Create something the reader can read: Publishers often skip this important step and create a digital replica, sending the message that they really don’t care if anyone reads the digital edition. Who has the patience to pinch and zoom through a 100 page magazine online?
You don’t have to spend a small fortune on Adobe Publishing Suite creating an animated digital edition that Walt Disney would be proud of. There is a happy medium between a print replica and a digital edition where most publishers can and should play. Most digital editions are read on a tablet. On the typical tablet, most ad fonts are already larger than editorial copy. That means half of your magazine doesn’t have to be re-designed, and you can focus on the other half that does.
Re-design the key pages in stories that you feel are most important: The publisher’s letter and table contents are good places to start. Next, re-design feature stories to be readable on a tablet. This is a great opportunity to make your digital edition a lot better than your print magazine. Taking the photos that you wish you could have run larger in print, but could not afford the paper to do so, is a start. Run great photos as full pages. The re-design time on full page editorial is almost nothing, making this a very affordable way to create a digital presence that is actually better than your print magazine, and is a lot less expensive than putting your stories on the web with a full blown re-design via an app.
Make sure pages load quickly: Speed and a better user experience are paramount. Most digital editions are downloaded, which takes some time, but once downloaded they operate quickly on your desktop. Most digital editions average 40 to 50 pages read per visit, with two to ten pages read from websites. There are several potential takeaways from this, but the one that sticks with me is: the web is frustrating and digital editions need not be.
Remember that people are there to read: If they wanted to watch videos they’d be on YouTube. There is a good chance that people came to your magazine to read words and look at great pictures. Books have been adopted on tablets because they read well and that’s what people want. The page flipping is fast, much faster than the web. Books don’t scroll in two different directions, and there are no videos jumping off the page interrupting you. Magazines could steal a page from the book industry and focus on simplicity: a readable magazine, with no loading delays, good content and great pictures. It sounds like a simple formula, but a print replica doesn’t have it, and an over designed tech heavy app doesn’t have it. A good magazine should.
About Mirabel Technologies: Mark McCormick is founder of Mirabel Technologies, a leading cloud-based software provider of publishing solutions, including The Magazine Manager, The Newspaper Manager, Mirabel's Digital Studio and FlipandShare. He is a former publishing entrepreneur who launched a dozen titles in the city regional, interior design and real estate sectors.
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