Questions About ABC's New Definition of a Digital Magazine
Everyone seems quite excited about the new ABC rules that now allow for some flexibility in digital publishing. This action was taken before the soon-to-be-released iPad hits the market. Roughly speaking, the new rule allows publishers in the U.S. and Canada to let the design flow rather than be static and states that they do not need to make their digital editions identical to their print editions. This will allow publishers to combine circulations of both mediums into one circulation figure. If handled correctly, this could mean greater profits based on greater audience reach.
However—and this is the part that concerns me the most—that editorial content apparently has to remain exactly the same or the digital version cannot be counted in the circulation tabulation. I need more information on this rule. As I don't have all the details yet, this is not a full-fledged vent but rather a series of questions:
What if my new design for the iPad has video which, until now, I had a lot of trouble putting into my printed version. Does that make my digital version uncountable?
What if I have the same advertisers, but in my digital version they want a dynamic ad? Am I to tell my advertiser, "No. I know it would be cool and the readers would like it, but ABC won't count my issue if you do that." Is that what the rule implies?
The truth is, as far as I can see it, that the digital version must be different than the printed version or why bother at all? It can be close enough in ads and edit to be meaningfully loyal to the printed version, but to confine it to the limitations of the press is to deny the possibilities of the new platform.
I have no idea whether the iPad and other future platforms will be the salvation of our industry. I rather think that we will save ourselves in many ways, with the tablets just being one of many new directions. But if our auditors can't get completely out of the box we grew up in, we will never grow and prosper.