Good News for Digital Magazines

December 3rd, 2008

The last full-time job I had was in the late 1980s at a Toronto-based company called McCutcheon Graphics. It’s where I gained the knowledge that allowed me to later set out on my own as a consultant and publishing industry analyst.

The president of the company, John McCutcheon, was a one-of-a-kind businessman (now retired). I learned a great deal from him. One of his adages was: “Don’t approach me with a problem unless you’ve already got a suggested solution.” The solution wasn’t necessarily the one eventually put into place, but it changed the whole corporate culture of the company from a place where you could just rag about co-workers, policies, and everything else. You had to be thinking of solutions that could move things forward.

Every Monday morning when John showed up for work he’d rub his hands together and ask his secretary, “Where’s the Good News Report?” The company had numerous regional offices, and the Good News Report gave John a summary of the previous week’s business: sales, expenses, returns, and unusual items.

I loved it that John had dubbed this weekly summary The Good News Report. It set a tone for the business…things were always moving forward, and the news was all good (even when it wasn’t).

I can’t think of writing another blog that could only be called The Bad News Report. We’re all reading or viewing those reports daily in just about every medium there is.

I want to read a Good News Report!

Here it goes. Go to the site of issuu.

What a breath of fresh air! Digital publishing done right. I’ve covered the concept of new digital magazine formats in my article on magazines. They’re fast gaining in popularity, but it’s my impression that these services are too expensive for the average small publisher.

issuu solves the problem in a manner that does credit to what the Web does best. First of all it’s free. Lots of sites offer “free” but usually free comes with so many strings attached that you need to subscribe to the paid service to actually get what you want; what you need. Not on issuu. Upload your publication, whether it’s a magazine, a book, or a single sheet, and it’s immediately available for all to see. OK, there are some ads (and will probably be more soon), but they’re not obtrusive; they don’t ruin the user experience. Here are my uploads thus far on issuu (you’ll need to register). Click on one of them, and you’ll find some excellent Flash-enabled technology that makes it simple and pleasurable to peruse the content. Try it yourself: the process couldn’t be easier.

Just as exciting is the range of content available on the site. Check out the catalog of publications. What a refreshingly eclectic mix, rather than the same old stuff you find everywhere else. The top publications attract hundreds of thousands of views, but don’t go by popularity alone. You can delve into a range of subjects, and I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the unusual publications you’ll uncover.

Of course there’s a paid version of the service available for those who want to access the technology but keep their publications on their own Websites. I’d say that the pricing is very reasonable.

So there you have today’s Good New Report. Enjoy!