We have seen a rise in 'digital' editions of CAD and manufacturing magazines recently. I receive my notifications from Desktop Engineering, Cadalyst and Machine Design telling me I can download my digital version...now. And I do. Partly from a professional basis - bulk mail can take weeks to send the print version. Now I get to see it immediately, in its full glory, ads and all. Some of the technologies to make this happen are pretty nifty - NextBook has a cool 'page turn' function. But typically, unless I have my 23 inch Mac monitor running, I have to zoom and pan a lot to make the experience valuable. And it gets me thinking - well, what's the point of producing a page-by-page magazine, available digitally? Especially when there are, in my opinion, better formats through blogs, web sites etc? I don't have an answer...yet.
So I did a quick office poll. Why get a print magazine (or newspaper) rather than go online.
Answers: Greg - for $30 per year I can get $300-worth of coupons out of the Sunday Denver Post. That's the value of that. Otherwise, I am online all-the-time.
rachael (that's me). I pay for print editions of People and PR Week. Reading People is a physical act of stepping away from the damn computer and switching off the hassles. It is worth $150 a year. In addition, People's online articles are not comprehensive compared to the print edition. That makes it a worthwhile expense. PR Week is good to have in the office as a guide to how the industry is doing, looking at job ads etc. Otherwise, online, online. I download digital magazines for purely professional reasons, not by choice.
Lauren: Buys 'US' magazine every now and then when enough editors are getting on her nerves to need a rapid escape. Otherwise, she gets her news online.
Brett: online, online, online.
Ken: 15 magazines a month, in print and 3 newspapers a day, in print. He wouldn't consider going online expect for CNN.com when there's a national emergency. Obviously he is never busy enough, since he manages to read each and every one of them.
(Please note that Lauren and Brett are under 30 and consider the rest of us 'old', and, well, one of us is!)
But what does this mean? Except for Ken, we get print magazines (and pay for them) because of a financial or deep emotional need (de-stress). The youngsters don't even bother with print. Even us 'old folks" (the ones over 35) go online for a lot of our news, information and sources. So where does that leave the digital editions? We think they are somewhere out on la-la-land, existing because the publishers want to give advertisers a certain amount of impressions, some sort of mid-ground between print and online. But honestly, it is messy. The digital issues seem to be a compromise attempt to appease advertisers that insist on a certain number of readers while fighting the ballooning costs of printing and mailing. And it is a strategy that cannot work in the long-term: if i ignore full page PRINT ads now, I can definitely ignore them more when I flip past them on-screen (especially on a laptop monitor.) Hence uptake on full-page ads has to be dropping, right?
i am sure that the publishers will thrash and moan at this, but while the execution of digital issues is pretty good, the effect is, in our experience, much lower. With digital issues, we do not get the financial or emotional release (we're still stuck at the computers, and not getting any 'coupons' etc), and online, all we really want is the news.
Advertisers are partly to blame - insisting on certain things and placing publishers in difficult positions. yes, they need a strategy change too. Start looking at publications for where their print and online offerings can take you, but realize that over-reaching demands lead to messes like 'digital' issues and so on. I cannot believe that they are the answer een across the next couple of years.