What a magazine’s colophon tells you

14 Jul

If you are in any way involved in writing –and who isn’t?– and you have not thumbed through a copy of Wired, stop reading blogs, and get thee to a book store. The online version of the magazine will not suffice, either.

Why? The very act of turning the page, absorbing the impact of the typography, and juxtaposition of content will teach you something. The contents page looks different every time, the photo-illustrations are quirky, risque, challenging; the sections (like Artifacts from the future) and color really push the boundaries of print. And as for audience engagement, try putting it down after two minutes. I dare you!

Wired also does a few neat things you won’t see in many other publications:

  • Place cryptic words or phrases next to the publication date on the cover that relate to the cover story. July 2006 featured the letters ‘TMI’ because the story was about data. March ’08 was ‘Nothing is sacred.’ For the April ’08 cover story, Evil Genius, it was “original Sin.’ The story was about Apple.
  • Use photo illustrations that are basically articles condensed into illustrated stories and maps –a different way to tell a story.
  • Use a colophon. A what? Somewhere at the back of the book is a column set in all caps titled ‘Colophon.’ It’s one of those obscure words that derive from a much earlier print industry -tablets and manuscripts. It describes odd little details about the making of that issue including the blood sweat and bloody mary’s involved.

I’ve been reading Wired for about ten years now. It’s one of those pubs you know will not go away no matter where digital content is moving into, despite the dire predictions of the ‘Print is toast‘ crowd. Why? Because they pay attention to excruciating details.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 14, 2008 in Media, Technology



One response to “What a magazine’s colophon tells you

  1. Steve B.

    October 31, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Hear hear! Love Wired, especially for the reasons you’ve just listed. Not to mention that it’s like having a massive novel delivered to your house every month.
    Especially glad they brought back “Artifacts from the future” after a brief hiatus.


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