National Geographic Gives Readers the Cover
National Geographic magazine [NG], long recognized for its stunning photography, has developed a strong following among amateur and professional photographers and showcases their work on a dedicated page in each issue. The NG Web site has a section featuring the photography submitted to the magazine, and even releases a "Your Shot" special edition featuring their work.
This year, National Geographic is taking a new step with the Your Shot edition: Budding photographers can go to the National Geographic Web site to order copies of the collector's edition with their own photographs on the cover for $19.99, plus shipping [regular cover price is $10.99]. This on-demand printing is made possible by HP Indigo printers that National Geographic's printer, Consolidated Graphics (CGX), recently acquired.
Bill Marr, executive editor for design at National Geographic, spoke to Publishing Executive Inbox about how the Your Shot collector's edition came together, and why it was important to engage these readers in this fashion.
INBOX: Where did the idea to make a collector's edition of the Your Shot issue available with reader-personalized covers come from, and how does it benefit National Geographic?
BILL MARR: My own exposure to custom covers is from the America 24/7 book project by publisher Rick Smolan from a few years ago. ["America 24/7" was a hardcover photo profile of a week in the life of the United States published by the 24/7 Media Group. Web buyers had the option to upload a photo and create a customized book jacket for their copy, a practice the 24/7 Media Group still employs.] This seemed like a natural model for the extension of our Your Shot concept from a page in the monthly magazine to a special edition.
We created the Your Shot page four years ago to open a visual bridge to our readers. After all, we have heard from them for years through their letters. Since we are such a visual magazine, communicating with photography is natural. Today we receive thousands of pictures every month, and a very active community on the NG Web site has sprung up under the My Shot banner, which is an outgrowth of Your Shot that offers more engagement features to online users.