9 things I’ve learned about magazines from blogging


As people who read this blog know, a regular topic I write about is the magazine industry. That should make sense, as Hammock Inc. publishes magazines for several associations and corporate clients.

For their August issue, the business-to-business magazine Publishing Executive invited me to write a guest column about things I may have learned about magazines from nearly a decade of blogging.

As most of what one reads about magazines and blogs tends to place the two media in adversarial roles, what I wrote for the magazine may surprise you.

Here are nine things I’ve learned about magazines from blogging. The full column, which explains what I mean with each point, can be found on the magazine’s website:

1. Magazines and blogs are made for each other.
2. People in the magazine industry are consistently inarticulate in their attempts to describe the qualities of the magazine format.
3. No one will ever collect NationalGeographic.com.
4. The people who say print is dead don’t actually mean print is dead.
5. Successful magazines succeed for three reasons: a passionate niche, they are required reading for that niche, great design.
6. More magazines play a role in a non-publishing business model than in a publishing business model.
7. A digital magazine will never replace a printed magazine.
8. The magazine format can contain content that is “journalism” or it can contain content that’s anything but journalism.
9. Make lists end on a random number other than 10.

Again, some of these won’t make sense without reading the entire column.

Later: By auditioning a link to this column on Twitter, I’ve discovered that some people really like #3, which is a short version of my description of the common-sense observation that a physical magazine is not a digital website, and therefore, the two platforms that share the same brand should be and are different.

3. No one will ever collect NationalGeographic.com: OK, here is my suggestion to those in the magazine industry who haven’t figured out how to compare magazines with the Web (see point #2). The magazines we love are not merely things we read and enjoy; they are expressions of who we are. We display them on coffee tables and desks the way people wear designer labels on clothes or purchase one model of car over another. People collect magazines, trade them and display them on decorative racks or in frames hung on the wall. Magazines provide us with mementos of our life’s journey. They allow us to savor our passions and save special moments. The magazines we love are so important to us, they make us feel guilty to consider throwing them away. The Web is a wonderful thing when you want to drink information from a fire hose. But the magazines people love are like bottles of fine wine: Even if you have to wait a little before opening it, there’s something a bit exciting about the anticipation.

Dear Nissan USA, My offer still stands


The Nissan LEAF battery powered vehicle.

Today, Nissan unveiled its all electric vehicle (EV) that it is branding the Nissan LEAF. The battery-powered car (this is not a hybrid) will have a fully charged range of 100 miles. While the car and battery will eventually be manufactured in the Nashville area, the first LEAFs available in the US was be imported from Japan starting late in 2010. (Nissan USA has its headquarters and major manufacturing facilities in the Nashville area.)

As close readers of this blog know, on July 12, I wrote here that I would like to purchase one of these vehicles when they are available in the U.S. As the company has already announced that Tennessee will be among the first U.S. locations where the car will roll out, I am continuing today with my campaign to let this blog be among the first non-automotive media to cover the vehicle. And just to reiterate what I wrote last month, this is not a request to try out the car or get any type of sponsorship. I want to purchase the car. My only request is that I be allowed to purchase one of the first production units for sale in the U.S. I would also like to, at my own expense, travel to Japan to see the first Nissan EVs roll off the assembly line. As of yet, no one from Nissan has contacted me.

First comment: I will use the car for work-related city driving that will average around 15 miles per day. The model I purchase won’t be the color of the model above, although it might appeal to some other Tennessee Titans fans.

Other coverage:

Businessweek: The Auto Beat blog

Rueters: Nissan unveils zero-emission hatchback “Leaf”

The Auto Blog: 2010 Nissan Leaf electric car: In person, in depth — and U.S. bound