The Future Of Magazines… Is Print? From Home?

While newspapers are the subject of much of the negative speculations about the future of jounalism, their print cousin the magazine hasn’t exactly marched into the 21st Century unscathed and as popular as ever. It’s expected, therefore, to learn about new initiatives to spread magazine content to new continents or new platforms — anything to reach new readers or reach existing readers in new ways. I get how the iPad or Newsstand. But I didn’t see this one coming.

Condé Nast and HP announced they’re going to partner on a project that will let readers skip the mailing lag and print their own magazines on demand — from their home printers:

The Condé Nast pilot program will feature print-to-home services for subscribers to schedule the delivery of content from their favorite brands – such as Allure, Details, Epicurious, Glamour, Golf Digest, Self, and Wired – directly to their personal printers. … With scheduled delivery to HP web-connected printers using HP print tools, publishers can reach readers more frequently than with print magazines and more tangibly than via email.

While the magazine publisher will deliver the content, the printer maker (speaking of technologies that haven’t gracefully entered the 21st Century) will also offer a subscription to its HP Instant Ink — which will be shipped to you for just $5.99 to $10.99 per month, depending on the product. Apparently, at least in the beginning, the content will be free, but printer ink is notoriously expensive, and even if your monthly ink subscription comes in around the price of one to two lattes, that’s still more than full newsstand price for many of these titles. And you won’t get the fun of glossy pages and perfect binding.

As both a magazine writer and subscriber (to about a half dozen titles, including some CN titles), and the owner of two unused printers (including an HP), I have to admit some skepticism for the initiative. I suppose the good news is the publisher is willing to try different tacks to reach its audience, even if those tacks seem wildly off course.

Your turn: What do you think? Would you print a magazine from home? Is this a savvy or silly idea?