Thursday, December 14, 2006

Designing a magazine about magazine design

A little more than a year ago I expressed a wish that someone from the world of magazine design would begin blogging.
No one ever took up that call. At least as far as I know.
But perhaps the next-best thing is here.

In my mailbox yesterday I found a brochure for something called "FPO, the First Magazine for Magazine Creatives." A look at the marketing copy and a related Web site promises a quarterly publication that serves as "an enthusiast magazine for designers and editors who love their job and want to produce great work."

FPO (or For Publications Only) appears to be a print-only product for print-only designers. That's a bit of a disappointment to me. When I was wishing for a design blogger last year I said the ideal writer would be someone "
who knows both print and online design for our industry." The overlap between those two facets of publishing is enormous. And one of the complaints I hear most often from publishers and senior editorial staff is that the art department can't work on the Web. Sure, there are differences between designing for the page and designing for the screen. But there are similarities too. And the simple truth is that a graphic artist without basic Web skills is walking around with a fire-me-and-cut-costs sign on his head. (On a related note, check out this wish list of new hires for Web 2.0.)

At any rate, it's too early to tell if FPO will be an interesting publication. It's being produced by Auras Design, a Maryland-based company that designed such magazines as American Style. So it's a pretty good bet that the folks at FPO will know design. But that doesn't necessarily mean they'll know how to write, manage or market a magazine. So I think I'll wait a bit before I decide if I want to pay $44 to subscribe.
In the meantime, I'll keep hoping for that magazine design blog.

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  1. I'm sorry I no longer maintain my 'vaporzine' watch. I'll probably purchase a subscription for the office -- but only after I see the first issue. We're re-tooling for the new year and are considering adding some topical blogs -- association publishing, for example, is a topic we've considered. Maybe 'magazine design' could be another.

  2. Hi Rex,
    Thanks for the comment.
    As long as you're considering topics, I'd love to see a blog on magazine circulation too. Once again, I'd prefer if it was written by someone who understood both print and online -- someone who could write about both bingo cards and SEO.

  3. Hi Paul.

    Your comments gave me a "slap on the head" moment. OF COURSE there should be something in FPO about magazines and the way they translate their branding and franchise content to their web sites. I may be getting "print-centric" in my old age. I would welcome any comments or suggestions from anyone who is interested in pointing me to excellent magazine web sites so we can include them in each issue, as well as writers on the topic that could form the basis of a regular column.

  4. Hi Rob,
    Thanks for your comment.
    I'm glad to hear you guys are open to some less print-centered content. That's fabulous news.
    If I run into an appropriate writer for a column, I'll let you know.
    In the meantime ... anyone out there think they have the knowledge and the writing skills to work with Rob and the rest of the FPO team?

  5. Hey Paul, I just ran across this blog and thought of this thread. Haven't dug in much, but it seems to be focused on the topic of magazine design -- from the employee of a London based company with a U.S. presence.

  6. Hi Rex,
    Cool. It just earned a spot in my newsreader.