In June of 2008, Hewlett-Packard Labs launched MagCloud, a print-on-demand web service for magazine selfpublishing.
MagCloud enables anyone to publish their own magazine by simply uploading a PDF file to the site. There
are no setup fees, minimum print runs, storage requirements or waste due to unsold magazines. Magazines are only
printed when an order is placed, and are shipped directly to the end customer. In the course of building this web service,
a number of technological challenges were encountered. In this paper, we will discuss these challenges and the methods
used to overcome them. Perhaps the most important decision in enabling the successful launch of MagCloud was the
choice to offer a single product. This simplified the PDF validation phase and streamlined the print fulfillment process
such that orders can be printed, folded and trimmed in batches, rather than one-by-one. In a sense, MagCloud adopted
the Ford Model T approach to manufacturing, where having just a single model with little or no options allows for
efficiencies in the production line, enabling a lower product price and opening the market to a much larger customer
base. This platform has resulted in a number of new niche publications - the long tail of publishing.