Magazine Publishers will have quite a few choices when it comes to finding a newsstand in which to sell the digital, e-reader and mobile versions of their titles. Publishers have multiple opportunities to position themselves in this new landscape.
Folio magazine, in a recent feature, broke down the options. Digital edition vendors are currently taking two approaches when it comes to helping publishers sell their digital editions online: they're either creating their own marketplaces or they're creating magazine-branded storefronts and/or apps.
The majority of vendors, it seems, are taking the second approach. Tulsa, Oklahoma-based iMirus, for example, has been building microsites directly onto its clients' Web sites where all of the digital subscription transactions take place. "The microsite allows us to strengthen the Pharmacy Today brand and it makes us more searchable," Bill Succolosky of American Pharmacists Association told Folio "It connects our readers back to our homepage and also allows us the opportunity to sell ads online, which supplements our print edition."
"Digital vendors removing themselves from branding makes a lot of sense," says Technologizer founder Harry McCracken. "There's no inherent reason why readers should care about digital-distribution companies any more than they do about the ones that deliver print magazines to newsstands."
Tablets and the iPad could be a boon for digital magazines. "If companies like Zinio, Nxtbook and Texterity play their cards right, e-readers should be the best things that ever happened to them," says McCracken.
"They already have well-established publisher relationships and technologies, and far more people are going to want to read magazine-format publications on tablet-style devices than ever wanted to on PCs."
Publishers are beginning to produce their own apps. "Very soon, we'll have our own branded app and then customers will be able to get to our digital edition right from SportingNews.com," says Jeff Price, president and publisher of Sporting News, which also works with Zinio. "It's the best of both worlds because now we can focus on the loyalists through our own marketing and outreach efforts."
Going into 2011, publishers should have two more digital storefronts: Next Issue Media and Skiff.
"We don't want to force people to have to go onto their computer and into a browser to get new content," Skiff president Gilbert Fuchsberg tells FOLIO:. "So we think it's important to optimize our service for various devices."
"In general, consumers expect digital to be less expensive," he says. "But at the same time, we want to make sure that publishers are getting paid for the value that's being delivered."
The magic price point for e-reader content may not come soon, according to McCracken. "Part of convincing people to pay will be to produce a product that's meaningfully better than both the print and Web versions, at least for some reasons," he says. "Nobody has completely solved that riddle. I'm pretty sure that it's lower than the full print subscription cost-and I hope that it's meaningfully higher than $0."
For the most part, consumers are set on how they expect their shopping experience to be, which includes choices that are relevant to them, having access to decent search capabilities, and being able to read what they want in a timely fashion, according to Fuchsberg. "One of the great virtues of e-reading is thinking of something and doing it in a minute or less," report Folio.
And publishers looking to get their titles onto any digital newsstands should be thinking about how to do so in the most efficient way possible. "That's a big challenge especially for smaller publishers," Fuchsberg says. "It's not just about the migration of existing audiences. There will be readers that may not have had a previous relationship with your titles. Now you can deliver a new product to them that they would have never experimented with in print form before, but at a lower cost than print."
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