Young people opt for print

When students at Penn State decided this summer to start a magazine called Impact, they planned to have both an online and offline presence—that is, a print magazine. “We feel print is really important,” stated co-founder and co-editor Frances Starn. Speaking on the magazine’s Kickstarter video she said “We feel that having people be able to hold the magazine in their hand and see something will help us reach the widest audience possible.”

What? These are college students, the people raised on the Internet, wirelessly connected 24/7. Wouldn’t they prefer to consume content on one of their several devices? Not so, according to a poll released this summer by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. The poll found that 75 percent of young adults aged 16-29 years of age said they have read at least one book in print in the past year, compared with 65 percent of adults 30 and older.

“Younger Americans’ reading habits and library use are still anchored by the printed page,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a research analyst at Pew Research.  Americans under 30 are just as likely as older adults to visit the library and borrow print books, she said.

Sure, they love their technology, but there’s something about the look and feel of the printed page which they find attractive.

11 Christian magazine professionals from four countries headline Indian training events

Join the excitement as magazine staff from around the world come together in Bangalore in October to jump start their careers and inject fresh impetus into their magazine ministries. You’ll sit under the teaching of experienced magazine editors, publishers, and designers from the United States, Ukraine, Brazil, and India, and you’ll network with other Christians in magazine publishing from around the world.

Two key training events include a five-day Advanced Magazine Publishing Institute Oct, 8-12 and a four-day  intensive Digital Magazine Publishing Seminar Oct. 14-17. In the Advanced Magazine Publishing Institute you’ll sit in on sessions designed to introduce you to the full spectrum of magazine publishing and you’ll get specialized training in the track of your choice, whether magazine editing, magazine management, or magazine design.  In each track, international teams of three trainers will delve deeper into the secrets of success in magazine publishing, imparting insights, tips, and wisdom gained by years of experience in publishing.

Is the whole area of digital publishing still a mystery to you? Or do you feel like you’ve only scratched the surface of the possibilities digital publishing offers to you and your magazine? Then this very full four-day introduction to digital publishing is for you. Whether you’re considering developing a Web site, an app, a video, or e-reader option, you’ll find the information you need to develop your own digital brand strategy. You’ll learn how to develop a business model for your publication, editorial workflow, and production schedule. Two internationally recognized digital publishing experts will discuss emerging trends in digital models and help you to see how you and your magazine can best take advantage  of the new opportunities in digital publishing.

These two training events specifically for Christian magazine staff will be followed by a workshop on Communicating Through Comics. Although the first two events are open only to people working with a Christian magazine either as a volunteer or staff member, the comics workshop is open to any Christian who would like to use comics as a tool of communication. The workshop will be taught by a team of four trainers from three countries.

For more information about all these programs:

The 10 biggest digital magazine mistakes

So you’ve launched a digital magazine or you’ve created a digital twin for your print magazine. Congratulations! Now take this 10 point checkup to see how you’re doing. In a blog published by Unbound Media, Michelle Kalman tells of contacting a broad mix of industry experts to research some of the key problems in digital magazine publishing. These are 10 of the big mistakes she discovered.

1. Duplicating the print experience. The print and digital media are not the same. Both present limitations and opportunities. Recognize the limitations of the digital medium, but also be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities it offers to build your magazine’s community through social media tools or to extend your story through video.

2. Assuming the online user experiences digital content in the same way a reader experiences print content. Your online navigation may not easily parallel your printed table of contents. Online users may jump around more than print readers. The importance of position may change and you may need to make your advertisers aware of this fact.

3. Not bothering with research. Just because you’ve researched your print publication doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do research before you begin to develop your digital version. Look at successful online magazines and figure out what makes them work. Find out how your readers want to access content.

4. Failing to get the best digital talent you can afford. Hire talented web developers and designers to produce your digital version. They will know what works in print, but may not work on line. Don’t forget to invest in social media activities.

5. Producing too many pages. The attention span of an online reader is much shorter than that of a print reader. Forget the three-page articles with columns of grey type.  Break down content into smaller bites in separate sections. And don’t forget to include creative elements to keep the reader’s interest.

6. Not keeping up with changing technology. So you’ve created a digital magazine or a digital version of your print publication. What platform are your readers using? Does your online publication work well on that platform? Each platform has its own rules and restrictions. There’s iPads, Android tablets, various readers, and mobile apps–plus whatever came out last week. No single digital product is going to work well on all platforms. You’ll  need to keep up with the technology to know where best to spend your digital dollars.

7. Thinking of money before engagement. Is your digital publication a desperate attempt to pull in some funds for the organization? In that case, it’s likely to fail. You’ll need to create engaging, relevant content in order to attract and involve an audience.

8. Not considering the advertiser. Advertising considerations are not the same as reader requirements. Spend money and time on preparing the right online presence for your advertisers.

9. Forgetting to get feedback. As you are developing your new online  magazine, get input from all those who will have a stake in the success of the publication. That includes audience, advertisers, and your staff.

10. Being satisfied with the status quo. Keep improving; take advantage of new digital opportunities and make sure your content continues to be fresh and engaging.

Is print dead? It’s too soon to start writing the obituary

The news continues to come with gasps of amazement. Twenty years after its founding, SmartMoney magazine will dump its print edition in order to focus on! Twenty-five print staffers will lose their jobs! By the end of the year the Financial Times could have more digital subscribers than buyers of print copies! U.S. publishers report that foreign e-book sales last year increased 333 percent over 2010 sales! Is print dead? Or, at best on life support?

