Are Digital Editions Already Dead?

[responsive]deaddigital[/responsive]Some publishing executives are planning to discontinue digital editions of their magazines, as high costs and low returns show digital may not be working. Despite this, print circulation remains lower. People haven’t stopped reading, so what gives?

“This revolution isn’t really about “digital”–it’s about mobile,” says Michael Kowalski in Op-ed: Are digital editions already dead? “People love their smartphones, and they spend an extraordinary proportion of their day glued to them, with the happy outcome that content consumption has skyrocketed.”

Kowalski says publishers haven’t seen success on mobile platforms because they haven’t really tried it yet. Mobile apps for magazines and newspapers are often clunky and hard-to-red smaller versions of the desktop site. Even where a mobile design is present, publishers stick with the regular print cycle, which means stale content for News Feed, Timeline, and Dashboard inundated users.

“If you look across the landscape of successful apps, you’ll notice very few of them are simply replicating a non-mobile experience,” Kowalski notes.

The focus and simplicity of apps are what users tend to like best, and successful apps across categories–games, photo editing, productivity, social media, and more–feature a completely different look, feel, and focus than their non-mobile counterparts.

“Apps generally offer a much better user experience than equivalent websites. Mobile is not the same as the web, and we probably ought to retire that word ‘digital.’”

Digital editions aren’t doing well because it’s not digital users care about–it’s mobile. For publishers looking to hit the mobile market, Kowalski suggests revamping and offering new services. For a style magazine, for example, a shopping companion or regular news and gossip updates would be good mobile options.

The mobile market is all about quick updates and focused apps. But when we’re looking for quality content to read and retain, print is still the answer. Mobile can’t replace print, because it’s a completely different platform.