Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Newspaper Club

I'm a fan of newspapers. I love their practicality. They're easy to read, combining text and pictures brilliantly. They're portable, flexible and robust, being quite difficult to ruin by accident. Whilst they can be infuriating, they're rarely a boring format, combining quite seamlessly the cheeky and the serious.

I also love their feel. There's something about newsprint that transcends the physical - it has a certain intrinsic romance, which I suppose is unsurprising given the heritage.

That's not to say the world of newsprint doesn't face real and well-documented problems. However, as I explained here, I believe the presses will be rolling way into the future. Some perspective is provided by Russell Davies:
"People make an error in conflating print and print businesses," he says. "The business models that are attached to print may be broken, but that does not mean that print itself is.
"It may not be the dominant technology in 10 years, but it will still be here. Television did not kill radio."

Russell's doing his bit to come up with the sort of new business model that can make the most of what newsprint can do. He's a co-founder of Newspaper Club, a start-up that I'm lucky enough to be doing some work with. I feel particularly intrigued by the whole thing because of my developing interest in publishing more generally.

So what does Newspaper Club do? This news story provides a good introduction. But in a sentence, their website helps you produce your own newspaper.

You don't have to have any professional design skills - their proprietary software helps you do the layout yourself and create your own look - though you can still upload your own design if that's what you prefer. They also offer a creative service where they'll do everything for you - not just design your newspaper but write it for you too. However, the anticipation is that it's the first option, the design-it-online one, that will prove most popular.

They're currently in beta mode but what you'll be able to do when they're fully open is go to the Newspaper Club site, fire up the online publishing module and start dragging across your material. You can very straightforwardly pull anything over: blog posts, photos, articles, Word documents and so on. Once you're happy with what you've got and how it looks, you'll be able to select your quantity and pay. Your newspaper will be delivered a few days later.

Here's a worked example and very handsome it looks too - as well it might given they recently won a prestigious Brit Insurance Design Award. What you get is a 12-page tabloid, printed on proper printing presses (in the downtime when they're not being used to print mass-circulation papers), available in colour or black-and-white. I think the pricing is affordable: from 30p a copy if you print 5000 to £7 a copy if you print off 5 (all including delivery and VAT).

They launched a few weeks ago but have already produced newspapers incorporating, amongst other things: blog postings (how it all started, and I know a live topic for some); promotional messages for an online retailer; a teaser for an upcoming book launch; a London-related, limited-edition art project; and the sort of written stuff that supports conferences and roadshows. They're getting interest from many different quarters, including from at least one couple who want to produce a newspaper of their wedding.

So all very exciting, not least as there are so many directions in which the business could grow. One of my jobs is to identify partners who will promote Newspaper Club to prospective customers. Any tips, ideas or introductions would be most gratefully received.


elberry said...

Try the big language schools, eg Berlitz, inlingua - they spend a lot of money on marketing. Target the sales and marketing manager of Berlitz or inlingua in a big city like Hamburg or Berlin, suggest a paper, distribution 1000 copies, to go to the biggest companies in the city (interviews with language students, with teachers, etc.). They´re also keen on establishing how hip and up to date they are so if you push the "this is the latest technology" thing, they might lap it up.

zmkc said...

Following Elberry's suggestion, maybe try the International House group - training English language teachers all over the world

worm said...

wow thats really excellent serendipity - I've been reading both your blog and Russell's blog about his Newspaper Club for a year now, and now you've kind of combined, a bit like a hyper-intelligent version of when they 'cross the beams' in Ghostbusters. I forsee great things! I'll tell my marketing contacts about the premise and see if I can send anyone your way.

zmkc said...

By the way, I could help out by investigating some sales possibilities in the South of France, if you like

Gaw said...

Elb and z: Thanks - great idea.

Worm: Thanks!

z: You'd really do that? I'm touched.