3 issues on the functionality and design of digital magazines

By Don Nicholas

3 issues on the functionality and design of digital magazines

There’s been a tremendous amount of speculation on what the perfect digital magazine might be and where the future of digital publishing is headed.

While others pontificate, we have projects brewing. The focus is not to produce a digital magazine itself, but to produce the digital magazine subscription website where we believe the digital magazine will be ultimately housed. It will be the nexus between client and server relationships.

The subscription website is important because people who own tablet devices are spending more time browsing. The Worldwide Web is still the ultimate app, as it offers so much content.

When it comes to the digital future, some publishers focus on the digital magazine and some focus on the digital magazine software that powers the magazine; we focus deeply on the subscription website.

In each case, every publisher has different desires of how a digital magazine should function. I’ve laid out several possibilities because at the end of day, I don’t know how it will play out in the long term.

Design and functionality characteristics of digital magazines that publishers will be deploying in 2011 and 2012

Short-term variations will be critical to publishers’ success over a period of time.

Publishers need to consider three main issues associated with the process of creating and distributing digital magazines.

#1. Issue ownership:

-Download Option: Subscribers would receive an issue of a digital magazine and it would reside on their hard drive. In this instance, a subscriber would have total ownership. For collectors of antique media, the download option would be the desired platform for digital magazine publishers to use.

-Streaming Magazine: In this scenario, subscribers would never have possession of the digital magazine. Instead, the subscriber would have possession of a reader or browser that would allow the digital magazine to be read online.

-Rental Option: This would allow subscribers to view the content as long as they remain paying members. In this instance, subscribers would be relying on the publisher to stay in business while maintaining content and software functionality.

-Hybrid: This option would let subscribers download the file, but certain pieces would not be included. For instance, photography, video or software apps may live on a server elsewhere. Subscribers would have possession in sorts, but unless the publisher manages to keep those files where they are supposed to be in good standing, as the magazine ages, things may no longer work.

Do you know what the best digital magazine should entail? Join us at the Mequoda Summit West 2011 for a roundtable discussion on 9 characteristics of the perfect digital magazine.

#2. Digital Rights Management Security:

Digital rights management security will depend on how publishers will let people access the content itself. Most digital magazines will be accessed over the web through subscription websites. Some will require registration while others will allow downloads with no registration or blocking.

Password protection will involve a simple password associated with the user’s account or a more elaborate security scheme where file recognition is on the server’s side. The user would be reliant on the publisher to maintain functionality.

When registration is required, subscribers will be able to access the content as long as their account is active. If the subscriber’s account becomes inactive, the publisher will put the content back behind the firewall.

#3. Price in Term:

Single Copies: What price will you offer? How will it compare to prices associated with print content? If your digital issue is full of rich-media, it can be priced higher than print products. If its features are comparable to those found in a print issue, the price should be similar.

Forward-based Subscription: Consumers would receive the current issue plus a year or two year’s worth of content for one price. In this model, you will have to determine if current subscribers will be able to come back and download the issue more than once.

All-Access Pass: This pricing strategy would give access to every issue of the digital magazine that has ever been published.

If you want to build a digital magazine subscription website…

-You should have a thorough open-minded Needs Analysis before the building process starts.

-You need to be informed about your options on how subscription websites should be set up and coded.

If you seek recommendations on these pressing subjects, we’d love to guide you through the process.

The subject of digital magazine publishing is an important issue to a large majority of publishers. New business opportunities can be found within a successful approach to digital magazine publishing, as reverse integration is possible. Digital publications starting online can begin to launch physical products and live events. Currently, the Mequoda Pyramid remains solid, as live events and physical products are still highly desirable.

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