Forget the paperless office dream, but how about a paperless living room?

Forget the paperless office dream, but how about a paperless living room?

Summary: Like several high tech innovations Zinio began as a digital service aimed at B2B. But it worked, so it's inevitably grown to become a global, consumer-oriented service as well.


cosmoj.jpg Like several high tech innovations Zinio began as a digital service aimed at B2B. But it worked, so it's inevitably grown to become a global, consumer-oriented service as well. If it works at work, just think how you can use it at home. And then there's that little fact of a digital world that is, well, worldwide.

I recently spoke with Rich Maggiotto, CEO of Zinio, based in Silicon Valley. Zinio began as software and a delivery system for digital publication of print titles in the tech sector. Now they deliver a thousand titles from 350 publishers around the world. Their roster includes "Computer Shopper" and "SmartPhone." "Home Theatre" and "Digital Camera World." From Australian pubs to Venezuelan periodicals. From "Beer Magazine" to "Playboy" and "Penthouse." That brings us to the one international barrier Zinio's encountered. Maggiotto said there are some Middle Eastern countries and China blocking some of the title Zinio provides, mostly to prevent access to sexually explicit material. So far there's been little attempt to block political magazines. Sex is more dangerous to some regimes than political debate?


So what's cleantech about digital publication? Maggiotto helped me count the ways: no need to deliver thousands of paper copies. Big energy savings right there. In the U.S. alone the printed magazine industry eats through 35-million trees annually. Sure, that's renewable, at a cost. No need for ink and glue and....

Magazines on slick paper are not usually recycled, helping produce nearly five billion pounds of solid waste annually. The landfill space is NOT renewable and then there's all that energy consumed just hauling the mags to the store or post office, delivering them, collecting them and then hauling off to the dump.

The magazine industry accounts for thirteen billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, just in the U.S. And the CO2 production is equal to over a million autos, the daily commute load in a typical burgeoning Sunbelt metro area. But here's the worst part of the whole wasteful and now-unecessary print magazine thing: 70% of all magazines that go to stores are never sold and thus go straight to landfill. Only about 10% of all home-delivered magazines are kept for a year or longer. We know what happens to the rest, not to mention their poly bags and all those pesky insert cards. Stop the pain, already.


Not only does Zinio short-circuit the whole print and paper miasma, it offers the staid world of print a trio of huge leaps into the 21st Century. First, the digital subscription service allows anybody on the planet to subscribe to any magazine (governments willing) that's on Zinio. A businessman in India or Peru can get instant access to any business magazine as soon as it goes to press, not two weeks later when it arrives by snail mail. A journalist in Malaysia can see European and American news magaziners the minute they are released, not after they've become stale.

A number of magazines have joined the Zinio service only to find their subscriber base goes global. Maggiotto cited one American men's magazine that's very focused on issues and locations in North America. Yet Zinio brought them thousands of new subscribers from countries where the magazine had no marketing and no newsstand presence.

Secondly, Zinio allows traditional print ads to link to video, audio or quicktime animation. Zinio can take the reader directly to an advertiser's page without leaving the magazine. Zinio always tries to use the most widespread software, like Mpeg or Flash, but the service will prompt you to download if you don't have the program. In dollar terms this means magazines can now sell online animation and audio to advertisers. More global subscriber base plus publishers get to up-sell.

Also, Zinio provides 24/7, online access to back issues. It's an archive as well as an agent for the magazine publishers.


Zinio itself already licenses their technology to websites like Barnes & Noble and the McGrawHill textbook store where they sell digital textbooks. Maggiotto says MGH is seeing digital sales double every semester. Further Zinio has stats on readership habits: what articles they read, how long they spend, what ads they follow, etc. In the digital world, advertisers could find out how their ad is being accepted, viewed, etc. Maggiotto says they will track this data without any loss of privacy for the reader/subscriber.

So are we done with poly-bagged magazines and stuffed mail trucks? Meanwhile one magazine has tracked down its own carbon footprint. Here's that blog.

I forgot to ask if Zinio can just deal with all those paper catalogs that fill my recycle bin each week.

Topics: Malaysia, Government, Privacy, Smartphones, China, India

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Couple of complaints about Zinio...

