Print-On-Demand Magazine Covers


national_geographic_print-on-demandPrint-on-demand (p.o.d.) technology makes an impact with National Geographic’s Your Shot magazine cover (hat tip to Jeff B).  Yes, the technology has been around for over a decade, but the economies of scale of traditional magazine printing have always posed a cost challenge to p.o.d., even as that technology gets steadily better and cheaper every 6 months.  Meanwhile, the wealth of global user-generated content, especially in the form of photos, continues to grow exponentially.  So, National Geographic, a magazine renowned for its dramatic images from across the world, set out on this project 3 years ago, asking readers to submit their photos for publication. The editors then chose 100 out of over 150,000 submissions, and now will let readers/aspiring photographers put whatever they want on the cover. 

 Forget those fake hey-look-my-face-is-on-the-cover-of-SportsIllustrated/RollingStone/Playboy/etc services you find at tourist traps, this boat is real!  



TIME-Person-of-the-Year-2006Way back in the Year 2006, TIME Magazine did an analog version of this, by including a mirror on its Man Person of the Year  cover, as a tribute to the power of Web 2.0 user-generated content.

Social media means that it’s no longer about one person anymore. Whether it’s auditing the paid journalists and politicians, or re-writing the encyclopedia, we’re all making an impact on the world together. 

Alternately:  Social media means that it’s all about one person, and that one person is YOU.    Yes, anyone with a blog can get their 15 seconds of fame… but that fame will take place privately, in each person’s own home, because everyone else is too busy looking in the mirror, too. 

Here’s an idea: Forget print-on-demand technology. Heck, forget mirrors.  Just cut out a semi-circular section off the bottom of a magazine, so that readers can contemplate their own navels.  

 I kid, I kid.


Uhh, how come WIRED magazine never did anything like this with their cover??   Guys, seriously, enough with clogging your magazine content with movie/game/gadget ads…


About danspira

My blog is at: My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on July 27, 2009, in photography, Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Because Wired is lots of ads and little content, and all the good stuff is right there on their website. Wired would be one mag, I could see going the way of the dodo. The New Yorker, however, that’s a must read in paper format.

    • Amen, Brother SMG.

      New Yorker, with its great (if endless) articles, black diamonds, cartoons and intra-column doodle-bugs… paper-based, yes.

      WIRED had that whole funky-metallic-ink thing going in the early years… but now they are soooo expired.

      Of course, both ‘zines belong to the big Conde Nastey.

  2. if you are looking for submitting your articles , you can follow the link to get the top 50 article submission sites.

    Best wishes.

  3. manifestmagazine

    The future of the magazine and newspaper industry rests upon three key concepts:

    * print-on-demand publishing
    * distributed/ cloud-journalism
    * IP-based advertising

    This is what I mean by IP-based advertising:

    Consider two people downloading the same edition of “Manifest Magazine”; one is

    Heathrow Airport

    and the other is in

    Paris CDG airport.

    The server will recognize their IP address and therefore their location, and will deliver appropriate ads. In other words, do for newspapers and magazines what google has done to search.

    Ads will therefore be relevant to the respective locations, offering 3 books for 2 at Waterstones in Heathrow and a 10% discount to visit the Eifel Tower when downloading from CDG.

    Cloud journalism is already getting traction. The key, is to change the focus from the profession to the output; any article should be considered for printing no matter who writes it and be compensated accordingly.

    Wahyd Vannoni

    For more information visit:

    • Thanks for this comment, Wahyd — great stuff!

      Could you elaborate on the concept of “distributed” versus “cloud journalism?” Is this the same as the difference between “distributed computing” and “cloud computing?” If so, who are the Googles/Microsofts/Amazons/Salesforce-dot-coms of the “cloud journalism” market? I.E., is there (or could there be) an entity that “rents” out a journalism resources to other publications? Do the wire services (AP, AFP, etc.) and major press bureaus already serve this function? Will some dying newspapers/media networks morph into a kind of “cloud” of available journalists? What about the kinds of quasi-link-spam lists, made in the previous comment?

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