Sixty percent of readers aged below 40, prefer a print-like reading experience on tablets and 57 percent above 40 also prefer this experience in the form of a basic replica edition, the recent PEW report, The Future of Mobile News, reveals. At the same time advanced components like online pagination, rich media, bonus images and video content offered by a non-replica edition, appeals to another set of readers who are more experienced and comfortable with web navigation.
With almost 50 percent of US Adults owning either a tablet or a smartphone, every magazine and newspaper publisher wants to offer their readers the latest technology in an intuitive format accessible on any platform the reader may be using.
Here’s a quick ‘what and how’ of the two distinct types of editions that publishers can offer: digital replica and digital interactive edition.
Digital Replica: The digital replica contains the same editorial, photojournalism and advertisements of the print version of the magazine. Some editions may also be reformatted to accommodate the delivery device being used, keeping in mind that each issue’s content and design are identical to the original edition. Some replica editions may not have the same advertising as the print version based on the advertiser’s choice.
The digital replica is predominantly published in PDF, and the other method is to convert all the pages of the publication to JPEG or PNG images and then display in a sequence within the viewer, with or without re-flowable text backing up the page image.
Digital Non-Replica/ Interactive edition: The ‘non-replica’ or ‘interactive’ edition has a lot of interactive rich media like hyperlinks, embedded comments, videos and other multi-media features. These interactive editions typically maintain the same content and basic identity of the print magazine, though designed and sequenced for reading by the online audience. The editorial and advertising content is different from the print version. Some of the editions even include sound effects replicating page turning to enhance the experience of the print. An email link is usually provided at the bottom of an article to facilitate interaction between the reader and the editor.
Digital editions are delivered in two distinctive ways:
The Pull Delivery Method: The subscriber is sent a notification via email about the availability of the new edition. This edition has a restricted access and the subscriber is given a unique username and password to a secure website to access the publication, which is made available for the subscription period or for single copy of a specific issue, as preferred by the reader.
The Push Delivery Method: The subscriber is sent an email notice with the link for download or an attachment file for downloading the digital edition of the magazine. The magazine is then downloaded to the PC.
Since the market for digital editions has developed rapidly over the past few years, many readers may not be familiar with all the technologies that are associated with digital editions. Although many own tablets and smart phones, they are still getting accustomed to flipping through a digital replica like a print version over the phone. This being a big step for them, they are not ready to immediately adjust to the newer version of the non-replica model, with the extra links and flashy graphics.
From the publisher’s point of view, a replica is more economical compared to the interactive edition, since digital magazine vendors provide publishers the capability to create a basic PDF replica for free. However the reader engagement is four times more for the non-replica in which more money and time is required in creating an interactive experience – designed and sequenced by the editors for audiences – based on the readers’ interests. A replica edition reader prefers content in the predictable format and scrolls through the edition in a focused manner, to find what he is looking for. With the interactive reader, the editor usually determines what the reader sees and how it is going to be seen, and narrows it down to the content relevance and readers’ interests.
For the advertisers, the interactive digital edition is a platform for a wide range of ads with rich-media content. In a survey by Josh Gordon for nxtbookmedia.com, Marcus Grimm, Marketing director for Nxtbookmedia.com says “When readers are accustomed to interact with editorial content, they become more likely to interact with content in advertisements.” Signing up for newsletters, webcasts or linking to content on advertiser’s websites is common among interactive-edition readers. However there is an entirely huge segment of readers who do not want to be ‘bothered’ by the advertisements and hence prefer the digital replica of the magazines edition.
Feedback from the readers would be the best way to judge which edition is preferred, for a publisher who is serious on maintaining his readership loyalty.