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2011 State of the Digital Edition Industry Survey

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NXTBookThose ever so nice people at NXTBook Media are running their State of the Digital Edition Industry survey again, mainly because they really enjoyed doing it last year. Marcus Grimm says the 2010 survey was a “ground-breaker” for NXTbook asking publishers awkward questions like, “How’s your circulation?” and “Are you making any money?”.

Expect the same this year – 20 multiple choice questions focused on how happy you are with your digital edition projects. There’s an iPad in it for one lucky respondent, which is nice, but I’m actually more excited about seeing if things have changed since last year.

You can take the survey here.

Written by Peter Houston

September 1, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Stranded magazine is so good I changed my tagline

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StrandedYou won’t have noticed, I know you won’t, but since I started writing this blog back at the end of last year, the little black balloon in the top right hand corner has said “Looking for the future of digital magazines.” Today it says, “Looking for the future of magazines”. All because Andrew Losowsky got stuck in Dublin airport.

“What are you smoking over there?” you ask. Nothing, honestly. Maybe I’m just high on possibility.

To cut a long story short I got my copy of Stranded today: A bonafide print magazine, 88-pages perfect bound, polybagged and pushed through my letter box to land with a thud on the carpet. I even paid for it – $22.47 including shipping. And it’s worth every penny (you should buy it too even if it’s only because all proceeds go to the International Rescue Committee).

I won’t try to give you the full backstory on Stranded. Basically it’s the project of a clever man who got stranded by the Icelandic ash cloud, got bored enough to imagine a magazine about the experience, drew in contributors who were similarly stuck far from home, and delivered a wonderful publication. If you want the full story take a look at Wired | Ash cloud magazine ‘Stranded’ now available.

What I have only just realised is that Stranded is a digital magazine project in all but outcome. Andrew Lowosky and Stranded designer Matt McArthur have never met. The entire publishing process was managed digitally, from assignment to printing on order. And its the print on demand aspect that Stranded really helped me get my head around.

I have known about HP’s MagCloud print on demand service for a while, but to be honest I never paid it much attention. MagCloud seemed a bit like a vanity publishing service and then, here’s this amazing magazine that I have to have. For the first time I saw directly the power of the model.

I ordered online, my copy was printed and shipped; but equally, if I didn’t order -  no printing, no cost, no risk for the Stranded team.The economics of print on demand made publishing a quirky one-off, half way between travel magazine and art project, a risk worth taking.

I wasn’t looking for a new business model when I ordered Stranded, but given that one of the big crosses crucifying magazine publishers today is print and distribution costs, print on demand has to be worth looking at. At 20 cents a page plus shipping, it’s not commercially viable for most publishers at the moment, but if volumes grow and unit costs come down, who knows.

It could be a way for cash strapped publishers to service international readers who want print copies of your magazines bad enough to pay. The problem here is MagCloud doesn’t offer a comprehensive international service yet, but surely it will come.

More interesting is the opportunity to monetise premium content. Maybe readers won’t pay for standard issues, but they might pay for article compilations, special reports or yearbooks. This is closer to Stranded’s “Artefact” publishing model where readers are willing to pay premium prices for a real live object that they can keep on their shelf for reference, inspiration or just to have something other than pixels to read every now and then.

The nice part is, with print on demand, you have nothing to lose.

Anyway, to return to the changing of the tag line, Stranded introduced me to an alternative model for print. The Flipping Pages Blog is now looking for the future of magazines in digital and print and any other format that works.

Webinar: Maximizing the Value of Digital Editions

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Maximizing the value of digital editionsAudience Development Magazine Webinar: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 2pm EST (7pm GMT)

I’m speaking in a webinar organised by Audience Development magazine along with George Otto of Publishing Transitions. George has direct experience of successfully migrating print magazines to digital. As Production Director for PassageMaker magazine, he led the move into digital publishing, developing and managing the editorial, advertising, and circulation strategies for the digital publications. He also introduced iPhone/iPad apps for the PassageMaker products.

What will we be talking about? Maximizing the value of digital editions. You can use a digital edition to provide a simple digital alternative to your readership (and you know what some people think of that), or you can push the platform into more strategic uses to drive real revenue and circulation growth. Hopefully we can share some specific tactics to transform your digital editions into money-making audience growers.

You can register for the webinar right here.

Written by Peter Houston

September 23, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Why content should matter to marketers

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I was asked to put the case for content at a recent Digital Balloon Debate  organised by Jay Cooper of Digital Lounge. The subject under discussion was the importance of content, email, search and mobile in digital marketing. As it turned out I never made the debate, but the following arguments for the pre-eminence of content were put on my behalf by Natasha Jackson. Apparently Content won the day, although that probably had more to do with Natasha’s powers of persuasion than my insight.

Anyway, maybe these will help you make the case for content to colleagues that haven’t quite got it yet.

Content = Value

It’s not often that creative delivers any long-term value. It might entertain; It might show me what I can buy or even where I can buy it; but at the point of delivery, I get nothing concrete. Content delivers immediate value, information I can use, remember, and share. It’s my reward for reading and I will value the individual or organization that gave it to me.

Content = Context

Marketing is not just about gaining customer attention; it’s about keeping it. Good creative will win attention for you, but only good content can keep it. Content offers the opportunity to discuss a problem or an opportunity in detail. Good advertising placed alongside strong content can be seen by customers as relevant to the discussion, creating a positive context for customers to act.

Content = Credibility

Good content builds credibility. It offers the opportunity to associate brands with the ideas of experts and opinion leaders.  It forms a trusted resource that people turn to when they need help or inspiration. It communicates solutions that reflect positively on the product or services promoted alongside it. Good content gets bound into the decision making process, delivering credibility to marketers by association.

Content = Affinity

Content can make me laugh, make me think, make me better at what I do. Through content I can let you know that I understand you and you can start to believe that I know exactly what you need. A well-balanced content package builds affinity, addressing customers’ concerns and aspirations over time. Clever marketers can tie into the customer’s affinity for the content and transfer it to what they are promoting.

Content = Community

The digital world has just discovered community, but the best content producers have been cultivating a sense of community amongst their customers in print for many, many years. Content is the focus for community, with carefully crafted ideas and opinions generating comment and response. Customers contribute to the debate and become engaged, hopefully long enough for clever marketers to reach them effectively.

Written by Peter Houston

October 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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