Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Concept toh interesting hai...

In my other role, the one as a journalist that is, I cover a lot of things but somehow and I guess this happened by accident rather than anything else - "You're the youngest, you MUST know about all these gadgets", I cover technology. Now, I'm no geek but I meet some pretty cool people along the way and one of them, last year was the head of Hewlett-Packard's printing division Vyomesh Joshi and he spoke about 'Print 2.0' which frankly was a very interesting concept.
But how, you must be asking, does all of this fit in with the media? Well, one aspect of Print 2.0 as articulated by Joshi was 'printing on demand' and the creation of technologies and systems that will allow you to take an incredibly small run of books or magazines. And according to this NYT article that system has begun in the US. basically, the idea is that anyone can start a small magazine, and then pay the company that does the printing just 20 cents a page. Now, that might still seem like far too much in India, a 10 page magazine would cost Rs 100.
But prices, historically, have always gone down right? And what is the biggest barrier towards starting your own newspaper or glossy magazine? The cost of printing, small runs were never possible and a small run of even a ten page glossy magazine on a traditional press would be extremely expensive, much more so than this MagCloud service. I doubt that MagCloud will ever replace the massive printing presses for high-circulation magazines but it could give the little guy a forum, and if costs come down, even if they get halved, a lot of people will be able to produce their own magazines. I wrote about the concept for a 'best of the web' self-printed paper that is doing the rounds in the US earlier, but these are all intriguing concepts.
The old medium isn't dead just yet, but it is evolving in strange ways.
PS: And I'm sure Pakistan is on his mind, but...

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