Interactive Digital Magazines

Interactive digital magazines are finally here. I’m really excited about the prospect of getting all my magazines digitally. Most magazines have some form of digital distribution, be it PDF’s or custom applications, there’s a lot available at Scribd or Issuu, but the next step is making them interactive and that’s where I believe the holy grail lies for magazines. There’s been the recent rounds about the death of print publications, but in a recent interview on NPR, some one who tracks all magazine publications, says there’s been an increase in the no. of available magazines in 2009. The interview doesn’t delve into the subscriber count, but either way print media is a dying industry and they need to adapt quickly to survive.

The iPad is stirring up a lot of interest in the area and I believe we will have some nice apps that solve the purpose. One such app is from a company called Zinio. Zinio has been around for nearly 10 years, and already has a fairly good amount of digital magazines available for subscription. It however did not have the 2 or 3 magazines I wanted the most, National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler and Wired. It just started digitized  issues on Traveler, and a first issue of National Geographic, which apart from the regular magazine content has a section of interactive content. This first edition is free and can be accessed at “Water: Our Thirsty World“. Wired is getting an app ready for the iPad and there’s a demo of such an app for Sports Illustrated in the videos below.

What I’m looking for in interactive digital magazines:

  • The above videos sum up most of what I want, being able to interact with the content.
  • I’m looking for additional images and related videos for an article.
  • Extra content and interactive maps is what I’m expecting from say Traveler and National Geographic.
  • The 360 product views as shown in Wired is neat.
  • Additionally I should be able to access additional content provided as part of the article within the context of the app. Links to external sites also needs to be accessible seamlessly. This won’t happen with the iPad though – no multitasking.

Why I want interactive digital magazines:

  • I intend to keep my best magazines with me for a long time. Ex. Two years ago I did a flush out of all my magazines, but kept National Geographic, just didn’t want to send it for recycling. They do tend to pile up year after year. With digital versions, I wouldn’t face that problem.
  • More and more external web resources are referenced in the content in magazines, I want to be able to do a lookup on those references right when I’m reading them. In most cases when I’m reading a magazine, I’m not in front of the system. Well you’d say reading the interactive magazines on a laptop/pc would give you that convenience, but that’s where devices like the iPad come into play and would be handy.
  • No more need to recycle/trash your old magazines, you keep them all.
  • Go Green. More trees spared. 🙂
  • With interactive content, more information can be relayed than your traditional magazine. A counter argument is, don’t websites provide the interactivity you are looking for. Yes and no, the web does provide the information, but not the interactivity and curated, edited content that magazines like National Geographic or Wired provide. Their respective sites don’t provide that, but that would be another medium for the interactive magazines.
  • The ability to provide more media (images/video) and starters for more research into the topics.
  • Instantly available, you get your magazine the day it’s published, no need to wait for it to be shipped to you.

For additional reading on the topic, checkout ReadWriteWeb’s and NYTimes articles.

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