Blurb Stories: A Journey into the World of Indie Publishing

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Independent (indəˈpendənt) adj: Not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself

As self-publishers, you are the definition of independent. You believe in what you do, and it shows in the beautiful work, magazines and books you create and produce everyday with MagCloud. We, too, support your independent creations and want you to remain inspired. Our friends at Blurb share this same mentality.

In fact, Blurb launched a blog completely devoted to navigating the world of indie publishing. From marketing tips to authorpreneur profiles, Blurb Stories is an ever-expanding collection of inspiring, informational, and instructional articles exploring the world of self-publishing – everything from ideation to publication to promotion. Each and every week they’ll bring you stories to help you create, publish, and promote your work—so be sure to subscribe!

Here’s a quick peek at some of our recent favorites:

  • Food photography, elevated: An interview with Paul Lowe of Sweet Paul magazine and photographer Colin Cooke: Sweet Paulis a gorgeous magazine full of inspiration, creativity, and, very importantly, incredible food photography. Read on to get the inside scoop from Paul and his friend, professional food photographer Colin Cooke on how to create beautiful food photos…READ MORE
  • Why you need to think about marketing now: While you will certainly spend a lot of time marketing your book after it’s released, if you haven’t done the initial groundwork, it will be harder than it needs to be. If you’ve just started a project, or better yet, have a seed of a book idea, now’s the time to start thinking about your marketing. Here are five ways you can get started… READ MORE
  • Taking ebooks to town (or the country): An interview with Jeff Front: Celebrating the digital book in all its most wonderful forms, we bring you our one-on-one with artist Jeff Frost. A few things to know about Jeff: His camera bag contains as many motors as it does lenses, he has an impish sense of humor, and his mohawk looks like it could inflict some serious harm… READ MORE
  • Singing the Magazine Eclectic: An interview with Anniina Mäkelä: Eclectic Magazine caught our eye for exactly the reasons its creators undoubtedly wanted it to—sharp imagery, incredible styling, and diversity of look. We were lucky enough to have a chance to speak with Digital Content Editor Anniina Mäkelä about the magazine, what it’s like working with a truly international fashion team, and what’s next for print magazines, fashion, and art… READ MORE

Enjoy and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything!

Embrace Your Summer Wanderlust

Whether you’re planning a scenic vacation, a wild outdoor expedition or a weekend staycation this summer, the travel bug seems to always bite us during the warmer months of the year. If you’re at a loss for inspiration, look no further. You can find plenty of great magazines to awaken your travel desires, plan your itinerary, or inspire you to create a lasting remembrance of that epic adventure once returning home. If you aren’t embarking on a trek across different countries throughout the world, or if you’re just new to camping and the outdoor lifestyle, you can always kick back and appreciate these destinations from afar.

In an homage to our own summer travel desires, enjoy a few of our favorite camping and nature-inspired publications:

  • Overland Sourcebook (2013) – Created by the Overland Expo team as a 60-page listing for all things adventure – vehicles, motorcycles, accessories, camping equipment, services, information, trip planning, business consultants, fabricators, and much more.
  • A Camp on Plum Lake – Early to middle 20th century photography, this book is a history of one of the nation’s oldest summer camps in North Wisconsin, curated by Tim Bachmann.
  • Outdoor Solitude – Adventures into the mountains of British Columbia, Canada chronicles trips from the trailhead to the tranquility of relatively untouched areas of nature.

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Image via Fab and Frugal

New Year’s Resolutions

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While we will always look back at 2012 with a smile thanks to our great MagCloud community and lots of cool new products and innovations, we are super excited about what 2013 will offer.

Here are a few 2013 resolutions from the MagCloud team:

  • Provide more ways to create MagCloud publications with new web based authoring tools and templates to make creating publications a snap.
  • Allow others to build applications and services on top of MagCloud, so they can tap into our printing and publishing and global distribution capabilities without having to reinvent the wheel.
  • Introduce MagCloud subscriptions, making it easier for returning readers to get new editions of their favorite publications.
  • Enhanced support for frequent MagCloud customers.
  • More ways to discover and purchase publications via the web and our MagCloud iPad app.
  • Introduce Perfect-Binding options for our Large Square and Tabloid products.

These are just a few of the things we have in mind.  Let us know what you think in the comments section below or share some of your own publishing related resolutions with us.

