Design Magazines Technology

Craig Mod Is Not Anti-Magazine Design

I’d like to follow up my post from earlier today — about how I felt that Craig Mod’s recent pieces on digital publishing don’t really take into account the desire for beautiful magazine layouts — with a few comments that were tweeted to me by Craig in response.

Everyone is conflating my desire (demand? 🙂 for real text with an anti design stance. Not the case at all.

I want layouts just as interesting / unique as today’s magazines. But with more accessibility / respect for digital text.

I’m arguing not for a certain type of book or magazine, but a certain kind of accessibility of text.

Sure, then it does sound like we’re on the same page after all. I think the problem I had with his recent essays — and the latest one in particular — is that he continues to push for a better kind of accessibility of text in digital form, but from all of the examples that he tends to give, some of them just don’t jive with creating an iPad-formatted page (using those dimensions) of a magazine that can’t be affected by user interaction.

There’s no reason why text in iPad magazines can’t be selectable (a few examples have been popping up recently), which could then mean adding text copying/sharing and the like. But part of his “accessibility package” — as far as I can tell — also includes being able to adjust text size, and that just won’t work.

I do have a solution though: For every article in a magazine, include a button that lets you open just the text as a separate “window,” which would be adjustable. It’s similar to what you see in certain magazines on Zinio — instead of having to zoom in and out on each page to read text that is too small, you can read the text separately, at a larger size, on a separate page.

And I said my favorite *reading* experience is Instapaper, not ‘favorite magazine’ 😉

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, but I was pretty sure he said “magazine,” which is why it stuck with me.

I want someone to build a magazine that’s as comfortable from a content consumption POV as instapaper. I’d happily read it.

That’s something I can definitely agree with. As I said, I absolutely love what Instapaper has done in terms of making long-form journalism (or essay writing if you will) more accessible. I’d love to see magazines do their own thing to make this happen, just not in the same way.

readability + accessibility + well considered typography != anti-design.

Yes, it certainly is, and it’s what made me want to write that post. I don’t think that a good magazine can really be “anti-design,” and so by promoting all those other things, it sort of contradicts the idea of beautifully designed magazines (in terms of graphic design, layouts) also attaining the pure goals of that trifecta he so holds dear (although I think two of them can easily be achieved).

By Jean Snow

Production Services Manager at Ubisoft Shanghai. Before that, half a life spent in Tokyo.