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Monday, December 12, 2011

Science for a common man: Popular Science India

I always see ‘Popular Science’ magazine as a periodical that explains the reality of this scientific universe in simple language to a common and a layman where he lives. It covers every aspect science and technology that touches our day-to-day life and may affect our future. It brings science from scientists’ laboratories to the layman’s level understanding of complicated facts & principles and that is why I prefer to call it ‘People Science’ magazine.

The most authoritative & leading source of latest science & technology world – ‘Popular Science’ was launched in 1872 in America as a monthly magazine. Since then, after the launches of around in 30 languages in more than 45 countries, it is now launched in India by Next Gen Publishing (also the publishers of Smart Photography, Car, Bike, The Ideal Home & Garden, Mother & Baby, Computer Active, Commercial Vehicle etc).


Its topic is such that it really does not require be localized and that is why Indian edition has almost entire content from its parental publication only. Hence, no complaints till the time it is relevant for its targeted readers. Structure of magazine does not come across the magazine as clear as it appears on contents pages. The section – What’ s New, looks little weird here in this magazine as the entire magazine is already positioned as latest & updated resource of innovations in the scientific world. Features are very informative and supported with facts & figures that makes an article very interesting to read.

Since it is targeting a common man who wants to know about the world, the language of articles is kept simple & jargon free to make the subject easily understandable. Though, I find inconsistencies in structure of articles the way they are written and that makes some articles disinteresting. Overall, the entire magazine is very informative and anyone can enjoy reading it. Yes, I feel that the content falls short looking at its monthly periodicity.


Since whole content published here in Indian edition is from its US edition, the only part is left to do here is design & layout the pages… and in many cases even that is kept same. Still, there are many inconsistencies and loop holes left in design. Considering it a general interest magazine and keeping the subject in mind it really needed to be a lively and vibrant in appeal. This is what the designers have tried to make it but when there are so many things or so many design elements are introduced in one magazine, it becomes big challenge to handle them and it should be handled extremely carefully and consistently.

Cover of the launch issue itself looks little imbalance and has lacking in proof reading. The cover of Indian edition does not match with the grid of its parental edition. Without enough numbers of cover stories, the issue looks very shallow in terms of content. Subject of this magazine is such that it requires lots of stories in every issue to justify its worth. Yes, its masthead in fluorescent color is coming out very well and pops up in the magazines’ crowd at newsstand.

Layout of ‘Contents pages’ looks as if randomly done and has no consistency. Same sort of inconsistency is there in the presentation of section openers. Image boxes, those are used in the top band, are absolutely useless and could be used in better way. As I have mentioned that too many elements means, too much care and too much precision is required… and this is the area where this magazine has problems and needs to have check points.

Info graphs & illustrations are very impressive and informative except one or two places which look out of place here in this magazine. Photographs are also excellent and handled very well in layout the pages. Again at some pages some goofs occurred which I am sure, will not happen in other issues.


Prepress work is fine as images are looking great. Photographs are appeared in almost natural colors and are looking good. The only problem is that it is printed at low density and that’s why pictures are not smooth but showing pixels. Otherwise, issue is printed well with perfect registration. Colors are also come out appropriate except a few pages where some particular ink is appearing heavy. Again, I hope that will be taken care in next issues.


Inaugural issue of Popular Science consists of 100 pages. Paper quality of inside pages and the cover is just perfect as it should be. Though it has a perfect bound spine still it looks very thin and gives a feel that it has very less to read. I think that it should have two more forms to justify its newsstand cover price of Rs.100.

Since it is not a hardcore science journal but is an interesting source for the mass – a common educated man, it carries lots of features, facts, insightful articles in a descent manner and at an affordable price. This is the magazine which you can read and enjoy when you are travelling or you are sipping your evening tea.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Filmfare now available in Hindi… big deal!

In the launch issue of Hindi edition of Filmfare, Editor Jitesh Pillai has signed off his edit note with- ‘I hope that the same affection & bonding you would share with Hindi edition of Filmfare the way you have been doing for the last sixty years with English edition’. After going through the issue I was surprised if two products are not at same level in terms of editorial quality & seriousness, how can you expect the same kind of treatment & bonding from the consumer for them?

