Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

10/26/2013

IDEAlliance (The International Digital Enterprise Alliance) Seeks Standardization for Mobile Magazine Publishing


IDEAllianceStandardization, or an open format, that allows publishing across all mobile formats with one application at the same time has been achieved (pretty much) for book publishing in the ePub specification.

But, one does not yet exist for the more difficult magazine publishing — more difficult due to a magazines demand for more imagery, graphics, layout, etc.

Why all this attention to mobile publishing? Simply because tablets, e-readers and iPads are replacing desktop computers as the consumer’s choice to access content.

The IDEAlliance is working with players throughout the supply chain to standardize tablet edition formats to simplify the process of tablet issue production by eliminating many of the competing formats and workflows.

The following details are from FOLIO magazine:

Cutting Through the Mire of Tablet Issue Production

“Each publisher has approached tablets at its own pace, with its own purpose. The result has left a scattered set of protocols across the industry.

The goal is an industry standard called OpenEFT — guidelines to direct the packaging, delivery and display of digital magazines for everyone in the ecosystem. OpenEFT’s final draft was unveiled late last month.

“We, as publishers, would like to be able to provide a designed-for-tablet, interactive edition to all the newsstands,” says Sean Keefe, executive director of publishing technology for Hearst Magazines. “But right now, not all of them take the same file formats.” 

The benefits for publishers are twofold. Tablet issue production would become a more efficient process, while the barriers to third-party innovation would be lowered.

Tablet issue production is currently convoluted. Hearst currently produces up to three formats (and several variants) of its magazines, depending on the brand and the newsstand they’re working with; Next Issue Media, a digital newsstand, is forced to adapt about six formats for its storefront. Many of those conversions are labor intensive and require quality assurance testing at multiple points.

Ideally, says Keith Barraclough, CTO and vice president of products for Next Edition, the exchange of files would be simplified, QA would only be needed once and the process would be automated.

“Whether OpenEFT can do all this as it goes through its standardization process and tools and manufacturers come along and adopt, that’s all a big ‘TBD’,” he says. “But hat’s the nirvana we’re looking for.”

An open specification already exists, called ePub, but it was built to handle books, not magazines.

“The orientation toward imagery, layout and the subtlety of the navigation of a magazine is something that’s evolved more,” Barraclough says.

While Dianne Kennedy, vice president of emerging technologies for IDEAlliance, says OpenEFT is closely modeled after ePub, she adds that the need for tablet-optimized ad units is another major reason the book-centric format needed to be tweaked for digital magazines.

Magazine staff have to manipulate the units from the agency, often without being exactly sure of how the final product was supposed to render. The costs and confusion make their use rare.

“Magazines, unlike books, rely a lot on the ad model,” Kennedy says. “There is no specification for the exchange and rendering of this interactive content, so the magazines have been limiting the number of interactive ads they will accept.”

Regardless of how or why they started with tablet editions, publishers will agree that improving production efficiency is beneficial.

Now, it’s up to them to adopt the standard.”

OpenEFT Design Principles

Here are a few of OpenEFT’s 13 design principles:

– Must be based on industry standards

– Must not cause major disruption to existing tablet publishing workflows

– Must support enhancement types that are common across 2013 tablet editions

– Must consider the advertizing workflow and integration of advertizing

– Should be designed so that highly-designed publications, other than magazines, can adopt this format

– Must design for the future by embracing emerging technologies

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06/24/2013

Publishing: Going Digital-Only is Like Ripping Off a Band-Aid :(


Ripping off the band-aid can make an owie

OUCH! You know that’s the reaction when you rip off a long-in-place band-aid. Well, that emotional reaction applies in publishing — especially in repetitive, fast-paced, rapid-fire publishing like weekly or monthly magazines — when they make the big strategic decision to drop print altogether and go totally digital.

It’s scary! But, many are being driven to this decision due to the declining print ad revenue. AND, more than this, the advertisers/investors are demanding more ROI (return on investment) metrics. You can ONLY get this kind of reader-tracking analytics and metrics through digitally informed processes that drill down and tell advertisers such things as who read the ads, what they liked, what they bought, when they bought, the last time they bought, when they made love last (ha, a little humor), etc.

“Going digital-only is fraught with a variety of strategic leaps of faith, but when the dust settles a more efficient model can emerge that’s free of print legacy encumbrances.” – Bill Mickey, Editor FOLIO: Magazine.

Digital-only is probably more appropriate for only some types of magazines; like academic journals, educational and scientific mags, etc. Why? These magazines’ audiences are more advanced in the digital world and that’s the world  they work, read and play more and more.

More from Bill Mickey in this article for FOLIO: magazine:

Ripping Off the Band-Aid

Behind 1105 Media’s decision to take the Education Group digital-only

When a print magazine transitions to digital-only, the idea that it’s a knee-jerk, last-ditch effort to keep a dying brand alive is not unique to media industry navel-gazers. A brand’s audience can smell it a mile away, too. However, there are many times when this strategy makes sense, and even renews a formerly print-focused brand with a host of new opportunities—provided its owners can pull the trigger on some tough strategic decisions along the way.

