A new home design magazine was launched last month, brand new format too. Lonny is an online magazine with embedded advertising, which takes it’s name from London and New York. It’s stylish, high-end content; lovely to look at.
There’s a lot of speculation on the future of newspapers and magazines, in the new online/social media world. Newspapers have tried all sorts of subscription models, with moderate success in specialist markets and very little success in general markets.
Lonny gives the visitor a traditional magazine experience, down to the sensation of turning pages, and a zoom-in feature. Both ads and content contain embedding links allowing you to click through and order the beautiful fabric or extraordinary vase. From that point of view it’s an advertiser’s dream.
It is being hailed as a new model and a great example of what can be done online for a small amount of money – Vanity Fair states that the first issue had production costs of around $11,000 most of which was on photography and content. As the production uses standard technology provided by issuu technology costs should be kept very low. Surely these costs are less than the production and distribution costs of a “real” magazine, and given the revenue potential from advertisers this could be a good model.
There are a few things to be ironed out, the drive to keep the magazine in magazine format means they’ve forgone on a few things that are huge advantages online.
- crosslinks; on seeing the contents page I wanted to just click on the title of the article and go to the page of the article, but all I got was a zoom in.
- navigation; there’s no consistent navigation, and with close to 200 pages of content it’s not that easy to scroll through and back to the contents page. There is a “jump box” on the upper right to let you jump to a specified page, but I still find it a bit awkward to use.
- text; the text is produced in the same size and density as in a print magazine, there is a zoom function, but this is the hardest format to read online.
- updates; the current issue was launched on October the first, the next issue is due in December, which follows the magazine publishing expectation. But in that time Apartment Therapy will have had around 600 updates.
The facebook fan page has more than 8000 fans, and Twitter has more than 1o00 followers, but by not using these advantages of the web Lonny makes it harder to engage an audience longterm.
I’m sure they’ll learn a lot from the first issue – they’ll see viewing data on time spent on the site, and what people hung around and actually read. I suspect they’ll make some changes, I suspect they might at some point decide to deliver content more frequently. In this format they could deliver a 25 page magazine every week, with less text.
I’m also curious to see how long they stick with the “magazine experience aspect”, and whether that maps to reader’s needs. I often read magazines on public transport, and this doesn’t offer a mobile version, and given that the content is one big flash element I think it would be a lot of work to develop a mobile version.
On a more personal note; I also like to read magazines in the bath, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that with an online version.So will I visit Lonny again? Sure, I’ll dip in occasionally, but it won’t replace print magazines for me, and it won’t replace the “home design fix” that I regularly get from Apartment Therapy.
Still there’s potential there for a content model that might work for advertisers, I’m curious enough to follow Lonny for that reason alone.