Magpile opens for business

by Steve Watson in February 2013
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magpile store

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the launch of Anikibo, the new online marketplace for publishers of magazines, zines and comics to sell direct to customers. There must be something in the air, because today sees the launch of the Magpile store, which brings yet another way to find and buy interesting independent magazines.

Magpile itself is nearly a year old now, and has spent its time so far building up a solid base of users who go to the site to share their favourite new magazines, and to find out what other people are reading. It’s not a full-blown social network, but it’s socially driven, and it’s been interesting to see what happens when the task of curation is handed over to the crowd. Mainstream titles do appear on Magpile, but the site has remained dedicated to independents, and the Magpile awards earlier this year read like a who’s who of quality indie publishing from around the world (though mainly in English).

I caught up with Magpile founder Dan Rowden to hear about his plans for the store, and how he sees it developing over the coming months.

So when did you decide to add the store?
I looked back in my notes and I think it was April last year – that was the month Magpile launched, so it’s been brewing for a long time! I wanted to get the site up and running and stable with people on it before I tried to do something new. I’ve been working pretty intensively since October to get the store ready.

Is this something Magpile users have been asking for?
No – it’s not something people have asked for but I hope people use it once it’s there. I hope it’s the sort of thing that people see and go, “Ah! That makes sense!”

How will prices compare to the shops?
The sellers will decide the prices so it’s completely up to them whether they want to charge more or less.

And how about postage?
They’ll list their postage fee as well. To make it easy to buy worldwide the price shown on the site is going to include the price for postage to your location too, so no matter where you are you’ll always see the complete price. So if sellers want to do free postage, or postage that makes them a bit of money, that’s completely up to them. I’m working hard to make sure that everyone’s happy with the postage thing because it seems that a lot of magazines send things out and lose money on the postage. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen.

It’s really interesting that sites are launching at the moment trying to take a smarter approach to independent magazine distribution.
Yeah – it’s so fragmented at the moment. When you buy magazines you first of all have to find the magazine, then you have to go to their site and buy from them, then if you want another one you have to go somewhere else. And maybe if you buy from a shop you might get it cheaper… Hopefully with Magpile putting these magazines all in one place it will make everything more available.

And of course Anikibo launched a few weeks ago – is there room for both of you?
The more the merrier really. It might cut into my sales, but as long as it gets more people reading these magazines and enjoying these magazines, I think it’s a good thing.

For me the really clever thing about Magpile is you’ve got the community there already – that must help.
Ideally the store will support the site, and hopefully the site will grow more and more as people come to buy magazines. But if nobody buys magazines Magpile will keep on going – it’s not something that’s going to make or break Magpile.

And it’s also not going to make or break publishers – I see you’ve made sure that publishers don’t take on a big risk when they sell on Magpile.
I’ve been watching the app store in the four or five years since it came out. So many developers are making so much money from it that they wouldn’t have done otherwise, so hopefully that same model of creating a platform where people can sell their products – in this case magazines – will help to build up the whole independent magazine industry.

It really is a genuinely global industry these days – magazines don’t have to stay local to their own area or country any more.
That rings true on the site – there are so many different countries on Magpile already. The magazines that do go on there and sell will hopefully start to see their overseas sales increasing, as magazines go out to a more global audience.


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