Fashion magazines go digital
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
In a world where editorial tear-outs stuck to cork boards are being replaced by social media websites like Pinterest, it’s no surprise that the magazines themselves are heading full-force into the digital realm.
Magazines like Glamour, Self, Harper’s Bazaar and most recently Vogue have all re-imagined their content to be read digitally.
Apple’s iPad and many other tablets provide magazine applications available for download as soon as the issues go to press.
And, these new, digital versions are not simply replicas of the print versions.
Many issues feature embedded links to the editor-in-chief’s Twitter account, related online articles, or a special behind-the-scenes video with the cover star.
One of the most lucrative aspects of a digital magazine seamlessly connects the reader to the product.
See a lust-worthy handbag or lipstick?
Tap, swipe or slide your way to purchasing it from the brand’s website directly from the magazine.
These special features make digital magazines so attractive to readers, and if a magazine lacks those little extras that optimize content, readers might go elsewhere.
“Too many magazines just use shovel ware to move the content over to an app with minimum added value,” journalism professor Jake Batsell said. “Today, content needs to be well done on any platform.”
And although digital magazine apps are fairly new technology, 11 percent of magazine readers are already completely relying on tablets, according to GfK MRI a leading producer of media research.
Mi-Sun Bae, a sophomore at SMU, recently bought an iPad and is attracted to the benefits of digital reading.
“One of the reasons why I purchased an iPad was to buy books and read them via the iPad, so I probably would enjoy reading magazines on it as well,” Bae said.
Bae also considers iPad books and magazines as one more way to go green.
“I think it’ll be eco-friendly to read it on iPad, and it wouldn’t be much of a hassle to carry the heavy magazines around,” she said.
The “everything in one place” characteristic of tablets like the iPad allows readers to travel and carry their favorite reads with ease.
No need to go to the grocery store to pick up this month’s issue when it could be ready to go on your iPad within minutes.
However, not all magazine lovers are jumping on board.
Courtney Johnson, 26, is a stay at home mom who isn’t trading her print magazines for digital anytime soon.
“I prefer to read magazines on paper, call me old fashioned,” she said. “I have a subscription to Us Weekly, and I look forward to getting it in the mail every Thursday.”
“I look at so much on the computer or my phone and I feel like it’s nice to give my eyes a break from looking at a digital screen,” Johnson said.
Some readers have a hard time feeling the same connection with the digital editorial, claiming it doesn’t have the same feel as the beautiful, glossy print pages.
“Getting magazines on my iPad is much more convenient, but it just doesn’t compare to holding the magazine in your hand, flipping through the pages and getting a close view of the glossy pages,” Rachael Borne, a senior fashion media minor, said.
Reading magazines on an iPad also doesn’t allow the issues to be placed artfully on bookshelves among trinkets and coffee table books.
And several longtime magazine devotees collect issues to reference back to fashions of the past decade.
Borne attests to using the print versions as décor.
“I love saving all of my magazines for a decorative purpose,” she said.
This notion could be attempted with a tablet, but obviously would not garner the same aesthetic glory, unless, maybe, the tablet was always turned on and never ran out of battery.
But as with any new technology, time is required for it to align itself within society.
None of the magazine apps to date are perfect, and upgrades are consistently being made to better the reader’s experience.
One of the biggest complaints on Apple’s digital magazine applications is lack of automatic background downloading — which means that only the magazine app can be running while a new issue downloads.
Another complaint, from user Tsprkle in the App Store, expresses annoyance with the inability to zoom in on photographs in Vogue.
Keeping the content new, fresh, and integrated are the keys to a successful iPad-compatible publication.
“Today’s user has too many options and not a lot of patience,” Batsell said.
Batsell warns that consumers will be quick to flock to other sources if the technological experience isn’t seamless and interactive.
But with time and the necessary upgrades, digital magazines may eclipse print completely in a future that is not too far away and quite possibly inevitable.