To be honest I was never much of a Word Magazine reader. Still I am very sad that the publishers have now called it a day.
As David Hepworth said this morning
‘In the nine years since the magazine launched there have been dramatic changes in the media and the music business. These changes have made it more difficult for a small independent magazine to survive and provide its staff with a living. This hasn’t been made any easier by the economic climate of the wider world.’
I do wonder however if there is an alternative business model for the magazine and that is to ape the brilliant football magazine Blizzard – http://www.theblizzard.co.uk/
As far as I can work out people bought The Word for two reasons. Firstly it appealed to magazine die-hards who love the feel, the design and the grammar of magazines. These people probably curse the day the web arrived and never got over the death of The Face.
There are however readers who love the magazine for its long-tail content. the essays, extended interviews and more that just doesn’t really work online. And for these people the Blizzard type concept would work a treat.
Basically Blizzard publishes a magazine style ebook on the Kindle, iBook and print on demand formats every few months. The features tend to be serious, intelligent, and occasionally downright pretentious dissections of the beautiful game, If you want to read why brilliant historian Dominic Sandbrook thinks that Revie era Leeds had much in common with Nixon’s US presidency this is the place to go.
The subs are cheap, or you can pay for what you want. There is minimal design and no images – it is all about the words. I guess that Blizard isn’t making enough money to sustain a traditional publishing team, and it probably never will, but with an editor, freelancers and a web team on board, it has the potential to one day make some serious money.
It is early days for this type of magazine ebook concept. An ebook I was involved with – The London Project – recently launched and has been a big success in its free iBooks/iPad format. Once again it mostly features longer essays about London (the capital’s disappearing villages, The dark side of the Holloway Road etc) with galleries, maps and video used as footnotes. It is available here http://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/the-london-project/id536879753?mt=11
The London Project is at the start of its journey, and Blizzard has only been around a year or to. As for The Word, it is a brand that men of advancing years (coughs) is very loyal to. There’s an opportunity there somewhere.