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Friday, December 26, 2008

Stuff India: Disappointing Desi Edition

“World’s Best-Selling Gadget Mag” (as they claim top on the mast-head itself), Gadgets-Gear-Technology magazine, STUFF is launched in December in India in its desi avataar. You must be aware that its international edition was made available by Haymarket (also the publishers of Autocar, WhatCar? and What Hi-Fi), at lower price for Indian readers in November 2007. Now, almost a year later, this Indian edition is released with lesser pages, poor presentation, and inferior product quality at same lower price- Rs.100.

Though lots of life style and men’s magazines today also carry the content on Gadgets-Gear-Technology, but STUFF has its direct competitor already in the Indian market- T3, which eventually is also celebrating its second anniversary in the same month. And on news-stand, the launch issue of STUFF is looking very inferior product in comparison with the special issue of T3.

Content
Since this is the launch issue of Stuff, it has lots of burden on its shoulders- competing with competitor’s special issue, setting up its own image in readers’ mind, meeting with the expectations from launch issue etc. I think, launch issue of Stuff is failed to meet all of these. Since last November, pages were already getting reduced (from 202 in Nov.2007) in every issue and now in the launch issue it is slashed down to 114 only.

Content of the magazine is divided into three (almost equal in terms of page numbers) major sections- Hot Stuff, Features & Tested. Product range covered in the issue is good, but while looking at articles covered in Feature section, it doesn’t seem as this issue was planned to be the launch issue. These kinds of stories could go in later issues because they leave a wrong impression about the overall content goes in a regular issue of Stuff.

Design
It is inferior to the international edition of Stuff. Right from the cover to the inside pages- including photographs, design and illustrations- it is substandard. It is disappointing to see such a badly designed cover of a launch issue- poor treatment of cover photograph, poor background (though it is looking much better with white back ground in subscription advertisement), flawed imaging, and badly placed cover stories… A dull cover for the inaugural issue!

Same quality of presentation you can see in inside pages also, be it product shot (Page. 10, 44, 52, 57) or illustration (pg. 39) or a concept shot (pg. 70) or a layout (Pg. 40-41, 70, 92). ‘Top 10 of everything’ pages are looking good and rich in content.

Printing
Printing is OK but when it is compared with its earlier issues which were available in Indian market, it seems inferior. Hence, the readers’ expectations which are already raised by its international versions can become a big problem for Indian Stuff. Few pages are heavily saturated and few have registration problem.

Product
As I said, Indian readers must have raised their expectations in last one year because of ‘low-priced-UK-edition’ but at the same price this product disappoints a buyer. Pre-press work also needed to be improved.

As a conclusion, I would like to say that a careful selection of products & stories and better design & layout can definitely make this magazine a great gadget magazine.

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