AnOther: The world’s first-ever digital and print issue

AnOther Magazine, PCH, Rihanna and Alexander McQueen have collaborated to bring the latest new technologies to the traditional magazine format. A stylish, limited-edition print magazine with a digital tabloid cover into which you can plug in your speakers or headphones, play/pause, scroll forward/backward and control the volume.

Limited to 1000 numbered editions, this novel magazine experience brings together the worlds of fashion, technology, publishing and music. An exclusive moving cover film captures pop pin-up Rihanna celebrating the fashion of Alexander McQueen shot by Inez and Vinoodh and styled by Katy England, with a specially created soundtrack compiled by John Gosling.

The magazine itself offers a look into the world of interactive publishing, combining visual and interactive elements of the tablet with the nostalgia of traditional media. Using its LED screen technology, users watch Rihanna’s two minute video clip as they might with any other streaming video content: plug in speakers to the control panel, press play, rewind or fast forward. Likely, you’ll also want to turn up the volume and repeat.

But is this more of a one-off showpiece than a prototype for the future?

From the primordial to the digital

Modern day publishing is in a state of transition, as the jump to digital has many scrambling to think of new and creative solutions to translate and transform their content for a busy and impatient readership. It is no surprise therefore, that as both print and digital evolve, we will be faced with a series of ‘evolutionary spin-offs’: experiments that seek to break barriers and push boundaries simply to make a statement and study the results. But this particular spin-off is an expensive dead-end.

That’s not to belittle the projects artistic and innovative qualities in any way, as this is truly an industry first. It is just difficult to imagine train station magazine stands and book stores of the future (the few that will remain) stacked with row upon row of moving image blocks. After all, as with all consumer-based industries, this is survival of the fittest, not survival of the fanciest. And, in publishing terms, fittest is commonly defined as something fast, reliable and inexpensive.

Priced at an eye-watering $125, this is not something for the average magazine consumer, but rather a luxury one-off purchase aimed at a more artistic and indulgent audience.

The value of hands-on experience

There is no denying that many readers enjoy the tactile experience of holding a book in their hands, turning the pages and reading it from cover to cover. To many, this remains a special and wholly sacred act in an otherwise digital-dominant world.

So, there is potentially an audience for this type of offering – a blending of the ‘sacred’ with the ‘modern’ – but will it be enough to get the ball rolling?

Given that publishers have yet to create an archetype for ‘the perfect digital cover’, it seems a little promethean to expect anything different for print. What AnOther has achieved may well be the first step on the road to a middle ground between the two polarised publishing camps.

No matter how you choose to spin it, one thing is certain: this digital and print fusion has broken new ground and could have a profound impact for luxury brand publishers in the future. Whether or not this idea will be picked up by the greater publishing community remains to be seen.

If I had to hazard a guess, I anticipate that video covers will remain, as the ‘Giant Panda’ of magazine formats. Quirky, stylish,  beautiful to behold, but in the long run, a flawed model for future reproduction.


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