New Digital Edition Boosts Online Subscriptions for Paintball Publication
Founded in 2000, Paintball 2Xtremes magazine is a source of news and information for the paintball community. Recognizing the audience is relatively young and digitally inclined, the magazine’s Publisher Cheryl Amata began pushing for a digital edition last year. With the help of digital editions provider E-Book Systems, her staff developed and promoted a digital edition that has spurred online subscription growth of more than 100 percent since the tool’s introduction at the beginning of 2007.
Amata spoke with Publishing Executive Inbox about the importance of a digital edition option for readers, the challenges she faced in developing the new offering, and her thoughts on the key to selling both advertisers and subscribers alike on a digital edition.
INBOX: Are you now selling online subscriptions to the digital edition, and how does the price compare to print editions?
CHERYL AMATA: We are selling them. The price is significantly lower [than the print edition’s price]. It’s only $9.95 [for an annual subscription to] the flip book, because it is electronic and we don’t have to worry about shipping and printing costs. It’s also a great tool to sell [the magazine in] the international community.
INBOX: Is there any concern that your digital edition could cannibalize some of your print readership?
AMATA: I guess there’s always that possibility, but we don’t fear that because our industry is so young and is definitely moving toward the digital domain. We feel that if we can keep our print [efforts] up and [continue to] have a great newsstand presence … we still have the same readership and the same circulation, so we don’t fear that.
INBOX: How long has it taken to see this 100-percent growth in the number of your online subscriptions?
AMATA: We really started [promoting] the flip books about six months ago, and we started having advertisers really buy into it as well pushing their capabilities with the book. So, in turn, that’s made some subscribers want to get the digital [edition] versus print, because the possibilities offer so much more with digital … including music, video embedding and linking to advertisers’ Web sites. So our online subscriptions have just grown tremendously. We had only a handful of online subscribers at first, but now we’re somewhere in the thousands. …
INBOX: Have advertisers responded well to the digital edition?
AMATA: They have. A lot of people want that multimedia experience—they don’t just want a print ad, they want to be able to do more. So now we can offer them … the ability for readers to go directly to [advertisers’] URL. And they really enjoy that. Especially a lot of our online paintball stores that advertise with us. Also, some of the bigger manufacturers who want to show videos and some cool things they’re doing with their products, they can embed that into the flip books.
INBOX: How have you re-organized your staff to compensate for the new digital efforts like video to complement print stories?
AMATA: … We have had to [hire] some extra staffers to manage the [new online subscription] lists, and we’ve had to rely more on some of our Web design guys to help get the flip book up and running … but in terms of [adding] different capabilities to the flip book, that’s something we haven’t done just yet. We’d like to explore it in the future once we really know it’s going to stick. We’d love to be able to add an extra supplement into the digital book … more and more videos, for example. We just haven’t explored all the avenues that it’s really capable of yet.
INBOX: What’s been the most eye-opening part of growing the readership of your digital magazine? Do you have any advice for other publishers looking to do the same?
AMATA: One of the biggest challenges is promoting the digital book … getting it out there into the different channels that news travels in paintball. We did create our own ads for [the flip books]. We went out on a photo shoot around Philadelphia and found a great shot of two guys: one reading the print edition and one with an open laptop reading the digital edition of the magazine. So we built this whole campaign about how you can get this magazine anyway, anytime. You choose how you want it delivered. And that ad campaign seems to really be working.
I really think the biggest challenge is getting the word out there and educating your subscribers and advertisers. What worked for us is … we had a big luncheon one day and brought in a ton of potential advertisers. We had the digital version up on the wall, and we gave them a virtual presentation of its capabilities. And I think that’s what really sealed the deal. You need to have a sample online and a way to walk people through it. Otherwise, the fact that you have a digital magazine kind of goes in one ear and out the other. …