Its not just the papers that are suffering these days, magazines are taking a bashing too. The latest ABC figures reported mostly doom and gloom for print titles with overall sales drops for all the big publishers. So magazines aren’t recession proof after all and escapism (at least in that form) isn’t how people are coping with the recession.
Amidst all this, magazines are following other media formats by going digital. Magazinesondemand.co.uk was launched by the digital arm of John Menzies last July and sells titles from IPC, Bauer and NatMag among others. You can buy and download digital versions of titles and store them on your hardrive, USB or whatever.
The move is a logical progression for the magazine industry, since we’re increasingly in the habit of buying and consuming media digitally, but what can they bring to party that “hard copies” can’t?
The real benefit seems to be interactivity.
They promise rich media content and links within the magazines take you to related to provide extra context or take you to related products. This model could change the way companies and products interact with consumers through magazines – something the PR and advertising industries could really benefit from.
So what did I think about it?
We’ll I signed up and got my free copy of ‘What Digital Camera’ from September last year (bit dissapointed I didn’t get a choice) and was quite impressed. Visually everything’s translated well into digital format and its easier to navigate than a hard copy.
In terms of interactivity, there were links to product sites from product reviews but that was about it. Since it’s a consumer title this makes sense, but for non product oriented mags they’ll have to work harder to add interactive value.
Readers don’t just want links to to product sites… and have they thought about integrating social media into the equation?
It’ll be interesting to see if the idea takes off. We are used getting digital content mostly for free on the net so I don’t know if people will buy into it straight off. I like having something tangible to browse personally, something handy and portable. I can’t read my laptop in the bath or on a crowded train – it just isn’t practical!
I don’t think moving print titles online will solve the immediate problems of the flagging magazine industry; let’s face it if people aren’t buying magazines in a recession they’re not going to download them either.
It looks good for the longterm though – there’s big savings to be made on publishing costs not to mention the positive environmental implications, and the more dynamic customer/product interaction model could boost ad revenues and make mags generally more appealing.