Thursday, June 16, 2005

Zinio: Digital editions ... boring? thrilling?

OK, folks, whaddaya think? Pretend, just for a moment, that you're a consumer [grin].

How many of us would really want to read full-scale magazines entirely online? Am I just a neo-luddite -- are digital magazines the wave of the future? Check this out:

http://img.zinio.com/corporate/preview_now.html

I can certainly understand subscribing to brief newsletters on subjects of interest to people's working lives, and I can see how newsy digital publications can complement lengthier, more thoughtful, hard-copy editions or sister publications. What I don't understand is the idea of wanting to "flip" through a digital edition using a hard-copy-emulating interface. It's like the worst of both worlds:

Unlike print editions, you can't gently let the magazine slip from your hands onto the floor as you read in bed at night... nor fold back the pages, nor clip things out for your refrigerator door, nor pass it along to your friends. And zooming in and out to see parts of a page just sounds like "work" to me.

And, unlike web sites, there is (I believe) no ability to click hypertext to quickly navigate to the content you want. [Imagine Vanity Fair -- 14 hours later you've clicked your way past all the ads at the front of the book and found the first editorial page.] I haven't signed up to find out what Zinio's search tool is like -- the promo bumpf cites "keyword search", not "full-text search" so I'm wary.

[However, it also promises "Notes and highlighting" -- wow -- I will never again need to scribble on my computer screen with a felt-tip pen!]

And if you CAN quickly search through the magazine for the content you want, bypassing all those full-page ads, then how much advertising revenue will there be for such digital editions (that very same ad revenue that's presumably keeping subscription costs affordable)? After all, we're all used to "flipping" through a magazine, often gazing admiringly at ads along the way ... but I find I've got almost zero patience for doing that via some digital interface.

Sure, I've seen other folks retrieving web pages on their little handhelds + blackberries + phones, but that looks slow and painful, and hi-text/lo-graphical. Useful in emergencies, I suppose.

But I can't imagine wanting to turn virtual pages of virtual magazines, just to emulate the print-medium experience. Is there any significant benefit other than the 'savings' that Zinio touts? Do y'all think we'll stick with paper, for the most part?

Or will my kind soon be obsolete, while the younger, fashionabler folks sit there reading their digital editions on the subways of the future (which will, incidentally, be solar-powered)? What's the event horizon on this kinda thing? Will Zinio languish in obscurity until "laptops" are simply 15-inch-wide flexible pieces of plastic that weigh a scant few grams (and can be crumpled up into your pocket without damaging them)?

My take on this? It's silly. And it would make my carpal tunnel syndrome worse. Am I right, or...?

1 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

My last computer actually came with a copy of Zinio Reader already installed. Although the product itself works fairly well, I would personally hate to receive any of my favourite magazines this way. Maybe I’m old fashioned (I doubt it) but I don’t want to stare at a computer screen at night to read a magazine. And no, sitting in bed getting third-degree burns from my laptop isn’t the same. (Yes, I’ve thought about suing McDonald’s.)

On the other hand, this could give magazine publishers more leverage. Will we start hearing “I’m sorry, your paper prices are too high. We’re gonna go digital until they come back down.” Or “Can someone check our real-time sales data from our digital terminals at Chapters for this month’s issue?”

Chris

1:27 pm  

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