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When I was 12 or so, I subscribed to Sassy, Seventeen, Teen, and Jump, and sometimes I’d try to draw and write my own teen magazines — but I never got much farther than making a table of contents, because it was a lot of work and I had zero readers.
If digital magazine publishing platform Glossi had been around at the time, though, who knows: You might be reading Laura magazine today. It worked for 14-year-olds Livia Lange and Olivia DeMirjian, two eighth-graders who live in Studio City, Calif. and started publishing Liv magazine on Glossi last year. They’re now up to six issues and thousands of readers.
Social shopping site ThisNext launched Glossi in beta in December 2012, and hundreds of individuals and brands — magazines like Cosmopolitan and Lucky, celebs like Olivia Palermo and Rachel Zoe, and plenty of non-famous people — are now using it to make their own digital magazines. The web platform, which is still invite-only, lets users drag and drop text, video, images, audio and animations into a template, then publish and share it.
“There are 5,000 images posted every second across Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram,” Glossi CEO Matt Edelman told me. “Visual content is driving social communications and engagement more than text content by leaps and bounds. That is only going to continue to grow” as tablets proliferate.
On Wednesday, Glossi announced a bunch of new features designed to make creation and sharing easier. Creators can now embed Glossis into their websites or Facebook (s FB) pages and can more easily share them across Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. They can add e-commerce links to their magazines. And marketers can run Glossi creation contests from their Facebook pages — something that Lionsgate recently did for the launch of the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. While Glossi’s creation platform is still web-only for now, all Glossis can be viewed through the company’s iPad (s AAPL) app.
The next step is monetization. Edelman says Glossi will launch a premium product later this year that will let users sell their Glossis and also include advertising in them.
For now, everyday users like the creators of Liv magazine have a larger distribution platform than they once would have.”Our friends are always telling us they share it,” the girls told me in an email. “We’ve grown so much we had to convert what was once a backyard playhouse into an official office.”