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Sept. 29, 2009, 11 a.m.

Publishing a magazine in 31.5 hours

Derek Powazek — one of the earliest thinkers about building community around websites — has written a post about the day-and-a-half turnaround time he had to produce a one-off magazine called Strange Light.

The magazine’s subject is that amazing and gorgeous duststorm that hit eastern Australia last week. From the idea to the final product — which featured 54 photos of the storm, each use with the permission of its photographer — took less than two days.

News organizations have, over the years, gotten pretty good at quick-turnaround books; I’m thinking of the sort of thing that papers put out when the local team wins a Super Bowl. But those still require a lot of advance planning and the work of a lot of staffers. Derek’s post is a reminder that, with today’s digital production tools and advances in small-batch printing, one person can assemble a high-quality print product in hours.

Derek produced Strange Light using MagCloud, an HP project he’s been involved in. I’ve written before about how Time Inc. is experimenting with customized single-copy magazine runs. At the book level, I’ve used Lulu to print two different paperback books — each with a print run of one — and I’ve been happy with the final product. Whatever the vendor, small-batch niche publishing doesn’t have to be solely an online affair; it can live on paper too.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email (joshua_benton@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     Sept. 29, 2009, 11 a.m.
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