Are MagLabs the Future of Print?

Imagine a live event, where readers can be a part of building a magazine. From watching writers conduct interviews in person with a Q&A session from the audience, to voting on which photography makes it to layout, to witnessing designers work their magic...this is the MagLab experience.

This month, Jacksonville-based First Coast Magazine built its May issue live at the 2015 One Spark Festival "The World's Largest Crowdfunding Festival." Think of the online crowdfunding site Kickstarter live with craft beer and food trucks, and that sums up One Spark. Attendees download an app which allows them to invest in the projects they deem worthy, and vote on who gets to share the large purse raised by festival organizers. In partnership with The Dalton Agency, a marketing firm, Beson4 Media group created the First Coast MagLab. Through a collaboration of creatives, the two companies built and published 132 pages of crowdsourced content during the festival's 5 day window. It went off without a hitch, and was a great opportunity for First Coast magazine.

"The concept of MagLab was not only able to increase the magazine's visibility [the magazine had over 500,000 impressions on social media during the event], but it was also able to increase revenue for 2 consecutive months," says AJ Beson, CEO of Beson4 Media Group.

In a world where print publishers are struggling with trying to figure out how to thrive in the digital age, creating interactive experiences like this may be the future.

"The concept could be done anywhere with any type of publication," says editor Nan Kavanaugh. "MagLab is an example of how the print industry can capitalize on the digital age. Once we hammered out the production framework it was just a matter of execution. A strong team of creatives willing to get the job done is all a publication needs to put an event like this together."

The digital issue was published on April 12 to coincide with the closing ceremony of the One Spark Festival, while the print edition will hit the stands on April 30.

"When the print issue comes out, those who participated in MagLab can hold it in their hands and say ‘Hey, I helped build this.' It is an entirely new way for readers to engage with print," says Nan Kavanaugh.

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