Weaving the World Wide Web
Manly, Lorne, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management
The Internet and, more specifically, the World Wide Web, has cast its spell on magazines large and small--from Time and Playboy to Magical Blend and Mother Jones. And it doesn't seem to matter that "the Internet is not what it's cracked up to be--at least not yet," says Allen Mayer, editor in chief of Buzz, whose Web site launched last month.
It makes no difference that, for most people, the Internet remains a navigational nightmare; that many of the existing Web sites are lackluster; or that easy-to-use, secure electronic commercial transactions are at least a year away. "The exciting stuff isn't happening on the commercial online services, it's happening on the Internet," says Jessica Adelson, director of online services at CMP Publications' NetGuide. Even if it means forsaking the marketing muscle and customer and technical support that an America Online or CompuServe can offer, a growing cadre of publishers are starting their own Web sites.
Publishers already up on the Web include CMP (all 16 titles), Mecklermedia, Wired, IDG Publications' InfoWorld, and Promoters On Line Listings' Pollstar. Sources say Wenner Media's Rolling Stone is working with Netscape Communications to build a Web site, and Outside, was scheduled to launch at the end of January. (See related story, page 28).
"If you're in the publishing business, you have to have an Internet site--and it doesn't matter what you publish," argues Stewart Alsop, editor in chief of IDG Publications' InfoWorld. Publishers can completely control the look and feel of their sites, which is not true at the commercial services, where magazines are hemmed in by templates with relatively limited flexibility.
Graphics, sound, action!
Budding a site on the World Wide Web, a hypertext network within the Internet, lets publishers seamlessly link individual text, graphics, video and sound, and provide gateways to other resources. internet areas outside the Web, by contrast, contain text only. (Computer users access Web pages with graphical browsers such as Mosaic, which lets them experience the content in all its multimedia glory.
Notes Jim Kinsella, managing editor of Pathfinder, Time Inc.'s Internet project: "Anything that forces a publication to consider mastering another form of producing material is absolutely essential. If it does nothing more than make you think clearly about an electronic online service, it's a benefit. "
Even more of a benefit is that publishers can keep most or all of the revenue--ad and otherwise--for themselves. They also reach an audience much wider than that provided by the largest commercial online service (CompuServe, at 2.5 million subscribers). Atthough estimates vary widely on how many people actually use the Internet for more than receiving e-mail (reports vary from three million to 30 million), most observers lean toward the higher end. And if the proliferation of sites is any indication, those numbers are growing. According to Larkspur, California-based Gistics, Inc., in August 1993 there were 23 World Wide Web sites. By June 1994, that had grown to 3,000, up an astounding 12,943 percent.
The costs of weaving a Web site are not prohibitive. (See "Unleashing your magazine on the Internet,".) If you're loath to take on the technical and support headaches involved in operating the site yourself, scores of companies, such as Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Open Market Inc. and Sherman Oaks, California-based MetaWire, are willing to help you build and run your Webs for several thousand dollars a year or less. Even the commercial online services, under standing that their future lies with the internet, are snatching up Internet providers and developers so they, too, can offer such services.
Web sites by barter
Magical Blend Magazine, a New Age title that tracks what it sees as the spiritual transformation of society, launched its Web site last September. …