There are two types of digital magazines: replica and reflow. Both offer a digital version of your magazine, but they are vastly different in terms of cost and features.
If you want to create a digital magazine and are trying to set a budget for it, then you should get to know the difference between this two types of magazines first. Let’s have a look at their respective features.
Replica offers you a PDF version of your print magazine. A whole page is pushed to the screen at a time. To navigate you must pinch and zoom if you are on a mobile device or click and scroll on a desktop, and you flip through the pages as you would a magazine. Although it is a digital version of the print magazine, it can contain embedded links.
Reflow, on the other hand, designs for mobile, fits text and elements comfortably on the screen and allows users to interact with them. It can contain popups, audio, and other elements. Reflow features intuitive scrolling and swiping navigation, all of which increases engagement with the content.
Many begin their foray into digital publishing with a digital replica magazine to test the waters. When the timing is right, or their needs progress they then move on to using reflow digital magazines to offer their customers a more interactive experience.
Replica digital magazines are the less expensive and easier option. When you start from a PDF of your magazine, the costs are mainly for your distribution either through the web, an app, or both. In other words, you need to account for the cost of your digital publishing platform.
Replica magazines also can incur other costs such as adding extra features. You can integrate them with other platforms, such as the ones used for subscription management, if you have them. Your costs will vary based on the number of issues you produce per year. Also, you need to factor in any promotional offers, such as discounts on issues. If you ask your publishing software to manage them, you will often need to consider this an extra cost.
Reflow digital magazines are complex and more expensive to begin than a replica digital magazine. They are created with WordPress or by transforming PDF files into a reflow. Costs to produce are incurred for every issue. They are wholly dependent on the complexity of the starting format, the number of issues, and the number of pages per issue.
In 2017, 63% of all US internet traffic, or 2.0 trillion visits, came from mobile visits. This is up from 57% in 2016 according to Stone Temple. To give users the best experience, a standard webpage needs to be converted into a mobile-friendly interactive site to avoid that cumbersome pinching and zooming in to view and interact with a page much too large for the screen. Optimization for mobile users is a significant reason why reflow is chosen more often than a replica.
The major costs for replica and reflow are different. Replica’s major costs are in distribution, while reflow’s are in production. Replica is more cost conscious but offers fewer features and ease of use on mobile devices — something that has been shown to be used more and more to access internet content. Reflow offers more engaging content but at a more complex workflow and thus a higher cost that hinges on a number of factors such as the amount, frequency, and complexity of publishing.
The additional cost of reflow might be the right choice for your digital magazine depending on your audience and goals. If you are just starting out in digital publishing, you may opt to begin with an easier introduction to the digital publishing world with replica digital magazines. Whatever you choose, you should know that the right time to create a digital magazine is now: get ready to reach and expand your readership.
Head of Sales at PaperLit, part of Datrix | AI applications, a tech company specialized in the digital transformation, distribution and monetization of content via mobile and smart speakers, for publishers and brands, with hundreds of customers worldwide.
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