Was it essential for you to have the magazine both in print and online?
All magazines today are produced digitally, even when they are printed. All text and images are digital, so it is possible to make a digital version alongside the production of the print magazine. We have developed our own editorial system for online collaboration between authors, editors, translators and designers. Only one version of the text is kept online, (although every change is tracked and commented), so there is no confusion about which version is the latest. The system uses a simple markup system to create the basic text hierarchy (headlines, descriptions, main text, images, captions), and this source data is then converted to styled HTML, EPUB or even InDesign documents using stylesheets. This streamlined production system enables all proofreading to be done online before the material becomes medium-specific, so there is no need to specially proof the ebook or website editions.
Many of our readers purchase the hybrid edition of print and digital: print for the long form reading, digital for archiving, searching and retrieving possibilities.
You’ve encouraged the readers of Works That Work to aid the distribution of the magazine through what’s referred to as ‘Social Distribution’. Could you tell us more about this?
Because Works That Work magazine is financed by magazine sales rather than advertising, we had to establish an alternative distribution model. Traditional distribution networks typically take the largest part of the cover price and even control where publications will be sold and for how much. We decided to pay our readers, not an army of middlemen, to help distribute the magazine.
Shipping costs, for example, contribute significantly to the cover price of a magazine, so we also collaborate with readers who volunteer to deliver the magazine to other readers. When their travel plans coincide with delivery needs, readers can help reduce the cost of shipping the magazine, making it more affordable for everyone. WTW’s website features a travel database where readers can sign up to help deliver magazines, entering their destinations, travel dates and amount of free space in their luggage. Besides efficient distribution and delivery, this approach also creates an engaged community of magazine readers.
How do you see WTW developing in the future?
It is still early days, we need to grow a little bit to make the project really viable. Currently we work in a small team, and eventually we need to hire a full-time staff. I'd love to make more use of video, but at the moment, we simply can't afford it. A long way to go still, but we love what we do, and the magazine is like a drug: if you read one issue, you are hooked.