The Last Magazine You’ll Ever Buy

By Dean Stattmann

As I mentioned on Twitter earlier this week, it’s looking more and more like the magazine of the (near) future will find its home on a tablet.

Apple’s highly-anticipated tablet is on the way, and Sports Illustrated has already unveiled its own prototype.

As a recent j-school grad looking to make it in magazines, this is obviously great news. I.e. The need for trained journalists will outlive the crumbling print industry.

Every day, newspapers are inching closer to successfully shifting their products online (of course, revenue is still a problem), and I see more people with Amazon’s Kindle every time I step into the NYC subway. But magazines, I feel, are more complicated. You don’t buy a magazine to obtain a piece of information like, say, a sporting event result. And you don’t buy a magazine to find out if the girl and the pasty vampire guy get it on in the last five pages (It’s a generic example people, relax. No spoilers here). A magazine is an experience. You buy it for the cover. For the features. For the photography. You buy it because it looks good in your apartment.

Looking back on how technology has progressed… Ok that’s really broad. let’s look at the cellular phone. Since the first cell phone, it has always been about how to cram the most features into the smallest space. First we could call. Then we could text. Today you can hold your phone up to a speaker and have it tell you what song is playing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day, it’s all designed to help you. But sometimes, too much “stuff” can ruin the very experience that companies try to create. Just look at Windows Vista.

News sites are making the same mistake. I love the New York Times. Is it because NYU made me bring a copy to every journalism class I ever attended? No. I enjoy its broad scope and the quality of the writing. I feel smarter after reading it. That’s all. So when I go to, that’s what I expect. Is that what I get? Not exactly.

“Welcome to Times People!” Huh?

“Try Times Reader 2.0!” What?

“SHARE” No, Thanks.

“Related: Google in Talks to Buy Yelp” Really? That sounds interesting, *click*

Wait, what was I here to read again?

This is not how I think a newspaper should be experienced. And I don’t think that I’m old-fashioned for saying that.

This is the fate I fear tomorrow’s magazine could inherit. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who recognizes this potential disaster. The good people at Berg London, working together with Pop Sci publisher Bonnier R&D, are already working towards making sure that the magazine remains the unique experience that it is today, and their ideas are mind-blowing.

Check out the Mag+ concept:

Title graphic by Dean Stattmann

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