In fact, for that matter, any magazine which has no editorial vision or has not done complete editorial ground work or is not serious about its standards or does not understand the content needs of its audience that magazine cannot become a great magazine. Perhaps, that might have profitable business preposition and might be treated as a successful magazine but it cannot earn any association and the bonding from the readers. Publishers generally are very serious in terms of following the ‘best’ practices those are necessary when they launch any new magazine or they launch any foreign title in India. Then, why they seem so careless when it comes to launch of a Hindi or any regional language edition of their existing brand? Why do they not care seriously what content is going inside, how that content is presented, what quality & standards are followed when putting an issue together?

By the way, here is another magazine in Hindi… another senseless byproduct as an independent magazine! WWM pvt ltd has launched their flagship brand & almost sixty years old magazine FILMFARE in Hindi. Hindi edition is launched as a monthly magazine while Filmfare English comes twice every month. In the genre of Hindi Films, as it is there are not too many magazines available and whichever is available is also has the same problems- same editorial negligence… step-motherly treated poor Hindi versions of existing established English brands.


Looking at its editorial structure, it looks that either this magazine is put together without any understanding of content needs of its audience OR it is conceptualized very carelessly. If at all, an editorial structure is very critical aspect of any magazine and when any magazine doesn’t have same editorial structure to another magazine (even in the same genre, in the same market), then why it is assumed that the same editorial structure can work for both the versions of Filmfare? It seems as if it is made with just convenience, nothing else. And top of that, section and column names are kept so thoughtless that few of those cannot be understood by its audience.

It is so irritating when you read typical media terms or slangs in Hindi like Paparazzi, Glamfare, Style Check, Hottie, Director’s Cut, Some Like it hot, Summer Blaze, Style Sizzle, Summer Wardrobe, Star Light Express, Photo Play (they forgot conveniently that it is mentioned as ‘Vishisht Photoshoots’ in content pages), Action Replay, Snap Shots, Perfect Man, Bad Boy, Bebolicious, Temptress, Fashion Play (they forgot again that it is mentioned as ‘Fashion Station’ in content pages)…many more! It is an easy excuse if it is said that they never wanted to use hardcore Hindi words so they decided to make it ‘Hinglish’ and that is where problem starts. Because then you need to define very clear and strict guidelines to the desk for ‘what should be written in English and what should be written in Hindi’.

There is no issue in using one content bank for multiple magazines but it should be done smartly and it should have some connect & context also. Here in the Hindi edition of Filmfare, that is fine if content is taken from its English editions, but it is translated so badly that it leaves a bad taste after reading. There is certainly no copy desk guide which could tell translators/desk team that what degree of slang is allowed, how much usage of Urdu and even ‘phaarsee’ words is acceptable or what kind of words are to be left in English (and even in English script) only etc. Entire magazine has very badly structured sentences & phrases and that clearly shows negligence on subediting part. There are no guidelines followed for the usage of numerals in the magazine. There is no consistency in usage and spellings of words in entire magazine.

I cannot understand if in any English language magazine cannot afford any spelling and proofing errors (though we have software & spellcheckers to help) to have, then why the same seriousness & concern is not applicable on Hindi language magazines? Why it is assumed that readers won’t mind if they find lots of spelling errors in body text, in captions, in headlines or even on the main cover? There are lots of words used throughout the magazine which are carrying wrong vowels and few vowels are absolutely (conveniently) ignored in the Hindi edition of Filmfare.

Because of substandard quality of translation, entire magazine is full of badly structured sentences which you will never find in any other (original) Hindi publication. Many words are kept in as they used in English without even thinking that they are meaningless here in this magazine. What worst could have done than that main copy in subscription advertisement of its own, has a wrong usage of language! Apart from that, in entire magazine you can see lots unnecessary and wrong usage of punctuations.

Sourcing of articles/stories is understood that Filmfare English has huge bank and that can support its Hindi version as well, still selection of stories could have done better and serious manner. Launch issue is put together so carelessly that one of the cover stories, that is mentioned there on the main cover, is not carried at all inside the issue…!


Same problem! When two magazines have different positioning, different TG, different socio-psycho levels… then how come they can have same design style sheet! Using same photographs is just fine, but other design elements??? Why they cannot be customized or redesigned accordingly, why color scheme is kept same…just because of negligence.

