Are digital magazines the next big trend in publishing?

IMG_4748Although I still love holding a paper magazine  (and have subscriptions to plenty of them), I’m pretty darn excited about digital magazines and their advantages over print. I wrote about that in another blogpost, but in a nutshell; the interactivity, the video/ audio capabilities, the analytics you can track, the ability to communicate with the author of each article on social media as soon as you’ve read it. Plus the kindness to the environment – no more paper or transporting them across the country – is an added bonus.

But is the general public as excited about digital magazines as I am?

Though many people were skeptical of the success of digital books, we’ve seen a massive uptake of them over the last 3-5 years. This left us asking whether smartphone and tablet-based digital magazines might be the next big trend in e-publishing. Many people are still unaccustomed to reading magazines on their phone or tablet, but eReaders were also shunned by many in the beginning as being difficult to use and unsatisfying to read on.

Just to give you some idea of the possibilities with digital magazine publishing though, here are some kinda mind-blowing findings and statistics about tablet growth:

– Tablet Sales Will Reach Nearly 500 Million Units A Year 
By 2015 (via Business Insider: Source:
– 2012 saw 78.4% year-over-year growth in tablet 
shipments. IDC expects tablet shipments to surpass 
desktop PCs in 2013, and portable PCs in 2014 
(Source: Analyst IDC via Tech Crunch:
– Tablets are one of the fastest growing technologies in 
history (via The )


And about user data…

– People now spend more time on apps than they do browsing the web (94 minutes per day vs 72) – 2011 data. (Source: Flurry, via Business Intelligence: http://
– Some 51% of tablet users were female, compared with 48% of smartphone users (Market research from comScore via The
– 50%+ of tablet users prefer to read magazines on a 
tablet versus in print (Source: comScore June 2012)
– 60% read books on their tablets (Source: comScore 
June 2012)
– Readers spend 2.5+ hours consuming magazine 
content (Source: Omniture, 2011-2012)
– 68% is paid for content (Source: Omniture)

And here are a few reasons that advertisers are getting excited about digital magazine/ app advertising:

TWLM - Video Thumbnail-1User reaction to ads in apps is highly engaging and interactive:

“Engagement metrics are high for digital magazines. More importantly two-thirds of readers say they want to be able to purchase products and services directly through their digital magazines.” (Greg Hano, via Mag+
– 73% of users read/ tap on ads (Source: Shell advertising, 2012)
– 47% of respondents took action after viewing an ad (Source: Shell advertising, 2012)

“When readers are accustomed to interacting with editorial content, they become more likely to interact with the content in their ads too.” via Acceleration Biz blog

– 35% more time spent on page
– 64% more time spent on ads (Ads on the iPad vs Print: research by independent company on behalf of Bonnier AB)
– App analytics allow for detailed tracking capabilities. This is a huge advantage over print advertising, as it allows for research agencies to track – and prove – how engaging and effective their advertising in each publication is. It’s every advertiser’s dream come true!

So what do you think? Are digital magazines going to take off in the same way that eBooks have? Or do you think paper magazines have the advantage? Leave a comment!

Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!

Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.


  • thatkeith

    The next big trend? They’re a big trend right now! :) What will be the next big trend is HTML5-format content for the issue files, not proprietary PDF-like structures. And along with that, social connectedness and shareability. That’s what to look for as we go forward from here.

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  • Liz LaPorte Stott

    I think it depends on age of reader and market. I’ve been in the B2B publishing business for 30 years. In our market (engineering ), our readers average age is 51 – and the articles are highly technical, with charts, data, math to comprehend. Not sure how easy that is to process while reading in a digital format. Overwhelmingly, according to our BPA qualification data and other research, they still want to receive the Print version over digital. However, as each year goes by, more and more are requesting the digital version. Our digital version is NOT in tablet format – I think when that day comes (hopefully soon for our company), readers will be far more inclined to read online.
    And for the advertisers, digital IS awesome for tracking/analytics – and will only help publishers/media companies sell more ad space – because now there will be at least some form of “ROI”.
    Personally, I have all of the gadgets and apps – but I still love reading my favorite magazines in print. I have migrated all of my books in digital format – but there is something about the magazine that I still can’t give up to digital.