    While it's a great concept, it's got its own form of DRM limitations. I USED to subscribe to a few magazines thru Zinio. Many magazines don't allow any type of "fair use" or even the capability to print an article. Now, when I'm done with my PC World or PC Magazine, I'll give it to my brother. You can't do that with Zinio versions. There's no way to export even a single article from the library. Many magazines don't even allow you to print a page in order to share a certain tip or article of interest with a friend like you can with print versions. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to create some sort of redistribution service. I'd just like some of the flexibility I get with print versions. I'm not sure if any of that's changed, as I stopped using Zinio subscriptions around 2005.
    • saving

      Ok,maybe you're not SUPPOSED to, but couldn't you just take a screen shot? (screen image capture = alt+print screen)
    • Ah, but you can!

      The digital versions available on Zinio of both PC World and PC Magazine (as well as many other magazines) can be printed, two pages at a time, specifically for sharing single articles as you mention. If your brother runs out of reading material, you can send him a full issue by using the "send to friend" feature. Once he creates his own Zinio account, you can send him a digital copy to enjoy. You don't even have to finish reading yours first!

      Zinio is always working to improve the experience, and a lot has changed since 2005. Please give Zinio another try and let us know what you think.
  • I had Zinio

    But I couldn't stand having to sit in front of my computer to read a magazine. When I read, I like to be away from my desktop. It's also much easier to read text on paper as opposed to a glaring screen. I also was upset that there was no Zinio for Linux.

    I no longer use Zinio, so I'm back to polluting the earth :(
    • But thanks for giving it a chance.

      If you only read your magazines at home and prefer the tactile experience of the physical magazine, then Zinio might not be your top choice. But if you're a traveler or somebody looking to just do a little more to help cut back on waste, Zinio does offer distinct advantages that print versions can't. It allows you to take your entire library with you, wherever you and your computer may go. You can share your magazine with a friend, without having to actually give up your issue. You can click on links in ads or articles that take you directly to more information. And once you're done reading, there's nothing to throw away.
  • Zinio's Digital Restrictions Management make it unusable

    The Digital Restrictions Management that Zinio uses makes it
    close to useless as far as I'm concerned. In order to move their
    magazines from one computer to another, or even to be able to
    view the magazines on the same computer after you're
    reinstalled the OS requires that you contact them and get
    _their_ permission to do it.

    There are several other companies that offer DRM-less versions
    of electronic magazines that are easier to use in practice.

    I would not purchase a subscription to any magazine published
    via Zinio. Their technology is one more example of how
    consumers are getting screwed in the transition from the
    analog world of wood pulp (which is recyclable) to the digital
    world of electrons and DRM. This is also happening with music
    (finally they are catching on here - yay for Apple, eMusic and
    Amazon) and so on.
    • The Zinio DRM isn't as scary it seems.

      The system is in place to make sure that one person doesn't buy a subscription and then post a link for it on a blog so everbody can access for free. It works by matching your computer's hardware/software to your username and account.

      Like iTunes, you are allowed to install on a limited number of computers. As long as the computer is listed on your active account and the magazine is one that you've purchased rights to, you can easily move a magazine from one computer to another. The only reason you'd need to contact Zinio is if the publication was a one-time download, such as a textbook.

      DRM lets publishers and copyright holders be sure that their content isn't being distributed without license. DRM has and is being used by content providers such as Apple, Inc. Microsoft, Sony, BBC and others.

      But wait, there's more! There is actually a "share with friend" feature that allows you to send a full copy of most magazines to your friends. Once they've made a Zinio account, they'll get access to whatever issue you've sent them. This is one of many way's that Zinio is working with our users to make a more robust digital magazine experience.
      • DRM may be scaryer than than you think!

        DRM, referred to as Digital Rights Management, is not about rights but about restrictions and control. Please read and have an educated opinion about what DRM really means.
  • RE: Forget the paperless office dream, but how about a paperless living room?

    George Dimopoulos provides an updated aspect of paperless work- and lifestyles in his new book ???Paperless Joy???. The impact of the paperless trend on the environment, human relations, business and global development is addressed along with a comprehensive practical guide on how to go paperless. see:

    or google Paperless Joy
  • RE: Forget the paperless office dream, but how about a paperless living room?

    <a href="" target="_blank">Word To PDF </a>
    Tweak <a href="" target="_blank">Word To PDF </a> 3.0 is a little software solely to convert Microsoft Word doc to PDF <a href="" target="_blank">convert Microsoft Word doc to PDF </a> for easier file transfer, viewing and better security. The Word to PDF conversion will not lose any of the formatting of the originals. The original features like page layout, image positioning and text font are all kept intact. The converter supports batch conversion to convert a list of files at a time to save time, too.
    <a href="" target="_blank">free download and free trial </a>