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Industry Insight

Google Offers Digitized Magazines

I have long held the theory and prophesized in this newsletter and elsewhere,

By Bob Sacks
Published: November 10, 2009

I have long held the theory and prophesized in this newsletter and elsewhere, that digital magazines will save our industry. Aggregated data and web sites are not the solution to our woes; paginated performance and delivery is. If there is a future for magazine publishers and you have a part in it, it is that simple.

There are many companies that provide digital magazines today and there might be many more on the horizon. Some will make the test of time and prosper and others will not. But those that survive will be part of our new infrastructure for a long time to come. In magazine geologic time, we are finally minutes away from the right-reading, easy-to-use digital substrate. When that happens, the brilliance of the digital magazine format will become clear to dullest of luddites. The magazine industry needs to be working on competent easy-to-read digital editions now that are built for the substrate that they live in.

There are good digital editions and there are terrible digital editions out there right now. The publishers that have retooled their content and designed their product for ease of use and ease of the reading experience are doing quite well.

One of the best examples that I know of is VIV magazine. They are pioneering the non-zoom-in digital edition. If you haven't seen it, please check it out. Look at the ads, look at the edit and look at the amazingly pleasant reading experience. Any topic can be covered this way. This just happens to be woman's fashion. Popular Science has done the same thing with their Popular Science Genius edition.

Google is getting onto the digital magazine space. We had best as publishers prepare our own editions of paginated media before someone else takes that space away from us. If we don't do our best to absolutely own that turf, someone else will.



By Les Csonge on Nov 11, 2009

Great foresight and advice Bo.

I totally agree that Digital Editions designed from scratch knowing they are going to be digital is a big way forward (and better).

And there is no reason why Print Companies (and pre press /design) can not capitilise
on this, particularly with easy to use low cost SAAS patforms now avialble.

The following examples illustrate your thoughts and in fact go a step beyond with the inclusion of multimedia etc.

These were self made by traditional in house publisher designers via a SAAS platform.



What is more interesting is that Enterprise SAAS sytems are now available (and have alreday been implemented at companies like QUAD, AWO, PRINTING.com etc - that enable Print Companies to provide the same kind of service.

Kind of makes sense really, printers traditionally have a machine (expensive) that they buy paper and ink for, make and sell printed copies - they can have a

(Digital Edition)making machine (low cost SAAS platform) and run PDF's (already have so no cost) throught it to provide Digital Editions

- a win win situation for publishers and printers and of course online advertisers
and readers.

I have no doubt we wil see more Printers (and publishers) going this route in 2010.


By Richard Wright on Nov 11, 2009

Perhaps the commercial print industry should be thinking about they can turn a popular phrase and help their clients. "Print to Web" rather than the other way around...


By Michael Jahn on Nov 11, 2009

@ BoSaks

you wrote;

"..non-zoom-in digital edition.."

- I am confused. Why is Zoom in "bad" ? I have a small laptop, and subscribe to several magazines digitally. I do not happen to think much of the interface that Zinio uses, perhaps you might look at some examples at Issuu.com ?

If what you are saying is "the publisher and advertisers need to re-think how the final content might be viewed" - then for love of pete, forget PDF and Flash paper, as it is not reflowable.

What About iPhone users ? Do people really think that we will have a single standard "format" shape like we did with TV ?

We need dynamic, realizable content that intelligently re-formats to the shape of the screen. What I see is lazy people dumping their "after we printed it" PDFs into a converted that either makes a compressed bitmap - or Adobe flash paper - using technology invented 20 years ago.

Google Magazines is the same as Google Books - this is scans (bad scans at that) of old magazines - this is wonderful, but this is not a magazine rack, this is a library archive.

Google drives eyeballs (and collects ad dollars) to it because they OCR and index it, so you can search and find.

This is not like Zinio, who is enabling magazine title holders to publish their LATEST issue electronically for people who want to read MAXIM but can't get it delivered because they are in Afganistan or on some aircraft carrier.


By Fred Chan on Nov 13, 2009

Les, can't agree with you more. Publisher just need to get a software, and you can totally take control of the digital edition production. So, the same piece of PDF that you sent to printer, just send it to the software.


By Michael on Nov 15, 2009

I don't think a "digital-editions-making-machine" can be the solution, the result is an inflexible pdf that is way too hard to read and does not take advantage of the different media possibilities, i.e. interacting with reader and linking to other content. For a real digital edition you would need to use a content management system that enables you to single source publish to different platforms, re'formats content, links to other media etc.


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