Personalized magazine turns athletes into cover stars

For most age groupers and amateur athletes, being featured on the cover of a magazine is an elusive dream. The Swiss magazine ‘Fit for Life’ has found a way to change that. It offers readers and subscribers the opportunity to upload their own winning shots for a personalized cover – thanks to digital printing technology.

For most age groupers and amateur athletes, being featured on the cover of a magazine is an elusive dream. The Swiss magazine ‘Fit for Life’ has found a way to change that. It offers readers and subscribers the opportunity to upload their own winning shots for a personalized cover – thanks to digital printing technology.

The idea was hatched five years ago when the magazine was one of the main partners of the Swiss sporting event Gigathlon in which individuals or teams compete in the five disciplines swimming, cycling, biking, inline skating and running. Each participant received a magazine with a personalized cover in lieu of a finisher medal. “But the costs and efforts involved were quite high”, says Fit for Life editor-in-chief Andreas Gonseth. Programming the software, having a photographer at the event and producing a cover for each participant is estimated to have cost around 50 000 to 60 000 Swiss Francs. Even though the cover was a big success, back then it looked like it would remain a one-time promotional activity.

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Recent advances in digital printing technology have changed that. Several years after the first edition of the personalized cover came out, the team at Fit for Life thought it was time to revive the concept. They designated an area on the fitforlife.ch website where readers can design a personalized cover with their own photos and headlines. Examples include people crossing the finish line at their first marathon or completing a challenging bike ride.

Readers can upload their own photos, which don’t have to be from a competition or sports event: Training groups or portraits work as well. “The personalized covers are very popular as gifts”, says Gonseth, “either to acknowledge someone’s achievement or to motivate someone to start being active”. The magazine with the custom-made cover is available for subscribers at a discount.

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The personalized covers are produced on a Xerox Versant 80 Press and while digital printing technology has made customization a lot easier than it was five years ago, there are still some extra steps involved. The title page has to be printed separately with an image file that needs to be imported into the system, the positioning of the pages and the binding also require extra steps.

Shipping and handling of the special editions have to be done separately as well. Because of the extra work involved, the price of the custom printed magazines is higher than the one for regular editions. But compared to the money many people spend on reaching their athletic goals, it still looks like a bargain.

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Editor-in-chief Gonseth sees further opportunities to offer personalized editions of his magazine to readers. One way of doing so may be partnering with photographers at sports events who could then link their photo websites to Fit for Life’s personalized cover page. But for now, he is happy that he can offer his readers a service that deepens their involvement with the magazine and motivates them to go out and be active.