Changes Set to Rock the Publishing World.
Digital tablets are now a major game changer in publishing. And I know this after obsessing over my husband’s new shiny e-reader which arrived 2 weeks ago. One of the things I am impressed by (yes, I think I am getting more view time than him) is how much it has revolutionised my own reading. Among my friends I am known as a magazine freak ,from fitness to fashion and news, my living room is littered with 12 different kinds of subscriptions, all dog eared and well used. So the new e-reader was a kind of eye opener for me.
My favourite magazines seemed to be more up-to-the-minute, more interactive, and more eye-catching. Holding the tablet and getting such rich colour and interactivity was really an engaging way to look at my favourite publication but it also got me thinking about what it means for the future of publishing.
For the past 5 years there has been a lot of debate about the future of print and the economic crisis in 2008 hit the magazine world right where it hurt the most, in the pocket with falling subscriptions and very low advertising spend. Then In came the Ipad and the more than 50 versions of consumer tablets and now the masters of ink and glossy photo see in them a way to rejuvenate an entire industry.
Is such hope misplaced? Well not if you read the statistics.
100 million tablets and e-readers will be hands of US residents by 2013 according to The Monitor. Last year, digital content brought in about 10 percent of magazine revenues, according to mediaIDEAS, a global research and advisory firm with offices in New York and London. By 2020, digital content will account for 58 percent.
What is interesting is how much the quantity of reading is changing. Digital Tablets it seems can boost reading. Users of e-readers are 11 percent more likely than the average adult to have read a print or online newspaper and of 1,600 iPad owners interviewed by the Reynolds Journalism Institute last October, 79 percent reported using it at least 30 minutes a day to read news. Only slightly more than half spent that much time getting news from the TV or a PC.
On my husband’s Ipad, I find myself actually reading and not skimming and it is a great joy to see how some magazines are actually experimenting with digital content specially formatted for the tablets. In Elle a model actually appear as a living cover and walk across the screen before settling in the middle of the screen in a n editorial pose. In National Geographic, its digital edition not only ran an article on aardvarks but also included video of the photographers working to get the shots on camera.
Digital tablets are also best suited for how social our reading has become. We read. We share. Reading is no longer a solo endeavour. Articles are linked on Twitter. Quotes lifted from magazines are posted as status updates. We share links as content. Adding a social layer to the content experience means staying relevant in an over-populated space. It may be a QR code, a Facebook promotion or a section featuring the up-and-coming blogs. Incorporating bloggers can also help magazine broaden its audience and provide new forms of engagement.
As the digital space becomes a second home for print publications, there are some major considerations. Remaining fresh is going to be a major time constraint, writers may need to learn a new set of skills to re-purpose content across multiple platforms and unless publishers can come up with a business model that speaks to the convergence of the digital and print world, print sales may continue to decline because as of last week as I downloaded the latest version of Vogue, I wondered which print subscriptions I’d definitely not be renewing .