Zinio is one of the largest digital magazine companies in the world. They have built their business by offering magazines on mobile devices, like the iPad. Since they were an early launch partner, they remain a fixture in the most popular app categories. They expanded to Android, Windows 8 and have developed a new HTML5 based website to read magazines. Today we caught up with Global EVP/CMO at Zinio Jeanniey Mullen at the American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference.
Zinio has been fervently working on their new Z-Pass subscription model for magazines. You can pick 3 magazines free for 30 days, then pay just $5.00 per month. You aren’t locked into those particular magazines if you want to make a switch every month and just choose three others if you desire. They also offer premium magazines for a small extra fee. This new project has been available on their beta website for the last few months and will do a broader roll-out in the next few months.
Their beta website is a work in progress but they are developing an HTML5 Cloud Reader. This will negate the need to rely on apps to deliver a magazine experience and instead can be read in any web-browser on smartphones, tablets and other things. This aspect of their business is not ready yet for a full launch and needs a bit of work to provide a great user experience.
Zinio has a business has started a new library initiative with Recorded Books in late 2012. Recorded Books is a publisher themselves and has been involved in the library system for almost thirty years. They were the perfect partner for Zinio, because of their clout in the market. Zinio has magazines to sell and most libraries only offer eBooks, Audiobooks and video for their multimedia content. The new partnership has yielded solid results in a short period of time, with over 300 libraries offering digital magazine as of Jan 2013.
Zinio and Recorded Books have developed a turnkey content distribution system, not only for libraries, but schools too. Most of the time these institution develop their own front-end and establish their own user credentials to tap into the system for magazines. Schools and libraries can pick and choose what type of content they want. Some elementary schools for example may not want Cosmo, but may want Popular Science. Users of the system can subscribe to as many magazines they wish and part of the service. Zinio currently offers 5500 through their own platform, but only 900 of these are available to purchase for schools and libraries. This has to do with publishing distribution rights and some companies not wanting to opt into this platform.
There is a large debate circulating around the industry with publishing standards. EPUB3 and HTML5 seem to be the two formats that people are trying to standardize. Zinio is betting on HTML5 as the best solution in 2013 to effectively deliver content to as many devices as they can. Recorded Books says that EPUB3 is mainly geared towards books and not really previlant in the magazine world. Interactive content is the future with National Geographic being one of the flag-bearers. Their digital edition has mainly the same content, but on the Zinio platform you have animations of spaceships and also video. You couldn’t do that sort of thing with EPUB3, so it looks like HTML5 is winning out in the magazine sector.