How Flipboard just created 50 million magazine editors

Inside FlipboardAll Things D | Giga Om
If you wanted to draw up a plan for drastically remaking the landscape of mobile news discovery, it might look something like this: 1) Release a beautiful news aggregating app that attracts 50 million readers, then 2) Empower those readers as curators who can create thousands of hand-picked digital magazines.

Flipboard, one of the most popular news-reading mobile apps, has just done that. It is shifting its focus toward empowering users to create their own curated “magazines” for others to read.

“Now everyone can be a reader and an editor,” a company blog post says.

You might think of the new Flipboard like Pinterest for articles — where each user tacks pieces of content into collections that other users can follow. Flipboard users with good taste and and lots of friends could suddenly become influential drivers of attention to news articles.

News organizations themselves can also create these custom magazine editions. Esquire has done a handful already. Rolling Stone did as well. Journalists could think of a number of ways to build collections in Flipboard — “Best of” lists, year-in-review packages, or bundling recurring features or columns.

Mathew Ingram warns that the new features are also “a threat to the existing publishing industry, since a Flipboard user can now create their own custom publication using the content that comes from dozens of different magazines, blogs, websites and other sources.”

He continues: “…But the most subversive aspect of the new features from a media-industry point of view is that they can be used by anyone — including advertisers. If an advertiser can create their own magazine by pulling in their own editorial content as well as content from other sources, and build e-commerce functionality into it, then it gives new meaning to the idea of brands as publishers and media entities.”

Walt Mossberg has a detailed review and walkthrough of how the new features work. He praises the changes, but notes some limitations:

Unfortunately, what you can’t do is to edit your magazine much, or add original or local content to it. You can’t rearrange articles, or create your own text articles, or add photos or videos that live only on your iPad or iPhone. You also can’t rearrange articles. Because Flipboard is so oriented to pulling in content from online sources, to use one of your own photos or videos in your own magazine, you’d have to first post it to a site like Flickr. To use an article you write for your own magazine, you’d have to first post it online.

…You also can’t charge for your magazines or sell ads in them, though any ads embedded in the content you include would travel with that content into your magazine.

Flipboard says it expects to add some of these features, like the ability to use photos and videos stored on your device, in updates.

Here’s Flipboard CEO Mike McCue showing off the new app to Kara Swisher:

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