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The Magazine Industry Goes Digital: Publishers Join Forces to Release Online Newsstand

I’m sure all you lovely HC readers can agree- there is nothing quite like snuggling up on the couch with your favorite magazine. The crisp pages that are perfect for flipping or earmarking, the uncertainty of what to expect on the next page, the enticing cover story often hidden deep within… But can you imagine a digital magazine that lets you decide the order of pages, press play on the cover and watch the story unfold before your eyes, and even tweet the story you’re reading as you read it?

Well, this fantasy of a virtual magazine is rapidly becoming reality. The publishing world is acting fast to battle the decline in print by creating digital versions of their most beloved magazines and publications for a variety of formats like Apple iPhones and HP tablet computers.

Major players and rivals in the biz like Time Inc., Condé Nast, Meredith Corporation, and Hearst Corporation are acting as allies at this critical moment in media history to build an online newsstand that’s been called “an iTunes for magazines.” The venture was recently named Next Issue Media; its store name is yet to be released. These companies are home to some of your favorite publications like:

  • Vanity Fair
  • Vogue
  • TIME
  • People
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Harper’s Bazaar
  • Sports Illustrated
  • The New Yorker
  • Seventeen
  • Teen Vogue

The plan is to create something similar to iTunes, a type of online store where you can buy your favorite magazines and not just read them, but interact with them using your Apple iPhone or other gadget. John Squires is the interim managing director of this project and has said that the service will “welcome content providers of all types to offer their paid content via this new digital platform.” It will support not only magazines and newspapers, but books, comic books, and blogs.
Time Inc. recently released a demo of an issue of Sports Illustrated portrayed on a touch-screen HP tablet computer, which has yet to hit the market. See it here! The video introduces a virtual magazine concept that lets readers take control of what they want to read, utilizes multimedia like video covers, and allows you to share stories, photos, or videos via your favorite networking sites like Facebook and Twitter with one touch. The issue also allows you to look at entire photo galleries regarding a story where only one picture typically is in a print issue.

Magazine journalism expert and Hofstra University professor Carol Fletcher said, “I think it is wonderful to see the industry responding in creative ways to the decline in print. The SI site, for instance, is so rich and engaging- it has some of the same visceral, emotional appeal of the print magazine, and then some.”

Magazines are also looking to gain and maintain readership through iPhone apps. GQ and Esquire have both released apps in recent months. Esquire worked with developer ScrollMotion to transfer the magazine’s layout into the app using touch buttons and options for saving, forwarding or posting something to Twitter and Facebook.

The GQ app has been approved by the Audit Bureau of Circulations and will now be released monthly. This means that all app purchases will count toward the magazine’s total circulation. Condé Nast plans to release apps from its other magazines in upcoming months as well.

While these are the publisher’s attempts at controlling digital readership, there are still other options out there. As of current, online newsstand Zinio.com offers over 50,000 magazines and books in fifteen languages to users for their normal cover price if not for less. I tried out the Cosmopolitan sample and was impressed. I loved the fast load time, the zoom option, as well the scroll option that offers small previews of the rest of the issue.

Google is also offering options for readers like you to find and share articles. Fast Flip is an application that lets you search for certain topics or publications and displays the most relevant articles in “an easy-to-read way.” You can flip through stories using left and right arrow keys; a digital way of flipping through a magazine. You can even create your own custom magazine based on your most common searches.

Google News creator Krishna Bharat told The Los Angeles Times, “We wanted to bring the advantages of print media, the speed and hands-on control you get with a newspaper or magazine, and combine that with the technical advantages of the Internet such as continuous updates, recommendations from the community and friends. We wanted the best of both worlds.”

Magazines, publishing, journalism- the industry is clearly changing. For young whippersnappers who still dream of being a part of this world, it means sharpening their HTML skills and promoting their blogs. For Junior Hofstra University Journalism major and TeenVogue.com intern Dara Adeeyo, almost all of her internships have been on the web. “I’m actually in a rut because I love the web, but I feel like I am so good at it that I might never get the chance to work in the physical Editorial part of a magazine,” she said.

But this hasn’t discouraged her by any means. “I still want to eventually work/run a magazine. I think the Internet may be taking over print but it will not vanish print,” said Adeeyo. “It’s just that print has to compete with how quick the internet is. Maybe when the older generation dies off, then yes most of the world will be using the Internet. Until then, viva print!”

So what do you think HC readers? How do you read your favorite magazine? Which ones would you read using a digital format? Sound-off in the comments section!

Sources:

Professor Carol Fletcher

Hofstra University Junior Journalism major and TeenVogue.com intern Dara Adeeyo, Hofstra University

“Group of Magazine Publishers Is Said to Be Building an Online Newsstand.” Brian Stelter, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/25/business/media/25mag.html

“Time Inc.’s Squires Assembles Team of Rivals to Harness Digital Media.” John Koblin, The New York Observer. http://www.observer.com/2009/media/time-incs-squires-assembles-team-riva…

TheWonderFactoryNY – YouTube. “Sports Illustrated Tablet Demo 1.5” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntyXvLnxyXk

“Time Inc.’s ‘Manhattan Project’ Is a Tablet Magazine.” Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch.com http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/02/time-inc-digital-magazine/

“Digital Content Partnership named “Next Issue Media.” Bill Mickey, Foliomag.com http://www.foliomag.com/2009/digital-content-partnership-named-next-issu…

www.Zinio.com

“Magazines Get Ready for Tablets.” Stephanie Clifford, The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/business/media/16adco.html?pagewanted=…

Google Fast Flip: http://www.google.com/support/news/bin/answer.py?answer=161790

“Condé Nast launches monthly GQ iPhone app.” Attiq Sadiq, Journalism.co.uk http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2009/12/21/conde-nast-launches-mon…

Gennifer is the Branded Content Specialist for Her Campus Media. In her role, she manages all sponsored content across platforms including editorial, social, and newsletters. As one of HC's first-ever writers, she previously wrote about career, college life, and more as a national writer during her time at Hofstra University. She also helped launch the How She Got There section, where she interviewed inspiring women in various industries. She lives in New York City.
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