Can Print and Digital Just Get Along?

sundaymagOctober is the debut month of a brand new content venture called California Sunday Magazine. And its publishers are hoping that they have hit on profitable common ground between print and digital media.

Of course, being funded to the tune of several million dollars by their angels doesn’t hurt, and allows them to launch in a fairly grand style.

Their overarching publishing philosophy is that “there is absolutely no divide between online and offline, using a design that was aimed at both equally,” writes Kara Swisher in ReCode. “That means California Sunday Magazine will debut on the Web, across a range of devices (Apple iPhone, Google Android, Amazon Kindle), as well as a print insert to 400,000 selected readers of the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee.”

What’s interesting about this venture is Editor-in-Chief Doug McGray’s approach to designing for print.

“We treat paper like another responsive screen profile,” he said.

McGray went on to say that all the content is aimed at “leisure time,” and will be available wherever and whenever the reader wants it.

“The whole point is there should not be tension between print and digital,” he said. “I am an enthusiast [of digital], actually. I read a ton on my phone and wanted to think about producing content with that in mind.”

Still, McGray said there is a business case for offline content done well. “This is not some irrational romantic attachment to print,” he said.

According to Swisher, the revenue stream is as diverse as the content formats.

“Along with revenue from print ads, there will also be a digital subscription offering to give consumers access to special gifts and entry to the events, which quickly sell out. Events are also a big revenue stream and will expand.”

There will be additional revenue from “story advertising,” a nice way of saying sponsored content.

“We are doing one series of story advertising with Nest that feels like a gallery exhibit with prominent illustrators and artists and what home means to them,” he said. “But we are also making sure we are very transparent,” says Chas Edwards, who heads up the business side.

We’ll be watching this with interest. It’s certainly no bootstrap operation, with launch partners like Google Play, Lexus, Converse and Ace Hotel on board. Still, it will be interesting to see what kind of lessons publishers can take away from this aggressive approach to “just getting along.”