At 1105 Media, the Education Group, which consists of two main brands T.H.E. Journal and Campus Technology, went all-digital in August 2012. Prior to that decision, the group was publishing the two print, monthly qualified-circulation magazines serving technology professionals in the K-12 and higher education markets. Both had long histories in print—T.H.E. Journal launched in 1972 by the father of its current publisher Wendy LaDuke and Campus Technology had been in print as a magazine for over twenty years, and a print newsletter before that.

But the decision to put that print legacy behind them was triggered by a confluence of what’s become a common pairing of market forces: A decline in print advertising and a rise in advertiser demand for digitally-informed ROI metrics.

Data Accountability
“We made the decision to go digital in part because that’s where our readership lives (they are technology advocates and decision-makers within their work spheres) and in part because print advertising—at least in our market—is clearly a dying animal,” says Therese Mageau, the education group’s editorial director. “Advertisers are looking at ROI and asking for evidence of effectiveness—you can’t give them that with print. The truth is, we could do all the reader surveys we wanted, but we didn’t really know [specifically] who was reading our magazines and if any of them were actually looking at the ads.”

Nevertheless, when the group decided to, as Mageau put it, rip the band-aid off last summer, it immediately began recognizing benefits in production, audience make-up and engagement metrics. There were, however, challenges introduced that still heckle the ongoing strategy.

But even before that, market indicators were trending toward an advertising community that was looking for more ROI data on marketing spend—data that display advertising in print couldn’t support.

“For a while now, from the advertisers point of view, it’s become increasingly challenging for them to prove any kind of ROI on advertising,” says LaDuke. “Since marketers are under so much pressure to show a good return on their marketing spending, it was becoming very problematic to provide that from a print perspective.”

The Writing is on the Wall
At that point, the Education Group decided that rather than continue to try to protect print from what they viewed as a gradual but unavoidable long-term decline, they would go after what their market was telling them it wanted.

Read and learn more

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11/21/2011

Inside Digital Magazines – And Some Business Numbers


Digital Magazines Gain Popularity

Digital magazines are taking off somewhat according to a survey by the Association of Magazine Media. And the various digital formats have a long tail, it seems … actually increasing the circulation of the print formats as well (see my post https://gator1965.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/printed-magazines-young-adult-readership-up-90-prefer-ink-format/). 

Could it be that folks with the new digital gadgets try the digital versions of mags they never have read before and like them well enough to subscribe to or buy the print counterparts?

Another interesting concept, not available yet but in the offing, is the ability for readers of digital mags to buy direct from the digital ads. 

Read this telling article by Jacqui Cheng of Wired.com (Epicenter Blog):

People Actually Read Digital Magazines (And They’re Ready To Buy)

The publishing industry is still feeling out ways to take advantage of new digital formats. Plenty of traditional magazine subscribers have declared that they still prefer old fashioned print, but a group of brave souls has slowly grown in number since the iPad was introduced in 2010: those who read magazines on tablets. Whether the general public loves them or hates them is still up for grabs, but according to a newly published survey conducted by the Association of Magazine Media (MPA–long story), those who already read magazines on tablets are really getting into them, with some suggestions on how to improve.

The MPA surveyed 1,009 adult digital magazine readers on their use habits, with a whopping 90 percent claiming to read as much or more magazine content than they did before acquiring a tablet, with two-thirds saying they plan to consume even more magazines now that they can do so digitally. But it seems that most prefer the newsstand-style subscriptions (that is, an area to retrieve their new content all in the same place) — 76 percent of survey respondents said they preferred this route to individual apps. And more than half, 55 percent, said they like to be able to read digital back issues of their favorite magazines.

 

These users have a handful of requests that are not widely implemented among digital magazines, however, including the ability to buy products directly from editorial features (70 percent) and the ability to buy directly from digital ads (59 percent). Frankly it’s surprising this isn’t already commonplace—ads do exist to sell products, after all—but we’re guessing this is partly due to the fact that most magazines are still porting over their print issues instead of working to create digital versions from scratch.

Read and learn more

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04/26/2011

Rebirthing of Magazine Publishing


Side slider touchscreen smartphone

After barreling to the very edge of magazine extinction AND balancing on the tipping point… the magazine publishing world has been pulled back and dropped into greener revenue fields.

What brought this about? The rise of mobile apps for smartphones and tablets! That’s what…

Excerpt from feature source: “The rise of mobile apps for smartphones and tablets is generating  an excitement in the world of magazine publishing that hasn’t been seen in years. The potential of reviving storied brands and creating new revenue streams in a brand new, yet somehow familiar medium is tremendous. Still, these are the early days. The publishing industry has a long way to go before it figures out how to harness these new capabilities. In the meantime, both large and small publishers are already seeing their business transform.”  

Get the details from this FOLIO magazine Special Report presented on a great digital app powered by Nxtbook 

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