Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Bill Rosenblatt: Digital Editions: The Little Engine That Could Of Magazine Publishing

Forbes recently published an article on Digital Editions by Bill Rosenblatt who has studied the digital industry for some years and who we have the had the pleasure of working with. Bill makes some key points that sometimes get lost in the media hype within the publishing industry surrounding  the Native App ecosystem.  While Bill focuses his article mainly around consumer titles that have mass appeal, there is some wisdom in applying these ideas to the other segments of magazine publishing - ie the B to B titles, association titles, and niche enthusiast titles.

Here are some of his thoughts:

  1. Standalone magazine apps require lots of resources to produce...apps still require separate teams of editors, designers, coders, and so on. Budgets for the more ambitious magazine apps can exceed the budgets for print titles.
  2. Digital editions are cheap and easy: if you’re a publisher, you send your production files to a digital newsstand vendor, which does the rest.  It requires almost no additional editorial work and allows print editorial workflow to continue essentially unchanged.  You can feed your subscriber information to the vendor and it will handle billing and payment.  Essentially you just sit back and collect subscription fees, as well as readership data that the vendor sends you, which is valuable in itself.
  3. Digital editions can count towards magazines’ total circulations ... making it more possible for publishers to count digital edition readership towards total circulation.
  4. Ad salespeople and their customers have become more comfortable with digital editions over the years.  In the earlier days of digital editions, some publishers had to include ads in their digital editions but were unable to charge advertisers for them, but that’s changing now.
  5. The current 17 million circulation of digital magazines (AAM audited titles) is less than a third of the number of people in the U.S. who purchased e-books during the past year - so there is a lot of room for growth.  He goes on to say that it really comes down to marketing effort, and compares efforts in the music industry and e-book industry that have led to tremendous growth.
  6. New marketing ideas like fixed monthly price for unlimited magazine access and personalized article delivery are both being tried in the market currently indicating renewed energy in finding new ways to attract paying subscribers to magazine content.

The role of digital editions in the magazine industry is a key part of its future, and as a technology partner in this space, it is important that we at Advanced Publishing continue to push forward with new ideas so that our magazine publishing partners can take advantage of market growth opportunities that drive revenues in their businesses.

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