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The Future of Digital Publishing: Multiple Devices, Multiple Opportunities

The surge in mobile device use is quickly changing the way audiences access content. As magazine publishers look ahead to 2012, many are focused on the digital opportunities presented by this trend. In fact, Ziff-Davis Enterprise recently announced it will convert its remaining three print magazines to digital-only editions, starting in January.

Despite the industry’s transition to digital, publishers cannot afford to ignore print. Print is still the anchor of the publishing industry.  According to a 2011 Readex research study, 77 percent of surveyed professionals regularly use search engines to find information, 74 percent also report they use print editions of magazines and newsletters. Therefore, to reach the broadest group of readers, you as a publisher need to incorporate multiple digital technologies into your print strategy in the most effective and complementary manner.

In publishing, consumers drive trends, and today’s audiences are increasingly mobile and tech savvy. They want to be able to access content 24/7, from anywhere and via a variety of formats and devices. Publishers need to be aware of these trends and take advantage of the opportunities they present.

Digital editions. These are versions of magazine content that readers access from their desktop or laptop computer. Digital editions are easy to update and easy to archive. They can contain links to related content and easy access to the publisher, authors and advertisers.

Mobile editions. A mobile edition is a dynamic edition of the print publication that is created for viewing on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. Publishers can format their content for specific devices and operating systems. These versions combine the aesthetics and functionality of a website with the convenience of anytime, anywhere access to information that mobile devices offer.

eBooks. eBooks are a skyrocketing publishing opportunity. Sales of eBook readers such as the Amazon Kindle (including its latest rendition, the Kindle Fire), Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iPad are healthy despite a tough economy, and publishers need to consider taking advantage of this growing opportunity. In addition to offering new content in eBook format, magazine publishers can use eBook technology to repurpose and repackage their existing content into compilations or anthologies targeted at specific interests and niches.

Digital publishing offers many exciting opportunities for extending the reach of content and generating revenue, but with these opportunities come new challenges. One of the biggest challenges is simply keeping up with and taking advantage of the latest technologies.

To create a good user experience, publishers should customize their content for specific mobile devices. Plus, they should ensure compatibility with a large number of platforms. All this requires a dedicated infrastructure — and publishers might not be able or willing to invest in the necessary resources.

Publishers can ease these problems by using a provider that understands the new technologies and the challenges associated with them. Sheridan Magazines offers a turnkey solution with the infrastructure you need, at a cost you can afford, from a content management provider you can trust.

For more detail on social media usage in the magazine industry, download a free copy of Sheridan Magazines’ white paper, Niche Magazine Success Strategies for a Multi-Screen World.