Thursday, December 6, 2012

Glossi promises embedded magazines for all, but what it can deliver is completely dependent on the 'publisher'

How does the cliché go? Oh yeah: if it were easy, everybody would do it. But creating a great looking magazine is hard, that is why we have art directors. But that is not stopping vendors from offering do-it-yourself publishing solutions. From OnSwipe to now Glossi, there is a never ending supply of DIY solutions for would-be publishers. Take it from me, it's not that easy.

Glossi, which received a nice write-up from the NYT on Tuesday is the latest company to promise both professional and amateur publishers that ability to create great looking magazines. Unlike OnSwipe, that wants you to create HTML5 websites using their system, Glossi is sort of a DYI flipbook solution. The publisher creates a "Glossi" then can embed that digital product on the owner's website, just as one would a YouTube video.

I like the idea, a lot. But don't expect it to be easy to actually create a great looking digital magazine because it helps if you already a producing a great looking print magazine, or a digital one using another process.

I played around with Glossi this morning and immediately found that it did not work with Safari – I continually received a warning that said I had cookies turned off, I didn't. So I switched over to Chrome and started in on my first "Glossi".

The process is simple enough, though limiting. I created a new page using their page templates and immediately discovered that the text would not flow from text box to text, as it would in Word, or in InDesign or Quark. That was strange since that would be a natural way a template would normally work.

But overcoming this was easy enough and getting a fairly attractive page was not impossible.

Then came creating the cover. Yikes. Using their system allows you to create a cover, but would you actually want to publish it? Well, that is the problem, isn't it? If you create your cover using InDesign, like a pro would, you'd get a great cover (assuming you are talented). But using their DIY solution creates something that looks, well, like it was built using a DIY system.
The "Glossis" that are featured on the website pretty much tell the story: you can tell which ones come from professional sources and which ones come from would-be publishers. And once you click inside these "Glossis" it gets worse.

But that doesn't mean that I don't see a use for the Glossi system. On the contrary, I bet a number of TNM readers would be able to play around with the system and create a perfectly good digital magazine. But can the average Joe produce a good looking product?

I've looked at a fair number of tablet editions released into the Apple Newsstand recently and see that there is a huge desire on the part of would-be publishers to create their own magazines. Using systems such as that offered by MagCast or other vendors, it is fairly easy to publisher something. But let's face it, many of these new magazines are like Etch A Sketch drawings next to a Rembrandt.

It's simply not that easy, even if everyone can do it.

1 Comment:

Matt Edelman said...

Thank you for taking a look at the product and writing about's beta launch. Really appreciate your observations. We've been working on addressing some of the exact items you mentioned. I can let you know when we release new features to see what you think. Thanks again for taking an interest in what we're doing.