While some pundits have been announcing the demise of digital magazines, and digital publishing in general, since the industry was created about four years ago, it must be stated emphatically that we are actually just in the infancy of digital publishing. Digital magazines, newspapers and periodical at the moment only represent a small portion of total magazine circulation, but their subscriber base is increasing exponentially every year, and the number of new digital publications continues to rise. The same cannot be said for print-and-paper counterparts which in most categories are on a downward spiral.
The digital publication industry has only been around since 2010, coinciding with the birth year of the modern tablet industry. As is to be expected with any emerging market, it takes several years for first adopters of any new technology to develop a full understanding of the underlying technology and potential of the medium. The dynamic nature of digital publications is both an asset and a liability in terms of product development and the evolution of these new products. Digital magazines are far less static than traditional publications, given the devices they are viewed on and the intimacy of the user experience.
Understanding how to properly produce content for a new yet so familiar medium is no easy task, and will take years to reach even a modicum of stability. The nature of the internet and the limitless opportunities to garner the attention of literally millions of eyeballs is both compelling and overwhelming. The fact that digital content has a potentially longer shelf life than print because of the infinite nature of the internet is also a challenge. It is more important than ever to create digital content that is compelling and has staying-power.
Digital publications must also deal with a number of barriers that other publishing formats do not encounter. Unlike their print counterparts, digital publications must consider the many and varied formats of the devices that are available to consume content on, and work within the parameters set by device manufacturers such as platform, screen size, etc.
One growing segment of the digital magazine publication industry is that of the business-to-business category, which has the potential to be even more lucrative than the consumer focused publications. Producers and retailers are beginning to understand the value of using digital publications to showcase new products to their clients without having the expense and time required to print and distribute a catalogue or pamphlet.
Other industries recognize the advantages of digital magazine publishing as well, particularly the ease with which they are able to distribute content and capture a unique set of data using the analytics features unique to the digital publishing format.
As the digital publishing industry evolves and standards for format and content solidify, the barriers to creating and sharing good quality content will continue to fall and the adoption rate for digital magazines will increase. Digital magazines provide a unique experience in an age where information flows quickly and readers have a limited attention-span. Digital publications are able to captivate audiences in ways that print publications do not. The opportunities are endless.