Service Design Idea: AirMags

Lots of people buy magazines to read on airplanes. I know I do. How many of those just get tossed once the plane ride is over? Tens of thousands, no doubt.

How about a service where, for the price of one magazine, you could share magazines between airports and flights?

Here’s how it would work: A kiosk at your airport has a bunch of magazines, just like at a newsstand. (Granted, it might not have the vast selection of the newsstand, but all popular titles would be represented.) You show your AirMag card and you “check out” a certain number of magazines like it was a lending library. Then you take them and read them on the plane. After departing the plane, you simply drop them into a receptacle located in the airport, probably in multiple places but definitely in baggage. The magazines get put back into the kiosk where others can then check them out. All for about $5/month, the price of about one magazine.

The airport newsstands would holler bloody murder, but this would be an awesome service, don’t you think?

7 thoughts on “Service Design Idea: AirMags

  1. A great service I saw recently in Philly is a “toybrary” started at one of the Philly library branches. You pay something like $5-10/month and you can check out toys just like you would books. Your kids can play with all kinds of different toys each week, month, etc at an annual cost equal to buying a few of the toys.

  2. Hi Dan,
    goode idea.
    You could always go open source on it and have a BookCrossing for magazines subsidised by donations, or maybe some enterprising startup will create a social computing app that tracks the movements of the magazines/travellers via user-supplied or rfid data and ties it to a frequent flyer miles managament system, or some other monetisable thing. It’s not that big a stretch to see Dopplr growing to fund something like this. Thoughts?
    Cheers, Andrew

  3. Wow. That’s way too complicated.
    How about this?
    The airlines simply stock the plane with lots of magazines for passengers to read.
    You know, the old “customer service” angle. Give the customers something they want while they’re in transit.

  4. Like hell it is. It would be simpler than Netflix or even those services in airports where you rent DVD players.
    Airlines don’t feed people anymore, much less give away free anything.

  5. Just to play the devils advocate.. some random questions not particularly related to each other
    Wouldnt it require a kiosk at most every airport?
    How would it work in hubs like chicago when you’ve got a 30 minute connection and need new mags?
    Isnt airport concession space expensive?
    Logan here in Boston is 5 separate terminals, it would seem expensive to have someone collect from the drop off boxes and then deliver back to the terminals.
    Its a great idea, hard to see it being practical though.
    For sh1ts and giggles I leave pages of Sky Maul behind me
    And I’ve found copies of the Fight Club emergency card (o;

  6. What about the longevity of the magazines? How many flights before the pages are too ripped/crumpled to be used?
    Granted most of my plane experience is trans-Atlantic, but I do tend to stuff my magazines into the seat pocket, then crumple them into my hand luggage etc.

  7. Interesting idea – I wonder if there’s a startup that will grab it, and pay you royalties. :p Or you could head over to Cambrian House and see if anyone wants to try to develop the idea in earnest.
    At one point within the past 5 years United (I think?) had the free magazine kiosks before passengers got on their flight, but haven’t seen any of them lately. Of course, if as someone mentioned they don’t give away food why would they bother with reading material?
    There are also tool lending libraries (, but lending seems to work for geographically centred services – transitioning a library to a more dispersed geographic area might be tricking. (“Damn, someone’s got a copy of Biz Week… and they’re in Chicago!”). Still, an interesting idea…

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