Rock On: Rolling Stone Digitizes Archive for 40th Anniversary DVD

To celebrate its 40th year, Rolling Stone has digitized its entire print run, from its founding in 1967 to the present. The special 40th Anniversary DVD, "Rolling Stone Cover-to-Cover: The First 40 Years," is a searchable archive that includes every article, review and photograph as they appeared in the original print edition. The DVD capitalizes on the title's venerable history as a pioneering music magazine.

Will the archive become available online? David Anthony, co-founder of Bondi Digital Publishing, which handled the project, says it's too early to tell all the possible applications--but the DVD's XML format is easily transferred to the Web. If articles were sold on a piecemeal basis at a rate of a few dollars per item, they could prove far more remunerative for the magazine.

At the click of a mouse, music and history buffs will now be able to read Hunter S. Thompson's first article for the magazine, see what's under famous covers (think John and Yoko naked in bed), read breathless firsthand reports of the Manson murders or enjoy the first serialized run of Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities," which appeared exclusively in Rolling Stone in the 1980s.



In total, the archive includes over 125,000 pages comprising more than 1,000 issues--a gold mine of cultural history that other respected magazines may soon emulate. Keith Blanchard, Wenner Media's executive media editor for online, said: "We've scanned every page of every issue of all 40 years of Rolling Stone's history, from Beatlemania and the Summer of Love, through the dark disco years and invention of punk rock, right on through to hip hop, grunge and emo."

The DVD will likely sell for about $125, along with a large coffee table book documenting the magazine's development.

Other respected publications have made their historical archives online, using various business models. In 2004, The New York Times partnered with ProQuest to produce an online archive that allows visitors to access every article ever published back to 1851. The articles cost about $3 apiece.

In 2006, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the newspaper's Web site also published archived articles reporting the successful salvage operations to rescue four battleships from the U.S. Pacific fleet, which had originally been censored by World War II-era government censors for security reasons.

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