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Online magazine and eBook publishing company Blurb has been busy of late. They have just a signed a new global retail distribution partnership with Ingram Content Group, and free output to reflowable ebooks for all Amazon Kindle devices and Kindle readers.

Blurb now has the broadest self-publishing platform available, enabling indie authors to publish books, magazines, and ebooks in multiple formats, and then sell direct on Blurb.com or via distribution programs with Amazon and Ingram. There is not too many self-publishing companies that are heavily invested in the magazine space, other than Glossi, who is entirely online.

“Authors, like artists, want two things: Control over their product and process, and fair compensation for their quality work,” said Eileen Gittins, founder and CEO, Blurb. “The elements are now all here for indie authors to design, market and sell their books – at a healthy margin – via global distribution to booksellers both online and at retail. We’re thrilled to deliver a truly complete offering for creatives of all kinds who want to bring their passions to life. Authors can now make the beautiful books Blurb is known for at more competitive prices.”

Ingram is likely the biggest deal for Blurb others, because it gets their books physically printed in over 39,000 locations.  Here is some info the company provided to us on options for indie authors.

“Blurb’s new Trade Books come in three industry-standard trim sizes:  5×8, 6×9, and 8×10, in uncoated text-weight paper.

Trade Books are available in both hardcover and softcover, and all formats are eligible for global distribution through Ingram, giving Blurb authors a much broader target audience.

Authors have two print options: Economy and Standard. Economy printing offers a lower print-on-demand starting price ($3.99 for color, $2.99 for black and white), while Standard printing features a wider color range and rich blacks, comparable to Blurb’s existing trade and pocket book printing.”

 

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Flipboard is changing the way we consume and interact with news stories from all over the world. The company allows users to aggregate social feeds into a digital magazine. These magazines can be individual or shared with the wider community. Flipboard has started to hit critical mass with its 100 million registered users and 10 million digital magazines created by approximately 7 million people.

Launched in 2010, Flipboard was designed to be the world’s first social magazine for the iPad, allowing users to create their own personal magazines by pulling in updates from Facebook and Twitter. They could also follow specific news sources and websites like Good e-Reader or Techcrunch. There was also an ability to key in your feeds, and read any online publication with a valid RSS Feed. Publishers soon caught on, with newspapers and magazines allowing Flipboard to access content from their social media stream and own websites.

On Wednesday night, during a fireside chat with ReadWrite  Flipboard  CEO Mike McCue revealed that video ads will be coming to its magazines, and Chanel will be one of the first brands with a reel. “The world of TV, and the world of print, these worlds are merging,” he said. “We’re moving towards this … world where content can be atomized and reconstructed around interests or topics that someone’s really passionate about.”

Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo are all working towards video advertising platforms because they represent the next generation of revenue. Existing websites are often monetized by banner and skyscraper ads and they are crowding up web pages, publishers keep adding more and more stuff on the page. “The problem on the Web is that if you take a look at a website, the content is surrounded by all kinds of stuff, if you could turn off those banner ads, you would.” said McCue.


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Print magazine sales are starting to incur some noticeable declines as customers flock to the digital realm.  Newsstand sales of U.S. consumer magazines dropped 12% in the first half of 2014 from a year earlier, while paid subscriptions declined 1.8%.

Newsstand, or single-copy, sales have been considered the best gauge of consumer demand because they can’t be propped up by deeply discounted subscriptions or free copies distributed in public places such as doctors’ offices.

Digital editions continue to be a small but growing portion of magazines’ total circulation mix. For the first half of 2014, magazines reported a total average of 11.6 million digital replica editions. This is some solid growth because in the first half of 2013 only 10.2 million digital editions were sold, or 3.3% of total circulation.

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Australian based fashion magazine Shop Til You Drop intends to focus on digital, while still publishing four tangible issues a year. The new online edition will be available every two weeks and focus on emerging fashion trends.

