishing.

So where does this leave the customer publishing industry? Well while losing a flagship title is clearly a blow, the industry as a whole has never been stronger. February saw a host of new wins for agencies including some imaginative social media driven projects… You can read more about new projects here It seems that print projects are not dying, but are being used in a more strategic way. In some respects customer publishing agencies will probably be the last companies producing print magazines. They may have to deal with rising print and mail costs but a business model in which many of those costs are met by the brand is obviously a lot more robust than one in which the cost of magazine is met by advertising (on a downward spiral) and consumer purchasers (also struggling in many areas according to the latest ABCs).

So I don’t think that Sky’s decision will have a huge impact on the industry as a whole. The leading supermarket magazines are still posting very healthy figures and many brands still see print as the premium way of engaging with consumers. Sky’s magazines were always more vulnerable given their huge circulation and the fact they offered TV listings which are available in many other places.

There is also the emergence of digital opportunities for customer publishing agencies namely video content, iPad magazines, blogs as well as websites. It is these opportunities which are keeping my agency Sutro very busy indeed.

Better news for publishers – Google One Pass – but good luck charging for digital mags

As a publisher who has dabbled in digital magazines – go check out issue 1 of Pies mag it really is great – – I am cheered by Google’s One Pass system that was announced today.

In some respects I think that it will be very hard for publishers to charge for digital content no matter what format it is in. For me that horse bolted long ago and the future is all about other ways of funding content. However for the publishing industry there has to be a way of at least being able to charge sensibly for magazine content on tablet PCs and One Pass gives them that opportunity.

In many ways the system is a complete riposte to the system unveiled by Apple yesterday – check out Rob’s comparison piece here –… and good for Google in opting for this route.

The i’s UK Twitterati list – and the case of mistaken TechCrunch identity


Kudos to the i for having the foresight to enlist Peerindex to produce the list of the most influential British tweeters. Great to see some very good techy/media people on that list including Jemima Kiss, Rob Andrews, Oli Barrett and Paul ‘Gudio’ Staines as well as the usual slebs. Best of all is Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere sneaking in at 93 – his tweets are a fascinating insight into life at Emirates.

Also very amusing to see TechCrunch Europe’s Mike Butcher profile which says ‘he has vanished from the scene for a while after being on the receiving end of some aggressive behaviour in 2008, but has since returned to Twitter with considerable success.’ I don’t remember Mike disappearing, but I do recall TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington taking a bit of a break that year…

Do you remember when we laughed at the Americans and their embarassing mobile phones?


Well not any more

They have 4G, the big three smartphone OS systems and all the app makers you need.

We have a couple of manufacturers whose phones just ain’t sexy any more.

What a change from five years ago when 3G and texting were seen as state of the art by our pals across the pond.

Who Ate All The Pies mag now available as a free PDF download


The inaugural issue of the fantastic Who Ate All The Pies magazine is now available as a free download. You just pop over to Magcloud and choose the free digital edition. There’s an iPad version – which is even better if you have one – but you need to access the Magcloud store fromthe device.

It is also available as a printed version too from Magcloud.

It is excellent, trust us.

Magcloud becomes even more useful to indie publishers


Over the past few months I have been using Magcloud, the magazine self-publishing web service from HP, for both commercial and personal projects. We used it to print the first issue of the Who Ate All the Pies magazine (get yours here, and I have also used its turn a Flickr stream into a photo mag for family and friends.

For me Magcloud is a really great option for indie publishers. Overall the Pies experience with the service was good. We created the PDFs and uploaded them and within minutes we had orders for our print magazine and people downloading the iPad version.

I do think printed and tablet magazines offer a good opportunity to small publishers to take their brand away from being web only. It enables them to offer longer stories, create richer designs and generally engage in a different way with their fans. Magcloud is by no means the only option for producing magazines, especially tablet ones, but it has worked well so far.

So I am heartened to hear that the service has been upgraded to. One of its weaknesses was that it could only offer print and iPad versions. Now there are lot of people who won’t pay for a print product and who don’t have an iPad. So now that the company is offering the magazines in a digital, PDF version compatible with just about every electronic device I think it could make Magcloud even more useful.

Magcloud publishers will also have the choice of distributing their digital issues free-of-charge or at a cost. If opting for paid for digital issues, each publisher can set the selling price to whatever he sees fit as long as it is above the minimum requirement of $1.70% of all digital sales will go to the publisher. Alternatively publishers can opt for a print and digital bundle, which offers a paid print order and free digital issue.

As I mentioned earlier there are some interesting alternatives to Magcloud that I am currently exploring, but so far, for the quality of the print job, the ease of use and the fantastic option of print on demand I can heartily reccomend it.

Time to stop the great corporate Wireless rip-off – £60 a person you’re having a laugh


In an ideal world wireless internet should be free, and maybe when we get 4G networks it might be. Until then though it shouldn’t be stupidly expensive.

I have noticed though that there are some venues in London who are still charging ridiculous fees for Wi-Fi coverage. One place we looked at recently wanted to charge £60 per person for wi-fi at a conference. And this was an event full of people who wanted to tweet and and email about the proceedings.

This really is extortion, there’s no other word for it. How can they possibly charge so much for a service that should basically be free?

So £60 per person. Can anyone beat that?

Manchester council madness – newly refurbed pool gets chop


Yep, Levenshulme pool, which was refurbished in 2010, is a victim of the ConDem cuts, as is a pool at Miles Platting and three other leisure centres.

Manchester will also be waving goodbye to five libraries and lots of facilities for the young.…

So in an age with obesity hitting new levels, a council closes public pools.

Hopefully this is a bit of posturing by the city’s Labour Council to highlight how deep the cuts it has to make to hit the Con/Dem govt’s new funding levels are.

Sadly though I think it is the tip of a very big iceberg. During the 80s and 90s councils, under pressure from Tory govts more concerned with tax cuts for the wealthy, closed hundreds of pools – many of which were architecturally very significant. The end result was large urban areas with not enough pools and rising levels of obesity and fewer kids able to swim.

This is so utterly depressing