Probably not. A 2012 Reynolds Journalism Institute study confirms that tablet users continue to read print newspapers and magazines. Nearly half of Apple iPad owners and a quarter of Android table owners say they have a subscription to at least one print publication. A recent Pew State of the News Media study noted that a quarter of Millennials (18-24 year olds) said they read a printed newspaper the day before. Some 22 percent said they read newspapers at least every other day. That is compared with 40 percent of adults overall who say the same. The New York Times reports that 10 percent of its hard copy subscribers are Millenials; 9 percent subscribe digitally.

In the U.S., more print magazines were launched than closed in 2011, the same trend as evident in 2010. The Economist, a highly-respected British news magazine, writes about a new sense of optimism among publishers due to the increased readership of magazines. In fact, magazine audiences are growing faster than those for television or newspapers.

So, what accounts for the statistics of the first paragraph? The editor of SmartMoney magazine says the volatility of markets and asset classes has increased the need for rapid delivery of personal finance intelligence. Also, the magazine was losing ad pages. Thus the decision to cut their losses and try the digital model. Why is the Financial Times increasing digital subscribers at such a rapid rate? The magazine was one of the first to recognize the possibility of monetizing content on the Web and from the beginning charged for content that they made sure offered quality, rather than quantity. And, they were innovative in their approach to technology, opting for HTML5 very early on, with the result that their Web app drew 2 million users in less than a year.

What about the growth of foreign e-book sales? After all, a 333 percent increase is pretty amazing, isn’t it? Perhaps not so amazing when you realize that even after its phenomenal growth last year,  e-book sales still represents only 6 percent of total sales.

Perhaps some day print will die. But that day will not come this year, next year, or even next decade. Save the obituary writing job for your grandchild.

The State of Magazine Publishing Today—A definitive answer…more or less

What is the state of magazine publishing today? It appears to be a multiple choice question. And the answer is, “All of the above.”

An article in last week’s The Economist print edition stated that magazine publishing has been infused with a new sense of optimism. Magazines are still attractive to advertisers and there is strong reader loyalty, the author states. Moreover, magazines have learned to harness digital technology in innovative ways. And, for the second year in a row, more magazines were launched in 2011 than closed.

Meanwhile, the opposite point of view is argued in a blog post on the Economist Group’s Lean Back 2.0 blog, in which the author Rishad Tabaccowala states that “tablets will hasten the demise of magazines and not save them.” Tablets put magazine content on the same level as games and social media, he says. And the iPad disrupts magazine publishers’ tight control over distribution and damages their ability to bundle content together. In short, Tabaccowala describes the state of the magazine industry as a “headache.”

Then, there’s the Huffington Post, a well-known blog which this week launched an iPad magazine called “Huffington.” The weekly publication will offer longer pieces than on its blog, with photo essays and and data visualizations. Subscribers will pay by the issue, month, or year.

So, what is the state of magazine publishing? Disastrous or encouraging? Growing or heading for oblivion? Is the iPad the new frontier in magazine publishing or will it deal the final blow to the industry?  And the answer is….Yes.

You can hold posters accountable for what they say on your site

Posted by Pd: “How can [insert name] say he is a Christian? He is going to hell and is taking anyone stupid enough to believe what he says with him.” Would Pd be expressing himself (or herself) so viciously if his name was attached to his comments? How helpful is this comment, anyway? Those are questions being asked by some editors about the comments attached to the articles they publish on line. While they want to encourage feedback, they feel some comments serve only to infuriate later posters and lead to futile arguments. Is there a way to get posters to stand openly behind the comments they make?

Some publications have discovered a way to do just that. It is now possible to convert your commenting system to Facebook. As a result, readers who wish to comment must do so through their Facebook account. One big advantage to publications is that Facebook requires users to use their real names. Those names show up in the comments section on your Website. This should encourage better quality, more thoughtful comments. It is also easier for Facebook users to share articles and comments with their own contacts. And for those who “live” in Facebook, the system seems natural and comfortable.

The disadvantage, of course, is that your readers must be logged into Facebook in order to make a comment. While this isn’t a problem for those who stay logged in all the time, amazing as it may seem, there are those who rarely use Facebook or (gasp!) don’t even have a Facebook account. Those readers who aren’t on Facebook must either get an account or hold their peace.

Print magazines—not yet on the endangered list

Are print magazines lumbering dinosaurs about to be overwhelmed by the Internet tsunami before they can reach the safety of the ark? Not according to leaders of some of the largest magazine groups in America, who joined forces to organize an advertising campaign titled “Magazines: the Power of Print.”

Here are a few of the facts they presented:

* Magazine readership has grown over the last five years, with paid subscriptions reaching nearly 300 million in 2009.

* Four out of five adults read magazines and the average reader spends 43 minutes reading each issue.

* Since Facebook was founded, magazines gained more than one million young adult readers and magazine readership in the 18-34 year group is growing.

It appears that print magazines are not only not on the endangered species list, but are actually flourishing. Will the Internet eventually kill magazines? Probably not. Magazine experts point out that people find room in their lives for new experiences alongside the ones they already love. But in order to continue to thrive magazines must provide value to the subscriber. It’s no longer possible to take the subscriber for granted. And, many magazine publishers have found they can harness the opportunities offered by the Internet to add value to the print publication. In fact, some large publishers are now putting people with primarily digital experience in key positions in the company.

Those of us who have been involved in the print medium for many years may be tempted to see the Internet as competition, while those who grew up with the Internet may be tempted to see print as a dying medium. Yet, magazines that harness the best opportunities offered by both will enjoy more success and be able to offer more value to their constituency.

For a very interesting short video about the “Magazines: The Power of Print” campaign, check this link: