Where Digital Magazines Fit In the Days Ahead
How digital magazines will serve as a beachhead for testing new digital formats.
At the FOLIO: Show Virtual last month, Steve Paxhia, president of Beacon Digital Strategies, and author of the 2008 Gilbane Group report âDigital Magazine and Newspaper Editions,â shared his thoughts on how digital magazines will fit in with the growing number of digital channels available to publishers.
Paxhiaâs predictions for next 12 months include:
â˘Â Â Â An improving economy will change the focus from cost savings to revenue generation and brand building. âThe motivation for publishers is to develop products focused on revenue generation and brand building as opposed to cost savings.â
â˘Â Â Â Unified publishing will replace post-print. âUnified publishing strategy has to replace post-printâwe see that starting to happen.â
â˘Â Â Â Print on demand will gain momentum. âWhile magazines are starting to go purely digital, things like Hewlett Packardâs MagCloud have the ability to print individual copies and cost-effectively deliver to the consumer while reducing the upfront capital cost of fulfillment and the waste of magazines that are never sold. This trend is at the very beginning but I think it will gain momentum very quickly.â
â˘Â Â Â New devices will enable a reinvigoration of the browsing metaphor. âCurrent screen displays make it hard to easily navigate and comfortably read online. However, as we get to devices with larger screens that are light, flexible, with color and high resolution and you can hold it much like you would a magazine or newspaper, it will become very appealing. When these devices come online, I think browsing will come back with a passion.â
â˘Â Â Â Engagement and interaction will become keys to digital growth. âWhen you go digital, donât go in a static way, be dynamic,â said Paxhia. âReplicas are preserved largely for advertising audits. Browsing says we want people to flip through content in a pleasing way and see it the way editors wanted them to see. Replicas donât get there, theyâre frozen to preserve the format from different device.â
While publishers are gradually moving beyond the digital magazine as a facsimile, they need to start creating content for each specific format. âPublishers need to stop thinking print first, digital later or vice versa and think instead about one continuous publishing operation,â Paxhia said. âWith the explosion of new devices, publishers are challenged with supporting multiple formats simultaneously. Itâs difficult to move from a page-constrained magazine to online or mobile. You have to take the formatting out and generate these multiple forms after the fact.â
Thatâs particularly true as publishers design content for mobile. Conde Nast this week introduced an iPhone app that offers a version of GQâs Man of the Year issue on the iPhone or iPod touch. Reader can also click on featured products and go directly to the productâs Web site, download songs and watch video interviews. Â
âThe key with iPhone and other smart phone apps is that publishers develop content specific for the smaller screen,â said Paxhia. âPeople arenât interested in reading long articles with complex illustrations and charts, itâs too hard to navigate. The top three places where most iPhone reading is done is in bed, in the bathroom and on the train.â
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