Consumer magazine print circulations have been in freefall over the last few years, consistently being among the worst performing UK publishing sectors.
As a result, we’ve seen even mainstays of the medium, like the well-known and respected NME, trying radical new means of distribution.
Online magazines are replacing print
Digital newsstands like Readly, Readbug and the yet-mysterious Apple News offer consumers a new, more convenient means of consumption at a variety of payment options.
The Spotify-like Readly, for instance, whose sign-up page proclaims users can “read as much you like for just £9.99 a month”, has just passed the 1 million mark for issues served to users. That might not sound like a huge amount, but it is evidence that consumption on digital platforms is growing.
The rise of independent content
One aspect these digital newsstands are missing is stability, as even relatively small fluctuations in consumer habits can dramatically change the landscape.
However, this is good news for smaller publications that are willing to take risks and innovate their products, as the new digital subscribers are experimenting with new titles, (in turn making them far more popular than they would have become as print publications) as well as remaining loyal old favourites.
While it’s possible that the growth in readership on digital newsstands is buying some larger, more established publishers a small amount of extra time to figure out how they can survive in a digital world, it seems consumers aren’t following them online to any significant capacity yet.
It’s time to embrace online platforms
These publications need to let go of old preconceptions of what magazines look like in the digital era and instead plunge into a digital river that might not follow the course they expected.
This includes an immediate halt to trying to make digital magazines look like print! If your audience has a small supercomputer in their hands, why not use the scope for innovation and design that comes with that?