I understand the maintaining the brand personality but Designers have just finished their job through easy escape route that they simply copied style from English edition and have implemented here in the Hindi edition. They didn’t even think what works-what does not work or what looks good-what does not look good in Hindi magazines. If one line is center aligned in English edition, it is kept center aligned only in Hindi also even though it is looking ugly and unbalanced on the page. If one word is kept large or bold in English, without putting any brain, same treatment is given here in Hindi also, who cares if it is looking bad when it is printed. Designers need to understand that using these kinds of special effects if you can add some impact or pun in the simple text in English, here in Hindi same treatment can spoil the taste of it or some time even the meaning. They need to understand that dealing with English typefaces and Hindi typefaces are absolutely two different challenges. Same typography which you are doing with English text, you just cannot do with the Hindi text. You need to handle blank area very smartly which comes above & below every word written in Hindi.

Few of design elements could be tweaked accordingly as they look good if they used along with the English text, but they are not looking great with Hindi text.

Quality of photographs used in the magazine is good. Cutouts are fine, only a few places it looks that job is just finished otherwise it is ok. Layouts are also good. At least design has some consistency which, on the content part is missing.


Prepress work is good so is the final product. Only a few pages are not printed in natural colors and not showing real skin colors otherwise colors are printed well. Main cover of Launch issue is looking good though I don’t understand what are the lens flare like bubbles there on Sonakhi’s photograph. If it is not a mistake, it is not adding any value to the picture.


Hindi edition of Filmfare is launched as a monthly magazine as it is shown on its date line where month & year is mentioned though page numbers are kept around 150 that is almost same as one English edition carries every fortnight. This perfect bound Hindi edition is priced at Rs.40. This genre has lots of stuff to put in one issue, and I think the quantity of content carrying this Hindi issue is good enough for a monthly periodical.

It was really a good news that Filmfare is now available in Hindi, but the quality of product has disappointed badly. As a reader I expect the same degree of professional seriousness that its English edition possesses. If I take this magazine as a separate – stand alone magazine, I don’t think that it can get the same respect & association with its readers which Filmfare otherwise has been enjoying for around 60 years. Right now this magazine is good if you want to see lots of good photographs of your favorite stars, because the moment you start reading text part, it spoils your taste. Content sharing between language versions is fine, but editing, subbing, proofing are the critical areas where they need to work seriously if Mr. Pillai wants the same treatment from its readers for this version as well.

For more Indian magazine reviews:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Imperfect Magazine for a Perfect Woman!

Publisher of recently launched magazine- ‘Perfect Woman’ claims that it is aiming at the modern, discerning and sharp focused woman of today. Perfect Woman is the new entrant in the genre of magazine for woman in India which is launched by GGC Ltd. as a monthly magazine.

Indian market is already flooded with many Indian & foreign titles like Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Femina, New Woman, Woman’s Era, Elle, Good Housekeeping, Verve and many more. Amongst them, few are fighting to be on top and couple of others are struggling even for their survival,. In that kind of competitive scenario, it becomes even more challenging to come up with an extra ordinarily brilliant product to capture a remarkable market share for you.

The market of woman magazines in India is getting wider everyday and that is why each woman interest magazine has to be positioned absolutely smartly whether it would be a general reading magazine for women or it is going to be fashion magazine or a shopping magazine or home making or some other special interest magazine for women! It can’t be just another carelessly positioned magazine.

Though, ‘Perfect Woman’ is a general reading (i.e. anything and everything related to women world) magazine so it has all the areas to include bollywood, fashion, travel, celeb talks, beauty, life style, entertainment, art, cooking and what not…!! And in order to include everything, it became just a mess. It happens in many of the cases if editorial team is not sharply focused on what they have to put and what they have to reject in the issue. The issue of Perfect Woman just looks like a collection of all kind of articles in order to hook its target audience in any of its article.

The issue looks very shallow in terms of content density because individual article are not presented in structured manner. All articles look very blend and fail to make you feel contented after reading. Language and editing part of magazine is also not impressive.

If content is poor or it is not rich in terms of its focus, structure and gravity; it becomes very difficult to lift that article by design only. And, in this case, situation is worse. Perfect Woman seems as if it is designed 25 years ago. The typefaces, colors, body copy font, text sizes & leadings, the page layout… everything is so old fashioned and dull that it does not go with the positioning of this magazine – a magazine for a modern woman.

