The launch issue of the UK version of Wired magazine is out. I was a subscriber to the US version until recently, but refused to renew because they always delivered the magazine incredibly late (the whole of the next issue was available on the web before I got the one I was waiting for in the post) and at $70/year I expected to be treated like royalty – Americans get it for $10/yr. So I was glad when I found out that the UK version was coming out soon. (There was a previous incarnation in the mid 90s, but lets not get petty…)
I’ve subscribed as it is only £2 an issue and they managed to get me a copy of this issue. The look remains pretty much the same, which means that stories have some individual character and pages are clear but overall you do feel like you’ve been accosted by the design department. The front cover is a bit too “busy”, but the biggest culprit is:
I like that each section (start, fetish, play, test) has a front page to help navigate around – this is the launch issue, so is quite thick, a healthy 180+ pages. I doubt it will be able to maintain that size regularly (the American version is always very thin at the beginning of the year and gets fatter towards Christmas – I’m generally the reverse.) One of the best things for me is the feel of the cover, the pages, the vibrant colours – I’ve always loved that, and it is something a website can’t emulate.
They have done a good job of balancing stories that have previously appeared in US Wired – the excellent Cowboys of the Deep and the re-named Formula that brought down the global economy – and more UK-specific stories such as The man who saved the BBC and The people who really run Britain. I suggest Piecing Together the Dark Legacy of East Germany’s Secret Police as an older piece that would fit nicely into the UK version.
This is where the magazine will ultimately be judged – to justify the UK edition there has to be a distinct UK and European focus (or even just anywhere-that-is-not-the-US.) The worst case scenario would be that it would be hard to find the US version in newsagents and we would have to live with knowing that we are being palmed off with a sub-par knock-off of the real thing. I don’t think that is likely though – I’d like to be spoiled with both. Whatever happens, we still have wired.com (as essential as ever) – and I’d like to think that wired.co.uk will also be riveting stuff. Talking of knock-offs, I wish they’d just copied the styling of the original site as the UK version is just a bit too crowded. What will it be like when there is a lot more content, blogs and more?
Still, a great start – long may it continue…