The evolution of mobile tech and faster connections (viable 4G in many areas) alongside greater digital 'savviness' are all creating a new publishing revolution. As devices get smarter and mobile connectivity starts to match Wi-Fi speed, digital magazines and newspapers can really take flight. There is now a very real likelihood that digital will be the saviour of the publishing industry.
The rise of digital only
Pets Magazine (www.petsmag.co.uk) is a true digital 'platform', as it has both a magazine and a blog; it's also 'digital only', rather than digital & print or print only; increasingly, publishers are turning their backs on 'print only'. Rightly so, if they are to survive - the money is most certainly not on a print-only future.
Pets Magazine looks just like a traditional print magazine but it is optimised for use on tablets and mobile. Readers can flip the pages like a 'physical' magazine using the publishing platform Issuu. As an aside, there are many other publishing platforms out there, but we have found Issuu to be among the best; it benefits from a straightforward interface combined with sophisticated back-end analytics. It's important that readers can access a publication that looks just like the one you'd pick off a magazine rack.
Digital 'smart paper'?
As something of an amateur futurologist, I can foresee a time when digital 'smart paper' will enable us to access thousands of magazines using a 'device' that resembles a print magazine. What would they call it - iMag? iPaper? Or even iReader? It would make the tablets of today look positively clunky. This future tech is why it's important to stick with a magazine that recreates the look of its printed cousin rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. Publishers like Rupert Murdoch's News Corp know this already, and that's why The Times and The Sunday Times digital editions are flourishing, and will continue to do so.
Two years ago, Pets Magazine's blog was more popular; these days, the digital magazine is gaining more interest and revenue. The platform, as a whole, now averages 24,000 readers a month who spend about 5.6 minutes on the site, and we're experiencing steady growth. Even 12 months ago, people were put off by the fact that the magazine was 'digital only', but that's now starting to change. Early digital adopters are becoming mainstream readers.
Digital consumption of media is increasing
Over the next decade, the rise of tablets and digital consumption of media is set to increase exponentially. According to FIPP World, the association of periodic press publishers, digital will move from accounting for 4% of total consumer magazine circulation revenue in 2013 to 11% in 2016 and will be on a strong upward trajectory from then on. Pricewaterhouse Cooper in its Outlook publication also reports this year to be the first after 2007 when total global magazine revenue will start to grow again. Growth will also take place outside of 'establishing' digital magazine markets, so China, Russia and South Africa will grab bigger slices of the cake.
In times like these, it feels very exciting to be a digital publisher. The digital revolution feels completely different to the ill-fated Dotcom boom. There isn't a bubble in sight. Digital is taking off gradually because it's keeping apace with new technology AND digital adoption among consumers. That's organic growth, rather than the steroid infused growth that is so often created when everything is in place at the outset, as in the case of the Dotcom years. This is why digital publishing will be the saviour of the publishing industry.
Marie Carter is the Editor and Publisher of Pets Magazine, a unique leading lifestyle magazine for pet owners.