02-11-2011

‘Weddings’ on demand

Author: Kerry Rice

I have a question for magazine publishers everywhere. In the age of digital printing, when homesick antipodeans can pick up the same copy of the Sydney Morning Herald in London as is on newsstands in Australia that day, why can’t we get a copy of any magazine from anywhere in the world printed digitally on demand and delivered to us?

Author: Kerry Rice

Image: Some rights reserved by thebittenword.com

I have a question for magazine publishers everywhere. In the age of digital printing, when homesick antipodeans can pick up the same copy of the Sydney Morning Herald in London as is on newsstands in Australia that day, why can’t we get a copy of any magazine from anywhere in the world printed digitally on demand and delivered to us?

In an age when everything is supposedly online, I am still a compulsive purchaser of magazines. But the wealth of titles making the WH Smith shelves groan is not enough to sate my appetite and so I’ve taken to looking further afield.

Every month I wait eagerly for a copy of Taste magazine that hit shelves two months earlier to arrive in the post from South Africa, and I nearly cried when the US Gourmet magazine ceased publication in 2009. So after I got engaged earlier this year, it was inevitable that the bridal magazines I most want to get my hands on just aren’t available at WH Smith or the newsagent on Esher High Street (which does carry a very good stock of UK bridal magazines, in case you’re interested).

My first thought of course was to subscribe to them, but sadly Martha Stewart Weddings does not offer subscriptions to those of us on this side of the Atlantic. Nor can I subscribe to any wedding magazines from back home in South Africa.

What’s a girl to do?

I suppose that this little rant is partly indicative of how spoilt I’ve become by living in a country where more or less every book I want is just a click away. (I’ve half forgotten how I used to walk into Exclusive Books in Johannesburg, ask for a slightly outré book and blithely accept that it would take 8 to 12 weeks for them to import it for me.) I now expect magazines to be similarly available (or at least be sold on Amazon’s magazine subscription platform), even if at a premium.

More than this, I think that knowing some of the possibilities offered by short run digital printing has made me expect more from the publishers whose editorial and advertising I so voraciously devour (and occasionally cut out and stick into my wedding planning scrapbook).

Surely I cannot be alone in not wanting to travel from Richmond to Oxford Street just to buy a magazine (suggestions of stockists of Martha Stewart Weddings, Inside Weddings and Brides USA other than Selfridges are welcome, by the way).

No doubt the solution is just around the corner is the form of some web-to-print interface that takes consumers’ orders, downloads a PDF from the publisher, prints off a personalised copy and charges me a hefty price for it, but for now, I’m off to Selfridges again this weekend (and checking newsagents en route).