I’ve been reading quite a few magazines in the flesh recently. (I must say it’s a bit strange that I’ve reached the stage where I feel the need to distinguish between online and offline publications). In Wired UK, I noticed half-way into an article in the middle of the magazine, the names of a few people in a tiny-sized font right at the bottom of the page, which, judging by the arrows on either end of the line were part of a larger list. My curiosity aroused, I flipped around to find out where it began, and found it a few pages from the beginning in the same place. There was an element of discovery about the whole process, as if it was a secret thing meant to be read only by a select few.
I then got to thinking about how that couldn’t have happened if I was reading the same article on the internet. Amidst the hoo-ha about the death of publishing, the tactile nature of my experience made me feel as if there’s hope yet. The audience may be small – but it exists all the same. It’s why places like the Newspaper Club have come into existence.
Perhaps one way for a magazine or newspaper to succeed is to build a tribe around a unique value proposition that can only be accessed if you read a hard copy. The reward is membership to a unique club – like the Harry Potter Alliance, which is a real-life group that came together because of the fictional character. I’m sure those of us with the tiniest love of mystery will willingly succumb.