Print vs Digital

30 July 2015
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This morning I ditched my usual M25 car journey to join the two million people who commute by tube. I was off to London for a client meeting and I felt excited. Not just because I was meeting a client or because I was heading into the city, but I was relishing the prospect of reading Marketing Week cover to cover.

In my mind I had already assigned the time to do this and was genuinely looking forward to it. Whenever I take the time to read Marketing Week in print I always feel so much more ready for my day ahead; I have more ideas and I feel inspired and motivated. I really do get something from the physical experience of turning those pages and absorbing the content. That’s something I just don’t get if I access it on my iphone.

And this got me thinking…

Why print?

Here at Serious we have recently subscribed to four marketing and creative magazines for the office, and we have opted to receive the print versions only. This decision wasn’t made by me without some democratic process of course. I’d asked colleagues at work: How would you like to read these magazines? The majority of them agreed that taking time out to sit and read the content in a print format was what they preferred.

I received comments such as:

  • “I read on screen all day with work – I like the chance to have something in print to read.”
  • “I’d rather have something in my hand and turn the pages.”
  • “I like to be able to see the entire piece at a glance.”
  • “I find it much easier to remember the detail in things that I’ve seen in print rather than on-screen.”

Their comments mirrored my own experience: it seems we are more likely to read more, read for longer and be more engaged with content we digest from a printed magazine. For many of us, it is the sheer delight in the page layouts, the print quality, the chosen typography, the use of imagery. For others, it represents a welcome break from the day’s routine.

When digital?

But there was another response too: “I’d like to see it in print and then share it online.”
This is the beauty of digital publishing. It makes it very easy to share things we like. Occasionally I do exactly that: read an article that I find useful and then find it online to send to others with my recommendation.

While I’m happy about digesting factual and technical information from print, I realise that there are other types of information that I do prefer to access digitally. My weekly fashion fix for example. When I’m reading LOOK I prefer to get this on my iPad because I can buy direct from the magazine. This makes it convenient and fast. The print magazine is gloriously glossy with great production values, but I don’t feel the need to buy the print version when really it’s my excuse to shop from my sofa!

So who’s the winner?

So, did digital publishing herald the end to print? No. Of course not. There are now more printed magazines than ever before and new ones being launched every week. Successful magazines capitalise on the combined benefit of their print and digital offerings: the two compliment each other. The print builds brand loyalty, credibility, gravitas, while the digital version allows the bang- up –to- date, immediacy and special offers that we have come to expect from the latest technologies. Print alone just can’t keep up. Clever editors know that the secret to success is combing the two.

The latest figures from NRS back this up with digital versions of print magazines accounting for an incremental increase of 18.5% to print readership across magazine brands.

To survive, any magazine, in any format, must have valuable content to offer its readers, feeding their passion and building a sense of community for likeminded people. Perhaps a successful magazine is now a multi-platform brand delivering high quality journalism, analysis and insights to its readers. Let’s not argue about the platform. It’s not print or digital. For me it’s both.

How do you like to consume your magazine content?

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