Smartphones and tablets have changed the way people consume digital media. Mobile devices are always by our side, with information and entertainment just a tap away. According to ComScore data, mobile accounts for 62% of time spent consuming digital media, with mobile apps representing more than half of that time.
As readers spend more time consuming media on mobile devices and less time buying physical newspapers, magazines, or reading news from desktop computers, publishers are forced to adapt their distribution strategies and develop digital magazines to remain competitive.
Digital magazines - the electronic version of a publication - meet consumers demand for digital content and help publishers grow their distribution channel. And, while digital does makes up a small percentage of total circulation, it is set to account for up to 11% of total circulation for consumer magazines worldwide this year, proving that consumers adoption is growing. That being said, not all digital magazines are created equally.
In this blog post we'll go over the 3 types of digital magazines publishers can create to support their mobile distribution strategy and increase digital circulation revenues:
1. Online magazine
The first way to reach a mobile audience is by developing a mobile-optimized online magazine, also referred to as a HTML web reader. Often the first choice for small or indie publishers, online magazines can be read directly on a website or sold to readers via a subscription service (ie. behind a paywall).
Whether your audience is on desktop or mobile, readers are able to "flip" through your publication, moving from one page to the next, reading content exactly as it appears on a print page. Since online magazines are published on web, they don't require the same kind of costs associated with our next options, mobile apps.
Magazine apps, or digital editions, are branded, mobile apps that readers can download (on the App Store or Google Play) to purchase single issues or subscriptions of digital magazines. Magazine apps can also include other content, like blog feeds, video galleries, social media feeds or other custom content to create an engaging, media-rich mobile experience, in addition to selling digital magazines.
When it comes to the digital magazines themselves, issues can either be created as Digital Replicas or Reflows:
2. Digital replica
Digital replicas are created by converting a .PDF into an into a flip-able reader that fits the users' device. Digital replicas "replicate" the exact magazine - the layout, advertising and content is the same as the print version - allowing users to swipe or zoom to read page content. Publishers can also add multimedia elements like audio, video, image files, HTML and links to create what is often referred to as an interactive digital replica.
Replicas are easy to produce and publish thanks to digital publishing software, and consumers appreciate digital replicas as a "greener" option to print subscriptions. As such, publishers can upsell or bundle digital replica editions in subscription pricing. In short, for the publisher that needs to get a digital edition to market, creating a digital replica is often the quickest and least resource dependent solution.
3. Reflow digital magazine
Reflow digital magazines have all of the same benefits are replicas, but instead of replicating magazine pages in a flip-able reader, content is re-designed (usually in InDesign) to fit the mobile device, without altering the font size. This translates into a more user-friendly experience where text flows from one page to the next, around images or other multimedia content. Readers swipe from side to side to browse article to article, and up & down to read articles in full.
While reflow digital magazines require some additional resources, the superior user experience can make it a much more appealing solution than digital replicas - both to readers and advertisers. Also, it's important to note that Reflows aren't just for print publication. Digital-only publishers (where the digital edition exists without a print edition) can pull content from other digital publishing sources via RSS into a packaged issue that they can sell. This makes Reflows the best solution for increasing mobile circulation revenues of paperless publications.
Ready to create a digital magazine?
Whether you decide to leverage the mobile web or apps, or even both, digital publishing software can help you create your digital magazine and build a branded app that can help you distribute your publication on iOS & Android devices. A tool like Paperlit can also help you manage subscribers, track success with analytics and set up promotional campaigns, like push notifications and coupons.