The fast-growing market for digital content is rapidly changing along with the technology that is driving it. Until recently becoming more mainstream, digital publications and digital magazines in particular were not serious competitors to their print counterparts. At the start of the digital transformation, the earliest examples were just print publications scanned into .pdf documents, and they were completely static. The technology did not exist to include hyperlinks or video.
The first digital magazines were only able to be read on a computer screen, and did not provide a traditional reading experience, which turned off many readers immediately. The first digital magazines had to be read in a very uncomfortable position, leaning forward towards the computer. As we can all attest, the goal when reading a magazine, whether digital or print, is to be reclining in a comfortable position. The introduction of the tablet computer, and even smartphones, has changed everything. Digital readers are no longer tethered to their desktop machines. The loss of the sensory delights of paper and ink is replaced by the convenience of reading on a digital device anytime and anywhere.
Now, digital magazine publishers have lots of hardware available which enables their customers to enjoy the physical reading experience, and the latest digital publishing software has caught up so that now digital magazines provide a wonderful intellectual experience wonderful as well. Digital magazine publishers must always make sure their publications are formatted to work well with and take advantage of the latest available hardware and software. In the past, the original specifications for books were dependent on the most current printing machine and papermaking capabilities available at the time. In the realm of digital magazine publishers, those restrictions no longer apply.
Reading digital magazines is not the same as the linear experience of reading a printed work. It is better! The ability for the reader to jump around a page and click all over the place is very liberating, and creates a very personal, interactive reading experience. Digital publishers can and do take advantage of this feature by strategically placing hyperlinks, photos and advertisements. Optimal placement within digital magazines has become a science, and lots of data can be compiled by using another fantastic perk of the digital format; back-end statistical tracking!
It is rare for anyone to want to read very large digital magazines. Digital readers need to be engaged in what they are reading, and digital magazine publishers need to find creative ways to keep their readers interested. The time spent at any one time reading a digital publication is often far less than for printed versions, but readers tend to return to digital magazines many times. Pertinent, interesting content is key to getting and keeping people engaged.
Digital technology is ever-changing and so too the ways we create and share our stories. Digital magazine publishers have to stay aware of what it is that is being featured, promoted, linked from and shared from their digital magazines.