Google Magazine – About Whatever You Want (Soon at a Kiosk Near You?)

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There was news this week about being able to get directions and map information from Google at kiosks located at certain gas stations, as well as coupons. Might we see more from Google at kiosks sometime soon?

Maybe magazines that could customized and printed at kiosks? The gas station kiosks wouldn’t work as a printing station. They use a receipt printer for maps and coupons.

Imagine going to an interface like this one through your computer, or at a kiosk:

Custom Google Magazine Interface

There, you might decide that you want to read about the latest blog posts from NFL bloggers at Yardbarker, and new advances in computing from Slashdot, along with stories on local politics from your local newspaper, plus your emails from the last three days minus the spam. Might as well throw in the record reviews from Mojo Magazine, and whatever Encyclopædia Britannica might have on Mohammad Ali.

And you want to see advertisements for cars, since you’re thinking about getting a new car, and adding some advertisements will reduce the price of the magazine. You may pay first, the magazine prints, and you’re off to read what you chose.

You select content through a “custom publication creator,” which would let you decide what you want in your magazine. A Google patent application published this week explains how that custom publication creator might work, and the system behind it.

The publication could be printed where you purchase it, whether at home or through a kiosk, and it would contain content you select, as well as advertisements that can be based your input or relevance to your selections, or even the time of day, location, type of store, and transaction.

There are some possible variations on the form that your publication might take. For instance, you may want an electronic copy instead of a paper copy, with links intact from your content that comes from the Web. Your electronic publication might also include content that isn’t normally available online, like a chapter from a printed book, or a magazine article, and could include podcasts and videos.

Customization of Content and Advertisements in Publications
Invented by Jason Harinstein and Karen Roter Davis
Assigned to Google Inc.
US Patent Application 20070260671
Published November 8, 2007
Filed May 2, 2006


A method includes receiving personalized content from a plurality of content sources. The personalized content is based on user input. The method further includes receiving a personalized advertisement based on user input, and creating a customized publication including the personalized content and the personalized advertisement.

Benefits to advertisers in using this system might be in allowing them to customize ads to certain folks, so that for instance, a truck manufacturer could associate their truck advertisements with content relating to trucks (e.g., a truck magazine article), or another advertiser could target males from age “eighteen to thirty-four, who live in Texas, and drink coffee.”

The person buying the publication could choose from a number of different options, such as:

  • Specific content,
  • Classes of content,
  • Selected authors,
  • Sections from printed publications,
  • Specific advertisers,
  • Classes of advertisements of interest, and;
  • Other choices.

In addition to making specific selections, a list of content could be generated in response to a search query, or searches that could be performed on such things as:

  • A publication name,
  • An article name,
  • An author’s name,
  • An image name,
  • A publication topic,
  • An article topic,
  • An image topic, or;
  • Combinations of some or all of those.

This publication could be created on the Web, or at kiosks located in stores, similar to the way that some stores provide photo booths.

As I noted above, we’ve seen Google start offering some services at kiosks this week. A patent filing that I wrote about in April of 2006 shows some other possible expansions of services offered at kiosks in Google’s Holy Grail of Shopping?

The custom publication creator system would allow you to log in, and save information about you in a profile. That way, if you decide to print out certain blogs on a regular basis, or articles from certain magazines, you can save those choices. It might also enable the system to suggest related content, or to target advertisements to you.

The cost of the publication would be based in part by the content you select to be included. Acceptance of advertisements may mean a lower cost for the publication, with advertising reductions included in the prices of the document.

In addition to a “print while you wait” version, and an electronic copy, a copy of the document could be printed on demand, and mailed to you, or emailed as a PDF or available for pickup at a print pickup station in a retail shop or public library or university.

The patent filing discusses computerized interfaces for the person ordering the publication, for a content provider, and for an advertser. Content providers would be able to establish fees for the use of their content under this system.


Google’s start in using kiosks to provide services this week was interesting. It will be fun to see if they start using them in malls and other places like I’ve described in the “Holy Grail of Shopping” post I’ve linked to above.

If they do, will they offer us the opportunity to make and print our own custom Google Magazine?

Added – November 10th.

I’m not the only one who thinks that this is a pretty interesting offering, and has a lot of potential of actually happening. Dave at Huomah wrote up his thoughts on this patent filing at It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Google Personalized Publishing!. As he notes there, the way to produce relevant and targeted ads in the print world is to let people make their own publications. Great illustrations in the post, too.

I’m also wondering if another participant might emerge from this kind of publication model in a manner that doesn’t seem to be anticpated by the patent application – an editor who finds and selects materials for publication, and can offer others the chance to read their choices of content. This could be a freelance editor, or one who compiles material for a business, around a specific topic.

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15 thoughts on “Google Magazine – About Whatever You Want (Soon at a Kiosk Near You?)”

  1. Very nice writeup Dave.

    Great illustrations, too. I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to write about it either, but you’re right about it being incredibly interesting. I saw your post before I saw your comment. I was coming back here to link to you within my post.

  2. Nice find to both of you (Bill and Dave). It does have some really interesting implications, and I’m sure some we haven’t even considered yet.

  3. Thanks Jeff and Charles,

    I definitely see an appeal as a personal magazine, and wouldn’t mind advertising that I select myself, especially if it reduced the price of the publication.

    I can see some other uses that might transcend that, such as a weekly reading assignment for classes of different types (at all grade levels), a company magazine which focuses upon some hot topics within the industry that a particular business is in, a topically edited magazine by an expert in a particular subject area, a newsletter-type publication by an organization or fan club or social network (best of Sphinn, for instance).

    Part of the appeal comes not just from being able to decide upon your own selections, but also on being able to accept others recommendations.

    I do hope that this is developed.

  4. Definitely interesting stuff. I was telling Dave that I was a bit on the fence with it. But today I asked my better half Peggy if she would use something like that and she gave me a resounding “hell yes”. Since her mind has not yet been breached by Google I think this definitely warrants a better look at the situation.

  5. Our present is becoming futuristic so fast it is scary. Personally I think it is a cool idea. I would actually buy magazines again if I could customize my own.

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  7. After the Adwords Print Ads, Google could found his own Media Group !

    These forays into media other than online are interesting, aren’t they? It’s fun to watch, and speculate upon.

    And a patent filed in 1996 may not tell us one way…

    This one was filed in 2006. I don’t know if you are referring to another patent filing or not.

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  9. I really like this idea, Google is so innovative. They go from a search engine, to making web browsers, cell phones, and now magazines.

  10. Hi Mike,

    The idea of being able to create your own “magazine,” is an interesting idea.

    In a limited way, we’re able to do that with Google Reader and RSS feeds, but it would be great to be able to expand upon that.

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