Not UK only (sort of)

newspaper club at central perk

I think I can confidently predict we’ll be adding a Changing Our Mind A Lot Strategy to our Disappointing Strategy. As Simon as pointed out in the comments on the previous post; we shouldn’t say we’ll be UK only at launch, we should say that we’ll only be printing in the UK at launch, but we’ll be able to ship worldwide. That’s fair. Though it probably won’t be cheap. It’ll probably be just about affordable with the smaller print-runs, though for 5,000 papers it’s going to cost a lot. We’ll find out just how much and report back.

We should, for future reference, also point out that almost all our plans and procedures can be changed if you’re willing to throw enough money at us.

(The picture above does show us working in a coffee shop, yes, but we should point out to the investors that it was a special promotional coffee shop and the coffee was free. Newspaper Club – Looking after the pennies so the pounds look after themselves.)

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Disappointment Management

One of the things we’ve always been careful to say about Newspaper Club is ‘it won’t be as good as you’re imagining’. It’s easy to think of all sorts of great things you can do with newspapers, it’s a lot harder to actually do them, so lots of them, we won’t be doing.

Here are a couple of the specific disappointments we’re going to offer for the beta launch in a few weeks.

Flickr Photo Download: Exclusive Launch Product Line Up

When we start the only product you’ll be able to get will be a twelve-page newspaper. We’ve been assuming all the way through the process, up to Friday, that it would be 16 pages, but now we’ve decided to knock four off.

Firstly, it keeps costs down – adding extra pages is what makes printing expensive. But secondly, and most importantly, 16 pages requires a lot of content, a lot. And we think it’s going to be hard for people to do that much.

This is something we’re thinking about a lot. Making a newspaper is hard, it takes work, effort. It won’t be a quick burst of fun, creative decisions like making your Moo cards. It’ll mean assembling lots of content, deciding where to put it, lining it all up, working out where to get it delivered, lots of stuff. It won’t be something people’ll do just casually. You’re going to have to want to make a newspaper. We don’t think is a bad thing, we think lots of people will want to make one, and we’re going to make it as easy as we can. But one way to do that is to give people less blank pages to fill up. So – for launch – 12 pages.

Flickr Photo Download: Exclusive Launch Product Line Up

The second big disappointment we’re announcing is that, for launch, we’ll only be able to print in the UK. This is simple logisitics. We only want to work with printers we’ve actually met, who we have good relationships with and we want to make sure that shipping etc works well and costs a reasonable amount. We don’t have time to be visiting and negotiating with printers elsewhere. Not yet anyway.

Hopefully, once we’re up and running, we’ll be able to add other printers and other countries pretty quickly. But, at the beginning, it’ll just be UK. Sorry.

So, keep lowering those expectations, and soon we’ll explain why all the design decisions we’ve made suck too.

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Exclusive Launch Product Line Up (nb: might change)

Yesterday we were locked down inside a meeting room in a secret location in central London.

Like most meeting accommodation,  the facilities were mixed. Lacking in biscuits but offering a selection of boiled sweets. We weren’t offered a cup of tea but there was a Starbucks very nearby. Pens and paper were liberally available for ideation.

Newspaper Club Offsite

And best of all it was cheap. Free in fact.

Actually, it was Russell’s house. These details are important when you’re a start up.

The point of this session was to discuss (and hopefully) resolve the ‘What happens when you press ORDER’ question. I’m happy to announce we cracked that. We can’t tell you what happens just yet for confidentiality reasons, but the gist of it is that you’ll get an order number.

cost teapot

We must apologise for bothering you with all this trivial chat about orders and fulfillment, it must be terribly boring for you. It is for us. So, on to more exciting news!

Today we are pleased to announce our initial launch product line up! (Subject to change.)

Exclusive Launch Product Line Up

We want to launch with a variety of products that allows different people to use newspaper club to do different things, but at the same time we want to keeps simple and make it as easy as possible for people to make their own newspapers, hence us offering a 12 page newspaper over certain quantities.

For launch the very low numbers are only available in black and white; 12 pages and 5 copies, 20 copies, 100 copies or 500 copies.

And these are available in full colour; 12 pages and 500 copies, 1000 copies, 2000 copies or 5000 copies.

You could in theory influence this line up by commenting below.

Anyway, we’ve had a good productive week, but now it’s the weekend so we need to unwind.

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Things Our Friends Have Shot On Flickr

Things Our Friends Have Shot On Flickr
Recently we have discovered a way to print very small quantities of newspapers in black and white. As we continue to explore how people will use Newspaper Club and what you can do with the format we made Things Our Friends Have Shot On Flickr.

Things Our Friends Have Shot On Flickr

The pictures look incredible in this large format, which is Berliner size, the same size as The Guardian.

Things Our Friends Have Shot On Flickr

Thanks to Matt Biddulph, Beekr and Batsax who let us use their wonderful images. More pictures of the paper on Flickr.

In other, less pictorial news, stay tuned for an exciting launch product line up announcement.

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We don’t just do Newspaper Club you know…we have lives

RIG - never not working

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Analogue Friction

What happens when you click ORDER?

We promised you more blogging, so here’s the second post in two days. Oh you lucky, lucky people. Above is a note Ben took at Monday’s meeting. This is proof that we’ve moved onto the hard stuff. The webterface is mostly done now. It looks lovely, it works well, we’ll show you pictures soon. We’re even able to take money off people; now Tom’s finished swearing at Paypal. All the digital stuff is under control.

But we always knew the hard bits would be analogue – people and stuff.

On the people side we’ve got lots of copyright and ownership things to think about and work our way through. Lots of people are asking us if they can do instapaper-to-print things, stuff no-one would object to if it was just one copy, just for you. But because we can scale it up to lots of newspapers really quickly, that’s a different matter. So we’re going to be thinking about that.

And, more immediately, we’re worrying about what happens when you click order. Do we contract with a fulfillment house? Do we do some of it ourselves? Can the printers help? How do we help people who’ve never printed a newspaper before understand the logistical implications of 5,000 newspapers turning up at their house?

The web doesn’t help much with this stuff. It’s good old analogue friction and we just have to work our way through it with phone-calls, meetings and spreadsheets.

We’ll let you know how we’re getting on.

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more status

status

Another good meeting today. Lots of interesting things happening. Smart decisions and tough choices were made. Chief outcome for me seems to be that I need to write more blog posts. So here it is. How’s this Ben? Happy now?

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Things I Want To Read Over The Summer

THINGS I WANT TO READ OVER THE SUMMER

For summer holiday reading this year I grabbed five articles from my delicious feed and popped them into an 8 page newspaper. I then packed the newspaper with my panama and found it made the perfect accompaniment to a G&T by the pool.

There are several interesting points here. Firstly, we are experimenting with newsprint and part of that involves thinking about what an individual (or a very small group of people) could do with a newspaper. As Matt Locke pointed out in January, newsprint is hard to be beat for reading in certain situations. On a packed train, or by the pool for instance. I didn’t want to take my laptop to the pool (we weren’t on holiday in LA) and the articles were too long to read on an iPhone.

Newsprint holds up surprisingly well after it gets wet and it’s durable enough to be folded and stuffed inside a bag at the end of the day. I took two copies with me just in case one got ruined, but in the end I only needed to use one.

THINGS I WANT TO READ OVER THE SUMMER

Secondly, I also wanted to experiment with templates. This newspaper wasn’t made with our automatic online newspaper layouter tool, but the designs I used could be incorporated into the system.

One of the design challenges is to create something flexible enough so that it can handle different sized article lengths and headline lengths and then automatically resize and still look good. The column width on the right hand article is obviously way to wide, but I’m really pleased with the spacing and the layout of the article on the left, which auto scales and balances and still looks good and readable.

THINGS I WANT TO READ OVER THE SUMMER

But the really big news here is about quantity. Newspaper printers are naturally geared up to print hundreds of thousands of copies very quickly. So when you ask them for a few hundred they look at you a bit funny. Recently we have found a digital newspaper printer who will print as little as five copies. Yes, just 5 copies.

This is a huge breakthrough and opens up many more possibilities for Newspaper Club, which we will explore and then diligently blog about here.

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status update

newspaperclub status

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…and we’re back

THINGS I WANT TO READ OVER THE SUMMER

Summer’s over. Work to be done. News will follow. Onwards.

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