Have you every wanted to run your own magazine, but never had enough money or a large enough audience to make it worthwhile? Well, if there’s one thing that the self-publishing industry can cater to, it’s the long tail. Now, thanks to a startup called MagCloud, even the smallest of ventures can produce their own, professional, full-color magazine and without the costs normally associated with hiring traditional publishing companies.

About MagCloud

MagCloud is another project to emerge from HP Labs. Earlier this year, HP Labs launched BookPrep, a print-on-demand service for out-of-print books. Now, they’re delivering MagCloud, a project devoted to providing small independent publishers the ability to publish digitized magazines as well as economically print on demand. Using HP’s Indigo technology, the magazines are printed when ordered in full color on 80 lb paper with saddle-stitched covers.

How To Use MagCloud

To get started with creating a custom magazine, you must first create a PDF of your content using a tool that outputs high-resolution PDFs, like Adobe InDesign. You’ll also need to have a PayPal account in order to sell the magazines with the markup you choose. Since the service is in beta at the moment, orders must be sent to a U.S. shipping address. Publishers can request an invitation here.

Browsing the MagCloud Selections

For those just interested in reading the MagCloud produced zines, you can create an account and then browse the selections of magazines available or subscribe to receive email notifications from the publisher as to when new issues are available. You can also choose to subscribe via RSS, but the feed does not contain the magazine’s content as posts, only notifications when new issues are released.

There are already tons of magazines to browse through in diverse categories ranging from Art to Food to Literature to Finance and so much more. For example, RWW readers might be interested in the soon-to-launch magazine “The Rubyist” (for Rubyists, by Rubyists), which will focus on technical content and happenings in the world of Ruby, Rails, and Merb. Or for the more business-minded, the magazine “Professionally Speaking” may appeal, which gives tips on public speaking, giving presentations, etc.

Another great thing about a self-published magazine is that you can just purchase the issues you’re interested in – the same as buying from the newsstand. You don’t have to commit to a full subscription.

Previewing a MagCloud Magazine

A Great Addition To The POD World

As we noted earlier this year, the print-on-demand industry has really been heating up. Amazon launched CreateSpace and another Lulu-esque service called Wordclay began offering paperback publishing. Even casual publishing outfits like CafePress and Blurb have continued to offer options for less serious writers. Now, MagCloud seems to be a perfect addition to join the POD space. If you want to join MagCloud yourself, the signup page is here.

sarah perez