The Best Digital Magazines?

Tell us, what’s the best digital magazine, in your humble opinion?

The last time someone you knew won an award, did you agree that they were the best person to win? I bet at some point in your life, someone has won an award that you feel they didn’t deserve. Maybe a coworker won “employee of the month” or a girl in your class won an editorial award. In some cases, maybe you thought you deserved the award, but at the very least, your version of the “best” and the people judging the “best” didn’t agree.

So what classifies the best digital magazines? We might break them into a few different categories:

  • One that has sold the most amount of digital subscriptions.
  • One who has the highest rating in the newsstand or app store.
  • One with the most usable interface.
  • One that has generated the most revenue.
  • One with the best reviews from bloggers (like us!)

If you look at all of these versions of the best, it would be pretty hard to pick a winner, because the digital magazine who has sold the largest number of digital subscriptions might not have the best rating, or the most usable interface. And the little niche magazines might have the best user experience, but not enough fame yet to get reviewed from top industry bloggers.

But yet we’ve spent plenty of time picking our favorites (and less-than favorites) like I Like Crochet,  Popular ScienceMAD MagazineAtlantic WeeklyBlack BeltMen’s Health and Forbes.

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Not to mention the metrics are flawed. Even though Hearst might be looking good from the outside, their top seven magazines took a hit in digital subscriptions over the past year. Thankfully they had an overall increase in sales, thanks to the Next Issue app, which allows readers to get Netflix-style pricing on a library of magazines. And, rumors say it was also due to Newsstand bugginess, something Hearst doesn’t have control over. That might be true, considering that Cosmopolitan had 214,000 digital readers in 2013 and only 117,000 in 2014. When all the numbers are ironed out, digital readership is still at 2.64% of total readership, the same as 2013.

When it comes to the best reviews for digital magazines, it comes down to preference. Does the reviewer prefer replica or a replica plus, reflow plus, or perhaps a vertical reflow? We’ve heard from one client with a much older audience that they subscribe eagerly to digital magazines, but they refer digital replicas. That contrasts with everything else we’ve learned about users wanting scrollable text in editions that are at least replica plus.

Next week we’ll analyze AAM’s conclusive data on digital magazine subscriptions in 2014 and will dive a little deeper into who is coming out on top, including why their data isn’t what it seems.

But in the meantime, let’s make this more of a conversation.

What’s your favorite digital magazine, and why?


    Jamiel C.

    I’ll have to give it up for a few different ones.

    First, Men’s health,-They have amazing content in their app, video plays interviews and exclusives not provided in the other versions.

    National Geographic,- they seem to have a lot of material for nature lovers that is nicely re-flowed and high quality.

    Fast Company,- its just the brand


    Thanks for your thoughts. Interesting note, since Red Bull is a brand doing content marketing and not actually a publisher. Not surprising they may be a leader since they different economics from publishers. That’s not true of Martha Stewart’s Living however. They’re a straight up publisher.

    Sashka H.

    There aren’t many digital magazines out there that are “different” to the static PDF’s (replica)…so I have favorite magazines and favorite digital magazines.
    Red Bull is by far (for me) the best digital magazine – it’s interactive and involves so many cool things that a static magazine wouldn’t have. As well as Martha Stewarts Living…love that..

    And my soon-to-be FlameFlava magazine (at the moment it’s also a replica but will be changing soon)…

    Thanks for all the good information 🙂


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