Trend watch: The digital magazine

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Last year, Nxtbook Media had the privilege of working with more than 600 different publishers to produce digital magazines, brochures and catalogs, which were enjoyed by more than 15 million readers.The rise of the digital-only magazine was one of the greatest success stories to come out of 2008.

A digital-only magazine is a product that embraces the best use of digital magazine technology and blends it with the best Web surfing experiences. But knowing how to do this first requires understanding of what each product does well on its own.

Opponents of digital magazines are quick to point out that Web sites are built to be read online. The text sizes and styles are designed to be read without zooming in. In short, one of the best things about publishing the Web is that reading a Web site is easy.

Digital magazines provide different benefits than Web sites. Because they're presented as a collection of articles in an organized format, readers truly feel as if they're to navigate all or at least most of the content. The result is a product with much longer engagement times and higher click-through rates than a Web site.

In late 2007, we began to see a tremendous up-tick in the use of digital-only magazines. Though the end format was a dynamic, page-flipping, magazine-style product, Web-friendly features were built in as well: Font choices and sizes were increased so that readers could navigate the digital magazine without zooming in. Some publishers even went so far as to turn the magazine on its side, creating a product in landscape format. With the same metrics inherent in all digital media, the digital-only magazine enabled publishers to effectively enter new markets faster than launching print publications.

While the digital-only magazine has a promising future, some publishers have struggled with this hybrid approach. Individuals trained in the art of producing attractive layout for print can be unsure how to best design for digital viewing. Last year, Nxtbook Media hired editorial and design staff to help publishers with this exciting and innovative product. We're excited to see what 2009 will mean for the digital-only magazine.

Marcus Grimm is the marketing director for Nxtbook Media and the writer of the Nxtblog. Reach him at

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