Publisher as Vendor
Force 12 Media, a Fairfield, Connecticut-based enthusiast publisher for the marine industry, which consists of George Sass Jr. and husband-and-wife team Sean O’Leary and Katie Brennan O’Leary, has developed digital editions to capitalize on how readers are using the Web. "People would read Yachting for boat reviews and lifestyle but no matter what they read, they’d turn to the Web for research when it came time to buy," says Sean O’Leary, who also serves as president.
Force 12 initially looked at outside digital magazine vendors but decided to try building a version themselves. The publisher leveraged existing relationships with Web designers and a Flash expert who wrote the code (which the partners own jointly).The first digital edition went live in March. Rather than just push the digital edition out to its subscriber list, Force 12 approached some of the top listing Web sites in the boating category with a deal. "We said we’ll provide content if you help us with distribution," adds O’Leary.
While most digital magazines still reflect print content, Force 12’s digital edition features nearly 85 percent original content. "We didn’t want to re-hash the print," says O’Leary. "This is more geared toward a research mechanism that includes Interactive flash and hyperlinks." O’Leary adds that the digital edition is not "100 percent" where he wants it to be yet but the company continues to experiment with formats that allow readers to turn pages by dragging or clicking the upper right-hand corner, and offering a table of contents that pops in and out of the left-hand side.
Going forward, O’Leary says Force 12 will look at forming a joint venture with its current partners, or buying out the designers. "Our goal is to do it completely within Force 12 Media," says O’Leary. "I could have bought a program for $20,000 or had someone host it for us, but it’s cheaper to do it ourselves."
O’Leary says he’s budgeted $10,000 a month on developing the digital edition, and anticipates $120,000 in revenue from the first six digital issues combined with print. "We’re not doing this because its gimmicky, we see it as part of a three-pronged approached: print ad page; digital display advertising that includes hyperlinks in edit; and live events where we will have kiosks with the digital mags online. Whether as a combined buy or not, I still see the electronic side driving revenue."