20 Tablet Publishing Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss

What’s clear is that tablet publishing is popular, growing, and able to generate revenue

If you own a tablet that you use often, is it hard to imagine what life was like before it? I have friends who use their tablets to cook every dinner with, or spend several hours with it at night, reading books and magazines. Consumers aren’t as attached at the hip to tablets as they are to their smartphones, and maybe they never will be, but as their larger phablet brothers come into the market, it’s possible the line won’t be so clear anymore between tablet and smartphone.

If you plan to publish to tablets, here are twenty things you need to know:

1. Tablets are how digital magazines survive. Digital magazines did not take off on desktops because they didn’t feel or act like traditional print magazines. The tablet can create the feeling and experience that magazines need to survive in the digital age.

2. Tablet owners spend more time reading magazines. According to the MPA, whose analysis is based on studies by GfK/MRI/MPA and Condé Nast, more than one in four readers say they have increased their reading time spent with magazines media, both print and digital. In fact, readers who are new to cross-platform publishing spent an average of 114 minutes reading their magazines, and those who were early adopters spent a whopping 126 minutes with magazines. Print-only readers? Just 84 minutes.

3. People are paying for premium content. Premium digital content, once considered to be a huge turnoff to readers, is now accessed by 78% of digital content consumers, according to Adobe’s data.  What’s more, according to the survey by GfK/MRI/MPA, a majority of readers (63%) believe that pricing for digital magazines is fair.

4. People are watching and engaging with more ads on tablets. A recent study from GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research found 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, GfK said.

5. Tablets offer more features for digital magazines, which should be used. According to our Digital Magazine Market Study, the most important feature of digital magazines to their subscribers, is scrollable text. That means replicas are out, and you’ll need to be publishing replica plus or reflow plus editions.

6. Horizontal design is out, vertical is in.  Vertical reflow, also known as vertical swipe to describe how the user accesses the content, means a layout where instead of squeezing a magazine page into the smaller tablet screen, the content is resized and reflowed on a bottomless tablet page. Users swipe up to bring up this long page as they read. The reader can swipe horizontally at any point on this page to go to the next article.

7. Tablet readers read more magazines. Indeed, the MPA recently found that users with both mobile and tablet access spend 23% of their engagement time reading magazines on their smartphones. That’s good news, all right! But what about tablets? That number is 75%. Now those are tablet statistics to believe in!

8. Tablet readers read more in general. A Pew study showed that 73% of tablet owners read in-depth articles at least sometimes, including 19% who do so daily.

9. Tablet users want all the bells and whistles. As we’ve noted in the past, some big players, such as The Atlantic and Forbes, have hit the revenue jackpot with their apps. These folks are taking advantage of something that tablet users say they crave: features that they can’t get in a print version, such as related videos and photo galleries.

10. Tablets users are… everyone! Tablet users are more or less split down the middle – 50% male and female. There are no statistically significant variations on either side to suggest more men or women use tablets. Additionally, 59% are college graduatesSee more tablet user statistics we compiled recently.


11. Tablet users who read magazines aren’t just the digital natives. Last year, we compiled the Mequoda 25 Top Tablet Magazines drawing on those magazines reporting their digital circulation to AAM. And at the top of the list was one of the industry’s most staid – one might almost say stodgy, at least by reputation – magazines: Reader’s Digest with digital circulation of 287,055, but with a median subscriber age of 55, and 62% being over age 50. Those aren’t exactly the demographics you’d expect to be especially tablet-friendly! We can’t wait to repeat this study again in the fall to see how everyone grew.

12. Tablet users want your site to load faster. Maybe it’s the 3G connections on some tablets, but data shows that 60 percent of tablet users expect websites to load in less than three seconds. Does your website meet that requirement? If your website loads too slowly, 16 percent of mobile device users will leave your website and not return. Another six percent will check out what your competitors have to offer. There is an inherent need to optimize your website for mobile devices, particularly for app access, or have a version of your site that is designed specifically for mobile device users. This may be a lighter version of your current site, with appropriately sized images and text, as well as features like swiping and scrolling for smartphones.

13. Digital publishing software is abundant and pricing is tricky. Click those two links to determine what suits you best.

14. Apple Newsstand is no walk in the park. And Apple doesn’t seem to be paying particular attention to it. That’s why we drew up these tips for publishing in Newsstand.

15. Also, Apple Newsstand is still the best deal for publishers.

17. On that note, Kindle is another great deal with an audience that already uses their tablet device for reading, whereas iPad users are more often in apps.

18. Mobile users prefer apps. Flurry Analytics – using data from both comScore and NetMarketShare – released a study in April that shows mobile web browsing time in 2014 was down 6% from 2013. But mobile app time is up 6% over that same span – not a surprise when there are so many apps now that deliver the content people seek without even needing to browse.

19. Tablet users want free apps to demo. The universal complaint in consumers’ app store reviews: The app is free, but there’s nothing there! Creating apps that are nothing but sales vehicles for your subscriptions drives your audience crazy – and these folks will never be back to your app. Worse, they’ll tell their friends, family, Facebook and everyone else who downloads the app all about it.

20. Tablet users are on their tablets most during the evening. More than half of tablet owners in China use their device more than once a day, according to a Tencent study. Two-thirds of the 281.2 million tablet users are male, while 85% are ages 18 to 39. Almost 27% of users are on their tablets for one to two hours per day. eMarketer reports that most of this time is spent later in the day, near bedtime, which is also the case in the United States and Europe.

Finally, there’s a wealth of reporting out there predicting the next big things in digital magazine publishing on tablets and other devices. Check them all out.

Have any other interesting tablet facts or tips to add? Let us know in the comments.



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