HP’s MagCloud print-on-demand magazine-publishing service can have many uses for photographers. Learn more about it, and you’ll see what I mean.
MagCloud does one thing and one thing only: It prints 8.25 x 10.75 inch magazines from your supplied artwork. You design the whole publication, using software such as Adobe InDesign and provide a PDF. After you approve the proof, you can make it available to others either as a printed copy or digital version that can be read on an iPad or any device that supports PDFs.
You can publish everything from your own periodical to one-off publications that you can sell directly to your clients.
HP has been at the forefront of print-on-demand printing for many years. HP Indigo digital presses are widely used in photo-book publishing and the large HP Inkjet Web Presses are bringing digital-printing processes to printing companies of all sizes.
MagCloud uses HP’s print-on-demand capabilities to enable magazines to be printed in small runs or as single copies as needed. The MagCloud service is being used by enterprising individuals as well as traditional magazine publishers who want to make it easy for their readers to order back issues.
How It Works
Because all pages are full bleed (you can run images off the edge of the page), you actually supply a file with your page sized to 8.5 x 11 inches.
Images are best in RGB with attached profiles, but can be supplied in CMYK. Images should be downsized to 300 dpi.
After you have submitted your magazine as a PDF and approved the proof, you can release it for sale at a mark-up over the production cost if you want.
But you don’t have to make it available for sale. This opens up real possibilities for you as a photographer. You can also choose to make it available as a digital download that can be viewed on any computer that handles PDFs or on a MagCloud iPad app (currently only free magazines can be obtained through the app). Again, this is optional.
Pricing is reasonable. Cost per page is 20 cents US, with $1 extra per copy if you want perfect binding instead of saddle stitching. Perfect binding is the glued, square spine (like a paperback book) that can be used with publications that have 20 to 384 pages. Saddle stitching refers to a type of stapling and can be used with magazines between 4 and 100 pages.
If you order 20 or more copies of your magazine at once, you will receive a production cost discount of 25%.
Print quality is excellent. If you want to see the quality for yourself, buy a few of the many different magazines currently offered on the MagCloud website.
At present there is no choice in terms of paper stock. All magazines use a semi-gloss stock. On stapled magazines the cover is printed on the same stock as the inside pages.
Short issues (up to 16 pages) are printed on 100-pound text stock. Medium-length issues (20 to 60 pages) are printed on 80-pound text stock. Long issues (64 to 100 pages) are printed on 60-pound text stock.
For perfect bound magazines, the cover is printed on 80-pound cover stock and the interior pages are printed on 80-pound text stock.
Once an issue is printed, MagCloud can handle the fulfillment for you, shipping the copies direct to the customer.
Potential Uses for Photographers
As a photographer, you should be thinking about ways to exploit this new capability. I can think of a number of things you might try:
- Personalised magazine presentation of wedding and portrait shoots.
- Fake magazine as a promotional item.
- An inexpensive profile book to send to clients and potential clients.
- A gallery catalog to accompany an exhibition, either as a sold item or a giveaway.
- A personal record of a shoot, vacation, or body of photographic work.
- Magazines for youth sport, school sport or high-school seniors.
Basically anything that presents your images in a way that excites your customers or potential customers is a great idea. Because MagCloud works from PDF, you are free to use the software of your choice in putting it together. This means you could easily produce a template file in InDesign or Publisher and then just drop images and relevant text into place, speeding the whole process up from job to job.
Photographers should be aware that MagCloud has some guidelines related to photographs of nudes. No genitals allowed.
When I asked their support people for clarification, here is the extra guidance I received: Full nudes are generally OK if no pubic hair shows (sometimes a little is OK, as long as it is an artsy concept). Breasts (including nipples) and butts are OK. Open leg shots or sex acts are not permitted. MagCloud screeners make the final determination of what is acceptable.
The MagCloud website does have a restricted section where one can get away with a little more. So if you shoot nudes, check out some of the “men’s” titles in the restricted section to get an idea of what they have published for others. They are continuing to work on this issue, as there are huge variations in what is acceptable from one country to another.
The MagCloud service is so easy to use that you should give it a go. I’m launching a print version of Digital Imagemaker later in the year using MagCloud as an alternative to the iPad edition