Behold! The contextual magazine rack



(Many of you who read this blog may be too young to be able to relate to this but read on. It’s not complicated and you may actually like the idea.)

For those of you have been to this thing called a “bookstore” or an airport recently you will understand the joy that is felt, standing in front of the magazine rack and letting the visual sensory overload, wash over you. Hundreds of magazine covers offering something different. Artful shots and a unique perspective. I didn’t realize how much I miss this until I was recently at  Tattered Cover. It’s an amazing thing to behold.

The issue, of course is that print is dying. Newspapers and magazines are and have been migrating online for many years and businesses like Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop have been trying to help people find content they’re looking for. The issue with Guy’s model is it’s not as visual as a magazine rack and even if they were to Pinterest their model, they’re still limited by the screen size.

With this in mind, I had an idea as I was standing in front of the mass of magazines. What if you made the magazine rack contextual? Here’s the use case!

A customer walks into the store and stands in front of the magazine rack. They look around for covers that interest them, picking some up and flipping through them. After about 10 minutes, they pull out their tablet, open the Magazine Rack app and login. The system has a record of what types of content they’ve viewed online (Flipboard or Pulse, Google Chrome, etc). They  select the browse option and the app brings up a visual list of articles (like Pocket) that they may be interested in. They select an article that looks interesting and the app brings it up. They read the first couple of paragraphs and are interested in reading the rest with the magazine in hand. They hit the Find it option and then hold the tablet up and using augmented reality, the app shows them where the magazine is in the rack. They walk over pick it up and find a comfortable chair.

The data in the magazines would be in a central database and facilitated via iBeacon. Something similar to Estimote. This could promote foot traffic and in-store sales of magazines. I’m sure that this idea would be quickly polluted with advertising but until then, live the dream!

By Michael Myers