9 Options in Digital Editions
Digital magazines may not be commonplace, but they're certainly gaining momentum. First on the list of benefits for many who offer digital publications is savings: There are no paper costs, postage fees or printing costs. But also, there's big incentive for advertisers: Direct links to advertisers' Web sites, and now even the ability to incorporate audio and visual into digital versions of print ads. Readers' actions can often be tracked, providing publishers with the means to prove their readers' interest in the advertisers' products.
For many, a hindrance was that the technology was a bit slow for large files loaded with graphic images. With society's "I want it now" mentality, most readers were just not willing to wait while large PDF files were downloaded or reloaded as they moved from page to page.
Today, however, the technology is advancing, and files are being compressed to great degrees. Some solutions enable readers to access digital editions about as quickly as they could open a print publication, and users are finding new benefits.
For example, for publications in the real estate market that offer digital editions, MLS numbers and small photos that appeared in print could link directly to an in-depth listing of the property featuring a virtual tour, and readers could click a button to contact the agent. Likewise for travel magazines.
The benefits are varied depending on the subject matter and the audience profile. As many in the industry have said, some readers will prefer print, some will prefer digital. The real key, according to most experts, is to offer options so that readers can access your content any way they want.
If you're considering making your magazine, catalog or newsletter available in a digital edition, below are a few of the top products on the market today and the features they provide. To help select which publication is right for you, visit the Web sites of these companies, and others, and view their sample publications. Also, browse popular publications in your field—e.g., if you're a trade magazine, subscribe to the digital editions of some of the trade magazines you admire, and experience what they are offering in digital form.
If you can't seem to ever access a particular newsletter or have to wait far too long to download it, obviously you will want to find out what solution is being used and avoid it.
Also, consider what is most important to your publication and your readers: speed of access, the look and feel of print, trackability, rich media, etc. Those factors will be key to your selection of a digital delivery solutions provider.
Company: Olive Software
Overview: preserves content, structure and layout in a Web-ready XML repository. The digital format simulates page-turning when readers click on an icon to move to the next page. Other features: zoom in and out, keyword searching, long-term archive access, rich media capabilities, Web links.
Delivery mechanism: ActiveMagazine delivers publications via the Web in Flash or HTML format. Subscribers are notified by e-mail when a new issue is released, and can view it online or download it to their computer to view offline. Readers do not need to download and install proprietary readers.
Among its users are: Reed Business Information, Investor's Business Daily, Knight Ridder Corp., The Washington Post.
Document Express 5.0 with DjVu
Overview: a platform for scanning, storing and exchanging documents, magazines and catalogs, among others. The suite of applications, including imaging software, delivers smaller (compressed) representations of scanned and electronic, black and white or color documents in an open format. According to the company, DjVu (pronounced déjà vu) image documents are 10 times to 100 times smaller than JPEGs or PDFs. The content of DjVu files is searchable using keywords. The DjVu technology is available through licensed LizardTech resellers.
Delivery mechanism: Viewers must download a free DjVu browser plug-in, available for Windows, Mac OS X and UNIX.
Among its users are: Marvel Comic Book Library, Century Dictionary, Tribune.advancedpublishing.com, Internet Archive.
Company: Cadmus Communications Corp.
Overview: provides digital editions of print files, with embedded links, audio and video. A dPub retains the look, feel and design of the printed publication. dPubs can contain links to print advertisers' Web sites or contain embedded video files that run locally within the PDF file. Combined with 3Path, Cadmus' digital content delivery system, it can deliver large media and graphics files to readers' desktops, and provides tracking capabilities and real-time reports.
Delivery mechanism: PDF files can be viewed online or downloaded by the reader. No proprietary software is needed.
Among its users are: Valley Forge Publishing Group, Lafayette College and RT Image.
Company: NewsStand Inc.
Overview: provides digital editions of print publications for the PC. It is set up to mimic a traditional newsstand, in that site visitors can browse publications and purchase single issues or a subscription via the NewsStand Web site. Digital versions appear as replicas of the print version, with articles, images and ads displayed exactly as they are in print. Potential readers must register to view the free samples on NewsStand's Web site. Publications are listed in a Main Reader window on the reader's computer, where readers can also set preferences, such as the Auto-Download Scheduler. Features include zoom controls, searchable text, page-jump options, and links to the Internet and e-mail.
