About a year ago my manager at the Herald & Times set me a challenge – how do you move street papers like the Big Issue into the digital age?
On one level it sounds like a trivial problem. Dozens of solutions already exist to translate newspapers and magazines into digital editions. We already use several such systems for our commercial newspapers and magazines – everything from digital facsimile systems like NewspaperDirect to bespoke print-to-digital workflows like the one we developed between Atex Prestige and our Drupal-based CMS for heraldscotland.com.
Any of those solutions would be a valid way to get street papers into a digital format. But street papers present another, unique challenge… how do you preserve the physical transaction with the vendor on the street when everything is digital?
There are, of course, high-tech solutions to that conundrum – technologies like NFC, RFID and swiping cards with Square readers are all valid solutions. But they’re also fragile, expensive and not particularly well suited to the street vendor environment. In the end I came up with a pretty simple solution. Using cardboard cards printed with unique access codes, vendors could sell ‘digital’ editions of their magazines alongside the regular print editions.
Working with David Craik, the wonderful team from the International Network of Street Papers and some talented designers and developers from 999 Design we’re well on the way towards launching a pilot scheme. The pilot will run with the UK’s Big Issue in the North and Streetwise in Chicago.
Today we’ve launched a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter to raise the money we need for a successful pilot launch. Please check out our video below and if you’d like to back the project (and get some fab rewards) please go here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1882811473/the-digital-street-paper
- Mashable – Network of Homeless Newspapers Tries QR-Code Digital Edition
- The Register – Big Issue sellers could soon be flogging QR Codes
- Journalism.co.uk – Digital edition street papers pilot due to launch in July
- The Drum – The Big Issue in the North to trial selling digital issues on the street
- Big Issue South Africa – Street papers make bold move towards digital
- 2D Code – Street Papers Go Digital With QR Codes
- CorpComms – Manchester Big Issue sellers go digital
- INSP blog – Street papers announce digital initiative (and need your help to make it happen!)