View MagCloud Publications in Your Web Browser

Today we are excited to announce a new web-based viewer that enables publishers to bring stunning versions of their publications to life in any modern web browser on both desktop and mobile computers.

Now publishers can upload a single PDF file and immediately distribute as a free or paid digital publication, in print, in a web browser, via the MagCloud iPad app or as a PDF download.

The web viewer delivers an immersive reading experience for users. Simply click the “read now” button and the publication launches within the web viewer. Readers can page forward and back, rotate, zoom in and out, and enter full-screen mode. Pages can be viewed individually or as a spread, and are easily navigated with thumbnail and all-pages views. Additionally, users can buy a printed copy, download a PDF version or add to their Digital Library for viewing later or in the MagCloud iPad app.

The web viewer supports all HP MagCloud publications, regardless of format, on any desktop or notebook computer running a modern web browser.

The web viewer technology also offers hyperlink support, benefiting publishers and users by allowing you to link from your catalog of products back to an ecommerce site, link directly to advertisers’ web pages, allow customers to draft emails to an address listed in your brochure just by clicking on it or provide information about the author.

Publishers can also monitor how well their readers engage with their online publications via the Stats section in their account.  You can see important web viewer reading information including the number of total readers, how often your publication was read, pageviews, shares, hyperlinks clicked, click through rates etc. for all your collections or a single publication.

Publishers and readers can promote their favorite publications by sharing publications they like with friends and colleagues via email or social media channels or embedding a badge or link that launches  the web viewer directly from their own website or blog.

All publishers who currently have digital distribution turned on for their publications will automatically have web viewer versions available on the MagCloud website. To turn digital distribution on simply select Sell Online (after uploading your PDF and selecting your binding). This is where you will add any markup to your print version, and will have the option to opt-in to digital distribution.  Opting-in to digital distribution is a one time setting that instantly gives readers digital access via the web viewer, iPad app and PDF download.

What do you think of the new MagCloud web viewer?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Print and Digital: A Winning Combination

Print vs. digital has long been hotly debated. Recently, we’ve seen several experts weighing in on the topic, arguing that print and digital can coexist and will in fact strengthen a brand when used together. Of course, we’ve always known this at HP MagCloud (check out our Jan. 5 blog post), and we are thrilled when other people realize it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. The challenge is finding the right medium to use to tell your unique story, so that it’s heard and understood by your audience.

So what are people saying? Novelist Dave Eggers in the Guardian said, “It’s our admittedly unorthodox opinion that the two can co-exist, and in fact should co-exist. … But they need to do different things. To survive, the newspaper, and the physical book, needs to set itself apart from the web. Physical forms of the written word need to offer a clear and different experience. And if they do, we believe, they will survive.”

When should you choose digital? “For news, facts and information, let’s tell stories as they unfold: a tweet here, an update there, a database, a video clip, a timeline, a slideshow, a conversation, a list. Let’s master the tools of digital storytelling and learn to match our tools and techniques to the circumstances,” stated digital guru Steve Buttry on Poynter.org.

What about print? “Let’s respect the pure, traditional story – the narrative string of paragraphs – by reserving that form for real stories,” Buttry added.

We’re fortunate to live in a world where we have both options.

In telling your story, you’ll want to rise above the chatter. It’s a good idea to participate in the online conversation by using Facebook, Twitter, email newsletters and more to share what’s happening in the moment. You’re demonstrating your knowledge about your industry and connecting in a more immediate way with your audience.

Meanwhile, a print publication showcases your photographs and carefully crafted story to an audience who wants to linger over and slowly digest your content. No matter how great digital content is, readers can stash magazines in their purses, dog-ear the pages and tear out their favorite articles. Quoting The Economist (June 9 issue): “As long as there are coffee tables, people will want things to put on them.” The high quality of print makes you proud to display your work to clients, and likewise, your clients will be happy to share your magazine with people they bump into.

HP MagCloud provides both print and digital offerings because different stories beg to be told in different ways. Plus, you might reach new readers who prefer to read content on their iPad or smartphone. We realize there is much to consider, and one of the main deterrents of print is the expense and complexity. With HP MagCloud, it costs only 20 cents per page for Standard and Square products, there are no upfront costs and everything can be done via our website with a few clicks of the mouse. So a small business on a tight budget can afford to self-publish their content.

For a small business, blending print and digital elements into your marketing is a win-win. Does your business plan include both digital and print? If not, here’s your chance to consider both.