What are Digital Magazines?

What are digital magazines to you? If it smells like plastic and electronics rather than paper and ink, it’s probably a digital magazine

Digital magazines comprise the whole ecosystem of paperless magazines.

If a story can be read digitally, it’s a digital magazine. It doesn’t matter if it’s read on the web, or a tablet, or a smartphone – if you can’t flip a physical page, then it’s a digital magazines.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking specifially about online magazines—magazines that live on the web, and are often sold and browsed through a subscription website, but this is just one type of digital magazine.

At Mequoda we always build an online magazine library  as a companion to our clients’ magazines. Beside the obvious benefits of audience development, subscription websites are vital in selling digital and online magazines, because you can do so directly from your website. However, there’s more to digital magazines than their HTML counterparts.

Although a digital magazine could rightly refer to any magazine read digitally, most would agree that a digital magazine app is the version that you can hold in your hand on a tablet – a digital edition. 

This would be the Time magazine that you download from the Newsstand onto your iPad and peruse at your leisure. You find tappable ads, watchable videos, scrollable text, and you’re able to engage with the content with swipes and taps. Alternatively, the digital magazine apps could be downloaded onto Samsungs and Kindles from Google and Amazon stores.

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And what are digital magazines without options, right? A digital replica is typically a PDF of your magazine that has been formatted for a tablet reader, whereas a replica-plus offers much more interactivity (the videos and ads previously mentioned.) Magazine publishers who create a reflow-plus tend to add new functionality to the magazine that makes it act uniquely from any other digital magazine app.

A subset of the digital magazine app is the business model that does not include a print version at all – the digital-only magazine app. This is where the digital edition exists without a print edition. It is what some struggling publishers have started exploring, most notably Newsweek although there are many others, both B2c and B2B. Golf Digest is another that went digital-only.

It’s for this reason that we don’t see the digital-only magazine app as a survival strategy, as it once was, but rather, drastic innovation and serving the needs of a beckoning digital audience.

The benefit of offering digital magazines in their many different forms, is your increased options for pricing and  selling these digital magazines. When you produce a digital magazine app, you’re now open to the Apple, Google and Kindle marketplace. When you produce an online magazine library, you’re now profiting from a new valuable upsell.

If you’re considering launching a digital magazine, read up on our best practices for digital magazine publishing with these two hugely resourceful free downloads:  The Mequoda Digital Magazine Market Study and Digital Magazine Publishing Handbook.


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