How the future of magazines may work online

The recent postal strike made some magazine publishers sit up and consider their regular subscribers.

How to make sure that those who pay extra to receive the magazine don’t miss out because of striking postmen? The answer seemed simple – send them a lovely online edition of the magazine to look at.

The likes of Red magazine and The Word both offered sparkly and attractive digital editions, which were easy to turn and simple to zoom in and out of.

And it’s not just a flash in the pan. Tindle Newspapers have announced that they’re rolling out digital editions of their online publications, after a successful trial on a small number.

In fact, The Word is continuing to offer a digital edition to magazine subscribers, as another add-on.

But these digital editions are surely a way of cashing in on the appeal of magazines. Sure, they don’t have the same cachet as holding the magazine in the hand, but I can imagine people stumping up cash to buy a digital edition, which automatically means that companies can reduce their costs.

I can’t claim to be an expert in the economics of printing, but a reduction in print run, paper, etc would inevitably help cash-straped publishers. By gaining some sort of revenue from a digital edition (for the fraction of the price of a printed edition) must be something to look at.

After all, when magazines start to get into trouble, one of the first things that goes is paper quality, print run and number of pages.

It may take a while for it to be worthwhile, but I can’t believe that there aren’t a number of publishers who haven’t thought about it and aren’t already heading in that direction.

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