Think Quarterly: Google Launches Its Own Online Magazine (Updated)

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We hear a lot about Google’s relationship with publishers, but this week the search giant also quietly launched its own online publication based in the UK. Think Quarterly, which calls itself a “a breathing space in a busy world” is, as the name implies, a quarterly online magazine. The design feels somewhat reminiscent of Wired, with a strong focus on infographics and large photos (but without ads). The articles come both from writers inside of Google and freelancers and the publication is designed and edited by creative agency The Church of London.

This first edition mostly focuses on the topic of “data,” but the articles run the gamut from a discussion of Near Field Communication to an interview with “data superstar” Hans Rosling. The bias is obviously towards Google products, though some of the interviews could easily stand on their own in other publications.

Update: A Google spokesperson just sent me the following, clarifying that Think Quarterly will only have a very limited offline distribution:

"Like most companies we regularly communicate with our business customers via email newsletters, updates on our official blogs, and printed materials. This short book about data was sent to 1,500 of our UK partners and advertisers.

"There are only a limited number of copies, and they aren’t for sale or designed for anyone other than our partners – but anyone who’s interested can visit the companion website at www.thinkquarterly.co.uk."

think_quarterly_screen

Google made some interesting choices in presenting these articles. You can read the magazine (62 pages in this first edition) either in a full-screen view that recreates the magazine experience on the screen (this looks best on a big widescreen monitor) or as traditional online texts. You can also subscribe to the publication's RSS feed here.

It’s worth noting that a large part of the online reading experience is powered by Issuu and was not developed in-house by Google.

Frederic Lardinois founded SiliconFilter in 2011. Before starting this site, he wrote about 1,500 articles for ReadWriteWeb. His areas of interest are consumer web and mobile apps, as well as Internet-connected devices like cars, smart sensors and toasters. You can reach him at [email protected]

7 COMMENTS

  1. The on-screen typography is amazingly hard to read. How did that happen? It’s 2011. I can read the lettering on every other web page I bring up perfectly, but not Think Quarterly. Hmmmmmm.

  2. @MarkHernandez I found that to be an issue with the digital reproduction, too. Best to zoom in if you want to read the articles that way.

  3. As someone who produces an online-only digital magazine, Automotive Traveler (http://automotivetraveler.com/jump/2954), this post hit so many hot buttons so after reading Mark’s comment, I had to go take a look. And he’s right, it’s hard to read (I viewed it on a 15-inch laptop.)

    From my perspective, and this is only my opinion, that when producing content digitally, readability is paramount. And I believe that pages should be produced so they can be viewed without zooming and scrolling because this is how we read magazines in print. Call me old fashioned, but I’ in my fifties and as they say, you can’t teach old dogs, new tricks.

    The balance that I found is to layout pages horizontally — the canvass I work on is a single 17×11 page — and use a big, readable font. In Automotive Traveler it’s 16pt Arial but in the next magazine I’m just starting to work on, aimed at those 35+, it will be 18pt. This way when the page is viewed on a 10-inch device, like an iPad or netbook, it will remain easy to read. I call this an integrated page approach. You can still zoom if you want, but when first presented, you can actually “read” the page the way I designed it.

    I hope that anyone reading my post will take a look and leave comments or send me an E-mail (my direct EMA is [email protected]) your impressions. We are a small company but believe strongly that tablets and E-readers will become increasingly important as a means for readers to consume content.

    Richard Truesdell

    Editorial Director, Automotive Traveler Magazine, automotivetraveler.com

  4. I love it when pages are laid out beautifully, as it enhances the enjoyment of the reading experience, and it’s much more fun to read than the web version that’s below. Of course, the typography is as important as the layout. I’m using a 24″ iMac and zooming in doesn’t help. Of course, age has nothing to do with this. The problem is clear… Someone at the company that produced the digital version thought the horrible typography was acceptable, and its making web professionals cringe around the world. The text rendering engine is inadequate, and ones that work quite well are commonplace.

  5. In my post on Poynter.org, I describe how Think Quarterly fits into the slow, thoughtful countermovement of the Web.

    Here’s the story: http://journ.us/gqNWFT

    (If the link doesn’t work, paste it into your browser; having trouble with the automatic linking.)

  6. <p>In my post on Poynter.org, <a href=”http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/124936/what-think-quarterly-and-hamlets-blackberry-tell-us-about-the-need-for-digital-white-space/”>I describe</a> how Think Quarterly fits into the slow, thoughtful countermovement of the Web.

    (And I’ve posted this comment 10 times trying to deal with an automatic linking problem. Maybe I need a break from the Web myself?)

    Steve Myers

    @myersnews

  7. Kudos to Google UK for moving into the digital magazine space. It’s interesting that they chose this channel to deliver their content rather than a PDF or some of their own products.

    I do agree with the comments here that it got readability issues. In addition, they could benefit from adding more rich content in the magazine to keep readers engaged – my colleague just wrote a blog post on how Think Quarterly can move from good to great. Worth a read: http://www.zmags.com/blog/think-quarterly

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