The future of magazines?

London-based BERG demonstrate the potential of tablet devices to deliver a rich experience for magazine lovers

London-based BERG demonstrate the potential of tablet devices to deliver a rich experience for magazine lovers

Magazine publishers are getting very excited about the potential of iPhone Apps, but far better experiences may be on the way with the imminent arrival of tablet devices. In this hugely impressive video, BERG walk us through their ideas for how magazines may work on such a device.

Mag+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

As this Guardian story notes, this isn’t just pie in the sky conceptualising but part of serious research commissioned by Swedish publisher Bonnier, which believes that such devices will be in use in two years’ time.

The BERG concept certainly seems more considered than this idea for Sports Illustrated that has recently done the rounds online.

BERG make some very good points about the nature of magazines and how that might translate online – how readers like to feel that there is a beginning and an end to reading a magazine in contrast to the endless streams of content available via, for example, RSS feeds, and how enjoyable the physical act of flipping between pages can be.

For publishers, such a package of content, that marries a magazine-like experience with the connectivity of the web (by allowing instant updates, commenting, links etc) offers a far better prospect that websites. As iPhone apps have shown, people will pay for content when it is packaged up and distributed like a product. Just like they do in print.

There is more discussion about what is being termed the Mag+ project at Bonnier’s R&D Beta Lab here

Jeremy Leslie will be writing about these developments in an article for the February issue of CR.



  • Amazing concept! Love it!

  • Patrick

    Not sure what’s new about this? looks like my iPhone or iPod navigation (which is great), and as for the magazine translation to screen, web designers have been doing this for years now.

    These all look suspiciously like website wireframes. Funny that someone would try so hard to present a website as a magazine. Not sure what the point is here. But I do agree with one thing, those page curl navigation’s are terrible.

    I love Mag’s (obviously including CR) and this is not a Mag, its a website concept in a browser, which is great, but its not even slightly a mag. Just look at websites like or more importantly to see how good a magazine can look online – look at it on an iPhone and your there – you don’t need to wait 2 years for that.

    Thanks for the post, but i don’t think this is going to replace magazines or websites anytime soon.


  • Josh

    Surely this defeats the object of magazines in the first place? a physical 3-d form which you can pick up and flick through. They’re just large i-phones, they look brilliant and are designed for simplicity but overall its wasted research

    I saw a similar artictle about books being converted to electronic reading, and its simply pointless. You want a book to be the finished product, a piece of art within itself, not a small monitor

  • There will still be print for the reasons Patrick and Josh lay out, but Bonnier’s vision of the magazine’s future is the most convincing one I’ve seen yet.

  • My adolescent children (both of whom are ardent readers) have no problem envisioning a future without three-dimensional books and magazines. Once we old codgers die out, so will print, by and large.

  • let’s try it on the beach without electricity for a week…

  • LP

    unless it has a battery life that is unbelievable like kiko jus stated and the ability to get all the magazines i want n a sweet bundle price deal…this Huge Ipod is already here….juss huge. And I dont mind that.

  • Looks cool – like a giant iPhone or compact touch screen laptop. I’d like to have a go at designing for one.

  • wooow thats very nice! looks cool. i would buy one

  • PixelTime

    I’m not quite sure how the Sports Illustrated tablet is less considered?

    It seems like the Mag+ concept is using only two templates to present content (index page/continuous scrolling content page). Doesn’t that go against their own principle for recreating the visual peaks and troughs of a magazine reading experience? 90% of the reason people still buy magazines is for the aesthetics. CR of all entities should know that.

    This just looks like a very pretty eReader.

  • Santa Logic

    very cool, and am excited someone is building on Pranav Mistry;

  • looks cool

  • I would buy one of these.

  • nl

    I refuse to believe that the physical book or magazine will die out. Reading the printed word in book form is calming, a necessity, whereas all this moving, headache inducing screen stuff we get enough of on TV and online. I hope I’m right when I say that people love books too much for them to die out.

  • You can’t deny the present and the future. Magazines are already struggling to operate commercially, many large companies have gone bust in the last four years due to the advent of the internet. I think that the primary argument in favour of web based magazines is time. where you have time sensitive information, the web will always win over a paper form. That isn’t to say that magazines are dead, they will just become even less mainstream and more niche. the functionality that you can offer through a tablet based magazine is an improvement on the paper version, it doesn’t bode well for the future of the industry.

