Low-Cost Magazine Publishing On Demand

Website & Technology March 03, 2009

Lori Halley

By Lori Halley

Flying quietly under the Hewlett-Packard umbrella, MagCloud is a new online service that helps groups and individuals to publish their own magazines. These are “real” magazines, professionally printed and physically mailed to single-issue buyers and/or subscribers in the US, Canada, and the UK.

It's an affordable way for even the smallest non-profit to publish a magazine — printing and mailing costs are covered by the readers — and print-on-demand technology means that no paper (or money) will be wasted on printing copies that might not be sold. 

magcloud.com All you have to do is upload a PDF and we’ll take care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management, and more.

If you’ve got a tame graphic designer among your volunteers, creating a really slick and professional magazine for your non-profit is well within reach. And for the rest of us — publishing guidelines and MS Word templates are provided.

What does it cost to print your own magazine?

The cost of your issue to end users will be the production cost, plus shipping, plus your own publisher markup (if you specified one). MagCloud will pay you the markup for each copy that is purchased. Production cost is currently $0.20 per page, and during Beta the shipping and handling is a fixed $1.40 per copy (USPS first class mail).

Printing proofs are free (you pay the cost of shipping) while MagCloud is still in beta, so you can check your publication before turning it loose on the public.

In short, the costs are very modest — and may even be subsidized by advertising, if you want to round up some sponsors. In any case, the out-of-pocket expenses are limited to the design of the publication, as your readers pay for every magazine they order.

model railroad hobby magazineTurn-around time?

Magazines (and proofs) will normally be printed and mailed within 2 business days of your order, MagCloud says, with the actual time for delivery in the hands ofthe post office.

How do you let people know about your magazine?

Each publisher gets a profile page on the MagCloud site, with an RSS feed so readers can easily choose to be notified when a new issue comes out, and a preview of each issue can be viewed online before placing an order. (Have a look at RAILBRICKS, for example — the MagCloud version of railbricks.com, an online e-magazine for LEGO®-built model train hobbyists.)

A “Share This” feature lets you and your supporters spread the word about your magazine by email and social media, and you can even issue a “guest pass” to invite selected people to view a private or unpublished magazine — useful for getting approval from the rest of a committee before hitting the “Publish” button!

Don’t take the term “magazine” too literally —

What MagCloud offers is another way to reach people who are unable or unwilling to read long-form text on the computer screen, or for those real-world situations where nothing but print will do — another way to connect your online and offline activities. 

If you’re producing a document in PDF format anyway — a newsletter, a white paper or special report — would it make sense to go the extra inch, and offer a printed version as an alternative to the digital download?

How about publishing a catalog of your fundraising merchandise? A keepsake for a retirement dinner? A technical manual, or procedural guidelines for new staff?  A collection of schoolchildren’s writing about your cause? A conference program? Your membership directory? A policy statement to present to the folks down at City Hall? 

Browse the recent MagCloud publications for more ideas…

How might your organization use a print-on-demand magazine to advance your cause?

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.


  • Mitchell Allen:

    This is a cool idea for organizations that already have a great PDF periodical.

    For others, once they focus on the benefits of printed periodicals, they should work to build a decent publication.

    Thanks for sharing this resource!



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