“You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan” – The Beatles, Revolution
We are indeed in the midst of a digital revolution, particularly in the publishing industry. Around the world, print publications ranging from newspapers to magazines to trade journals are retiring their print components in favor of online channels, of which there are many.
The reasons why are financial as well as social, not to mention practical. According to Australian Web guru Michael Bloch, some early adopters of digital publishing heralded this new era and the drivers behind it. PC Magazine (owned by Ziff Davis Media), for instance, had been around in print format for 27 years before it retired its glossy pages, but its online permutation welcomes more than seven million unique visitors each month. That’s 10 times the circulation of the print magazine.
Just last month, this digital switch hit close to home in the public relations world, when PRWeek delivered its last print edition. The publication will now be a subscriber-only online edition containing most of PRWeek‘s popular features, as well as videos and blogs. A monthly print publication will still be printed (launching next month), and the subscriber package offers considerable bang for the buck: access to the weekly online edition, a daily e-newsletter, the monthly print publication, all PRWeekus.com content, and the annual PRWeek contact directory.
It’s also easier to contribute to the ever-important pass-along rate through digital means. As a greater number of publications either make the move to an entire or partial online presence, tools to share articles, photos, or even entire issues are popping up everywhere. Share boxes with links to all of the popular social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn make sending news to several people at once a one-click affair, and e-mailing an item to just one or a few people is equally simple. In addition, these boxes also often include easy ways to post links to online bookmarking sites such as Digg and Technorati. These sites increase the visibility of an article, attract more readers, and add a layer of credibility.
These tools can be used on privately-managed sites, such as the Christian Science Monitor – the first major print publication to retire its paper pages. But, smaller outfits can also participate without costly Web-builds. Take digital magazine publishing portals like issuu.com and yudu.com, which provide hosting space and dynamic interfaces for digital magazines that allow for simple desktop page-turning, zoom functions, downloads, and the creation of online digital libraries, or ‘racks.’
Mags that are phasing out their print offerings, such as the regional wedding publication Wedding Sourcebook, can easily upload PDFs to their accounts and attract new readers as they help long-time followers transition. But new ventures, like the funk & fashion tome Dujour, can also start from scratch, launching on the Web and still offering print ‘collector’s’ editions on a pay-to-print basis.
The burgeoning results are dynamic, interactive tomes that are search-friendly, eco-friendly, cost-effective, and sharp. With all the doom and gloom surrounding the publishing industry today, it’s a nice reminder that journalism has a future, and the future is here.
Jaclyn Stevenson is the Director of Public Relations for Winstanley Partners; she can’t cook Indian food.