More discussion of digital editions

December 18, 2008

It’s no secret that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of digital editions – as I’ve said before, I am highly skeptical that they will ever take off with readers. They’re not as pleasurable to read as a print magazine or as convenient as a website.

That being said, I’d be happy to be proven wrong if anyone could present me with some hard data. So please, throw in your two cents in the comments. The caveat: we need to study readership over a significant period of time. One or two issues doesn’t count as the newness of the format is still a factor. And I do think that trade mags and informational publications will perform better in digital editions than magazines that people read for pleasure.

The other issue, even if people are reading them, is how well ads perform in digital editions—and what we should be charging for them. Josh Gordon at Folio has a good discussion going on monetizing digital editions. Head over to see what people have to say and share your thoughts there as well.

Adam Hodgkin of Exact Editions has also offered me a couple of subscriptions so I can try out some of his publications and review them. I’ll be doing that soon.


2 Responses to “More discussion of digital editions”

  1. Joe Clark Says:

    Yeah, and the OMDC just handed Magazines Canada a pile of money to waste on these monstrosities.

    Canadian new media is about doing what we already know doesn’t work over and over again – this time, with government funding!

  2. Marcus Says:

    Hi Kat,

    The most comprehensive study to date about digital magazine readership was the 2008 Gilbane Report (of which we were a sponsor). You can read it at

    However, we provided a lot of data to the Gilbane Group that wasn’t included because I was told some other vendors couldn’t create it. This was all aggregate data from among our more than 1 million readers every month, spread out over an average of 500 titles per month. Here were some of the highlights:

    1) The average reader stays inside the publication for 20 pages. This has been on a slow steady incline (for us) from 17 pages four years ago. We attribute this to more familiarity with the format and increased use of broadband.

    2) The average reader stays inside the publication for five minutes, though there is wide disparity. Many readers stay 20-30 minutes, while many leave immediately.

    However, when you consider an average visitor stay of five minutes and 20 pages, this is much better than what the average publisher sees on their website.

    While you’re certainly correct that the greater digital magazine success has been seen in trade titles, the readership habits that we’ve seen for our consumer titles aren’t much different. What IS different, however, is that most consumer titles are paid and publisher struggle to sell content online. Hence, the digital magazine reader isn’t that different, though publishers may struggle to find more of them.

    There are many factors that determine the individual success of a magazine, but there have been enough stunning successes and spectacular failures to convince me that – more than anything – it comes down to content and execution. The format is merely a tool.

    Marcus Grimm
    Marketing Director Nxtbook Media

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