Newspaper and magazine publishers have been exploring new concepts to bridge the digital world and the world of tangible print products. A noteworthy innovation: The Swedish company Meganews developed a print-on-demand newsstand that delivers magazines directly to the customer. It thus reduces returned copies and saves resources for publishers and retailers. By printing only the copies that are actually bought, Meganews also lowers the environmental impact of newsprint. After several years of development, the Meganews print-on-demand magazines will soon be available in several hotels around the world.
The concept has been developed by a former journalist together with the technology consultancy Sweco and the industrial design company LA+B. It is supported by several Swedish publishing companies, including the Bonnier Group, and international publishing houses, most notably Time Inc. The print-on-demand service focuses on convenience: On a touchscreen in the four square-meters kiosk, customers select the publication they like and pay with a credit or debit card. The magazine is printed inside the kiosk and ready for the customer in two minutes. “The goal is to increase newsstand sales and the importance of print media”, says Lars Adaktusson co-founder of Meganews.
Publishers store PDF-files of their magazines and newspapers on a server that connects via internet to the kiosk. One advantage: Magazines from around the world and niche publications can be stored on the server, allowing publishers to reach customer groups that were previously too far away or geographically too dispersed. Having a wide selection in terms of languages and interests is especially useful in places frequented by international travelers such as hotels, airports and train stations.
While the user experience during the selection, printing and paying stages of the process matters, the quality of the printed product is important as well. Meganews partnered with Ricoh to deliver high quality print products combined with a global service network. Ricoh has adapted its C751 print engine to fit inside the kiosk unit. The difference between a Meganews magazine and one bought on the newsstand will only be minimal, Meganews asserts.
A research study by the Swedish institute Inventia comparing the life-cycle assessment (LCA) of a Meganews magazine with the LCA of a traditional magazine has shown that greenhouse gas emissions and the overall environmental impact of newsprint products can be reduced by using print on demand technology.
In a test phase during 2013 and 2014, Meganews kiosks were installed in several public places in Sweden such as shopping malls and airports, including Göteborg Landvetter Airport. “This was mainly done to test our concept from a technical point of view”, says CEO Mathias Wåhlberg. After a successful test phase, Meganews and the publishing companies decided that the first Meganews stands would be established in hotels. In hotels, it would be easiest to reach the target group and to educate customers about the service. Other than in airports and train stations, the Meganews stands also wouldn’t compete with existing sales channels.
International travelers in hotels are often more interested in reading printed magazines rather than staring at their laptops or tablets during breakfast or at the pool. It is also easier to inform the visitors about Meganews service: During the online booking process, the guest could, for example, choose what magazine they would like to find in their hotel room upon arrival. The receptionist could also explain the service to customers.
The first Meganews kiosk will be set up in a hotel around April or May, others are expected to follow. Meganews is currently in talks with several hotels in the Dubai area, a hotel on Mauritius, hotels in Brazil, India and Italy. The range of publications offered in Meganews stands is also likely to expand: “We are talking with large publishers in eight to nine international markets”, says Wåhlberg. If the first kiosks prove successful, Meganews plans to install additional kiosks in other locations. This could prove beneficial for the publishing industry as well as the travelers who can get their favorite magazine in their native language with the touch of a button, no matter where they are.