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Five Case Studies of Successful Digital Magazines

Luca Filigheddu

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The role of technology in publishing has never been more evident than now. With the advent of digital publishing, readers are beginning to make the shift from paper copies of their publication to e-editions.

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While this change was at first marked by stops and starts in technology and consumer resistance, there are a number of successful digital magazines to illustrate how the transition can be done. Five examples of these are Wired, Black Belt, I Like Crochet, The New Yorker, and Suitcase Magazine.

1. Wired Magazine Connects With iPad

Wired Magazine, a popular magazine for those who enjoy reading about the integration of technology into our culture, the economy, and politics, found a natural connection with digital publishing when the iPad was first introduced to consumers.

As a newer magazine to the market (it was established in March 1993), it remained open to new ways of information delivery. It built itself the app technology so that it could be introduced as an iPad magazine.

On April 3, 2010 the iPad was first distributed to consumers. Within six weeks, Wired’s online publication sold 24,000 copies during its first full day of release. Fastcolabs.com has stated that Wired remains a leader in digital magazine publication. Features which have kept it relevant include:

Specially formatted digital editions which look aesthetically pleasing and can be read across a number of devices

– In-magazine links and live features for digital readers

Extra information for digital readers such as web-only videos, photos, and interviews

2. Black Belt KOs Conventional Publishing

Active Interest Media launched the Black Belt digital edition in 2012. Rather than outsourcing the magazine for exact replication online, the company chose to keep the production in-house in order to include extras and interactions which a purely digitalized publication would not contain.

This magazine is known as a replica plus because it links back to its website, provides all the original content and most of the formatting, but also includes a clickable advertiser index so that ads placed in the magazine are interactive within the online version. Click on the ad which interests you and get taken to that sponsor’s site. Today its features include:

– Links to contributor biographies and websites;

– Text options for size and font to make reading easier;

– Linking from companies and people mentioned in articles to send the reader straight to the ‘source’.

3. I Like Crochet Crafts a Winner

The magazine I Like Crochet was launched in August 2014. It is owned by Prime Publishing which has multiple craft and cooking websites. There are several features which set it apart from earlier versions of online magazines.

For instance, it is available as an app for mobile reading in addition to being a website magazine. Readers can navigate through the web or app and get the same experience. Flipping through the pages is achieved similarly to a paper magazine, and the contents page will allow readers to skip to the title article of their choice. Additional features include:

Back issue search functions via an online archive;

– Accessibility across every platform via the website;

– Consistent user experience on the site and via the app.

4. The New Yorker Unites Prices

The New Yorker has made use of digital magazine technologies as they have been developed over time. While it was not until November 2014 that most of their content could be accessed online through subscription, the work which The New Yorker has done with that content is remarkable.

With a print, app, and combined subscription option readers can experience the magazine online as well as hold the paper copy in hand. The price for any of the three options is the same, it is a matter of choosing the preferred reading platform or indeed all the platforms available.

Starting prior to November 2014, readers had been able to access all the content online from July to November of that year. This was how they managed to also introduce new readers to the publication. The increase in readers began after the pay for use platforms. Once it became a pay-to-read online magazine, casual readers could read a certain number of free articles and then subscribe. Interesting features of The New Yorker include:

– Three-month subscriptions seem to be more popular than yearly;

– Magazine content is shared through the web, email, merchandise, apps, videos, audio, events, archives, and cartoon archives.

5. Suitcase Magazine Packs a Lot of Value

Topping the list of successful digital magazines is the DMA Digital Magazine Awards 2016 winner Suitcase Magazine. It was chosen as magazine of the year by judges who called it “classy”, “effortlessly cool” and “the ultimate multi-media digital magazine”. Another relative newcomer, the print edition of Suitcase Magazine has been in publication since 2012. By mid-2013, the publication was moving toward further digital access. Current offerings to readers include:

– Quarterly print editions;

iPad and iPhone apps;

Daily website updates;

– Newsletter;

– Digital magazine subscriptions for iPad app.

Although these publications began with paper copies and grew readership through tangible words and pages, they have continued to reach new and more diverse audiences by meeting the needs of traditional readers as well as those of readers who prefer to read content online.