Social magazine Flipboard is rethinking how it organizes content for readers. Today the company is revamping “Cover Stories,” the section within Flipboard that highlights the best and most popular content from across your subscriptions.
This feature was initially developed using technology Flipboard acquired several years ago from Ellerdale, an early semantic web startup. The system is designed to surface not just the trending content that others are sharing or clicking on, but also content that’s most relevant to you based on your own interactions (separate from general popularity).
Before today, Cover Stories would offer a mix of articles and social updates from your subscriptions and networks, but the selection could come across, at best, as an eclectic gathering of news and, at worst, as something of a chaotic mess. Now, that changes.
“In the early days, we did a great job at presenting content in a way that’s magazine-like, but what we haven’t done yet is structure that content in a way that feels like a magazine. That’s what we’re starting to do now,” explains Flipboard co-founder and CEO Mike McCue.
With the revamped Cover Stories section, you’re still able to flip through the section as usual, but the content is more ordered. Navigation on the right side of the screen shows you a list of “sections” based on your favorite sources. This list is led by “Flipboard Picks,” the service’s own recommended content.
For example, you might have the top stories from The New York Times, followed by a couple of blogs you frequent, then sections dedicated to the trending activity on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Over time, Flipboard will learn what sections you engage with the most and will feature those more prominently here, the company tells us.
Flipboard is also starting to think about how it can better organize articles by something other than just source (i.e. publisher). It wants to smartly group articles by subject matter, too. You’ll start seeing this roll out now, beginning with Flipboard’s editorially curated magazine “The Weekend.” Here, articles will be grouped into sections like ”Now in Theaters,” “What’s on TV,” “Sports Weekend,” “Sunday Reads” and more.
This idea of structuring Flipboard content more like a real magazine, the company explained to us last week while demoing the beta, will eventually roll out to all of Flipboard’s editorial content over time. Today, the company curates a number of editorial sections ranging across categories like News, Business, Tech, Sports, Shopping, Photos, Arts & Culture, Travel, Food & Dining, Style, Music, Books, and much more.
The challenge for Flipboard going forward is to make sure its users continue to explore their larger collection of subscriptions, where their activity can help inform the “Cover Stories” algorithm as to their interests.
Most users subscribe to around a dozen sources of content, but some users have hundreds, we’re told. These more voracious news readers could end up relying on “Cover Stories” to get their mix of news, but having to work their way through the section source by source could mean they might miss those sources they only occasionally visit since they’ll now be down at the bottom of the navigation, instead of serendipitously mixed in with other articles from top sources.
That, however, will change in time. The company promises that the Cover Stories section will become more adaptive over time, and it will figure out how to throw “a few surprises” in there, too. It will also begin to group sections more topically, similar to how magazines like “The Weekend” are now being structured. But Flipboard isn’t prepared to go into much detail about those future changes because nothing is yet set in stone.
The new “Cover Stories” section is not going live immediately for all users, but will be a gradual rollout over the next week or two, the company says.
Memloom, a new startup launching today, is looking to find a niche somewhere in between blogging and photo-printing services, like those provided by Shutterfly. The idea is to get consumers not just to share their photos, but tell their stories, through a combination of photos, videos, audio, and text. The resulting creations appear more like magazine-style articles, which can be viewed online, printed at home, or shared to social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
Founded over a year ago, and proudly headquartered in Detroit (“such a great city, and making a comeback,” says founder Alyssa Martina), the company was spun out from ideas discussed at Metro Parent Magazine, also created by Martina. A serial entrepreneur, publishing exec, and journalist herself, Martina is joined by co-founders Alexis Bourkoulas, also of Metro Parent Publishing, and Marie Klopf.
Memloom, explains Martina, came about as an attempt to solve the pain points around sharing the stories behind our photos. “There are many, many opportunities to post pictures online, but there are few ways to capture them and share what they really mean to us,” she explains. “Everybody has a story to tell…stoytelling is woven into the fabric of our lives.” But, Martina adds, as parents and grandparents get older, their stories are dying with them.
Using the Memloom web service, which in two weeks will also ship on iPad, users will be able to easily build customizable stories using a selection of themes and “blocks” (like magazine layouts) that help shape their story. Then, it’s a matter of dragging and dropping in content, writing the text, or recording the audio.
Users can choose how much, or how little work they want to put into their creations. To build a simple story, some of the early 160 beta testers would finish their project in around 10 minutes. Others who found themselves writing stories to accompany the project took around 30 minutes per story instead. You could imagine these used to document your parents’ or grandparents’ tales, wedding slideshows, special moments spent with friends, family events like vacations or births or parties, or other family histories.
The product has been tested among moms primarily, as that’s a customer base Martina can reach best through her magazine. After Memloom launches, she will promote the app through the magazine (where she is no longer day-to-day), as well as in nearly a dozen sister publications in the U.S., and other smaller parenting magazines.
The service will be freemium, with a cap on the number of stories and amount of content you can store before paying for a premium subscription ($3-$10/monthly). Further down the road, the choice to order a “hard copy” in the form of a solid state drive shipped to your home will be available – an option that could help alleviate some of the concern around creating so much important family documentation with a smaller stage startup whose general fate is still unknown.
That being said, the product is interesting to consider because it’s offering a new form of social sharing (stories can be private or public) that’s somewhere in between the online photo album or photo book and the blog. “It’s been really well-received,” says Martina of the early feedback. “People have said there’s nothing like this right now.” Time will tell if Memloom has built a niche that’s wide enough to sustain its business, however.
Memloom is officially launching today, but allowing users in on a staggered basis to scale up slowly. Sign up is here.
The five-person company has so far raised $625,000 in seed funding from angel investors, including David Fry, Rudy Pataro, and angel groups like First Step Fund, but Martina says the goal is to ultimately raise $3 million.
Don’t call it a comeback, at least not yet.
The number of ads purchased in 2013 for iPad editions of magazines rose 16%, according to a study by the Association of Magazine Media and Kantar Media. That’s good news for an industry hit by falling ad revenue, but another number stands out in the report: Print ad units were almost unchanged from the year before, down a fraction of a percent
With print revenue comprising more than half of magazine revenues, news that print ad units were steady is a welcome relief. Ad pages are a closely followed indicator of the magazine industry, as the magazines’ rates change from publication to publication and often client to client. Read more…
The weekly magazine will cost $19.99 annually, but Amazon is offering a limited-time introductory price of $9.99
Amazon plans to showcase the work of debut authors and translate stories from around the world into English. The first issue appeared Wednesday with the short story “Sheila” by Rebecca Adams Wring and “Wrought,” a poem by Zach Strait. Each issue will also include a note from the editor introducing the writer and poet, along with bonus content like playlists, interviews with the authors and illustrations Read more…