It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea….

It sounded like such a good idea: develop a print magazine using reader-contributed stories and photos. And let the readers vote on which articles would make it into print. Sort of like Digg, but wow, in print. But you need more than a good idea to stay in business in 2009.

This turned out not be such a good idea, according to today’s WSJ. Publisher 8020 had tried this scheme in publishing two magazines, one called JPG a photography title, and another called Everywhere, a travel magazine. Both are calling it quits this week.

The travel magazine space is littered with the remains of failed endeavors. Those of us in the business can well remember Blue, and Transitions Abroad, and so many others. It is sad but it’s also similar to so many other publishing genres….getting attention is tough, and the economics of print–getting newsstand space, magazine returns, and collecting advertising bucks work against even the most determined publishers.

When Halsey Minor of CNET started 8020, he said it was the future of publishing “because of the way it engaged its audience, integrated its print and online properties,” and operated so cheaply, with less than a dozen paid employees. It might have been the future of something but so far, not the publishing business.