Shop Til You Drop was founded in 2004 and is the modern girl’s fashion and beauty bible. It aims to make shopping easier and more accessible for time-challenged women. With a focus on shopping smart, it covers the entire market of fashion, beauty and homewares, providing the reader with the ultimate edit of what she needs this minute – mixing high-end fashion with chain-store must-haves; luxury beauty buys with pharmacy products.

Most of the writing and editorial staff of the magazine will be let go, due to sagging readership base. Instead, they will deal mainly with freelancers to write stories and contribute fashion ideas.

Shop Til You Drop falls under the ACP Magazines banner and it was purchased in 2012 by the German media conglomerate Bauer Media. We are now seeing the entire ACP portfolio undergo drastic changes to remain profitable. Grazia and Madison have shuttered their doors and Elle Australia has launched to take their place.

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If you live in Canada and watch television, undoubtedly you might have seen the Next Issue advertisements. The premise of their campaign is trying to convince you that physical magazines take up a lot of room. It makes it unsuitable for reading at home, or on the go. So the question is, is Next Issue viable for Canadians wanting to read digitally?

Next Issue has over 100 digital magazines in their catalog and offers a free one month subscription. Afterwards, it costs $9.99 a month to read as much as you want. Well, there is a catch, you don’t get People, Hello! Canada, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Maclean’s, or Time unless you pong up $14.99 a month.

If you like content, Next Issue has you covered. They have established relationships with most of the leading publishers. This includes Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers and Time. For your average reader, they have most of the mainstream magazines, such as Wired, Popular Mechanics, Bloomberg, Entertainment Weekly, Fast Company, Macleans, People, and Vogue.

Canadians do have access to a fair amount of content, but Next Issue is heavily skewed towards the very mainstream. There are no magazines from major publishers in England, such as Imagine. Basically, there is hardly any international representation in the overall catalog. Instead, you mainly have stuff printed and published in Canada and the US only. I am a big fan of Games TM, Vice, T3 and other tech magazines, sadly there is none of these.

If you are using the Next Issue app for Android or iOS you normally pick and choose what issues you want to subscribe to, and they download to your device. Each one is around 100MB in size, and this warrants monitoring of space limits. Most people have the 16GB iPad or iPhone, and a few months of storing magazines could really take up a ton of space.

There are some very noticeable drawbacks when using their app. New issues don’t download automatically unless the app is open. If you have many downloading at once, they take a long time to complete.

When it comes to reading digital magazines in Canada, we are somewhat limited to who offers them and what type of deals they offer. Amazon, Apple and Kobo all sell individual magazines directly and have way more content than Next Issue. There are also companies like Magster, PressReader and Zinio that all offer subscription plans. These three companies all have larger catalogs than Next Issue. Zinio allows you subscribe to 3 magazines a month, with their ZPass program, while PressReader allows you to subscribe to them all, and puts a heavily emphasis on international magazines from over 80 countries.

Most Canadians just want to read the popular and mainstream magazines and Next Issue may make sense. The price is low enough, that you can read as many as you want, without having to pay for them individually. If you like to read magazines in other languages and from other countries, avoid it.

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Golf World is the oldest American magazine and first started publication in 1947. Conde Nast has made the call to suspend the print edition, due to declining sales and focus on digital distribution.

The changes were announced Wednesday as part of its “new strategic vision” for Golf World. By going exclusively digital, the magazine will start pumping out 50 issues a year, up from 31 issues of the print version.

Jerry Tarde, the chairman of Golf World said “It’s a response to the times and people’s reading habits, and the changing nature of the 24-hour news cycle,” Tarde said. “The notion of a print magazine that lands a week after the action … the perspective is really good, but it’s much better if it can be delivered immediately. That’s what our readers’ expectations are.”

According to Adage, Golf World averaged paid and verified circulation of 213,387 during the last six months of 2013, according to its filing with the Alliance for Audited Media, down slightly from nearly 215,000 a year earlier. Print ad pages were off 28.5% through its July 21 edition, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

Apparently they will not be releasing a digital magazine, per say. Instead, everything will be o instantly viewable from GolfDigest.com with daily updates on the latest golf news and tour coverage.

