Sunday, April 5, 2009

POD Mags Are Here: 30 Color Pages for 6 Bucks

With two Old School DnD magazines in Lulu's top 10, and dozens of game systems and supplements on tap, print on demand (POD) publishing continues to have a liberating impact on the gaming community. Even bound hardbacks, once the purview of professional game companies, are within reach of the serious hobbyist without the need for expensive up-front print runs and traditional distributors.

While Lulu continues to be the POD publisher of choice, new player MagCloud promises full-color magazines at 20 cents a page, says the New York Times:
Charging 20 cents a page, paid only when a customer orders a copy, H.P. dreams of turning MagCloud into vanity publishing’s equivalent of YouTube . The company, a leading maker of computers and printers, envisions people using their PCs to develop quick magazines commemorating their daughter’s volleyball season or chronicling the intricacies of the Arizona cactus business.
“There are so many of the nichey, maybe weird-at-first communities, that can use this,” said Andrew Bolwell, head of the MagCloud effort at Hewlett-Packard. Samir Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi who plans to use the technology in his classroom, said, “We’re not talking about replacing the Vanity Fairs of the world. But it’s a nifty idea for a vanity press that reminds me of the underground zines we had in the ’60s and ’70s.”
"Nichey, maybe weird-at-first communities"? Yep, that's us! Like Lulu, publishers dispatch PDFs to MagCloud, and buyers can make their purchases from MagCloud's site.

I'd like to see what the quality of output is like; it certainly sound promising. For the hobbyist publisher with little to no art budget, Lulu will probably remain the best option for the time being. However, for the writer/artist or enterprising publisher with gratis artists on board, opportunities abound: adventure modules, map collections, and, hey, how about magazines?

One application I could see using this service for is producing a Player's Guide to my campaign with setting info, full color maps, character generation info, and so forth. Put it all in 12 pages, and send it out for $2.40. That's the price of a bag of chips!

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