About your authors
Vin Crosbie Vin Crosbie
( Profile | Archive )
Dorian Benkoil Dorian Benkoil
( Profile | Archive )
Bob Cauthorn Bob Cauthorn
( Profile | Archive )
Ben Compaine Ben Compaine
( Profile | Archive )

Dorian Benkoil senior consultant at Teeming Media. An award-winning journalist and editor, he was a foreign correspondent for AP and Newsweek, and international and managing editor for At ABC News he moved to the business side, handling sales integration and business development, before joining Fairchild Publications as General Manager for their Internet division, becoming editorial director for, then a consultant for Teeming Media in New York. He graduates this year with an MBA from Baruch's Zicklin school of business. Learn more about him at or his blog -

Robert Cauthorn is a journalist, former vice president of digital media at the San Francisco Chronicle, and was the third recipient of the Newspaper Association of America's prestigious Digital Pioneer Award. He launched one of the first five newspapers web sites in the world and is generally considered to have delivered the first profitable newspaper web site in 1995. Cauthorn has been in the middle of the transition from old media to new and is recognized as frank-talking critic when he believes newspapers stray for their mission. In mid-2004 he became the president of CityTools, LLC a new media startup based in San Francisco.

Ben Compaine has divided his career between the academic world and private business. He was a journalist when manual typewriters were considered state of the art, but also led the conversion of his college newspaper to cold type. He has started and managed weekly newspapers. His dissertation at Temple University in 1977 was about the changing technologies that were going to unsettle the landscape of the staid and low profit newspaper industry. Since then he has focused his research and consulting on examining the forces and trends at work in the information industries. Among his most well-known works (and the name of his blog) is "Who Owns the Media?".

Vin Crosbie has been called "the Practical Futurist" by Folio, the trade journal of the American magazine industry. Editor & Publisher magazine, the trade journal of the American newspaper industry, devoted the Overview chapter of executive research report Digital Delivery of News: A How-to Guide for Publishers to his work. His speech to the National Association of Broadcasters annual conference was one of 24 orations selected by a team of speech professors for publication in the reference book Representative American Speeches 2004-2005. He has keynoted the Seybold Publishing Strategies conference in 2000; co-chaired and co-moderated last year's annual Beyond the Printed Word the digital publishing conference in Vienna; and regularly speaks at most major online news media conferences. He is currently in residence as adjunct professor of visual and interactive communications and senior consultant on executive education in new media at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and meanwhile is managing partner of the media consulting firm of Digital Deliverance LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.
About this blog
Two forces have shattered the news media. Technology is the first. Although media technology is undergoing its greatest change since the day in 1440 when Johannes Gutenberg first inked type, for more than ten years now the news industry has mistaken new technologies merely as electronic ways to distribute otherwise printed or analog products. Estrangement is the second. The news media has lost touch with people's needs and interests during the past 30 years, as demonstrated by rapidly declining readerships of newspapers and audiences of broadcast news. How we rebuild news media appropriate to the 21st Century from the growing rubble of this industry is the subject of this group weblog.
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Rebuilding Media

« Murdoch does not take Wall Street Journal to the right (place) | Main | The Freemium Business Model: Anything There for the Media? »

March 11, 2008

Why MagHound is Brilliant -- And Why It Won’t Work

Email This Entry

Posted by Dorian Benkoil

Time Inc’s attempt to launch MagHound, a “Netflix of magazines,” in September is a great idea, and on the face of it something that should succeed. What’s better than getting to choose the magazines you want every month, rather than being stuck with multiple subscriptions to mags that will sometimes be dogs, and sometimes have a story or two you’re really interested in? (I know I’m not the only one who’s subscribed to a magazine after figuring that it’s cheaper than buying three copies at the newsstand. I know I’m also not the only one who’ll forego subscriptions to avoid not having the 8 or 10 “dog” issues of a monthly pile up.) I have in the past tried to get friends to participate in a "magazine trading" circle, where we all subscribe to 1 or 2 mags, then swap and share, but it never worked.

So, on the surface, it seems a great idea to charge $4.95 for three on up to $9.95 for seven magazines per month. But there are a few of reasons MagHound won’t work upon launch -- and they have largely to do with how this isn’t like Netflix:

* MagHound won’t have all the most desirable magazines. At least one major publishing house hasn’t signed up, nor have a few of the lesser that nevertheless have desirable titles.
* Unlike Netflix, fulfillment won’t be in 1 or 2 days. It’s more likely weeks. And even longer when fulfillment is from a house other than Time. One reason to subscribe to something like this is because, say, you hear about a hot story in Vanity Fair or Foreign Policy, and you want to get the mag shipped to you pronto to read it. But those magazines may not be available, and the won’t get there while you still remember why you wanted them.
* For Time, it’s not as winning a model as for Netflix, because it doesn’t buy the magazine once and then get to use it time and again for the price of two stamps, plus logistics and handling. Plus, postage for a magazine is horribly expensive compared to the sublimely engineered DVD packages Netflix devised.

If people wanted digital editions or a Web site, mobile edition, whatever-- which Time might consider offering at a discount, or they would offer some other digital access -- for an all-you-can-eat price, it might make more sense. (Oh, wait, that was called AOL.) Or if print-on-demand could be handled on a mass-customization level, where magazines were printed and bound quickly (and I mean like TODAY) as they’re ordered... but helas.

In theory, I love the concept. Get any magazine I want, for one subscription price. I’d of course prefer even more to get whatever I want at the Chris Anderson price of “$0”. Or at least the immediate gratification of click and BLAM, it’s here. (Even Amazon doesn’t take a week.) I hope MagHound refines its model before September and gets closer to what people really want in 2008.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Magazines


1. OM on July 2, 2008 12:40 AM writes...

It could be fun if they decide to re-use magazines. I ship them back the magazine in a prepaid brown envelope, and get the new (used) one in the mail. Reading "Better Homes and Gardens" in the bathroom has never been so great as it could be with a mysterious disease on every page.

Permalink to Comment

2. chanel bags outlet on January 21, 2011 3:15 AM writes...

when starting QB Christian Ponder was hurt. In 2011, though, Manuel has the reins of the offense, and with the talent surrounding him, it won’t be too long before he is being touted as a potential Heisman trophy winner in 2012.

Permalink to Comment


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Is AT&T's new data pricing a bad sign for media's iPad dreams?
My Visit With Walter Cronkite
Another Innovator's Dilemma: Book Publishers Uncertain About E-Book Releases
Network externalities means different business model solutions for old media and new
What's the Boston Globe Worth? A newsstand copy may cost you more than the company.
Google Not Enemy, Not Friend
Journalist, Editor, Ad (Wo)Man
Newspapers shouldn't be seeking -- and don't need-- government help