I stumbled across the IMB (International Mountain Bike) magazine site the other day.
In what I must say has to be a brave move, this is a free to subscribe online MTB ‘zine. There seems to have been plenty of effort gone into this site and it’s content. It’s has the “glossy” feel of our favourite paper mags. Is it the future of publishing or a bit of a gimmick? I’m not sure.
The link to this ‘zine came up on the Singletrack forum and I noticed it since they had a review of some of our favourite Surrey trails. The trails article is probably my favourite article from this first issue. It highlights what is probably the best format for a mag like this, with a combination of text, photos, decent video and gpx of the routes. This is a great combination of technologies certainly beats what you can do with a standard mag. Plus the guys can certainly ride, judging how many times they cleared the judges seat on Pitch Hill.
Although it was a great find the mag it left me feeling a little underwhelmed (sorry guys!). Bascially it seemed a bit errrr…”thin” to me. It’s a bit hard to describe this feeling without visiting the site, but maybe I could best express by comparing to how I feel when my favourite mag drops through your door every month. Singletrack in my case. The impatient waiting for the (usually late) publication date. Once it’s in my mitts I can first spend a good 10-15mins just browsing through before cherry picking the best articles to start with (yep what a saddo!), then working through the rest of the magazine over the next week or so. I feel informed and inspired. Now compare to IMBikeM.
IMBike is basically 6 articles, some of which are no more than 15seconds of on-line viewing (Gallery). I spent no-more than 30mins going through this whole first issue, videos and all. Would be I looking for the date of the next IMBike with the same anticipation as Singletrack – no. Although only one is free!
However it did leave me thinking about on-line zines. I think the IMBike guys are certainly onto something, but with a few changes it could be so much more interesting. The Used and Abused is the prime example. Fairly standard text bike reviews, with a video that was just a walk around the bike with some sound. Where was the enthusiastic voice over to go with the review? Where were the videos of the bikes all being ridden down the same lines to see how they compared? Helmet cams to show how smooth each bike was…
I think that this is a great opportunity of doing something different. However I think that it needs more video, less text (too easy to skip and miss the scrolled articles) and more innovation amongst the articles.
Having said all of this I’ll be looking out for issue 2 (don’t unsubscribe me guys!) and I hope that it goes from strength to strength. Is this sort of content the future of MTB publishing? Definitely maybe.