Here’s the thing about technology and humans: just because the technology exists to do something in a new way, that doesn’t guarantee that consumers will make the switch.
It appears that this is the case with reading, as Debra Stratton points out in “Don’t Cue Print’s Swan Song Yet.”
“While we all can appreciate the convenience and ease of reading online, we also are well aware that reading in the digital world is fraught with distractions, encouraging multi-tasking, skim reading and poor comprehension, according to Baron, an expert on language and technology,” Stratton notes. “Given that backdrop, not surprisingly, the Deloitte Media Consumer study found that 75 percent of respondents said they still prefer to read magazines in print.”
Stratton continues: “That’s a trend we’ve noted as well in our research of association magazines—we consistently find that professional readers prefer print over digital versions of magazines. They are often frustrated by the constant barrage of email and enewsletters and enjoy the convenience and ease of reading offered by their organization’s print magazine.”
So what’s at stake if a brand decides to move their content to digital-only under financial pressures or other factors?
For association publishers, plenty.
“While quick news updates are great in enewsletters and other electronic communications, especially when accessible on mobile devices, the printed magazine is preferred for in-depth articles. In [our] research, 50 percent or more of association members prefer print publications and 30 percent prefer a print-and-digital combination,” she notes.
For advertising-supported magazines, switching to digital may lose you more than readers.
“For many, print is where the revenue resides. And, remember, even in a digital publication, you’re still incurring expenses for writing, editing, layout/design, and more, so while you may save on printing/postage, you still need significant revenue to cover other costs,” says Stratton. She warns that “converting to all-digital may reduce or even eliminate the revenue base.”
Stratton’s advice is clear: “…by all means, invest in digital to supplement content delivery and keep innovating to improve the online reader experience, but continue to invest in your print publications as well. Print magazines provide measurable value and benefits for association professionals, conveying a message far beyond the words on the page.”