Edgell Communication’s Consumer Goods Technology launched an all-digital issue in July 2008 and now publishes four all-digital issues each year (February,
Articles by Jane E. Zarem
“There’s a diametric shift in the publishing business,” says Lisa Moore, senior VP, business development, at Direct Media. “It’s a whole new world, a channel shift, and the consumer is in control. Publishers are still using direct mail but mailing less and using only their best lists.
As the digital magazine industry has evolved over the last few years, the number of suppliers has grown substantially. Hundreds of options are on the market today from dedicated digital magazine suppliers, as well as from printers who offer digital delivery solutions. For publishers, it’s the best of times as many supplier options are out there in a robust current market.
Publishers still have reasons to start up new print magazines, but the cost of launching an all-digital magazine is dramatically lower than launching print. Publishers still want to try new projects and need to try those projects despite the economy. All-digital delivery provides a cost-effective approach.
Choosing a digital-magazine supplier starts with the publisher having a clear understanding of current needs and long-term goals. Is the purpose simply to get a digital edition up and running online to displace the cost of print? Is it important to expand the advertising opportunities and grow the audience with rich media experiences?
Mobile is clearly where digital publishing is heading, according to Zinio’s Rich Maggiotto. Experimentation will continue, though, because no one has yet figured out the right business model for making money in mobile. “I do know one thing for certain,” he says. “Giving it away for free is not a business model.”
Paper, printing, and postage costs for delivering a print copy of a magazine average about $1 per unit. Delivering that same content digitally can easily result in a 75 percent cost saving—as low as 15 cents a unit, depending on the size of the issue, the number of pages, and supplier negotiations.
The economy may be taking a toll on magazine advertising in general, but advertisers are beginning to show an interest in digital editions. They see the value and excitement of rich media ads, and the extraordinary measurability of e-media, and want to pull out all the stops.
DRM flexibility. In the past, a publisher’s Digital Rights Management system would create a wall to prevent unauthorized readers (e.g., non-subscribers) from viewing the digital magazine. In effect, the magazine would be either open or locked.
Six years ago, digital editions more often than not were the last redoubt of a print magazine in decline. Three years ago,