  • Its an interesting time for media in general to advent of the iPad will give everyone a clue as to if these kinds of devices are the future. While I like the form factor im not sure if it’d be that good for a commute as your pretty much holding hundreds of pound in your hand on display to the whole world!

  • You can’t say that magazines will not die out. Think of the future, an iPad built into the coffee table so you can sit and browse through the web looking at online magazines. The industry has to restructure and accept the wbe as its future. That is of course until the next medium of information dissemination appears. 3d tv, George Orwell had it in 1984!

  • Information is still information, it’s just the way we access and how ideas are spread that has changed.

    The ipad alongside the Flipboard app is the future of magazines because of the integration with social media. News travels fast and it travels much faster through social media on an Apple ipad.

  • I have no problem with the form (ie screen or paper), but the social media side works 2-ways – it can help information be mashed together to allow for feedback or richer interfaces (for example, google maps working alongside a photography mag so you can see where the cover photo was taken) . Or it could be used to help people share links with their friends…

    …but it’s also allowing ANY source of information to be shared, undermining the authority of exisitng sources. The paper/ screen issue is relvant of course, but I think the issue of (possibly) 2nd rate FREE information on a blog versus paid-for info in a magazine is the bigger driving factor. And the 2 ways of combatting that is to a) make sure your audience considers your mag an authoritative source and/ or b) add extra value to your information with mashups, exclusive writers, social media integration or similar.

  • M.C.

    Martin Hill’s comment is spot on; and far more interesting than the review itself. I suspect magazines will no longer exist in mediums: figuring out what works best for paper or screen. Magazines in the future will exist in media: on paper and screen (like what Mag+ is trying to do), and who knows: fabrics, walls, buildings…

    Martin’s point about “information be mashed together to allow for feedback” is something worth noting here. It seems thinking about the end (and not just the means of paper or screen) is a useful exercise: what is it that readers are seeking today? Maybe its a generation thing—I’m 30—but readers my age are really seeking a more interactive experience with content. And what I mean by interactive is not just more clickedy hyperlinks or anti-social facebooking. I mean they want to have a say, they want to engage in dialogue.

    There’s this idea that all these “interactive youngsters” want to be active content creators, and not just passive consumers of professional content. But I think this is a really dumb dualism. There are many who still enjoy reading professional content produced by people who study or practice what they do well. But they’re no longer interested in monologues; nor are they always interested in becoming the producers themselves. It seems figuring out interesting “feedback” loops could be a fruitful avenue of exploration for the future of magazines.

    This might not be the most novel example of “interactivity”, but there’s a Dutch design magazine called Items who now has Items Live, where moderated talks of the magazine’s content is discussed in person at events. People who attend can just sit back and listen to what presenters have to say, or they can pose questions and enter the conversation. Would be great to see how these questions or comments make it back into Items printed editions.

  • Very good point Martin. If you compare the quality of copy on the web versus within printed media such as niche magazines or a decent newspaper, the offline print tends to have a more eductaed perspective. Take for example a sport such as golf or fishing, there are a plethora of web sites available but to actually get to the really relevant, informative and educational comment, you have to spend hours trawling through the dross. Any half decent niche magazine in this area would tend to have better written and more informative copy.

  • It all depends on your lifestyle as well, magazines and print in general still have a place in society. Take the Kindle for example, this has decimated hard copy sales of books but people still buy books. Not everyone wants to sit at home with a cup of tea reading an electronic copy of a book, the paper version is still far more relaxing for some, the aesthetics of reading from a hard copy book are far more pleasureable for some than reading a screen, especially for those that have been reading a computer screen all day!

  • This is definitely the future imo, it just has so many more possibilities than a book in terms of interactivity.
    I think it would be amazing if they could have a story and the reader could also be a character, i.e. the user periodically get’s asked questions as a character, that then go on to shape the rest of the story.

  • When the Article was first put up I would not have agreed – but the last paper magazine I rad was on the plane going on holiday – not touched one all year since – (And that includes the 3 photography magazines I used to subscribe to each month)

  • Yes, looks like mobile device apps are the rage now. Everyone from magazines, newspapers to sports sites etc are going down the route. All the data supports this investment in app technology from big publishers. Same for me Tim, the last time I read a mag was on board a flight..

  • Sam Austin

    This is the future