Magazines Register

Print Magazines: Have We Come Full-Circle?

Publishers of Archinect, a digital architectural magazine that launched 20 years ago (before anyone knew the potential of the internet to change the publishing industry), are launching a new print magazine. And Archinect isn’t alone. In the past couple of years, quite a few digital-only publishers have been branching out — or back — into print.

Wait a minute. What? For the past decade, magazine publishers have been talking about the demise of print and whether publishers should retain print products or go digital only. What’s behind the move — and is this going to be the latest trend in publishing?

What’s going on?

Publishers of Archinect’s new print title, Ed, will take lessons they learned as digital media pioneers and apply them to print, which provides a different type of value. Spanish digital pop culture publication, Jot Down, has begun publishing a quarterly print magazine that’s 300-pages, black and white, and contains no advertising except on the back cover. Airbnb and Hearst have combined their efforts to produce a print version of the digital powerhouse that will sell at airports, hotels, bookstores, and be available for Airbnb hosts to give away to guests. Gwyneth Paltrow’s digital lifestyle magazine Goop is also reinforcing the power of touch by publishing a quarterly print version.

Do these publishers know something others don’t? Are their print endeavors simply grand experiments, aimed at taking advantage of a retro trend? What does print offer that is drawing publishers back into the fold?

Why now?

airbnb magazineThere’s no getting around it — sometimes you just need to have the experience of holding someone’s words and stories in your hands, slowly turning the pages to reveal the author’s message. With a physical magazine, readers can go through article by article based on preference or read linearly, but there’s an entire work to consume in their hands. It has a beginning, middle, and end and — unlike the digital world in which endless links and searches can lead readers away — it’s an experience in and of itself.

Yes, digital publications are quicker, easier, and less expensive to create and distribute than printed ones. They are mobile-optimized and convenient for on-the-go readers, and advertisers like them for their reach and the numerous ways consumers interact with them. But print, in many cases, is preferred — especially by esthetic-minded readers who are drawn to the vivid colors and the tactile feel of holding a magazine in their hands. Many digital publications try to duplicate the look and feel of print through page-flipping technology and a page-turning sound. Studies show that people trust print more, but digital convenience can be a draw, and digital publications provide a means for readers to find additional or related information.

Print and digital have important places in magazine publishing. Some titles are better suited to digital, while others speak to readers who enjoy the print experience. If you are a digital-only publisher or have both a print and digital presence but devote more of your resources to the digital side, it might be time to take a closer look at print. The best option may well be to incorporate both methods into a comprehensive publishing strategy.

print and digital

Will you join the return-to-print movement?

Print and digital can coexist. In fact, they can leverage each other’s strengths — making them “better together.” You can use the convenience and reach of digital publishing to build and expand your subscriber base and the luxury and durability of print to build your brand. The key is to make them complement each other.

You might want to consider what Archinect did: Keep the quick content bites, listicles, and fun photos that offer a high return in dollars and followers for their digital readers but offer a complementary print magazine that offers thought-provoking, long-form content mixed with vivid imagery for readers who appreciate that medium.

jot down magazineYou don’t have to print monthly. You can do as Jot Down publishers did and create a high-dollar, 300-page glossy magazine. You could print quarterly to reduce production and distribution costs and offer a durable publication if people will pay more for the durability of print. Quarterly magazines tend to have longevity, for which advertisers are willing to pay more. They can build the brand and send readers to the online publication for additional information that is more current and interactive.

Print may not be a strong choice for all publications, but magazine publishers with lifestyle and niche audiences who appreciate the enduring qualities of print should consider it. But don’t let it stand alone. Support it with a comprehensive communication strategy that incorporates a strong digital presence, in-person events, social media, and interactive technologies.

The good news is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You have great content, production processes, and loyal readers. You can leverage these to create an additional brand builder and revenue source.

Consider Sheridan Digital and Mobile Editions to help you maintain an effective digital presence to complement your print endeavors.

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