Digital Publishing: An Industry Focused on Innovation

Digital Publishing: An Industry Focused on Innovation

As more and more content is made available for free, it becomes increasingly important to ensure paid content is of the highest quality. Innovation is key to this, and advances in the technology field are providing publishers with the tools they need to improve the quality of their products.

Look at Amazon’s latest Kindle. The Kindle Oasis, its eighth and most expensive e-reader, began shipping last Monday. It comes with a dual battery system, which means it can be charged by attaching the device to its cover.

Other advances include:

  • E Paper utilises display technology to mimic ink on paper. It's characterised by a high contrast and brightness, ultra-low power requirements and a wide viewing angle. This technology is most commonly associated with e-reader devices such as the Amazon Kindle, but is also found in a wide variety of other devices such as watches, phones and magazines.
  • Digital paper is used in the creation of handwritten digital documents. Also known as interactive paper, it uses printed dot patterned paper to identify unique positions as coordinated by a digital pen.  
  • Graphene technology for use with e-readers and other electronic devices is currently in development. It offers incredible future opportunities for businesses operating in this area, as it is extremely strong and predicted to be low costing to mass produce.

There was a very interesting discussion on this topic at last year’s Web Summit. A seminar entitled “A Magazine Reimagined” examined innovation in the magazine world and the possibilities of combining digital and print formats.

The talk featured Jefferson Hack, Co-Founder of Dazed & Confused, Liam Casey, CEO and Founder of PCH International, and was hosted by Matt Garrahan, the Global Media Editor of the Financial Times. It focused primarily on a collaborative project between Jefferson and Liam, and future innovations within the magazine publishing industry.

Problems with Print

The rise of digital publishing has led to a notable drop in sales for the global print publishing industry. Digital publishing is a more cost effective venture for most publishers. It offers a greater reach in terms of audience, with a lower risk factor when compared to traditional channels. Digital magazines are preferred by a large portion of readers due to their ease of access, cheap subscription costs and interactive content.

As a result, many publishers have been forced to reassess their products and consider incorporating digital elements such as online editions. However, there still exists a dedicated audience for paper print magazines, and this is especially true in the fashion world.

Fashion publications are renowned for producing high-quality products. The fashion industry is by and large a very forward thinking field, and people working in this area are always looking for ways to improve their products. It makes sense that fashion publications would look to the technology industry for assistance in innovation, hence the collaboration between Jefferson and Liam. Their project resulted in the creation of a limited edition issue of Jefferson’s AnOther Magazine, featuring the world’s first high-definition moving magazine cover.

Judging a Book by its Cover    

As revealed during the seminar, the seeds for this collaboration were sown at 2014’s Web Summit. Jefferson and Liam were seated opposite one another during an event dinner, giving Jefferson the chance to discuss his dream project, a printed magazine incorporating digital elements in a way not before seen. Jefferson’s clarity allowed Liam to quickly realise that the project was very possible, and in the end the final product was completed in just four months.

The AnOther Digital Limited Edition Magazine is a 440 page print magazine featuring fashion, literature and interviews. What makes this edition so special is its high-definition moving magazine cover, an exclusive moving cover film showing pop singer Rihanna modelling the fashion of Alexander McQueen. The magazine also features a headphone port incorporated into the display’s housing, allowing readers to listen to a curated soundtrack. Production was limited to 1000 copies, increasing the monetary and collector's value of this inventive product.

Scarcity and Ubiquity

Jefferson stressed that while he wanted to create a hybrid between print and digital, it was important for the product to upscale the industry and leave a lasting and impressionable experience on the reader. To achieve this they kept the content within the magazine locked and unconnected from the Internet. This ensured a unique digital product. The digital product can only exist in the form as decided by the creator. This is quite a rare prospect when you consider the bloggers, commenters, mash-up artists and hackers who use existing content as a base source for exploration.

The age of information has led to a saturation in content, and a by-product of this is a decrease in the quality of content, even from trusted sources. We’re generally guaranteed high-quality content in printed form, as it does not make sense for a business to invest money into low-quality content due to the risks involved. The product retains traditional high-quality elements of print while adding digital mixed media elements such as audio and video.

The Reimagined Magazine

While traditional print publications will never completely die out, it's becoming increasingly important for publishers to think outside the box and develop innovative products that offer a greater experience. The rise of the Internet and mixed media forms has changed the way in which we digest information, and publishers should use these changes as inspiration.

To ensure unique products, it is vital that content is locked into the product and it is not Internet accessible. It stands to benefit publishers when they collaborate with businesses operating in other industries. Unlikely partners often yield impressive results, but clarity is needed to ensure that the finished product is something worth purchasing.

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