Digital or print? Why choose when you can have both? AnOther Magazine, a fashion and lifestyle publication in the UK, is showing how combining the two can create a user experience that is unique and engages all senses, including the tactile sensation of turning a page.
AnOther magazine created a special edition celebrating Alexander McQueen with a digital cover featuring a Rihanna-video and a bespoke soundtrack curated by John Gosling. The cover wraps around 440 printed pages of interviews, articles and fashion spreads. The screen on the cover uses LED technology to display the video, the sound comes from an inbuilt MP3 player. There are connectors for speakers or headphones and a USB connection to recharge the cover.
The digital cover is the brainchild of Jefferson Hack, co-founder and editorial director of the Dazed Group to which AnOther Magazine belongs. He is also a graduate of the London College of Printing. The idea of a digital cover goes back to his childhood when a National Geographic cover with an embedded hologram mesmerized him. Wanting to re-create this experience for his readers, he tried to find a way to develop a digital cover.
At first, it seemed impossible. Several electronics companies saw more obstacles than opportunities and Hack was all but ready to abandon the project when he finally met with Liam Casey, the founder of the San Francisco-based company PCH. The company with the slogan “we make” counts Apple and Beats by Dre among its clients. When Hack told Casey about his idea he was intrigued.
Even though the production schedule was more than ambitious, he offered support. PCH operates a hardware start-up accelerator called Highway 1 in San Francisco and when Hack teamed up with engineers, the cover took shape. The first prototypes were bulky and failed to communicate the intended elegance and futuristic look but after several attempts, the cover had the right dimensions and functionalities.
The unique user experience comes at a steep price of 125 USD for the magazine. But as LED printing technologies advance, interactive magazine and book covers will be increasingly common and less expensive, bridging the worlds of print and digital.