There is no design guideline followed in the magazine for sure, because every page has its own style for layout, column width, font, body copy font sizes, leadings, other design elements, lines, borders, corners, boxes, frames, back ground colors…!

Poor quality of photography, poor cut outs, badly paced images and very carelessly edited & cropped images are fail to make it a nice presentation. The way design elements are created and used to layout a page, clearly shows the lack of professionalism in this publication. Many of design elements are just introduced on the pages without any value. They clearly are not adding any value to the article nor in esthetic of a page, but are there just randomly. Overall design in entire magazine is undisciplined.

I say it often, a final product is a result of many steps involved to reach there and if some goof ups happens at any of initial levels, it has its cascading effects and it becomes almost impossible to make up at its next levels. If content is not focused and if design is also immature, it becomes very difficult to make it an impressive and attractive article at pre press & printing stages. And, unfortunately with this magazine pre press work is also gone for a toss. Many pages has registration problem and that is why pages have color problem and images are printed badly.

Not a single image is printed in its real or original color. On some picture red color is heavy, in some picture it has yellow cast or magenta cast.. as the result pages are looking horrible. Dark images are printed in flat black and showing no details if it is a product of dark color.

Being a monthly magazine, it should have more content to justify its periodicity. In same genre, on the other hand, competitive magazines are giving content of somewhere 200 to 400 hundred pages per month. This magazine consists of average 100 pages and is priced at Rs. 60. Magazine is printed at normal paper which is perfectly bound and has a glossy cover.

Still, it fails to justify its price mainly because of less and poor quality of content & its presentation.

Overall, The Perfect Woman magazine is just ‘me too’ kind of magazine in the genre where already Indian market is flooded with brilliant products. I feel that the magazine which is made for this audience is not as trendy, focused and contended as its target audience is, as it is claimed. In this situation it seems very difficult for this magazine to craft its own space and to hold its readership.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Business Enterprise: Management Kids’ Primer

I have said this at many places that few magazines are simply conceived & started by their editors/publishers without having any publication sense. Just because they have got some expertise in a particular domain or few hundreds or thousands contacts in that segment, they start thinking that they should now start a magazine for this community on this subject. And, my belief gets even stronger, whenever I come across magazines like – The Business Enterprise. This is the newly launched publication from Brisk Corporate Services Pte. Ltd. Chennai.

Though it is claimed to be a complete enterprise magazine but actually it seems just a compilation of an absolutely general management & business articles those you can find in any of beginners management books or even in business supplements of news papers.


If it was focused, it was structured & designed (editorially) as per the positioning of this magazine; it could have done a great job. But, the way it is now, it is very shallow & vague in terms of depth of content. In the editorial note of inaugural issue it is mentioned that this magazine will cater from micro to macro issue of not only business but for entire enterprise. But I think in order to cater everybody at all the stages, the magazine has lost it focus.

Though, it is good that entire magazine is divided into few sections but these sections don’t have their own identity. Also, entire creativity of copy-desk must be drained in naming these sections only otherwise I can’t see any reason for a serious business magazine having all the section names (deliberately) starting with the alphabet – ‘E’…!!! It looks weird while going through these section names – Enlighten, Exclusive, Entertain, Envision, Evolve, Engage… Eeeik! May be it is because they must have thought to use the same ‘E’ in each section name that is used in Mast-head of magazine- Enterprise (it is my assumption)!

As I have already mentioned in starting itself that entre issue looks like a collection of white papers or chapters of some self-motivation book or some management school book for dummies. Few articles are so general as if they are targeted to a layman or written for a general interest magazine or newspaper. Topics covered in the issue are so amateur and top of that copy desk work is also not impressive. Headlines are so dull and boring that you don’t even feel to read the article in first place.


Entire magazine is very immaturely designed! Designer has tried all his imagination and all the available effects provided by the layout software. I have never seen so tiny font size for the body copy in any of magazines. That too, with variable column width... and height(!!) unlocked baseline…! Unnecessary variations in typefaces, illogical colors & effects on headlines are good enough to spoil the seriousness of the magazine.

Mostly stock images are used for the layout or downloaded from the internet. Those foreigners’ images fail to connect you with the core article, where characters & environment described in the article are Indian.

