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The Ups and Downs of Digital VS Physical Magazines

It’s been about a decade since digital magazines began to really make their way into the market place. While at first, it was only the major outlets like Vogue and Vanity Fair that produced tablet versions; it didn’t take long for nearly every publication to jump on the bandwagon. And it made sense. You’re already going through the effort of producing a magazine, why not add the small expense of digitizing it? And when Apple and Google released their Newsstand apps, it became even more enticing.

But even to this day, there are positives and negatives to both physical and digital publications. So I thought, why not have a look at some of the most important factors (according to market research) that lead to people buying a digital or physical version of your magazine.

Digital Positive

  • Advertisers love digital editions of magazines because their products become instantly purchasable. Do you like those heels in the Spring edition of Vogue? No need to go hunting around for them in store. Just click that ad, and you’ll be taken directly to the designer’s website. Or how about an ad for an upcoming movie or TV show? Instead of just having a poster-style image, you can feature the trailer and a direct link to pre-purchase tickets. This is all very easily trackable as well.

Digital Negative

  • Not everything becomes easier to sell in a digital magazine. Perfume, for instance. Long a staple inside the pages of fashion magazines, perfume companies have perfected featuring the actual scent of their product on specially designed pages. Digital can do a lot, but showcasing a fragrance? Not quite there yet.

Physical Positive

  • Discoverability. In the world of digital newsstands, people know exactly what they want, and they know how to get it. There aren’t a whole lot of opportunities for people to find something new. But in the real world, people are more likely to browse. Especially in places like airports, hospitals, and drug stores. Anywhere that might require some waiting around. This gives your publication the opportunity to stand out. An eye-grabbing cover, interesting headline, or simply good placement can mean a lot! You might just pick up a new regular reader, purely by chance.

Physical Negative

  • News and information is a 24/7 business now. So even if you’re a magazine that publishes weekly, you’re outdated the day after you hit the stands. And that’s if you’re lucky. This is especially true for magazines that focus on pop culture and politics. Publications that are based around science, fashion, and expose’s fair a bit better in this respect since those types of stories don’t tend to age as quickly, but it’s still shaky ground.

So as you can see, there are ups and downs to both physical and negative. Not to mention that a lot of people simply have a preference. Some prefer the feeling, and smell of a brand new magazine with its glossy pages… the experience of pealing the pages apart. Others prefer the ease of access for digital versions. Start reading an article on your iPad, run out to a doctor’s appointment, and pick up where you left off on your iPhone.

What do you think? Do you prefer digital and physical magazines, and why? We’d love to know, so get in touch on Twitter or Facebook at the links below!

-James Somerton

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