Friday, April 21, 2017

The Future of Digital Magazines

An app that consolidates articles from every online magazine may be the key to increasing the medium's popularity in the digital marketplace.  ♦ 
When most people think about the future of technology as it relates to reading and books, they tend to mainly think of e-books, not magazines. It’s time people change that mindset as 2017 could potentially be a big year for digital magazines. For the last six years or so, the digital magazine industry has been stuck in a sort of limbo; there hasn’t been much growth or drastic change to the industry. By now, pretty much every major magazine brand has gone digital and has a solid presence in the digital magazine marketplace, but the numbers still aren’t what people expected when digital magazines were first introduced. According to the global media website Fipp, popular magazine brands like Empire, GQ, Wired, Cosmo, Men’s Health, and others have experienced a decline in numbers when it comes to circulation on mobile devices just five years in.
   While new digital magazine websites such as Magzter and Zinio have become popular places to read and subscribe to magazines, what I believe is missing is one application that consolidates everything and is both easy to use and efficient. The introduction of iPads and iPhones to the world is what really sparked the concept of digital magazines. Now there needs to be an app on those devices that allows the reader to read his/her magazines of choice. An app that would provide both a marketplace and a storage area for your magazines would be an ideal addition to the growing industry. If the digital magazine industry could be mobilized into one app that takes care of all the reader’s needs, I would predict a pretty significant spike in the popularity of digital magazines. However, the digital magazine industry is still waiting.
   Recently, social media has played a significant role in the development of digital magazines. The Snapchat app now includes a “discover” area, a news section that has stories and articles from magazines such as Esquire, Vice, ESPN, Entertainment Weekly, and more. Snapchat’s inclusion of articles from these magazines has both positive and negative aspects when it comes to these magazine brands trying to develop their digital presence. Positively, by including snippets of these magazines in the app, it raises awareness for them and may inspire people to go pick up the latest copy, either physically or digitally. Negatively, people may also feel that if they can get snippets of stories for free through apps such as Snapchat, what’s the point of going out and buying the whole physical or digital copy of a magazine? While innovative, it’s debatable if Snapchat is helping or hurting the magazine industry.
  Even as the industry is still waiting on an app that will satisfy consumers, the iPhone/iPad/Android app Flipboard may prove to be trouble for traditional digital magazine brands. This app recently unveiled a new update that allows users to create “smart magazines” composed of all different articles of their choosing. Essentially, the app lets the user create their own magazines filled only with articles that they are interested in learning or reading about. This innovation could prove to be a huge threat to digital magazine brands, as consumers may not feel a need to buy a whole magazine when they can pick and choose which articles they want to read and have them all conveniently in one place. It really is a brilliant strategy, almost like allowing readers to curate and publish their own personally tailored magazine.
   There isn’t much other information out there when it comes to the future of digital magazines so I will be especially interested to see how the industry develops over the next few years. Despite the recent and somewhat lackadaisical sales numbers, I do believe that there will be an increase in the prevalence of digital magazines and I think an app will be responsible for this development. I predict that someone will capitalize on the burgeoning digital magazine market and create a revolutionary app that will make the reading and accessing of digital magazines easier. If an app like this is eventually developed, consumers will realize how convenient and revolutionary digital magazines are, and the industry might finally experience solid growth over the next few years.
  • About the Author
    Fitz Roddy is a sophomore at Miami University majoring in Marketing in the Farmer School of Business. Besides English, some of his favorite things are movies, reading, music, and the Chicago Cubs. Fitz hopes to work in either Chicago or Los Angeles after graduation.

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