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Every single day there are 60,000 cruise, cargo and oil rigs in operation globally. The vast majority of staff that keep these operations running properly are workers from the Philippines, Malaysia, Russia and India. Many of the corporations that bankroll everything are putting a new emphasis on crew welfare and retention. This has opened up a new market for digital publishing companies to keep the staff entertained and use it as perks to keep trained personnel from going to the competition.

Maritime operations, whether its a cruise ship, oil rig or cargo vessel often do not have reliable internet access. The companies often deal with satellite internet providers such as VSAT and IMTECH. Internet access is purchased in blocks, where ships have very specific limits on how much data is available. In order to download eBooks, magazines or newspapers they have to be accessed in off-peak hours, when the internet is more reliable and not congested.

Cargo vessels and oil rigs often have staff that are on the vessel for up to six months at a time. Keeping them entertained is a top priority to keep them loyal and happy. This has opened up a tremendous niche in the marketplace where some companies are taking advantage of the sparse options currently available.

Vancouver based PressReader currently has a catalog of over 2,000 newspapers and magazines. They have developed a new offline system that will allow vessels to download content in non-peak hours and distribute it to smartphones and tablets via a shipwide WIFI network. Maritime companies are starting to select publications that are relevant to the nationalities of their workers and getting the top three or four titles from those countries. This would allow a boatswain from the Philippines to get free access to the Manila Times, UNO Magazine, and Daily Inquirer to read at their leisure. Providing perks like free newspapers and magazines gives workers and officers a taste of home, without having to spend any of their own money, its the corporate cash after all that pays for it.

Getting your staff to read safety guides, regulations, weather reports and orientation information is a trial and tribulation. The print editions are often destroyed in the heat and humidity or lost amidst the huge vessels. This has warranted digital distribution, and PressReader Offline supports the ability for companies to upload their documents in PDF form, to be downloaded to tablets and phones on-demand.

PressReader offline has been in a year long pilot project and the system was co-developed by Silver Seas Cruises. It was trialed on a number of vessels to get feedback on how it could be integrated, using existing systems and the limitations of satellite internet. The offline capabilities have been a big hit and is now being used on vessels globally.

Established satellite internet providers are also leaping at the oportonity to fill this burgeoning entertainment niche. InfoSat is currently developing a new system that will allow vessels to have unlimited satellite internet access and offer a wide array of media. Maps, music, Videos, Newspapers, magazines and eBooks will be a top priority for the global launch.

If you are a crewman on a military submarine, your options to access leisure content is severely hampered. Internet access is non-existent, due to security reasons, which traditionally made reading eBooks unfeasible. This has prompted the US Navy to partner with Findaway World for the NERD e-Reader. It comes with 300 eBooks and audiobooks and has no USB port or WIFi internet access. In essence, it is a tremendously low security risk and provides an alternative to movies or the XBox.

I think this is the perfect time for the maritime industry to embrace audiobooks, ebooks, magazines and digital newspapers as an avenue to retain staff and keep everyone entertained. After all, most just rely on mindless activities such as video games, movies or sports. Reading gives them a taste of home and a widened mind.

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The New Yorker exemplifies a high society paper that chronicles commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry. The paper has been going strong since 1925 and recently they have been working like fiends to make sure their website is brought up to modern standards. Not only do they have a new responsive design that makes it shine on computers, but now looks stellar on phones and tablets. In order to celebrate, they are giving away any new content they publish away for free and also are opening up their digital  archives from 2007 to 2014.

In a statement on their blog the editorial staff said “Beginning this week, absolutely everything new that we publish—the work in the print magazine and the work published online only—will be unlocked. All of it, for everyone. Call it a summer-long free-for-all. Non-subscribers will get a chance to explore The New Yorker fully and freely, just as subscribers always have. Then, in the fall, we move to a second phase, implementing an easier-to-use, logical, metered paywall. Subscribers will continue to have access to everything; non-subscribers will be able to read a limited number of pieces—and then it’s up to them to subscribe. You’ve likely seen this system elsewhere—at the Times, for instance—and we will do all we can to make it work seamlessly.”