Poor illustrations, carelessly done cut-outs & useless infographics- don’t add any value to the articles. Almost every article has different color scheme for titles, sub heads, drop caps, boxes…! There is no consistency or any logic behind so many variations in design. Illustration styling is also changing in every article, that leaves very bad impression.

Cover of inaugural issue is designed very vague & carelessly. Uneven leading, text cluttering, mismatched & proportionate size of typeface, wrong back ground color for the inaugural issue and almost merged top band….over all – a bad cover!!!


Prepress work is pathetic. Lots of images are printed in improper sizes. Either they are over stretched or they are used in wrong aspect ratios. Lots of images are printed in low resolution and so are printed as pixalated.

Printing is ok as it has come out well. Pictures, which were good, are printed in good with all the details. It could have come out even better if pre-press job was done perfectly.


Inaugural issue consists of 84 pages only that is quite less if you look it as a monthly magazine for such a wide genre. Content pages of this issue also reflecting the less content in the magazine. Paper quality is ok but less number of pages and less number of articles don’t satisfy the TG’s hunger for the content for monthly periodicity even for Rs.50 for the cover price.

Overall, The Business Enterprise seems a shallow, disoriented and poorly packaged magazine. As it is structured currently, it is nowhere close to any established business or entrepreneur magazine and if it is not tweaked at right points, it has to struggle to first, find or create its own space in the industry and second, to survive with that positioning.

For more Indian magazine reviews:

Monday, March 07, 2011

Adorn: luxury on the paper

At least one jewellery magazine which shows a class in everything- in its content, text, photographs, paper, or as a complete product –Adorn. Adorn is a recently launched bi-monthly luxury jewellery magazine by Spenta multimedia (publishers of many custom magazines like Jetwings, First Update, FlyLite, Imperia, Solitaire, Apparel etc.. & consumer magazine – Hair and various books).

Being a special interest, as needed, content is targeting its core TG only. Though as it is positioned as ‘luxury’ jewellery magazine, but it has no significant or any obvious difference from other jewellery magazines existing in country. Still, content is good and has variety but presentation is the area where it disappoints. From cover to cover editorial structure is one thing which as a reader you miss badly. All the articles are good when they are read independently, but at the same time they appear scattered throughout the magazine when you browse it cover to cover.

FOB & BOB pages of the magazine are very obvious & product show-case kind of pages and these pages have no clear demarcation of content and their presentation.
All they have good photographs of random products with almost incomplete information.

Otherwise, it has good features, cover story, designer’s profile, jewellery concepts, international trends etc to follow. Only section which looks misfit (though it is useful for people who are new in the trade) in this magazine is ‘Jewellery know-how’ that talks about absolutely basics of jewellery & its design!

Design is good in this magazine, and that should be this kind of genre. Every product, accessory, model everything is photographed perfectly. And top of that designer has used those pictures smartly and placed beautifully that pages (or spreads) is looking just fantastic.

Colors & design elements those are used across the magazine are absolutely go with the subject & the genre of the Adorn…! Though, basic grid is not followed for page layouts that disappoints on design part. If it was taken care, this product could have been the best in the genre and would have been reference for other.

If you ignore those basic mistakes, every page is beautifully designed & laid out in this magazine.
Master head of the magazine – ‘adorn’ is good that runs across the cover. It is quite visible and stands out even if this magazine is kept with many others on stalls. Cover grid is designed such a way that it can accommodate main visual, main cover story and other stories giving appropriate prominence to each element.

Just excellent! Not a single page has even a tiny printing problem, it just perfect. Colors are so real- whether it is gold, diamonds, silver or skin; everything is printed in its natural colors. Prepress work is fine, accept a few pages. Even full page & spread size pictures are printed well.

Entire magazine of around 112 pages is printed on art paper and that makes it a class product. Again, that was essential for this kind of genre & positioning of the magazine.

Adorn is a bi-monthly magazine and having this quality of content & presentation cover price Rs.100 is quite reasonable.

Adorn is positioned as luxury jewellery magazine, but so far I can’t see any big difference from other existing jewllery magazines. To justify its positioning of ‘luxury’ & ‘lifestyle’, it needs more clear editorial structuring and obvious differentiators.

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