print vs digital

What is better: print vs digital magazines?

As technology increases and business operating models change, the question remains: printed vs digital magazines?
Read long as show the pros and cons of each medium. 

Printed magazines

Old Mutual's printed magazine

There is something to be said about a printed magazine. The smell. The feel of the paper. Holding that physical copy in your hand. But is this still relevant in the modern, digital age?

The pros

  • Companies with remote or smaller satellite offices have little or no connectivity. This might even mean no access to LAN or intranet facilities.
  • Financial planners and sales force often go into remote areas with little or no connectivity. We have heard reports of Old Mutual’s staff magazine, NOW, being used as a reference/marketing tool when there is no internet access! 
  • Older readers who are not too tech savvy will find it invaluable.

The cons

  • Cost. Printed magazines do cost more to produce. Add to that distribution costs, plus extra for run-offs required as backups and you could foot a hefty bill.
  • Errors. Every editor and designer knows: you can proof read and proof read. But unfortunately errors creep in. Fixing a printed error is costly or must simply be ignored.
  • Production time. Producing a printed magazine takes more time. From checking printed proofs, dyeline corrections to a printed magazine can take up to a week. Then you also still have to factor in distribution times.

Digital magazines

Nedbank's digital magazine

So is digital better? Lets have a look at some platform options we use. Along with the pros and cons of digital publishing.

Digital solutions

Over the years we have used a number of digital solutions. This helped us meet the needs of clients. Learning and choosing new technologies remain important. This keeps you ready, should the needs of a client change or different solutions are needed.

Some of the options we use are HTML 5 compliant flipbooks, native rich media apps and web based HTML responsive platforms. These now also offer Progressive Web Applications (PWA).

HTML 5 compliant flipbooks

html5 flipbook

These are a great, cost-effective option. If you have an existing print magazine, this makes a lot of sense. The transition and experience will be similar to what readers are used to in the print edition. It has limited animation and functionality, but it can easily be updated and distributed on servers.

Native Rich media apps

This is a great tool to get a magazine based app onto the app stores. Our platform of choice is Twixl. Not only does it integrate seamlessly with Adobe Indesign, it also cuts down on development time. 

The big drawback is you have to design a version for each screen size and orientation you are planning to publish for. This includes Apple, Android and Kindle devices.

With a range of features, you can even decide whether it is free, subscription based, app store hosted or self hosted.

Web based HTML platforms

These platforms are fairly new, but give you great options, should you wish to bypass the whole app approach. Canvasflow is really great and they continue to upgrade their products. Moreover, they listen to clients needs and try to incorporate these needs as much as is possible.

These publications can be hosted on their ultra secure servers at no extra cost. Or you can self host and even via a third party, such as Amazon Web Services.

Canvasflow has a variety of great features and the beauty is you can publish from anywhere. You can update articles on the fly. This means no app updates and approvals from app stores.

They now also offer Progressive Web App (PWA) technology. What you do make up for in publishing capability, you sacrifice in design. But through clever planning, you can work around this.

The pros

  • Time. Getting your publication out and onto devices is much quicker than waiting for printed magazines to arrive.
  • Less waste. One big plus is a lower carbon footprint. Mainly due to no paper, inks or machinery required.
  • Easier to update and fix errors. Fixes and updates can normally be done in a few minutes without any impact to the published digital magazine.

The cons

  • Cost. Subscription fees are usually in US$ and exchange rates can be a challenge at times.
  • Initial development work. Although these platforms and system are generally easy to work with, you usually need some upfront development costs. This might include setting up parameters like brand colours and fonts. It can also include the cumbersome process to publish to app stores.
  • Accessibility. As stated before, access to internet or intranet might be limited in some areas. Company logistics (such as IT security and framework) can sometimes be a limiting factor in getting systems rolled out.

In the end you have to decide whether printed vs digital magazines or media is right for your business.

Are you ready to explore digital publishing needs for your business?