So the New Yorker intends on borrowing a page out of the New York Times playbook to implement a paywall for all of their online content. This will make the majority of it be indexed on Google and used as reference by other online publications. Users will be able to read X articles per month for free and if they want to read more, they have to subscribe. This is likely why they are giving away everything for free right now, to drum up a new readership base and then try and get them to pay.

Jeff Howe, a professor of multimedia journalism at Northeastern University, called the new paywall strategy a good one. “Paywalls aren’t the silver bullet news outlets thought they would be back in the Jurassic period of the internet’s development, but a limited and intentionally leaky one becomes one of a bunch of revenue streams to staunch further declines, and maybe even help ward off that terrible vortex of losses leading to layoffs leading to readership declines leading to losses.”

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Traditional magazine advertising often captivates readers attention due to color, gloss and shine. When it comes to reading on a tablet, such as the iPad, do advertisements still resonate?

According to new research by GfK MRI Starch Advertising readers respond to digital advertisements at the same rate as print. They found that the average level of reader recall for both print and digital ads last year was 52%. The most effective digital magazine ads were recalled by more than 80% of readers, in line with the most effective print ads.

Not all adverts are created equal and the research found that customers respond to very specific campaigns. Advertisements for  for household products had the highest average reader recall scores. Vegetable juices had a 66% average level of reader recall,  while candy and beverages tied for the second highest average reader recall score for print ads at 64%.

28,624 magazine ads in 805 tablet magazine issues published last year were part of the report.

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It’s no secret that newspapers as a whole are on the decline. Some of the longest-standing family-owned outlets in the country have already shuttered their doors, and the ones who are managing to stay afloat are doing so with the help of digitization efforts and an online presence. This characteristic of journalistic publishing made the news this past spring that Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, had purchased the Washington Post all that much more interesting.

The Washington Post has an interesting history in its own right, one that includes the fame of bringing down a US President with its involvement in exposing the Watergate scandal. But according to an article about the paper in the Columbia Journalism Review, the Post has done little else since then to stay on top of the newspaper publishing market.

And that’s supposed to be where Jeff Bezos comes in. The man who built an empire out of selling stuff online did so by sticking to the concept that today’s work is never good enough, so there are those who are anxious to see how that translates into the future for an entity that is built on yesterday’s news.

According to the CJR, Bezos was the one who was approached about buying the paper for the simple reason that he could afford to, and because he had the digital know-how to bring the paper back to some measure of relevance. The owners at the time, an almost century-old family enterprise, knew they had a sinking ship on their hands if they didn’t catch up to what the rest of the digital publishing industry was doing, namely making the switch to digital subscriptions and app-based news opportunities like Press Reader or Zinio.

One of the big obstacles for the Post to overcome will be its narrow focus. Known as a Washington insiders’ look and the top-notch source of news that related to the small world of politics, that model isn’t going to be enough for Bezos. The man who morphed from selling books to publishing books to selling diapers, groceries, and hardware isn’t going to be content with a narrow focus like the Post’s. Fortunately, that focus is already shifting, and the paper is hiring.

One thing is certain, and that if anyone is qualified to bring a publishing outlet–even a journalism outlet–into the future, Bezos is the man to do it. What remains to be seen is whether or not he will cut his losses and close its doors, or if the paper will even resemble its historic ancestors once he’s finished with it.

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With the help of some non-profit agency grant funding, Mozilla is working to make the internet a place that fosters better discussion and more reader-centric but newsworthy content. After securing around $3.9 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which provides significant funding to groups that are promoting new practices in journalism, Mozilla and two major news outlets are building a platform that will offer not only better reader comments’ sections, but will also leverage the ability of readers to create and post content.

As a key supporter of open standards in the internet, non-profit Mozilla–the creators of the Firefox web browser, among other innovations–is working with The New York Times and The Washington Post on this initiative. Currently, news sites have to screen reader comments before posting immediately, which can not only be a drain on manpower but can also lead to readers leaving the website. With advertising considerations, sites want readers to spend as much time as possible on their websites; the bigger issue, of course, is that readers cannot stay engaged in the discourse if they have to wait for their comments to be approved.

It’s also possible that a lot of the notoriously bad behavior found in the comments sections of news sites and other posting platforms stems from that same feeling of disconnectedness. If commenters know that their feedback is valued and contributes to the ongoing dialogue, there is a valid hope that their comments will be more purposeful. As it stands, sites that require difficult login processes don’t get as much reader feedback, but those that allow basic anonymous commenting get the “grenade effect” of tossing a commentary grenade into the room and evacuating.

More importantly, this joint effort will also allow readers to submit more than pithy diatribe. The goal is to build a platform that fluidly accepts links, photos, videos, and more, all contributed by reader-users. With three powerhouses at the helm of this project, several other publishers have already announced that their sites are anticipating an upcoming rebuild in order to change the way dialogue happens online.

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With the launch of Samsung‘s newest tablet offering, the Galaxy Tab S, consumers must be wondering what makes the new device so compelling, so stand-out that it’s worthy of their hard earned money. Just from a digital reading standpoint, there’s a lot about the tablet that stands out, particularly thanks to Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite.

With the release of DPS v31, which is the only platform that supports Samsung’s new digital magazine reading experience Papergarden, new features in content previewing, purchasing from directly within a preview, and more are going to streamline the magazine content sales realm. This release will power both this tablet launch and another from Samsung.

“Samsung is excited to have partnered with Adobe to use Digital Publishing Suite to build the new Papergarden application. Samsung’s new magazine service, Papergarden, enables users to view a wide range of top-tier magazine titles exactly as the photographers intended, reproducing colors just as vividly and accurately as the print versions,” said Daniel Park, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics’ Media Solution Center. “Papergarden is tightly integrated with the robust DPS native Android Viewer and strives to deliver a highly engaging service that will delight Samsung Galaxy users in its purchase simplicity and interactive content experience with an optimized viewing environment for interactive digital magazines.”

Good e-Reader spoke to Adobe’s Lynly Schambers-Lenox for a demo of what’s new in v31, and how DPS is making it even easier to drive sales.

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with a hardware supplier on content. With v31, users can see a preview of content, but that preview and the purchase functionality are now very tightly connected. Publishers can build segments for push notifications and can drive readers to custom markets or URLs, all with the intention of driving engagement.”

One of the more exciting enhancements to this newest release is the Folio Showcase, which lets publishers set up a default library of content that they especially want to highlight. There are key visuals in the showcase, along with content samples, and the pricing is “front and center” for consumers to make a content purchasing decision. All of this leads to an increase in sales and user engagement with the material.

The new version has already rolled out and is available for preview through Adobe.

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Blurb,  a company that begin by producing limited print runs of graphics-heavy paper books before expanding into a digital publishing platform for self-published authors with a suite of user friendly tools, has been on a mission lately to acquire key products and support personnel to make their platform even more engaging, easy to use, and far-reaching. A release from the company today fell in line with their current mission when Blurb announced that it had acquired several key members of the Graphicly team, including co-founder Micah Baldwin.

“This acquisition of incredibly relevant talent will help us advance our vision of 21st century authoring,” said Eileen Gittins, Blurb founder and CEO. ”What self publishers need now is the ability to focus on the creative aspect of authoring, with output automatically generated for all relevant ebook formats, as well as print output.”

Graphicly was one of the pioneers of illustrated ebooks, which included children’s, graphic novels, comics, and more. For its part, Blurb has made its platform easier to use, no longer requiring InDesign files by creating a drag-and-drop suite for file creation. Blurb has also added expanded distribution to major print and ebook retailers and the Ingram catalog, with new announcements for other distribution opportunities slated for this summer.

“Authoring isn’t just for authors anymore,” continued Gittins. “For the past 18 months we have been working behind the scenes to build out support for people who want to publish any kind of book – both print and ebooks – whether highly illustrated, or text-driven or a combination of the two. But ‘publish’ doesn’t stop at the point of creation; authors need and want to get the widest possible audience and that means broader distribution and marketing support.”