Why and how publishers should find the right digital platform for their magazine

Digital - Adding Digital Value to Print Ads

It’s time to admit that, at least for the foreseeable future, the battle between print and digital is a draw. Despite early predictions of print’s imminent demise, magazine publishers continue to put out profitable print editions and complement them with digital versions.

The idea that publishers are caught in a war between print and digital might have more to do with publishers’ relative unfamiliarity with the digital world than a real conflict between the two. After all, magazines like Sports Illustrated have combined subscriptions to their online and on-paper editions and retained strong sales.

Further, according to DCatalog, “One of the largest positive factors of digital magazines is that they are not competing with print editions. It has been found through many studies that while readers do prefer digital editions, they are interested in holding on to printed versions when available.”

Maybe all that’s needed to create an alliance between print and digital is getting to know the “enemy” a little better and overcoming fear of the stranger. So how can your printed magazine effect a truce with digital and profit from it?

Let’s look at the advantages of digital and some of the publishing platforms that can make adding digital easier, more economical and more profitable.

What’s so great about digital magazines?

In terms of content flexibility, time and cost, it’s hard to argue with the strengths of digital editions. A few of them include:

  • Availability of software that makes adoption simpler
  • Flexible formatting
  • Ability to add video and other media
  • Instant distribution without mailing costs
  • Increased convenience with availability on readers and phones
  • Access to analytics that can enhance advertising effectiveness

With all these pluses in digital’s column, consider why publishers are using both print and digital. Social-Impact Public Relations & Internet Marketing offers this reasoning about niche publications: They are “flourishing in print; however, a mobile version can create a larger impact outside of a publication’s normal distribution center.”

As an example, Social-Impact cites Life in Naples magazine. The publication’s distribution area failed to include a good number of potential readers. The magazine created an online version that brought in new readers amounting to half the print distribution.

Later, Life in Naples launched a website that allowed sharing of stories and other functions. Utilizing both print and digital resulted in a strong increase in traffic, including via mobile.

So digital works. What’s the right platform for you?

The market offers many choices when it comes to digital publishing platforms. The trick is finding the right one for your publication. Before you try to pick a platform, you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • Where are you in the digitizing process? Are you starting from scratch or do you already have a presence?
  • Is your goal a digital version of your print magazine?
  • Is there a call for analytics?
  • How much can you pay for the platform?
  • How would you like your magazine to get paid?

Once you have a good idea what you’re looking for, you can start your platform search. Although far from exhaustive, this list should give you an idea of what’s available to suit your needs:

BlueToad. The Ovid Bell Press works with BlueToad to offer economical and versatile digital editions of your publication. You can see a sample here. We can convert your print pdf files into enhanced digital publications, and even help with video, music and other fun enhancements! Reach out to learn more!

JOOMAG. At around $200/month, JOOMAG is among the least expensive digital magazine platforms. With it, you can design starting with nothing but PDFs. You can bring in video and audio as well as files from your hard drive. You also can receive payments and sell subscriptions and issues.

Magplus. For about $700/month, you can have what JOOMAG offers and get a great deal of flexibility with Magplus. You can create digital media, export your apps to platforms that publish them. It acts as a plug-in for Adobe InDesign, making it attractive to publishers who like working with Adobe tools.

Mazdigital. This platform doesn’t have a set price, and that’s a good thing. You can choose your plan and price. Mazdigital offers impressive simplicity, allowing you to publish content across all devices and platforms with one click. The platform provides s a variety of other features you can use to activate new sources of revenue.

As content marketer Indranil Choudhury puts it, “With Mazdigital, you have the chance to become your own full-functional news organization. The 24/7 news cycle never sleeps. Creating an app with Mazdigital lets you take advantage of that fact and give your customers what they want.”

Magloft. Available for around $300/month, Magloft makes it easy to include PDFs and HPUBs in interactive designs using drag-and-drop. You also can integrate animations, audio and video easily. Valuable analytics make this platform especially useful as you build your readership and advertising base.

It’s time to make a profitable peace with digital

All this is not to say that making the transition to digital as an addition to your publishing workload is easy. But taking the time upfront to analyze your needs and shopping for the right platform can make it less difficult.

The statistics say it’s worth the effort. Print magazines show little sign of going away, but they need a partnership with digital to maintain their health. Indranil Choudhury makes the argument this way:

“The number of print magazines in print and circulation has declined, year over year, since 2000. There’s hope, however. The number of magazine readers over the age of 18 has been on the rise since 2012, with 224.6 million magazine readers in the United States in 2018. As of June 2019, Mobile (sic) users take up 37% of total magazine audience. . . .

“There are hundreds of reasons why publishing a magazine is still a good idea. One of them is the prevalence and ease of digital publishing platforms.”

The time has come for a happy ending—the marriage of digital and print—that ensures the “happily ever after” of magazine publishing—at least until the next big revolution.

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