Once Upon a Time

I was sorry to read in Raw File about the demise of Once, “an innovative photojournalism magazine that launched its pilot issue last summer with big hopes of capitalizing on the iPad as a new publishing tool.” Not that I was a reader, because I don’t own an iPad. And that was perhaps the main reason for its demise – there were simply too few potential readers who did.

Once didn’t manage to convert successfully to other platforms such as iPhone and an on-line version because of a poor original choice of software, which might have been great for iPad but lacked cross-platform support.  The Wired article mentions another similar recently launched digital photojournalism magazine Auto de Fe, which came out first on the iPad, and is “currently being tested on Android, Kindle, Smartphone and Blackberry devices and will soon be available on those too.” The on-line magazine will come out every 6 weeks (later they hope to go monthly) and there are plans for a ‘collectors’ print edition four times a year.

I don’t have any of these devices, just an old-fashioned PC with a nice large colour-corrected display, which is fine for looking at web sites. Perhaps when e-Reader devices have gone through another generation or two and can display high res images in colour I’ll get one of these as well. I think that this will be the future for the photographic magazine and the photographic book – with just a very few still being produced in expensive collector’s editions – the kind of thing that now costs several hundred pounds a copy.

One success story in digital photographic magazines is the British Journal of Photography, where the digital version is expected to be earning more than the print version by the end of the year. BJP went from being a weekly magazine to a monthly a few years back, before it launched the digital version (print subscribers had for some time enjoyed access to the same material on the web) and really lost its usefulness to me as a news magazine when it went monthly. But the sales of the weekly had dropped off to a very low level, and I don’t think it could have continued.  I’ve never quite found it worth subscribing since, though I do subscribe to several rather expensive photo magazines. The thing that I miss most from the weekly version is the old ‘What’s On’ listing page, which gave brief details of a wide range of photo exhibitions in London and around the country. It’s the kind of job that ought to be very easy to do on line, and over the years a few sites have attempted it, but none very well or very comprehensively, even for London. If I had an iPad, I would probably subscribe – it costs around a quarter of the print subscription.

We may too still have ‘print on demand’ books, hopefully with somewhat improved printing, though the current Blurb volumes aren’t bad. Perhaps the cost of these may come down too, at the moment they are too expensive for normal distribution. Though my ‘Book Sale‘ is still on – and on a slightly topical note,  Before The Olympics (paperback version) is still available direct from me, post free in the UK for £25. (Blurb price is £27.29 + post and packing – which adds an unreasonable amount for single copies.) There are limited stocks of all the others too.

Here are a couple of the 270 or so images from Before the Olympics – you can view the whole book on Blurb. Both are from close to the site of the Olympic stadium on what used to be Stratford Marsh.

© 2005, Peter Marshall
Marshgate Lane, Stratford 2005

© 1990, Peter Marshall
Marshgate Lane, Stratford, 1990

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