Which Digital Publication Is Right for You?

In the publishing industry today, most publications have a digital version of their material, whether it’s a simple post-production PDF, a flip-book, or a blog. With the upcoming release of the Kindle DX and the recent explosion of Twitter, is it time to rethink which digital format is right for you? Is your digital publication meeting your readers’ needs?

PDF The PDF is certainly the veteran of the digital publications. It’s a low-tech solution for the organization with limited resources. A PDF can be made in-house easily and cost-effectively. There is potential for the addition of multimedia and linking, though clients selecting the PDF as their digital solution are usually trying to reduce their budget, not increase it—not to mention that the addition of interactivity can increase the file size significantly. The PDF is a quick solution for the publisher with limited resources who is trying to maintain a print look and feel with their digital publication.

Flip-Book The next step up, so to speak, is the flip-book solution, which is offered by companies like Texterity, Zinio, or Qmags. This format simulates the experience of reading a magazine, with buttons, flipping pages, and sometimes the sound of moving pages. The pitch for this solution seems to be solely directed at advertisers. The editorial (the actual product) seems to be an afterthought. But if you are going to allocate the resources to create this digital version, why not rethink the editorial content? Make graphs interactive, drop in slide shows, include additional content through links, and design for a single page-viewing as opposed to a horizontal spread format. If you want to maintain control over the content and distribution of your publication but need a portable, digital version, this may be the solution for you.

Blog When you are ready to let go of simulating a print experience in the digital world, there is the blog solution. Yes, you might lose the large-scale, high-quality images and finishing techniques, like die-cuts and gatefolds. But what you gain in the blog format is the ability to share content, mainly through the technology of RSS (Really Simple Syndication). The benefit of RSS is that it’s widely used by blogging platforms (Wordpress, Blooger), video- and photo-sharing websites (YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo), and social media (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed) to deliver information. Your publication can connect to these communities, where your audience is most likely already sharing with friends and colleagues.

By looking at a blog solution, you are opening up options for you and your audience. A web-based publication built on a blogging platform allows your audience to build a community around its content, provides instant reader feedback for you, and connects you with your audience. If you have a publication wrapped around a community, then this solution is the one for you.

In order to make an educated choice for your digital delivery, you need to analyze your readership and understand how they interact with your publication. Where do they read your publication? Do they need a portable digital solution? How are they using your website? Do they always have an internet connection? Move out of the mindset of thinking print vs. interactive and review your overall budget. By looking at the big picture, you can make strategic decisions about where funds are best allocated for your digital presence.

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