Service is available in four languages. About 45 percent of its users are outside the United States.
Delivery mechanism: Users can connect via the Internet to download compressed files of the publication, using the free NewsStand Reader application, which must also be downloaded. With the recently launched iBrowse, however, readers can view publications in their Web browser without downloading software.
Among its users are: Barron's, BirdWatcher's Digest, American Conservative, The Scientist and The New York Times.
NXTbook Media—Online Real-Time
Company: NXTbook Media
Overview: enables the conversion of magazines, catalogs and other print materials into interactive e-publications. It emulates page-turning, and pages are represented exactly as they appear in print. Features include zoom-in and zoom-out, bookmark the current page, add sticky notes, show thumbnail of the entire book, and click-through to product details. Also, users can combine text, images, animation, sounds and videos into one document.
Hyperlinks in the table of contents allow readers to jump directly to other pages. Links can also be placed anywhere in the book to take readers to users or their partners' Web sites. Users can track which pages are being looked at, for how long, whether readers clicked through to ads or did a search. It works on both PC and MAC platforms.
Delivery mechanism: NXTbooks open in a standard Web browser, requiring no downloading, and are delivered directly to the reader's browser.
Among its users are: VNU Media, Advanstar Communications, Crain Communications, Scholastic Inc.
Overview: converts digital files to a compressed qMags issue, in an exact representation of the printed magazine.
Readers can use tools available in Acrobat Reader to zoom in or out, search for keywords, jump to next page, etc. Readers can also jump directly to articles from the table of contents. qMags also offers audio and video capabilities (viewable with Apple QuickTime Player), and hyperlinks to Web sites. Magazines that subscribers have purchased are always available on the subscriber's "customer page." The company also delivers and sells magazine subscriptions, single copies and articles through its electronic newsstand.
Delivery mechanism: Readers download the compressed issue onto their PC (or Macintosh), and then UnStuff it using Aladdin Systems StuffIt Expander, before reading it using Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Among its users are: Popular Mechanics, The American Lawyer, Computer Graphics World, Pennsylvania Gazette.
Realview Online Publishing System (ROPS)
Company: Advanced Publishing Corp. is the North American licensee for Realview
Overview: creates online replications of print publications. Features include zoom in and out, searchable text and archives, ability to jump to other articles, Web links, and capability of tracking reader behavior.
Delivery mechanism: Readers must download the free DjVu browser plug-in (by LizardTech) available for some Windows and Mac platforms.
Among its users are: Oilweek, Distinctive Homes, Harmon Media Group.
Overview: provides systems and services for the creation, delivery and tracking of digital editions of magazines and catalogs, among others. Readers can click on each page to proceed to the next page, or click on links to other articles listed in the table of contents that appears on the left-hand side of every page or as a drop-down menu. Other features: keyword search, "Zoom Factor," digital sampling programs. Readers can select single, two-page or full-screen page views, and can click on "Send to a Friend" to e-mail the document, including page thumbnail view.
Delivery mechanism: Documents are accessed via a Web browser; it does not require readers to download a plug-in.
Among its users are: Condé Nast Publications, Penton Media, CMP Media, Time Warner.
Company: Zinio Systems Inc.
Overview: transforms print magazines into digital format, retaining the look of the print edition. Features include Smart Zoom, text searches, a table of contents with links to articles, hyperlinks to Web sites, the ability to highlight text and create electronic notes.
Delivery mechanism: Readers are required to download and install a Zinio Reader on their computer to read Zinio digital publications. The Zinio Reader software for Mac is available for Mac OS 10.1 or newer, and for G3s or more powerful processors. It also is available for many Windows platforms.
According to the company, a Web-based viewing platform, Zinio Express, is in production.
Among its users are: U.S. News & World Report, Business Week, Cosmo Girl, PC Magazine.
- Advanced Publishing
- Advanstar Communications
- Business Week
- Cadmus Communications, A Cenveo Company
- Crain Communications
- Investor's Business Daily
- NewsStand Inc.
- Nxtbook Media
- Olive Software
- Reed Business Information
- Scholastic Inc.
- Texterity Inc.
- The New York Times
- The Washington Post
- Valley Forge Publishing