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Magazines In The Future

Magazines In The Future

As tablets, readers, and other conduits for transmitting digital information become more and more commonplace, the need for megs of memory is increasing. While forests everywhere are breathing sighs of relief, electrons are putting in overtime. The magazine industry is adapting to the new technology while still maintaining its classic form.

More and more publications, forms, books, and a myriad of other once exclusively printed items are being digitized for convenience and for easier dissemination. What once required postage and a wait time is now as easy as Pay Pal and a download.

Greg Wolfe, president of Circulation Specialists, Inc. observes:
In this new world of digitally delivered magazines, I think the lines between subscriptions and newsstand sales will start to blur as well. I imagine there will be Web sites, like Amazon or iTunes, that will sell single copies, subscriptions and back issues. Those, in effect, will become the digital newsstands.

Imagine waiting at an airport for your flight. You have your digital reader in your bag. You want to read a magazine, but, instead of going over to the magazine stand in the airport, you take out your digital reader, log into the digital newsstand, and start perusing the latest covers. You find something you like, press a button, and there it is. If the digital newsstand were like iTunes, you would have an account with them with your credit card information already stored, and the whole transaction would take about 10 seconds.

Many magazines, such as Sports Illustrated, are combining their print and virtual issues. The virtual edition of SI is more of a complement to the print edition, serving to provide real-time updates to stories and features in the current (and in the past) issue.

Novelist and public radio host Kurt Andersen observes:
I think we’ll see content that’s a deeper, better hybrid of audio, video, and print emerge, and that will become the default expectation of people.

Take the story about NBC’s late-night talk show hosts: I want to read a complete story about the decisions, the facts and figures, and the background on the controversy, but I also, at the appropriate moment when I’m reading, want to press the button and see Jay Leno making fun of himself or David Letterman making fun of Jay Leno.

More and more magazines are embracing this marriage of technology with tradition— and with surprisingly good results. Readership is up, and consumers are more engaged than ever with the content they are able to access and read. It appears that the future of magazines is secure, both in physical form and in virtual form.