The publishing industry is still feeling out ways to take advantage of new digital formats. Plenty of traditional magazine subscribers have declared that they still prefer old fashioned print, but a group of brave souls has slowly grown in number since the iPad was introduced in 2010: those who read magazines on tablets. Whether the general public loves them or hates them is still up for grabs, but according to a newly published survey conducted by the Association of Magazine Media (MPA–long story), those who already read magazines on tablets are really getting into them, with some suggestions on how to improve.
The MPA surveyed 1,009 adult digital magazine readers on their use habits, with a whopping 90 percent claiming to read as much or more magazine content than they did before acquiring a tablet, with two-thirds saying they plan to consume even more magazines now that they can do so digitally. But it seems that most prefer the newsstand-style subscriptions (that is, an area to retrieve their new content all in the same place)—76 percent of survey respondents said they preferred this route to individual apps. And more than half, 55 percent, said they like to be able to read digital back issues of their favorite magazines.
These users have a handful of requests that are not widely implemented among digital magazines, however, including the ability to buy products directly from editorial features (70 percent) and the ability to buy directly from digital ads (59 percent). Frankly it’s surprising this isn’t already commonplace—ads do exist to sell products, after all—but we’re guessing this is partly due to the fact that most magazines are still porting over their print issues instead of working to create digital versions from scratch.
“While various research has long proved that print magazines drive purchase behavior, digital magazines hold the promise of creating a direct link between purchase intent and actual transaction,” MPA EVP of Digital Christopher Kevorkian said in a statement. Indeed, it seems that if the publishing industry is looking to tablets to help keep them afloat, they would do well to take advantage of consumer interest in buying products directly.
But as noted by All Things D, the very fact that this survey exists (and with more than a thousand respondents, at that) is a telltale sign that digital magazines are taking off with someone: “We’ve been wanting to do this research for some time, but didn’t have the critical mass to query,” Kevorkian said.
The Ars staff has tentatively taken a liking to a few digital magazines, such as GQ, Popular Mechanics, and Sports Illustrated, but as a group, we have yet to really get into magazines in tablet format on a larger scale. What about you? Any favorites that have stood out in terms of layout or implementation?