Coming to a Printer Near You: Magazines!

Hewlett-Packard and Conde Nast propose print-at-home magazinesWhy wait for the postman to deliver your next copy of Glamour or Golf Digest when you can print it out at home?

This is the half-baked idea that Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and magazine mogul Conde Nast are proposing this week. The two companies are teaming up to offer printer-fueled content from Conde Nast magazines including Allure, Wired, and Epicurious.

The relationship is obviously a win-win for the companies:
  • Conde Nast gets to sell subscriptions without incurring printing or mailing costs.
  • HP rakes it in by selling more printer cartridges. (Just think about how much ink it would take to print out a Glamour fashion spread.)
It's not a coincidence that HP is also introducing an Instant Ink subscription plan along with this announcement, offering discounted cartridges to those who commit to monthly purchases. If you're printing Epicurious recipes or Golf Digest course reviews you're going to spend a lot of time cracking open your printer to replace the juice.

Then we get to the consumer.

Who wants to waste that much paper and foot the bill for all of that ink? How cheap must the "print at home" feature be to make it fiscally feasible? And even if HP and Conde Nast ultimately only offer select content this way, who prints articles in this digital age?

Take Two Tablets and Call Me in the Morning

Conde Nast has to know that this is a ridiculous idea.

The company must realize that web-savvy readers have no problem consuming magazine content on their computers, tablets, or smartphones. And even though digital distribution didn't serve Conde Nast well in the past (its colorful reads were a bad fit for's (AMZN) original colorless Kindle), the company is already on-board for full-color publications when Amazon's Kindle Fire hits the market next month.

Maybe it sees this as an incremental business, stronger than the environmentalist complaints that are likely to follow. Maybe there's an opportunity here to reach out to non-subscribers with individual article printouts at home.

Either way, at least Conde Nast is smart enough to be playing both sides of the digital distribution game. There's just no way that this printing option will take off for HP.

Less Bad for HP

HP has done a better job than Dell of expanding away from the meandering PC business, and the recent change at the top opens the door for moves that would enhance shareholder value.

However, there's no way I can get behind this idea.

Printing magazines -- or even multi-page articles -- at home? Really? Don't tell me you'll be knocking on Amazon's door next, asking the e-tail leader if folks may want to print out Kindle books from home as well.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for HP. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Dell and

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Well it's sure clear why they're raking in salaries 100x that of the average worker. These are the kind of gems that nobody without a C-title could figure out. Let's see, as graphic heavy as a magazine is, I can easily see envision burning through a B&W cartridge and a color cartridge (depending on what printer you've got) and with those half filled cartridges that HP seems to sell, maybe two of each. But at the very lease, about $40 in ink to print out a copy of a magazine, a couple bucks for a ream of paper. And if you don't have a printer than can do front and back printing, you've got this huge, cumbersome loose stack of papers; god help you if you drop it (unless you want to invest in a book binder, too). This is a lot more work than it's worth. HP, if you need ideas or if you're just looking for stupid thing to spend money on, CALL ME!

October 15 2011 at 1:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


October 14 2011 at 9:12 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

It aint gonna work, it just aint gonna work!

October 14 2011 at 8:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Sounds like a bad idea to me! I have a hard time getting one decent copy off my printer
with out trying to print a whole damn magazine! LOL at this one!

October 14 2011 at 8:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

If anyone moderats these posts please! Please! ban LL

October 14 2011 at 7:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Just plain stupid.

October 14 2011 at 7:24 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply