How To Make A Digital Edition

How To Make A Digital Edition

What’s next after digital publishing starts to catch on? Everybody wants to stand out in the world of digital publications.

This is a challenging feat for any publisher as many humps still exist, constraining them from differentiating ways in presenting, packaging and milking from their digital magazine editions. But whether your audience is global, encompassing, very targeted or niche, the key is to develop readers-centric mentality.

Originally posted by Henry Taylor on, the excerpt below proves that simply converting a PDF to a digital magazine isn’t audience-centric and won’t help any publisher carry the day. It samples four magazines who have each built their digital editions in their own way. The ways they built their digital editions and how they satisfy the needs and desires of all their readers are different and inspiring, if only to benchmark how creative people has become now, given the way things have gone up to now, will no doubt get even more cleverly resourceful a year from now.

There are so many different versions of a digital magazine that it’s truly hard to identify the most ingenious.  The common factor from the following examples? They differentiate from print.

1. Through necessity

Wired’s digital edition – published by Conde Nast – is done primarily with its audience in mind, UK digital manager Andy Lowe tells me:

The thing that annoys me is when people adopt a print magazine and end up putting it under glass, effectively. The Wired audience is very digital-literate and very sophisticated. You’ve got to think of the audience, basically. It’s the classic thing of keeping your audience in mind.

Conde Nast publish a range of digital editions, including GQ, Glamour, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. While many audience members will know their way around an iPad, Wired’s audience is predictably on another level when it comes to being tech-savvy.

Currently available on an issue-by-issue basis for £3.99, or in 6- and 12-month subscription packages (both save the buyer 42%) for £14 and £28, respectively, Wired’s digital edition is an example of demand and supply – your audience demand it, you supply it.

Wired didn’t provide audience size or sales figures for this article at the time of writing, but their last ABC digital edition figure is around 8,500 for Jan-Jun 2013.

2. Because nothing else does the job

Design and business title Katachi magazine is an example of doing it yourself if the tools aren’t available to you. Founder and editor, Ken Olling, spent 3 years creating Origami Engine… for touch experiences.

We started with the idea of a magazine but very quickly realised there wasn’t anything out there built for touch. InDesign is a great product for print but it’s the wrong tool for the mobile medium…

When we got our prototype design tools, we applied them to making the things we wanted to see in the magazine. Some of them were successful and some were huge failures, but we were able to apply that knowledge back into the design tools, and we learned along the way.

Selling their software also offers another revenue stream for Katachi, who license it for $99 a month and sell it outright for $599. Currently they have around 650 users, including 10 publishing companies, 8-10 design studios, and around 150 design students at 20+ universities.

Katachi itself sells for $1.99 an issue and although there is no subscription plan, readers can opt to buy 1, 2, or 4 issues at a time. There have been around 90,000 sales in total to date.

3. Because you want to interact with your audience more

EVO is a performance car digital magazine, which sells 6- and 12-month digital subscription options for £3.99 a month, as well as single issues. For their money, readers also get access to a catalogue of past EVO digital editions, currently numbering some 18 back-issues, with more being gradually added.

Crucially, and unlike the print edition, the digital magazine is published on an iterative basis, with the team releasing content two (and occasionally three) times a week to readers – on a Wednesday and Friday.

EVO’s publishing director, Geoff Love, says this was to compete with weekly competitors while having more opportunity for audience interaction:

We took the view that people are wanting to consume on a more frequent basis. The problem with a simple digital edition is that you have one opportunity to interact with your readership. We wanted to have greater interaction and connectivity with the readership. For the first time EVO can compete with weeklies in the digital space.

This approach means that by the time the print edition reaches the shelves, digital subscribers will have already received the magazine in full, as well as some bespoke digital content like weekly round-ups that wouldn’t suit the monthly cycle of print.

The magazine underwent a transformation last October, so doesn’t know what the cancellation rate is, but they have currently had 150,000 total downloads and 12,000 subscribers.

4. Because the internet

The internet is a wonderful thing, and crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter help people like John Hitchcox, founder of Yippee Ki-Yay! magazine (YKY) transform concepts to reality.

Hitchcox, who launched Empire’s iPad edition in 2010 before jumping to Wired and then GQ where he now runs the tablet design team, decided to see if he could launch a digital magazine about the rarely covered, unsung elements of film.

He raised funds on Kickstarter for font and software licenses, trademark and company registration fees, and to help fund the second issue.

… Hitchcox built issue one in about 2 weeks, but decided to move to an HTML5 solution for issue two and onwards due to the advantages of cross-platform responsive design.

As for the business model, YKY is currently free and partly ad-funded. Issue one was downloaded around 5,000 times, but Hitchcox says he is open to changing the business model if freemium doesn’t work:

You have to be open to change. If a freemium model doesn’t work we’ll rethink things based on feedback from our readers. The biggest selling digital magazines hit 12,000 to 14,000 a month and cost between £2.99 and £5.99 an issue. There’s no reason keeping Yippee Ki-Yay! free couldn’t see us rise to hit those figures.

Another clever way is to take advantage of free trials to experience digital publishing so you can play around, stimulate creativity and see the benefits of converting your PDF files into live, interactive digital editions. Trusted by publishers worldwide, Realview offers you this opportunity! Start creating, publishing, and optimizing reader-centric digital editions for free!